Friday, August 10, 2012

Fringe Festival 2012: Answered Prayers

Day: 3

Show: 11

Title: Answered Prayers

By: Nautilus Music-Theater

Created by: Robert Elhai and Jim Payne

Location: Rarig Xperimental

Summary: A musical adaptation of several of the short stories in the collection Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Answered Prayers completes the trilogy which also includes last year's Twisted Apples (my favorite show of Fringe 2011) and Untold Lies from 2010 (which I unfortunately did not see). This year's installment introduces us to some new characters in the small town - a teacher who left Winesburg to see the world and has since returned, and therefore is viewed as a bit strange by the townspeople who never left, and the pastor of the town church, who is fascinated by this strange woman to the point of thinking that he's found God in her. The common thread with last year's piece is George Willard, a young writer whose job at the newspaper allows him the opportunity to know many of the townspeople.

Highlights: Like last year's show, the music is beautiful, expansive, and expressive (libretto by Jim Payne and music by Robert Elhai), and wonderfully performed by the two-person band and three-person cast. Norah Long and Joshua Hinck return from last year's Twisted Apples. Joshua reprises his role as George and shows us more depth to the character. Norah, who last year played George's withering mother, brings a different energy to this much different character - a woman who's seen the world and returned to the small town of her birth to find it lacking. They are joined this year by JP Fitzgibbons (performing with laryngitis!) in a powerful performance as the pastor. I wanted to know more about these characters (I'm currently reading the book so hopefully I will), and I look forward to all three acts being performed as a full production. While I was more taken by last year's show and the compelling story of George's mother and their relationship, Answered Prayers adds more layers to life in this small town. I'm curious to see how all the pieces will fit together and the story they will tell as a whole.

Tip: The show sold out the night I was there (the Xperimental seems to be one of the smaller houses), so it might be wise to buy your ticket in advance if you're going to the last remaining show on Sunday at 4.

Read more of my fringe fest reflections...