The story is set in New York City in 1964-5, culminating on the night of the city-wide blackout (that actually affected several states) on November 9. The story is told to us by a narrator in a sort of round-about way, jumping forward and backwards in time, foreshadowing and filling in the gaps with flashbacks. This may sound confusing but it's really not; rather it's a clever storytelling device that builds the show thematically and emotionally rather than chronologically, and it's fun to revisit moments we've seen before with a greater understanding of what they mean. The narrator tells us that the story is built around a love triangle between sisters Daphne and Miriam from South Dakota, who've just moved to the big city, and Harold, a sandwich maker and aspiring musician who has just lost his mother. Daphne wants to be a Broadway star and is thrilled when a playwright from an influential theater family casts her as the star in his new musical, even though this interferes with her relationship with her new beau Harold. Miriam is happy being a waitress, until a fortune teller prophesies that she is going to meet her soul mate (you guessed it - Harold) and then have a great fall (and not as in the season). Destiny, connections, fate, and choices all have a role to play in this mostly sweet story about these mostly likeable characters.
|the cast of Fly By Night (photo by Dan Norman)
|Daphne (Royer Bockus), Harold (Chris Koza),
Crabble (Joy Dolo, photo by Dan Norman)
The multi-level set invokes NYC with its stoop, fire escape, and brick walls, from which drawers open to reveal lunch counters or diner booths. Even scene transitions are entertaining, as ensemble members quickly and with style bring in the props and furniture needed, with lots of tossing and catching (movement designed by Jim Lichtscheidl). The cast is dressed in cute, retro, character-specific costumes, detailed and thoughtful from head to toe, where I could see from my front row seats, aka shoe level, that even the choice of socks is flawless (set design by Joseph Stanley, costume design by Trevor Bowen).
Thanks to the Jungle Theater for bringing this charming new musical to Minneapolis and assembling this multi-talented cast and creative team. It's (almost*) everything I want in a musical. Fly By Night is a delicious summer confection with much heart, humor, and poignant moments (continuing through July 23 and well worth braving the ever-worsening traffic/construction/parking issues in Uptown, just give yourself plenty of time to get there).
*SPOILER ALERT! If you've already seen the show and are interested in reading my thoughts about the ending and the questionable timeline, click here.
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.