Joseph Verlezza, Associate New York Critic
What a pleasant surprise to walk into the Studio space at Cherry Lane Theatre and see a fresh, new look developed for the exciting new production “Original Sound” by Adam Seidel. Scenic designer, Justin Townsend has transformed the space into a multi-purpose set used for several different locations but always having the lingering aura of a contemporary, professional recording studio. Lighting by Kate McGee supports specific locations and has created a multi-colored neon tube installation as a focal point that pulsates during scene changes adding to the highly charged production and sleek design.
The plot revolves around young DJ Danny Solis (a convincing Sabastian Chacon) who is an aspiring songwriter posting his beats on the internet and Ryan Reed an established rock star on the brink of super stardom who is experiencing a creative block. Ryan is under pressure to write a hit single for her new album. She googles herself and finds the diss track that Danny posted but also listens to his latest post. Not difficult to see where this is going. Ryan steals the composition and it becomes a hit single which Danny hears on the radio and recognizes the similarity. So, let the games begin. It seems like a simple story, but it gets a bit complicated with some twists and turns that can keep you intrigued throughout the ninety minutes. Bring in Ryan’s unscrupulous manager Jake Colburn (a solid but transparent Anthony Arkin), Danny’s roommate (a coy Lio Mehiel), his sister Felicia (an honest and angry Cynthia Bastidas) and his estranged musician, father Tommy (an intense Wilson Jermaine Heredia) and the plot naturally unfolds and thickens before your eyes.
The question that Mr. Seidel can delineate seems to ask what is original or to extrapolate, is anything one hundred percent unprecedented. In recent years it seems that the music industry has had its share of high-profile cases of plagiarism that inherently make this a valid argument. What pushes this work beyond the familiar story are the layers and slow exposition that lends to the intrigue, the struggle for acceptance and notoriety and the compromises needed for success. It is truly ironic to create totally believable and likeable characters who all end up losing, never really getting what they want but understanding why. The dialogue is easy and natural giving a nice fluidity to each scene. It is not a perfect script and a bit more stage time and exposition for the sister and father would add some backstory and depth to the already fine interpretations.
The entire cast does a remarkable job juggling the small space and emphasizing the ever-changing locations under the meticulous direction of Elena Araoz. The production is clean, lean, and smart, drawing the audience into the story with words and music supported by raw emotion and transpicuous vulnerability. Take yourself to the Cherry Lane Theatre for an entertaining evening of theater. You will not be disappointed.
“Original Sound” features Anthony Arkin, Cynthia Bastidas, Jane Bruce, Sebastian Chacon, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Lio Mehiel.
The show features set design by Justin Townsend, lighting design by Kate McGee, costume design by Sarita Fellows, sound design by Nathan Leigh, with casting by McCorkle Casting, Ltd./ Pat McCorkle, CSA and Katja Zarolinski, CSA. The production stage manager is Christine Lemme and the general manager/producer is Julie Crosby.
“Original Sound” runs at Cherry Lane Studio Theatre (38 Commerce Street in Manhattan) through Saturday June 8, 2019 on the following performance schedule: Monday – Friday at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. There are no performances on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 and there are added shows on Friday, May 31 at 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Tickets are available by visiting www.CherryLaneTheatre.org, by calling 866-811-4111, or by visiting the Cherry Lane Theatre Box Office. Running time is 90 minutes without intermission.
Photo: Jane Bruce and Sebastian Chacon in Adam Seidel's “Original Sound” at Cherry Lane Studio Theatre. Credit: Russ Rowland.