Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Salentine's Day

On February 13, I celebrated Salentine's Day at Joe's Pub, so named for the musical being performed that night, Salamander Leviathan by Krista Knight and Barry Brinegar. The show debuted at UCSD's Baldwin New Play Festival on April 15th, 2011 and has been performed at other venues since, including Ars Nova for "Saloween."
Salamander Leviathan (Ben Beckley) lives in Black River Falls, Wisconsin in the year 1890. Although he is wealthy, he is the loneliest man in the world, and he makes a deal with the Devil (Stephen Stout), selling his soul in exchange for a wife and child. Gracie (Emily Perkins), who performs an act with her twin sister Vickie (Ali Scaramella), sees Salamander's personal ad and her controlling lover Otto (David Skeist) sends her off to get Salamander's fortune. The story goes in some genuinely surprising directions and is inventively enhanced with old school style video game graphics (by Barry Brinegar).

Director Jess Chayes makes fine use of the smalll stage, considering the large size of the talented cast and band (Barry Brinegar on guitar, Josh Ehrlich on keyboard, James Kraft on drums, Dave Schottland on bass, and Valerie Steinberg and Sara Pauley on vocals). I was especially impressed with the score, described as "casio-pop" music and including elements of vaudeville. A highlight was a cute duet--"I Like U (I Like U More)"--performed by Salamander and the Devil (who, it turns out, is pretty much a sweetheart). Everyone involved in the production is now on my radar, and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.

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