- OnStage New York Critic
When you enter the Duke on 42nd street theater, a warning sign greets you: “This performance contains Raptors, Wormholes, The 80’s… And Strobe lighting”. And the creators of LUDO’s Broken Bride were not kidding. Prepare to experience the effect of an exploding piñata stuffed with intense rock music, puppet dinosaurs, dancing zombies and other awesome things. If you missed LUDO’s Broken Bride during New York Musical Festival you sure missed a lot, but hopefully this rock opera will be picked up and will have an extended run, as it deserves it like nobody else.
With concept, music and lyrics by LUDO, direction by Stacey Weingarten and Donna Drake, the show ties the band’s rock songs into a coherent narrative about a time traveler, Tom, on his journey to prevent the death of his wife. We are witnessing his journey from prehistoric dinosaurs to an apocalyptic future mixed with a flashback parallel story of how he met and married Oriel.
The songs by LUDO are rich in narration by themselves. Unfortunately, it was difficult to hear the lyrics over the music sometimes, but the imagery created by puppets (designed by Sierra Schoening) and video projections (Pauline Lu) helped to fill in the gaps. The promised dinosaurs, zombies and dragons were delivered galore. One night in the theater turned out to be a rock concert, a haunted house and a fashion show. Credit to the last one goes to the designer, Bree Perry, with special applause for her work on King Simius’ costume (devilishly charismatic Brian Charles Rooney).
LUDO’s Broken Bride’s flashbacks are set in the 80s and namely the costumes and meticulous styling creates its unique visuals. The production design by Justin and Christopher Swader is minimalistic and virtually non-existing. The elements of it are very few: trunks (to give a stage some relief), a draped stand-alone wall and a vertical bed on the other side. But even this modest set design could be minimalized even further taking into the account the abundant puppetry and dancing.
Choreography by Steven Paul Blandino utilizes available space fully. Most notable are the duets of Tomas’ and Oriel’s dancing doubles (Spenser Clark and Melissa Hunter McCann). Or should I say “dancing souls” as they express the overwhelming emotions of Oriel (Gabrielle McClinton) and Thomas, from the flashbacks (Michael Jayne Walker), through dance. McClinton and Walker were very sincere and sweet as young lovers. McClinton doubles as a kick-ass single mother, Uchefuna, from an apocalyptic future where Thomas, the time traveler (Carson Higgins), arrives accidentally.
Brendan Malafronte as the puppet captain was incredible! Even with his great puppeteer skills it was hard not to watch his lively acting, his face and body working as one with a puppet. I wish we could see more of Larry Hamilton singing the part of the Archangel, Reguel, with his magical voice. He spends the entire show on the catwalk and doesn’t come down even for a curtain call. I guess, even with the whole dinosaurs and dragons fantasy, this sci-fi gloomy fairytale is true to life: you can’t bring people back to life and ask an archangel for a curtain call.