Tuesday, August 23, 2011

FRINGE: Keepers

What's The Benefit, Inc. produces theater that highlights a specific charitable cause. Keepers, a musical about adoption based on real testimonials, was originally presented at Studio 54 last year as a benefit for Spence Chapin Adoption Services and now it's having its first run at Fringe. It's hard to really a judge a show when everybody's hearts are in the right place.

The program doesn't specify how much of the script is directly taken from testimonials, but there are four book writers--Spencer Lavallee, Nicco Franklin, Paul Daniel Cloeter, and Molly C. Blau (Franklin and Cloeter also appear in the show). Short monologues are interspersed with musical numbers, so as is the case with other musicals of this kind, it's hard for the characters to make a lasting impression. But there are many sweet (two brothers--one adopted--in trouble with the principal are as close as any brothers), sad (a man in prison never learned to love his adoptive parents), and funny (a lesbian couple joke that they have to go to the "ballerina store" so their daughter won't end up gay) moments. What the musical does well is present both the positive and negative sides of adoption from the points of view of both children and adults. The music by Daniel Wolpow and Cloeter is pretty, though I think the show would work just as well as a play. As a whole, the actors are better in the individual scenes than when singing all together as in the title number. Erin Breen is particularly memorable in the opening scene on her adopted daughter's first day of school as is Franklin as a young man who finds a box belonging to his birth parents.

If you know anyone who has been adopted or gone through the adoption process, you will probably be moved by the show in some way. Up next for What's the Benefit is Weaker People, a musical dealing with the issue of bullying.

The final performance of Keepers is Sun 28 @ noon.

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