Monday, July 18, 2022

The Kiss—Lakewood Theatre Company—Lake Oswego


“’Hopefully’ Ever After”

    This world premiere musical is directed by Greg Tamblyn, story conceived and original script by Will Vinton, music and lyrics by David Pomeranz, book by Will Winton, Jesse Vinton and Greg Tamblyn (loosely based on “The Frog Prince” by the Brothers Grimm).    It is playing through August21st at their space, 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego (free parking lot in the rear).  For more information on the show and Covid restrictions, go to their website or call 503-635-3901.

    “Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you, when you’re young at heart….”  Ah, such a world as this do we need now.  Originally, these stories were written as cautionary tales for the youth of yore.  But now they are seen as beacons of Hope, in which nasty dragons are slain, evil witches are banished and lover conquers all, to lead to ending of “happily ever after,” sealed with a kiss.  Is all that still possibly?!  Time will tell….

    In this timeless tale, conceived by Will Vinton, the father of Claymation in Portland, this classic theme is reawakened.  Two neighboring kingdoms, each having a child born at the same time, a girl and a boy.  They grow up playing together as best friends.  But reality raises its ugly head (politics, jealousy, greed, arrogance, selfishness, et. al.) when they become adults and they must stifle childish thoughts and dreams.

    Eventually, Arro (Keaton Fields) and Ember (Sophie MacKay) grow apart and all hopes of uniting the two kingdoms by her father, King Gordo (Douglas Webster) are dashed as they go their separate ways.  Enter now a dragon that threatens their villages, and the king promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to he whoever slays this vile creature.

    The deed is dispatched by a mysterious knight, Raoul (Collin Carver), or so it seems, and suddenly Arro has disappeared, turned into a frog by a vengeful witch, Gladys (Emily Sahler), for reasons discovered later.  His only recourse out of this curse is to be kissed by a true love within three days.  And he does have some allies to help, in the form of woodland animals, Granny Racoon (Melissa Standley), Sheldon the Snail (Troy Sawyer) and Benny Beaver (Eric Zulu).  The conclusion is classic storytelling which, of course, you’ll have to see to discover.

    The songs (by Pomeranz) and dances (choreographed by Erin Shannon) are a pure joy and enhance the story, as well as fleshing out the characters.  And Tamblyn’s direction, a veteran of local theatre, is paramount in his casting and staging of this magical production. Some of my favorite numbers are “Club Mud,” a romp; “For the Good of All”, revealing; “Sugar Lips,” a hoot; “Humans,” fun: “Kill the Frog Toad,” an oily delight; and the romantic, “The Kiss.”

    Sahler is a seasoned performer and quite a belter and it shows.  Fields and Mackay have fine voices and Fields, in particular, shines in the dance numbers.  Webster is in fine form with his powerful voice.  Zulu, Standley, and Sawyer,as the forest critters, play well off each other in their comic timing.  And they have an amazing chorus, filling in the many supporting characters.  Among them is Quinn Boyd, as the young Ember, who shows promise in her well-crafted role.

    But there is a sneaky rat that tends to spoil this lovely brew of characters, as Carver tends to steal the show as the nefarious, nasty, no-good-nik villain of the piece.  His “cheesy” performance is an utter delight!  His background covers OCT and Triangle, where I’ve reviewed him before, and he is still charming the audiences. 

    And to each and all of us, may the message of this play, selflessness is the key to happiness and love, invade each our hearts, so that we may live in Peach and Harmony with Nature and each other, so that we may truly live “hopefully ever after!”

    I highly recommend this play.  If you do chose to see this play, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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