by Matthew A. Everett • July 29, 2008 • “Romeo and Juliet. They really didn’t have to die. Timing is everything.”
(I know, I know, a woman finally cracks my pre-Fringe Top 10 list this year. Someone check the blogger’s forehead. Is he feverish?)
Patty Nieman had a solo musical show the year I first started blogging. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me On A Sunday. I saved it to share with Mom. Because of Patty, not Sir Andrew. We both agreed – Patty, fantastic; the material, not so much.
Five years further on, Patty’s found some great material worthy of her beautiful voice. And it was right under her nose all the time – a diary she wrote when she was a young girl.
“Small-town Ohio, 1977. In her bright yellow bedroom, preteen Patty dreams about an Indian dancing boy scout, a green velvet dress like Scarlett O’Hara’s and a fab future in musical theater. Her diary tells all!”
Anyone who saw the Fringe-For-All preview, in which young Patty in pink pajamas recounts in song her many return visits to a high school production of “Romeo and Juliet,” knows what I’m talking about. And if you didn’t, well, hey, the Fringe has a YouTube page with a video clip to help you out. Enjoy.
Ridiculous as it sounds, I found myself partway into the song thinking, “Hmmm, the lyrics are kind of simplistic.” (Then the other part of my brain kicked in with, “Uh, dumbass, she wrote the diary before she entered high school. Adult sophistication with lyric structure wasn’t in the cards. It’s character work, silly.”) The music that goes with the lyrics, and Patty’s amazing voice to perform said music, well, you really couldn’t ask for better.
In the interests of full disclosure, the composer is Rob Hartmann – who I also wrote a musical with not too long ago. If you want other samples to listen to, I have four handy on this web page. My lyrics weren’t culled from any of my former diaries, which is just as well. Mine don’t sing in quite the way Patty’s do.
Inadvertently, over my year’s of blogging, I’ve gained a reputation for hating musicals. I don’t hate musicals. I just don’t immediately like something because it’s a musical. Just like any other piece of theater, it has to be a good musical for me to like it. The music and the singing don’t get it a free pass. The performance has to engage me somehow on a genuine emotional or intellectual level.
With Patty and Rob involved, I feel fairly safe in saying, “This will be a good musical.”
(To borrow from the diary, one might even say, “Superb!”)
Very Highly Recommended.
Location, dates and show times, and ticket information available here.
Entering his sixth year of blogging about the Minnesota Fringe Festival (and bringing Mom along for the ride as a guest reviewer), Matthew A. Everett is also a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at matthewaeverett.com.