Wednesday, September 7, 2016

TELL ME ON A SUNDAY • New Line Theatre

New Line Theatre closed its 25th anniversary season with an unlikely choice. It was an intimate, one-act, one-person musical about a British girl, Emma, living in the States and steering her way through the ups and downs of a string of romantic journeys. This lesser known musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber (Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ SuperstarPhantom of the Opera) was initially conceived as a cycle of shows for television. It eventually became the first act of Song & Dance in the early 80’s debuting in the West End, and then was finally re-introduced as a stand-alone one-act in 2003, with an Off-Broadway debut in 2008. While one-person shows fill some with dread, I would say to you; fear not. New Line veteran Sarah Porter definitively came into her own here. With a sung-through score of over 20 songs, Porter holds the evening together with a style that made it look easy.

After leaving her boyfriend in New York (“Let Me Finish”), Emma ends up with a show-business bigwig in Los Angeles, dreamy-eyed over her fancy new digs, but skeptical of the spurious LA Scene in a superbly comic “Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad,” with every humorous line hit squarely on the head.
Emma (Sarah Porter).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
"Take That Look Off Your Face” comes on the heels of finding out she’s been cheated on, and “You Made Me Think You Were In Love” is swift and sharp, after misleading implications leave her heartbroken again. Porter delivers the title song, “Tell Me On a Sunday,” with a somber tint, this time pleading for an easy letdown. By the end, Emma has spun what she’s learned the hard way to satisfying results -- achieving her own autonomy in the world.

Webber’s style is imprinted all over this score of varied tunes, with clever lyrics by Don Black and Richard Maltby, Jr.. Porter, vocally dexterous, not only skillfully handles the score, but also navigates the emotional terrain with an open-faced fragility and spunk. Also notable is the fact that for the first time in New Line’s history, this show was solely directed by another New Line vet, its associate artistic director, Mike Dowdy-Windsor. It says a lot that Scott Miller, New Line’s founder and artistic director, is comfortable handing over the reins, but they’ve co-directed several shows together, and Dowdy-Windsor has a sharp understanding of the show, paces it out beautifully, and most importantly, doesn’t get in the way of the story.

Emma (Sarah Porter).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Rob Lippert's scenic design, complete with a cityscape backdrop, provides a few different playing spaces, and lights them evocatively. Porter provides her own costume design, maintained a credible dialect thanks to coach Laurie McConnell, and music director Nate Jackson and his band of five hold it down with a beautiful performance of the score.

So yeah, this show is over (like... way over -- apologies to the cast and crew), but New Line is ramping up for its 26th season, kicking off with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s Celebration. You can check out details about New Line's upcoming season here.


Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Don Black and Don Black and Richard Maltby, Jr.
Directed by Mike Dowdy-Windsor
Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive 
Run Concluded

Emma (Sarah Porter).
Photo credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg
Emma: Sarah Porter

Directing Intern: Daniel Washelesky
Music Director: Nate Jackson
Stage Manager/Lighting Technician: Michael Juncal
Scenic & Lighting Designer: Rob Lippert
Costume Designer: Sarah Porter
Sound Designer: Benjamin Rosemann
Sound Intern: Elli Castonguay
Props Master: Kimi Short
Dialect Coach: Laurie McConnell
Scenic Artists: Patrick Donnigan, Gary Karasek, Melanie Kozak, Kate Wilkerson
Box Office Manager: Kimi Short
Volunteer Coordinator: Alison Helmer
Graphic Designer: Matt Reedy
Videographer: Kyle Jeffery Studios

The New Line Band
Conductor/Piano: Nate Jackson
Cello: Eric Bateman
Percussion: Clancy Newell
Reeds: Harrison Rich
Bass: Jake Stergos

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