The Marvelous Miraculous Myth of the Marvelyn Michaelson Musical or what you will

The Marvelous Miraculous Myth of the Marvelyn Michaelson Musical or what you will

Ace Views: The Manufactured Myth of Eveline Flynn | Theatre Three

I could never get the title right.

First off, I know I’m late with this, okay.? Let’s just go ahead and acknowledge that right now. No, I did not time this review out with the run of the show. BUTTTTTTT I’ll say that’s because Ace doesn’t REALLY write reviews. I just write my views. I don’t like putting time constraints on my thoughts. And, come on, nobody is really coming to my page before they decide to go see a show, so cut ya boy some slack! If you are relying on my opinion before you go see theater, SHAME on you! You know I never do things on time, how dare you miss out on an opportunity to support theater and use me as an excuse. I feel attacked! Security!

Madison Calhoun, Taylor Nash, Quintin Jones

Secondly, I want to say I have so much respect for artists that actually go through with creating and producing their own projects. It’s also dope to see the full vision come to fruition when you know several of the artists involved in the creative process. Producing a play is no small feat. Producing a full musical is honestly a miracle when you factor in all of the additional elements that could go wrong. It takes a lot of dedication to the craft, persistence, and financial support to bring a musical to life. So congrats to Ian Ferguson, Michael Federico, Theater Three, as well as the cast and crew of Eveline Flynn for making this project a reality. You all deserve medals for tackling such a beast.

With that being said, the production as a whole wasn’t as entertaining as watching my friends and colleagues give amazing performances I’ve never seen from them. There really were some stellar performances in this production. I was pleasantly surprised by a few. But like most new musicals, the show itself needs work, but that’s not to say it can’t be great with some slight alterations and the right amount of diligence. I think that there are elements of the production that don’t make sense, some unnecessary and some frankly unentertaining. I know. I know. Dallas isn’t used to reviewers saying anything negative about theater, but it’s another taboo that you’re going to have to overcome if you want Dallas art to get better and you continue following Ace Anderson. Where there is Ace, there is honesty. Also, Ian is my friend and when we talk about the show I’ll elaborate on the same critique I’ve given here. If we all were just honest with each other the world would be a better place! Honesty is communication, and communication rules in all aspects of life!

l_970616001819.jpg

So let’s get down to it! I was lost for the first 20 minutes of the play. This is for two reasons, different in nature but equally significant: 1) While the actors were mic’d, the sound design did not accommodate for the band levels so the spoken and sung words were overpowered by musicians going extra hard in the pit for pretty much the entire show. I often found myself having a sigh of relief when the music (though enjoyable) stopped and I could hear the actors’ dialogue. It had the opposite effect when the lead-in for the music would begin. I would lean in, push my head forward and squint coupled with a look of confusion resembling Grandma at the dinner table finding out her grandchild is homosexual. At intermission I discover that my experience wasn’t unique as other people mentioned to me that they would be moving to seat farther from the speaker system in hopes of a better chance to understand the lyrics. I would imagine that their efforts were futile because I wasn’t sitting near speaker. 2) Unfortunately the choreography was extremely distracting from the already muddled words. I understand that musical choreography is most of the time necessary, but in this case, most of the movement didn’t really serve the story in a meaningful way. Ironically without it, most of the songs would have been boring. 

The songs were beautifully written and definitely drove the story for the most part, but almost every song in the show could have been cut in half. They were predictable. We knew what the song was going to be about almost before it began. But shortening the songs would help a lot! The shorter length would shoot us through each moment of Eveline’s chaotic mental state allowing us to be pleasantly surprised at each turn. It also could have bypassed much of the needless filler choreography. Again though, it was an unfortunate double edged sword because the moments with no choreography left the audience incredibly bored and waiting for the next event to happen. There were a couple of trained dancers in the show that could do some fun choreo but not enough to serve the story. I would have rather seen an innovative interpretation of an actor standing still singing a solo than watch them trying to incorporate some basic moves while other actors dance around them in circles. The most incredible moment was in the second act where got this beautiful blindfolded sequence while being seductively serenaded with an angelically operatic aria. This was the one moment where I felt like the stage transformed and we finally got see a vivid image of Eveline’s decaying mind. I was left wanting more of that but never got it. I should also mention Quintin Jones voice was like butter one toasted bread in a Prince Inspired sounding ballad during one of Eveline’s hallucinations. Why Quintin sounded spectacular, I had trouble understanding why the number was happening to begin with.

600x500mmoef2FINAL-2.jpg

Now, I know I said I was lost at first, but once I knew the formula of the story, I was able to predict each moment that followed. I also found it really hard to care about Eveline at all throughout the show which made it harder to stay invested. She just wasn’t interesting to me. Ironically, all of the other characters were. I really enjoyed watching each of the other characters bring their own authentic life to the story, and that made it more irritating when Eveline would encroach on their stage presence with her depressing absence. I honestly can’t tell you whether that’s because of the way she was written or the way she was played, truly. But I was bored with her journey. At a certain point, I stopped caring what was going to happen to her at the end of the play. I had no real opportunity to invest in her. 

The main source of entertainment for me came primarily from watching really good actors exchange dialogue and I was extremely impressed with the authenticity of several of the actors in this play. My favorite two people to watch were Molly and *I can’t remember the brother’s name* played by Maddie and Ian Ferguson.

*Pause*

Ian Ferguson killed that shit. He’s so real on stage. This obviously has a lot to do with the fact that he wrote the play, but some writers that perform their own work often fall into the trap of playing the IDEA they’ve written because they KNOW the play so well that they’re ahead of the audience in their performance. This wasn’t an issue for Ian at all. He was just living, which is so refreshing to watch. What also makes his performance so incredible is that he stepped in and learned the part that day! One of the actor’s had gotten the plague that was going around Dallas and specifically effecting the DFW theater scene. Word is that Ian got the call that morning (this is opening night mind you!) that Sam wasn’t going to make it. So, not wanting to cancel opening night, he drove up to the theater, learned the blocking, and took a script by his lonesome to learn the words by 7:30pm. Wow. Ya gotta love LIVE theater, right!?

Anyway what was I saying? Ah yes! Ian is a great actor. It’s such a drag watching bad actors use stage voices that sound NOTHING like actual human beings. Every choice is inauthentically predetermined and the audience is now watching 4 weeks of rehearsal instead living breathing characters. I like to think of Acting as the middle ground between free-will and preordained destiny: Every choice that an actor makes onstage should give the perception of complete autonomy despite multiple guiding hands carefully calculating choices to perfect the illusion of reality in the weeks leading up to the performance. 

l_970616001943.jpg

Out of everyone in the show, Ian Ferguson and Madison Calhoun have the best grasp of that concept. Musicals are hard because you have to be larger than life, so the challenge is to plant yourself deep in realism like a Banyan Tree with the confidence that your performance will unapologetically blossom beyond imagination. Madison has the Juice. I’ve never seen her perform before, but she brings the ideal level of joy, fun and excitement that is perfect for musicals. I have a feeling she is an incredible straight play actor as well and the script gave here several moments to show off her instrument. Also I was pleasantly surprised watching Taylor Nash’s playing a central role so beautifully. I’m friends with Taylor, and she often talks about her fear of acting. Realizing I’ve never seen her play a role with a meaningful arch in the plot, I was really happy to see how comfortable she was in her own skin. And she got a chance to be both comedic and bring some realistic drama to the stage which was nice to see from her.

All in all, like most new musicals, this play was entertaining but needs quite a bit of work to be great. But I bet that Michael and Ian would argue to say that creating a revolutionary masterpiece wasn’t the goal for this project. All art is about trial & error, and the more you try, the fewer the errors and the artwork profits. In art there is a no wrong answer. Every artistic choice is relative to the artists involved and subject to public opinion which is relative to the viewer. ISN’T THAT BEAUTIFUL? That means as long as you are creating, you’re doing it right. So thank you, Ian Ferguson, Michael Federico, and the folks at Theater Three for creating this work for our community!

I am a professional Actor, Graphic Designer & Photographer. My career started as a full-time designer in 2013. Two years later, I said “hell no” to depression, quit my job and, went full-time freelance with my own design company, The Striped Heart. Shortly after I accepted a company membership with Tony-Award winning Dallas Theater Center’s acting company. My greatest asset is my creative outlook on life. I've been engrossed in the world of the arts since I was very young. They way art moves and inspires people is what keeps me going. I was born to be a connector and a leader. I strongly believe we were put on this earth to create. Therefor it is my ultimate goal to keep art and creativity alive and well for as long as I live. People say I'm not funny...