Off-Broadway Review: “The Time Machine” at the New York Musical Festival

Joseph Verlezza

The new musical “The Time Machine,” presented as part of New York Musical Festival, is an overwrought musical adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic, plagued with too many genres, resulting in a enfeebled main plot. Basically, to become more cohesive, the creative team needs to decide what the product wants to be. Is it a love story, a Sci-fi thriller, or a comic book musical? Is it to be taken seriously or should it be simply an evening of fun entertainment? The message is lost as flippant styles emerge from one scene to the next. The music and lyrics by David Mauk are quite impressive, but seem to embrace a dark, heavy somber tone with little diversity. Teaming up with Brenda Mandabach, their book seems to be the weakest element of the production, with changing intent and shallow characters in search of dimension.

The cast is superb and once again as has often been seen in this year’s festival, outshines the material. Michael Hunsiker creates Thomas, a staunch hero with a sturdy, romantic baritone to match. Randal Keith provides all the necessary elements of a comic book villain supported by bold, powerful vocals that accentuate his character. Soprano, Bligh Voth delivers a pure tonal quality to her vocals, befitting the strong yet vulnerable love interest, Wenissa. The large supporting cast provides a more than adequate execution throughout the performance, producing solid vocals, versatile movement and multiple characters.

Director Justin Baldridge generates a steady pace to the action but also falls prey to the problem of genre identity and character definition. Choreography by Jim Cooney is competent, deftly moving the large cast comfortably around the small stage strewn with inventive and resourceful set pieces designed by Lauren Mills. Costumes range from turn of the 19th century realistic, period to comic book futuristic fantasy designed with faultless fashion by Vanessa Leuck.



“The Time Machine” stars Michael Hunsaker, Bligh Voth, Marc Moritz, Barbara McCulloh, Michael Thatcher, Doug Chitel, Lori Tishfield, Martavius Parrish, Randal Keith, and ensemble members Shiloh Goodin, Aisling Halpin, Darrel T. Joe, Lamont Walker II, and Tony II Lorrich.

The creative team includes Lauren Mills (Scenic Design), Vanessa Leuck (Costume Design), Jamie Roderick (Lighting Designer), Patrick LaChance (Sound Design), Don Cieslik (Projections Designer), and Adele Rylands (Fight Director). Alice Pollitt is the Production Stage Manager. Production photos by Russ Rowland.

The production will run through Sunday, August 16, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, located at 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues on the south side of 42nd Street). General Admission tickets are $29.75. For reservations and information (including cast and creative team) visit or call 212-352-3101. Running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.