Review: “Atomic” drops powerful truths at New Line Theatre

Erin Karll

  • OnStage Missouri Critic

The success of ‘Hamtilon’ shows us that history is full of amazing stories waiting to be told. ‘Atomic’ is one of them. New Line Theatre’s latest production is powerful. Doing what theatre does best, this show opens a dialog that has importance in todays socitey. I consider myself a history buff, but the writers Danny Ginges (book and lyrics) and Philip Foxman (music and lyrics) taught the story behind the atomic bomb in thought provoking way. When the finale ended and the band hit the last note the audience is left with the questions these scientists ask themselves. Just because we can, does that mean we should? Can we forgive ourselves for our actions, or lack of actions?

The story of the Manhattan Project’s Leo Szilard (Zachary Allen Farmer) is followed during the origins of the project and the aftermath when the bomb was used on Japan. Act one focus on the challenges the scientist faced not knowing who to trust and where to find support. Act two deals with the fallout, both physically and emotional after the bombs are dropped.

The cast was full of stand outs, but also worked together to form hefty harmonies. J Robert Oppenheimer (Jeffery M Wright) got quite a few laughs by just walking in and out of a door. Wright and Farmer showed layers of the characters, showing the audience that these are not just bolded names in text books.

The costumes (Sarah Porter) were impeccable. Fitted suits with hats and army uniforms for the men. The ladies had some quick changes from World War II era skirts to Rosie the Riveter outfits for a wonderful chorus number that brought visions of Edward Snowden nightmares to my mind. The lighting (Rob Lippert) was brilliant. Not wanting to spoil the show I will just say the use of colors during the bombing and while talking about the victims of the fall out added to the storytelling. Also there was a scene where Leo is torn between the two worlds. One controlled by his heart with his love Trude Weiss (Ann Hier) and the other controlled by his brain filled with the scientist of the Manhattan Project. The light choice and staging was so simple, but powerful and I enjoyed it.

‘Atomic’ runs at The Marcelle Theatre in St. Louis until June 25th. For tickets and show information call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 or visit Also, check out #newlinelive for live tweets from opening night.