Devin Dunne Cannon
“spot on the wall,” currently playing at Theater 3 as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, is a complicated, entangled love story utilizing art and mythology as metaphors. The book by Kevin Jaeger introduces themes including a love triangle, unfaithful marriage, struggling artists, and father/son antagonism that provide no perspicacity, resulting in feeble dialogue and idealistic situations. Mr. Jaeger’s clever lyrics fare much better and help character definition and plot development although at times too self-absorbed. The music by Alex Mitchell is soothing, creating beautiful undertones but quite tedious consequently not supporting the drive and angst of the vocalist’s interpretation. Two Sondheim like numbers “Just Keep Living” are given due justice by Neal Mayer and “Who Cares,” a duet delivered delightfully by Madison Stratton and Robert Hager, are great examples of promising careers.
The mythological gods of Daphne and Apollo serve as the metaphor to the modern day conflict and portray a sculpture in the art museum that awakens to inhabit present characters in the past through dance and dialogue. Although Lisa Kuhnen and Michael Warrell approach this technique with proficiency, the result of the dance sequences, whilst beautifully executed, are at times distracting from the defining lyrics and characters emotional content. Perhaps some of this is due to the small space.
The cast as an ensemble is very strong, all capable of imbuing life, sentiment and intuition into their characters. Mr. Hager exhibits incredible vocal quality, with clear tone and definition. Neal Mayer captures a father in turmoil never relying on stereotype and choosing interesting interpretation. Ms. Stratton explicates Laurel with conviction and a developed soprano, even with insufficient material. Charles West is admirable as the curator and rounds out the cast. It is a work in progress so take a look and you may find yourself surprised and at the same time supporting the next generation of theater artists.
SPOT ON THE WALL
For complete information on "Spot on the Wall,” including the creative team, the cast, the performance schedule, and how to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.nymf.org/festival/2015-events/spot-wall. The running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes, plus one intermission.