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Beatniks

musicals and operas · the collective beat ensemble · Ages 12+ · United States of America

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Review by anonymous

June 22, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

Ms. Schendel approaches this piece almost as an operetta—in the similar way than Sondheim might have. There is a book which touches on specific events, but it is the music and lyrics—and the many songs—that drive this piece, songs that inform the characters in a beautiful and pure way. The band, led by Mina Bloom at keyboard, is wonderful, as is the amazingly talented young cast—with Brady Richards completely embodying the essence of the iconic Kerouac.

What I didn't like

For a musical that uses minimal set pieces, this is a ten-member cast and a 5-piece orchestra that could basically be presented at any venue with great success. Some tweeking could be done in terms of staging (the first duet between Joyce and Kerouac might be more successful if they were a little more separated from each other—across a crowded room, anyone?) Still, a major achievement at the Fringe which should be seen by Sunday.

My overall impression

An incredibly ambitious and for the most part supremely successful rendering of the era of the 50s when literature and poetry were reinvented by the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, Joyce Glassman, and of course Jack Kerouac. The music and lyrics are visceral and cutting, romantic and heartfelt, plaintive and forlorn. The creator/director Davia Schendel makes a strategic—and correct—decision to create a tapestry of the era rather than go deeply into the many stories that could each form their own musical.
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