Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: Way Too Much Pixie Dust

By Michael Block

We love Peter Pan so much that we've all taken a hand at creating a Peter Pan musical or play. The next in line to attempt the source material is Lena Gabrielle, Greg Kerestan, and Anthony Marino's Tink. This time it's a through the eyes of everyone's favorite fairy, Tinkerbell. But who is this story for? That's the question.
photo by Kelly Tunney
With book by Anthony Marino, Music by Lena Gabrielle, and lyrics by Gabrielle and Greg Kerestan, Tink is a story of love and heartbreak, magic and fun. In this version, Tink and her tinker family are invited to move to the kingdom of Fairies after Tink's dad, Higbee, is asked to work for the king. But before the move, the young Tink meets a hunky pirate named James. Much to the dismay of her BFF Tiger Lily, the two fall in love. When a boy named Peter falls from the sky, he falls hard for the newfound Pirate Queen. Will love prevail or will Tink choose the right thing? Though this musical was set in a magical Neverland, if the names and story stayed the same and it was set at Neverland High, it would be the same show. The parallels to 21st Century teen life were uncanny. Between moving and being the new kid, the struggle of making friends, and the highs and lows of youthful love are the central themes. Isn't quite reminiscent of Peter Pan, is it? Either way, Tink had all the makings of a kids' show yet there was a plethora of adult themes. And let's be honest with one another, it got a little bit homoerotic. The unbalanced nature of discovering the target audience extended into Gabrielle's score. There are flashy kid production numbers and then Broadway pop songs that live in a different musical. Can the two live as one or should those teeny songs be lifted for a different musical? No matter how cute Tink is, it desperately needed to be trimmed to a single act. The goal is keep the kids entertained and it's far too long to keep their attention. Where the text needs some exploration is this forced love triangle. Peter Pan falls far too late in the action. If this plot line is integral, some scene shifting is essential. And if that is the main focus of the story, maybe the Tink and family move has already happened so that subplot doesn't take up such valuable time. You could always eliminate the royal Fairies but I'm sure that's not gonna happen.
Tink was an overly ambitious production helmed by the equally overly ambitious Rachel Klein. It was flashy. It was colorful. And it was way too much. Since this is a new interpretation of a classic story, there was no reason to keep British dialects for these characters. Especially when the majority of the company had diction and clarity problems in accent. Get rid of them and already, it's a better show.  Klein had an energetic young company willing to play pretend but there is such thing as too many bodies. It was a giant cast on a not as giant stage. And it showed. Especially in Klein and Danielle Marie Fusco's choreography. It's very possible that there were too many moving parts for Klein and Fusco to choreograph. When you have no other option but to throw in jazz squares and the iconic “High School Musical” dance moves, you know your choreography isn't serving the production best. But don't think it ends there. Acrobatics, clowning, and rollerblades, oh my! There were moments that there was so much happening on stage that if finding cohesion was ever in consideration, it would be shocking. With the production already being visually active, the costumes from Tracy Angelo and Lynn Rusnica were busy and loud. In an imaginary world, how is it possible to have too much going on in the costumes? While consistency is respected, some of Angelo and Rusnica's choices were baffling. Teal may be my favorite color but green is far too iconic for Tinkerbell not to wear. The textures and patterns and colors and sparkle were in overload. Where Tink made a smart choice was bringing in the tarp to break up the monotony of the cyc. Scenic designer Ann Beyersdorfer also incorporated some treasure chests but they didn’t necessarily add anything too special.
photo by Kelly Tunney
This cast was buoyant and full of spirit. They had fun despite the madness of the musical. Elly Noble in the title role was spunky but she didn’t quite fly. It’s exciting to see a strong female character but love clouded her mind. Opposite her as the boy who will be Hook, Max Sheldon had a smolder. He showed great promise as a star of tomorrow. He has a pure voice. Whether it was microphone or accent, diction was a bit of a hindrance. What made Tink fun were the bit parts. Thanks to the thin writing of the characters, these actors made the best of their time. Peter Pan may be iconic but in this show, he’s quite bland. Yet Kurt Hellerich found a way to soar with enough energy every moment he stepped on stage. With the teen angle of the show in full tilt, Shoba Narayan as Tiger Lily flourished. She created a character that was perfectly contemporary. As the keeper of dreams, PJ Adzima may have had the most distracting outfit but he owned his character as the leader of the most magical fairies.
Don't get me wrong, this ain't the last time you'll be seeing Tink. It's a commercial producers dream of a kids' show. But Lena Gabrielle, Greg Kerestan, and Anthony Marino have to fix their musical before it can properly be shopped around. People are going to expect the Disney Tinkerbell but this show does not come close. And it must. Right now, this candy-coated musical will just leave you with a cavity.

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