Tuesday, December 10, 2019

"Immortal" by Trademark Theater at Camp Bar

The latest creation from new #TCTheater company Trademark Theater is a solo show created and performed by its Artistic Director Tyler Michaels King. Immortal has been in development for a while, and for the last three weeks Tyler and his collaborators workshopped the project, culminating in a one-night only performance at Camp Bar last night. Hopefully this is not the last we see of the aging crooner F. Amos Lee, and he'll make his return in some form or another in the coming years.

From various sources of inspiration (from his grandfather to Andy Kaufmann's Tony Clifton persona), Tyler created the character of F. Amos Lee, a crooner in the style of Frank Sinatra who once was big time, but now plays tiny clubs like Camp. He just found out he only has a few weeks to live, and this final concert is his swan song, and his way of dealing with his impending mortality. He shares songs and stories from his past with the audience, including a singalong and some back-and-forth banter.

Twin Cities Arts Reader's 2019 Composer of the Year Keith Hovis (see also Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant) composed the original music and co-wrote the lyrics with Tyler. Even though Keith admitted this is not the musical style he usually writes in, the half dozen or so songs really sound like they come from the golden era of the American Songbook. From F. Amos' introduction song, "Famously Yours," to a fun drinking song, to a lament of lost love, the songs work both as selections from F. Amos' greatest hits, and as explorations of his current emotional state. I left humming the songs and wanting to hear more of them.

Tyler Michaels King
(image by Emily Michaels King)
I said solo show but that's not entirely accurate. Austen Fisher plays F. Amos' new young accompanist Jacob, referred to as kid, and both does a bang-up job on the keys and very naturally portrays this nice young man for F. Amos to bounce ideas (and looks) off of. And director Joe Krienke helped shape what is a cohesive and smooth flowing evening.

If you've seen Tyler Michaels King before, you know he has a talent of disappearing inside of roles, physically, vocally, and emotionally. F. Amos Lee is another in the long line of specific and well defined characters he's inhabited. I look forward to seeing him again sometime.

"Enjoy your life. There's plenty of time to be dead."