Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
See Rock City and Other Destinations
Though the trip is short lived, patrons of this show can expect to get a full-fledged experience for their time. And at a price tag of $30 ($15 for seniors and students), it's far more affordable than boarding a plane and far safer than completely changing your life. What's more is that you get to encounter several characters and locations without the jet lag and pesky layover time. Travel agents would be hard-pressed to get you a better deal if they tried.
With a stylish, white backdrop with skeletons of luggage in every size and shape, co-designers Geoffrey Short (also the director) and Ardean Landhuis and scenic artist Kate McVay have created a chic, blank canvas that each story, dream and vignette can spring from.
First of these is "A Roadside Diner." In it, Dodi (a sassy and sardonic Yasmin Adli) and Jess (charming songster Christopher Alvarez), a waitress and traveler, meet at the diner where Dodi works. An unlikely pair at first, given Dodi's sarcastic approach towards him, Jess quickly convinces Dodi to tag along to Rock City, a destination that is clearly perceived as cheesy and popular, but exists off-stage and in real life as an iconic attraction in Georgia. Good chemistry between the duo makes their partnership believable and when Jess sings "do you ever feel like there's some place you belong?" in opening number "Rock City", you'll want to lead Dodi out the door yourself. Adli's comedic timing and Alvarez' earnestness make it easy to want to take the ride.
Looking for an entirely different excursion is Evan (Robert Fritz), an animated UFO-enthusiast who seems to prefer the anticipated company of aliens to humans. Donning a hiking getup and pulling out a tripod and camera at every opportunity, Fritz' commitment to this zany character makes Evan a joy. In short spurts of crazy, Mathias cleverly intersperses Evan's story throughout the musical, alternating somber moments with light.
Chasing Evan's first appearance are Grampy (Murphy Hayes) and Lauren (Jeanine Gangloff) in "The Alamo," a story about a grandfather and his granddaughter's annual visit to the site where the former met his late wife. Resigned to remain single for life, her tune changes (literally) when she meets Dempsey (Chris D'Angelo, bearing a resemblance to Robin Williams), an awkward lawyer who works in the neighborhood. Hayes' ability to morph from funny to touching provides a nice fluctuation of emotion from what could have otherwise been a hokey scene.
Another story that is successful at melding light and dark is "Glacier Bay Alaska." When sisters Lily (Yasmin Adli), Claire (Jeanine Gangloff) and Judy (Mariah Jimenez) unite on a cruise to say farewell to their deceased dad, a somber moment becomes enjoyable when they sing "Three Fair Queens," a song that they used to perform together for their father as kids. Putting all differences and animosities aside, the trio come together beautifully and evoke a dysfunctional but loving family.
But not all characters who come together stay together. Take Cutter (Christopher) and Rick (Robert Fritz) in "Coney Island," the play's raciest piece. When two foul-mouthed and unlikely "friends" skip school to visit the famous amusement park, all seems fine at the beginning, even though their interactions are tense. Normal in certain circles, right? What may become unsettling for the audience is what happens next. The number "You Are My Bitch" contains lyrics that could be offensive to some people. Also, when Cutter and Rick cross the lines of friendship, the outcome could be predicted based on how this mean-spirited but well-written and well-acted scene begins.
The final scene is Niagara Falls. In it, a runaway bride named Kate (Mariah Jimenez) takes refuge on a tour, hoping to draw hope and peace from the romantic attractions. Unfortunately, her fears aren't assuaged the way she would like, and the creepy Tour Guide (Chris D'Angelo) doesn't help. However, his tough love may be just what she needs.
See Rock City and Other Destinations is an expedition with joys, laughs, sorrows and pains, all of which you might expect from life. Each character sojourns, either physically or emotionally, changing and learning about themselves and others. Patrons may find that, in addition to having a good time, they may learn something as well.
The Evening Star production of See Rock City and Other Destinations will be appearing through January 29th, 2017, at Sol Theatre located at 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2:00pm. For tickets and information please call 561-447-8829 or visit www.eveningstarproductions.org.
Director/Set, Lighting & Sound Design: ...Geoffrey Short