Can you remember the first time you saw Rent, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Once? Musicals that changed the way we looked at standard musical theater. While Hamilton is getting all the attention this week as it starts previews on Broadway, I was lucky enough to head down to the South Street Seaport Museum where Naked Angels is presenting a musical theater experience/play/concert…I actually find it very hard to describe; but it is incredible.
Myself and about 60 other people were completely captivated by 7 performers onstage who sing, act, play instruments, create sound effects/sets/images in the most creative of ways. Director Liz Carlson (artistic director of Naked Angels) and her design team have created an experience like no other. Breathtaking moments in this play, underscored by music and sounds that create a theatrical experience that immerses the audience into this world of the sea.
The show is SeaWife by The Lobbyists & Seth Moore directed and developed by Liz Carlson. The website calls it a concert play - I call it a deeply engaging and moving fable of a man's connection to the sea. How it bore him, nurtured him, and caused havoc in his life. We watch him grow from a young boy following in his father's footsteps to a man seeking out his own way in the world. The imagery used in this show to illustrate baby, boy, the sea…it is absolutely beautiful. Even the use of changing the actor that portrays our protagonist Percy midstream completely works in the way the entire story is presented.
For those that wonder what this is: it's a little Peter and The Starcatcher meets Once with a rocking, pulsating score that gives way to haunting melodies and the tightest harmonies seven voices can create. That score (co-written by The Lobbyists who are all performing it) is glorious. I left humming the closing song and still can't get it out of my head.
I must mention the names of this ensemble group because I've never seen such devotion to artistic work - perhaps because you are sitting so close to them that you feel every single thing they do - but they are living, breathing and sweating this story out of every inch of their bodies. Tommy Crawford, Eloise Eonnet, Alex Grubbs, Will Turner, Tony Vo, Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, and Raymond Sicam III give their all.
The group has been working and reworking the piece for a few years now. I can't wait to see what happens and only hope a producer will jump in and take this show to an Off-Broadway house where it can have a longer run and more people can experience the magic that is happening nightly. Sure, there are places that can still be tightened up to work on the length of the show, but that's part of the beauty of catching something in its infancy. The show has been extended downtown through July 26th. Don't miss your chance to see it. So you can't get tickets to Hamilton until 2016…experience SeaWife now and tell your friends you got to see it before everyone else starts talking about it.
Photos by Caitlin McNaney