Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ATOMIC • New Line Theatre

The origins of the atomic bomb don’t initially sound like your typical musical theatre fare. But Danny Ginges and Philip Foxman’s Australian import about the unleashing of the world’s first nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII, along with the lead up to it, provide plenty of cloudy emotional fallout, and in that respect, it’s right up New Line’s alley. Spanning a period of time from the 1930’s to the end of the 50’s, this story looks at the moral complications that come with creating of a weapon of annihilation -- born from science, but ending with massive human casualties, and heavy consciouses.

Zachary Allen Farmer, in an imposing and compassionate performance, is Hungarian born Jewish physicist Leo Szilard, who flees Germany to escape the looming shadow of Hitler’s Nazis. After winding up in America with his long-time girlfriend Trude (Ann Hier, impressive in a juicy role), he meets and collaborates with other brilliant physicists in a World War II arms race. A passionate Reynaldo Arceno is Nobel Prize-winning Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, Sean Michael gives a strong performance as the obnoxious “father of the hydrogen bomb,” Edward Teller, and a fittingly harsh General Groves.
(l-r) Victoria Valentine, Reynaldo Arceno,
Ryan Scott Foizey, Sean Michael, Jeffrey M. Wright,
and Larssia White, singing "Little Fire,"
in New Line Theatre's ATOMIC.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg.
Larissa White is the confidently capable American physicist Leona Woods, and Jeffrey M. Wright plays Robert Oppenheimer with cocky assurance, as well as Paul Tibbets, who piloted the Enola Gay -- dropping “Little Boy,” the first of two atomic bombs. Ryan Scott Foizey’s boldly devoted performance as American physicist Arthur Compton bridges the divide between the physicists and the military, with Victoria Valentine, very capable in multiple roles.

New Line’s directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy keep the play running smoothly with the action running down the middle of Rob Lippert’s set, with audience members on either side. Sarah Porter’s period costume design hits the mark, with sound design by Benjamin Rosemann and lighting design by Lippert. Under the musical direction of Jeffrey Richard Carter, the band  effectively handles the score of this driving rock musical, with the stirring “Greater Battle,” and “World of Gray” being standout numbers.

Zachary Allen Farmer as Leo Szilard
and Ann Hier as Trude Weiss.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg.
Atomic is still early in its life, only having had a handful of stagings after an off-Broadway run a couple of years ago, and though New Line’s run is over, it’s exciting to know that contemporary shows like this are being produced right in our own backyards.


Book/lyrics by Danny Ginges 
Music/lyrics by Philip Foxman
Directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy
Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive 
Run concluded | tickets: $10 - $25
Performances Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm

Leo Szilard: Zachary Allen Farmer
Trude Weiss: Ann Hier
Enrico Fermi: Reynaldo Arceno
Arthur Compton: Ryan Scott Foizey
Edward Teller/General Groves: Sean Michael
Larissa White, Victoria Valentine, and Ann Hier.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg.
Physicist/Bartender/Factory Girl: Victoria Valentine
Leona Woods: Larissa White
J. Robert Oppenheimer/Paul Tibbets: Jeffrey M. Wright

Music Director: Jeffrey Richard Carter
Stage Manager/Lighting Technician: Michael Juncal
Scenic and Lighting Designer: Rob Lippert
Costume Designer: Sarah Porter
Sound Designer: Benjamin Rosemann
Props Master: Kimi Short
Scenic Artists: Patrick Donnigan, Gary Karasek, Melanie Kozak and Kate Wilkerson
Nuclear Physics Consultant: Kathleen Dwyer
Box Office Manager: Kimi Short
Volunteer Coordinator: Alison Helmer
Graphic Designer: Matt Reedy
Videographer: Kyle Jeffrey Studios
Photographer: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Jeffrey M. Wright as Paul Tibbets and
Zachary Allen Farmer as Leo Szilard.
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg.
The New Line Band
Conductor/Piano: Jeffrey Richard Carter
Guitar: D. Mike Bauer
Guitar/Keyboard: Adam Rugo
Cello: Eric Bateman
Bass: Jake Stergos
Violin: Twinda Murry
Percussion: Clancy Newell

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