Playing the unique 42West, Liberty is an informative musical that hopes to teach, which gets in the way of a clean, fleshed-out story. The Goldsteins brings elements of the unreal by allowing the Statue of Liberty to virtually be human. On her search for a literal platform, Liberty encounters a changing America where immigrants come for freedom while others try block her for integrity and fear. Yes, Liberty is apropos to the time but the text never really rises. The story is so engulfed with lessons and morals that it gets repetitive. But when Goldstein and Goldstein offer those bits of musical theater fun, that's when Liberty gets exciting. Moments like "The Charity Tango." It seems that the hope is to offer varying perspectives but with a revolving door of characters, no one is fully fleshed out. Liberty has an objective but doesn't quite register a change. Emma fights for change but it's one dimensional, though she gets a split second of potential romance that never gets discussed again. Francis A. Walker is a villain set out to keep America immigrant free but disappears before he fully learns. The rest of the characters have one and done moments that simply appear to prove a point as a device. It's admirably to introduce a spectrum of diverse characters but it gets in the way of a clean story. Whether it was the canned instrumentation or the music itself, the score was very much cartoony, but not in a good way. And if that's the proper demographic, then it's a success. If you’re trying to motivate excitement within the audience, then it’s not.
|Photo by Russ Rowland|
42West is a converted theater space that isn’t the best for a musical of this nature but director Evan Pappas did all he could with the constraints. With such a tight stage, variance wasn't in Pappas’ favor. Instead, what we got was a lot of stop and belt. And it was a tad dull. To make up for it, Pappas and his team offered an explosion of America live on stage. LED screen was a cool idea but it was grating to the eye. Even sitting toward the back of the house, it was near impossible to make out the intricacies of Colin Doyle’s projection design.
Liberty was monumentally ambitious. It sadly just was not memorable. The story of Lady Liberty is cool in concept but this musical didn’t know what it wanted to be.