Review: "Freefall Frostbite" at Feinstein’s/54 Below

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Kerry Breen

A new musical, Freefall Frostbite, was presented as a 65-minute concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Tuesday, October 16.

“Freefall Frostbite” is a full, two-act musical. This is the show’s third New York engagement, following an October 2017 run at St. Mark’s Theater. The show originally premiered in 2013 at the NYC International Fringe Festival, but was completely reimagined with a new score and altered script.

The concert showed off two of the show’s most valuable assets, showcasing the talented cast and enveloping the audience in the music. With a Beat-Shakespearean book and lyrics, the storyline will resonate with any audience, covering themes of hope, betrayal, and liberation.

The story starts on the evening of New Year’s Eve in New York City. Steven and Sharon, a couple whose relationship is beginning to show cracks, are waiting in line to get into an exclusive club to celebrate the holiday. However, as the night goes on and the temperatures drop, it becomes clear that nobody is getting in, leaving Steven and Sharon and others in line to be harassed by a group of homeless people who poke and prod at their insecurities.

Steven, a writer, works to reconcile his career and relationship with his long-held goals, while Sharon expresses doubt about their relationship. The homeless, who promise freedom and liberation, start to make “insane sense,” forcing the characters to realize that what they have always wanted may not be what they hoped for. It's a theme that most audiences will be able to relate with, especially when presented as beautifully as it is here.

The cast included Brian A. Mason, Juliet Fixel, Alexander Hunt, Bethsaida Ramos, Matthew Gregory, Chris Price, Shelby Acosta, Adam James King, and Annette Navarro. Juliet Fixel, who plays Sharon, has been involved with the show from the beginning, being the daughter of Michael Fixel and having been involved in the rewriting of the score. Her performance is particularly breathtaking, as is that of Annette Navarro, who plays the role of Susan. Alexander Hunt, Matt Gregory, and Bethsaida Ramos, who play the unnamed homeless characters, all bring a dark, high-energy spirt to the production.

The concert band featured David Oberst on piano, Spencer Lutvak on guitar, Magda Kress on bass, and Adam Kiefer on drums. The original, pop-infused score is thrilling, and the cast and band bring the score to life beautifully, especially during the show’s energetic opening and meaningful closing numbers. There are also multiple atmospheric ensemble numbers, giving each cast member a moment in the spotlight.

Filmed footage of the St. Mark’s engagement, edited by Ellen Brown, was played on television screens on either side of the stage, allowing the audience to see the scenes with their full choreography. The screens, which are always present but rarely used at Feinstein’s/54 Below, were used to great effect, showing both scenes from the previous production and a montage-like sequence that gives backstory and depth to the relationship between the two leading characters.

 

Freefall Frostbite has a book and lyrics by Michael Fixel and music by David Oberst. It was developed and directed by Juliet Fixel, with Jon Aisenberg serving as the assistant music director and Kordell Draper as the directorial consultant. The show is being produced by Xylina Golding, JFix Productions and Choreography, Juliet Fixel, David Oberst and Shelley Halman.