Gravity Defied Theater Co. held a one-night fundraiser for their upcoming production of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. The night featured several numbers from the upcoming production, original dance pieces by the company, and several solos and duets from the modern musical theatre cannon.
HE SAID: Wow, what a cast?! That is easily my first reaction because the cast of 22 stood out more than any individual for two reasons. First, the choral sound is so robust and well blended; it is simply incredible. The final number, “Let Me Drown” from The Wild Party, was the best for me as there was not only a lot of group singing that had a great unison, but the final harmony was so precise and built so well, that the audience started their standing ovation before the cast had finished the chord. The second thing worth noting about the strength of the cast is their clear devotion to each other. Each time there was a solo or small group number, the rest of the cast was entirely supportive to what was on stage. That kind of attention is so important to a show where most of the cast is one stage the whole time, and really helps build a unified group for a better show.
SHE SAID: I was absolutely impressed with the sheer talent showcased at this preview and fundraiser. The leading soloists wore mics for amplification, but it was clear that each of them had such power and control of their voices that they were unnecessary. For me, the duet, “You’re Nothing Without Me,” from City of Angels was a clear vocal high point of the evening, making me wish that Gravity Defied would take on that complex musical gem. Chris Trimboli and Aaron Conklin’s voices were precise, powerful, stylistically on point for the period, and their harmonies were rock solid. Another high point of the show was the women of the show performing “Mama Who Bore Me,” from the Tony-Award winning Spring Awakening. These women made it clear that this cast is quite deep with talent, and that each member of the ensemble has a very special contribution to make to the production.
HE SAID: The highlight of the night for me was the four leads of The Wild Party singing “Poor Child”. Queenie (Erica Vlahinos), Burrs (Keith Rabin Jr.), Kate (Liz Bollar), and Black (Aaron Conklin) not only sang each of their parts powerfully, but also acted each part with such passion it was beautiful to watch. I hope that number is an indicator of what is in store for the full production, because if they can carry that level of honesty to a full character arches and a full production, then we are all in for a real treat.
SHE SAID: In addition to the numbers from The Wild Party and performances by individual members and groups from the cast, there were also several dance pieces that were set to modern pop music, to introduce the characters in the show. It was entirely unclear to me whether these numbers will be included in the full production that opens in two weeks, or whether they were staged for the fundraiser only. Adding pop music to period production would be a risky move, and I’m curious to see whether that is indeed their choice, and if so, if it can work for the piece as a whole.
THEY SAID: This show has incredibly strong talent and a dedicated cast behind it, which really sets it up for success. Strong vocals are all but guaranteed and we bet there will be honest well-developed characters as well. Basically, we are going to make sure we attend, and we think everyone should get their tickets and check this show out.