Saturday, April 15, 2017 7:30 am ·  0 Comments
It’s rare to find a new, completely original story in contemporary musical theatre. But there’s a blessing in Oakville with Senza Luce, and it’s world premiere production now playing at Sheridan College’s Trafalgar Campus. The show is smart, crisp, immensely optimistic and beautiful.
The new musical is the 2017 graduating class’ edition of the Canadian Musical Theatre Project (CMTP), the initiative started by Michael Rubinoff in 2011. If the program sounds familiar, you may have heard about its current success Come From Away, now running on Broadway and the frontrunner for Best Musical at the Tony Awards in New York this June.
The most exciting thing about watching one of these productions is the thrill you might be seeing the next smash hit. And with Senza Luce, that excitement is palpable sitting in the audience. The material is so strong and emotionally satisfying it’s easy to imagine where this play might go next.
Senza Luce is a fable set long ago in a real valley in Italy, where the surrounding mountains block all natural sunlight to the village. Young Paolo Sperare embarks on an adventure to save his sick mother, honor his scientist father’s legacy, and prove the town council they’re wrong about the legends they all believe – and that the sun is real.
The story is simply told with care and discipline, but handled with great love and care from director and writer Brian Hill. The events unfold with the excitement and scale of a Disney-like fairy tale. The premiere production could use another 20 minutes, but there’s more than enough to keep the audience enthused.
Neil Bartram’s songs and score echo so many of the great fantasy musicals of the past like The Secret Garden and Into the Woods. There’s even an epic tone a la Les Miserables (especially in a great act one finale called “Friday Morning”.) They aren’t always daring or groundbreaking, but the music’s razor sharp class is a treat to listen to.
But the real stars are the fifteen sensational actors from Sheridan’s bachelor of musical theatre program starring in the show. Everyone on stage has a magnetic presence, top-notch voice and overflowing passion. Their work is so intense and honest it’s impossible to look away. The entire company has a bright future ahead of them, and it’s a wonder to see the professionalism and confidence they present with every show, even in such an intimate theatre.
Along with a deceptively clever set and some awe-inspiring projections, the whole production is compelling and delightful to watch. There’s nothing challenging about the storytelling, but it’s easy to sit back and revel at the extraordinary talent at work from both on and offstage.
The show plays until next weekend, but the tickets are in short supply. Availability is low, though even shows that appear sold out online may have some for sale at the door, and some can be made available within the 10-15 minutes prior to showtime. Your best bet to see the show is to call the box office directly and ask about tickets.
If you don’t get the chance to see the infectiously alluring production now playing at Sheridan College, don’t despair. There’s a good chance this won’t be the last production of Senza Luce, and there’s a bright future, and a reflection of the great work being done with the Canadian Musical Theatre Project today.
3 1/2 out of 4 Stars
Music and Lyrics by Neil Bartram. Book by Brian Hill.
Ages 6 and Up, 105 minutes, Musical Adventure Fantasy.
Directed by Brian Hill.
Starring Ben Chiasson, Kelsey Verzotti, Dean Deffett, Georgia Bennett and Drew Plummer.
Also with Danielle Beauchamp, Ben Chaffey, Seth Johnson, Brittni Kenny, Ben Litner, Phoenix Mackenzie, Savannah Maxwell, Emily Meadows, Greg Moreau and Brandon Roy.
Now Playing at the Sheridan Studio Theatre, 1430 Trafalgar Road, Oakville, ON.
Runs until April 23rd, 2017. Tickets range from $15-25, available at https://tickets.sheridancollege.ca/TheatreManager/1/login?event=0, or by calling 905-815-4049.
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