So, we finally went last night to:
A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books. It's my favorite if you count the fact that I don't even know how many times I've read it. Since the director's (John Sweeney) wife Ally is my very dear friend, I wanted it to be amazing. I had no worries. It was a great evening of theater. The actors who play the central characters are incredible. I will put Utah voices up against any I've heard in New York or elsewhere. Ally and I were able to speak with the writer of the Book, Music and Lyrics Jill Santoriello during intermission and she agreed. (She was gracious and lovely. It was a treat to meet her. Her story in incredible.)
Angela Jeffries can raise the roof with her powerful voice but, the feeling she puts into the character and the depth of the script makes this Madame Defarge the first one I've seen that is at all three dimensional and true to the story. Madame Defarge is one of literary fiction's most evil villains, but Dickens is careful to point out how she became so hateful. Madame Defarge is truly the product of brutality. This is the first production to show that.
An introduction to the French people has cast members literally seen crawling from under ground like rats symbolic of how they are treated. Then, when caskets of wine are spilled in the streets, the starving people are seen licking it up the foreshadowing how the streets will run with blood and the people will become blood thirsty. I was stunned at how these crucial elements of the book were included seamlessly in the production.
The staging of the little funeral for Gaspard's son is so tender and touching that I was weeping by that point.
Sydney Carton is sensitively played by Kyle Olsen who has the voice of an archangel, which is fantastic in this production because it is one of the most musical, musicals I've seen. The show doesn't have musical numbers that put a point on the action, rather the music in Tale of Two Cities moves the story line along. In this way, it has an operatic quality.
The show is chocked full of fantastic talent. Charles and Lucie are brilliant. I thought Jeffrey Whitlock gave a stand out performance as Mr. Cruncher.
The costumes are amazing and made in house according to my friend Ally.
I could go one about it, but at the essence, A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most beautiful stories in our literary canon. Tales of redemption are poignant to all people who yearn to be better. The writer Jill Santoriello and this amazing company have created a glorious piece of art. The kind that inspires the best in us... that part that hopes to be more.