Nancy Sasso Janis
- Connecticut Critic
- Connecticut Critics Circle
“I’m nothing without you…”
Seymour, CT - ‘The Theory of Relativity’ is a relatively new chamber musical with lyrics and music by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill (‘The Story of My Life’) that was developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. It was originally produced by Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam CT last year, but I was not invited because the press is not allowed to write reviews of the productions that are workshopped at the Norma Terris stage two. Seymour HS is the first high school in Connecticut to launch a production of this unconventional musical drama that explores the interconnectedness of all people.
Through an array of very different life experiences told through a seemingly unrelated collection of songs, scenes and monologues, ‘The Theory of Relativity’ is indeed a unique experience. Director Brandt Schneider reminds us that theatre creates other worlds and invites audience members to go on a journey with his young cast of high school singing actors. Parts are joyous, parts a moving, parts are uplifting. There is some recurring comedy and music, and we aren’t surprised at all when all of the soloists are wrapped up in a neat package of connection at the end by just one of the characters...during her manicure.
If the destination is expected and explained rather quickly in the penultimate number, the journey we take with the authentic millennials is an interesting one as they experience “the joys and heartbreaks, the liaisons and losses, the inevitability and the wonder of human connection.” It is all very real-life and the fine musical numbers in a variety of styles moves the show along well. This fresh contemporary musical is offered as the perfect choice for college theatre programs and a couple of PG themes/language could possibly have offended some high school parents, but I was glad to have the opportunity to experience this new work.
Mr. Schneider smartly directed his high school students to have their individual moments in the spotlight. Basic choreography by Stephanie Shelinsky was cute and Darlene Keeffe is credited as art director, presumably of the science-themed chalkboard at the back of the stage . Music director Jeehyun Kim was amazing on the piano in front of the high school stage. Alex Nizet was the sound technician; it was good that every cast member wore a microphone that amplified the smaller voices. Ian Stoller was light designer. The students must have provided their own mostly casual costumes.
Of the cast of 15, seven made their stage debut. Junior Isabella Torri was one of the strongest singers in the cast and did very well in “Apples & Oranges” with senior Taiya Supranovich. Abigail Andrade, a junior, was achingly poignant in her number “Promise Me This.” Senior Brittany Kelly sang duets in “The End of the Line” and “Lipstick.” Senior Alexis Perry was a cute cat lover as Julie in “Julie’s Song.” Senior Junior Taylor Queen was very effective as the nail client and connecting friend in “Manicure.”
Galianna Erazo, a senior at Seymour HS, had a challenging character arc to cover in her adult-themed “Me & Ricky” and she nailed it. Freshman Michael Starkey gave a solid performance in the three parts of his number “Pi,” and you can probably surmise what the college major of his character is. Senior Spencer Beddington sang very well as he told his college story in the number “Footprint.”
Junior James Rafferty was a strong part of the duet on “Great Expectations.” Junior Evan Webb was the male half of the “Lipstick” vignette, and freshman Philip Fioretti brought out the comedy in “I’m Allergic to Cats.” Marvin Matovu was in the ensemble. Sophia Fioretti, a sophomore, was one half of the best friend duo in “The End of the Line” along with Ms. Kelly. Senior Emily Thomas was adorably funny as the germ-fearing young woman in “Cake,” presented in three parts.
The auditorium of Seymour HS is pretty standard, but the students brought lots of light to their stage. Mr. Schneider gave a most comprehensive curtain speech about proper theatre behavior before the show began that included an offer to share photos of the cast. I could not figure out how one gentleman across the aisle from me snored loudly during later parts of a 70-minute production, especially one with some great ensemble pieces. Thank you to Seymour High for inviting me to their opening night and kudos to the students and the adults who work with them on a fine contemporary production.
Photos courtesy of Brandt Schneider