PHOTO: Eve Nimmer and Chase Stoeger perform a scene in Northern Sky Theater’s 2014 version of “Strings Attached.” They’re back this season. Len Villano photo
It’s a frolicsome tale and production with broad audience appeal for the preposterousness of it all.
“Strings Attached” of 2015 is different than “Strings Attached” of 2014 in one performer and more nuanced performances – in the way a stew tastes better on the second day as the flavors develop more character.
Another difference: The troupe was American Folklore Theatre in 2014. It is now Northern Sky Theater, a slightly varied version of its predecessor.
Creative: Book and lyrics – Dave Hudson; music and additional lyrics – Colin Welford; orchestrations – Colin Welford; co-directors – Pam Kriger, Jeffrey Herbst; music director – Tim Lenihan; scenic designer – Lisa Schlenker; assistant scenic artist – Adam Stoner; costume designer – Karen Brown-Larimore; lighting designer – David Alley; props designer – Kathleen Rock.
Cast: Andy – Alex Campea; Frank – Doug Mancheski; Kaye – Rhonda Rae Busch; Bob – Doc Heide; Hawaiian Hal – Chase Stoeger; Leia – Eva Nimmer; Wisconsin Hal –
Running time: One hour, 30 minutes.
“Prologue – My Boy” – Bob
“Big Things” – Company
“Welcome Song” – Frank, Kaye, Andy
“Tongue-tied” – Hawaiian Hal, Lana
“Unexpected Music” –
“The Hotel Code” – Frank, Kaye, Andy
“Room Service” – Frank, Kaye, Andy
“Suddenly” – Leia, Lana
“Beside Myself” – Hawaiian
“My Boy” (Reprise) – Bob, Hawaiian
“Strings Attached” – Company
Since the show is largely the same as last season, my review is largely the same as last season.
Identical twin brothers are in a sailing mishap as infants. They’re separated. They’re saved, separately. They live separate lives. Each is involved in making musical instruments. One, Hal, is artistic; he’s inclined to design. The other one, also Hal, is business minded. Hal and Hal know of each other’s company – one makes ukuleles and is based in
Timing is everything. The limber cast has it down, door slam and surprised look by door slam and surprised look.
“Strings Attached” features a hybrid style of performance. The show has roots in classic mistaken-identities stories (think William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”), in fast-action farce, in music theater loopiness – with the troupe’s necessity of placing the story in
Musically, the show is… hmm, different for today. There is a warm ballad, “My Boy,” that the father sings that is the essence of the story. Sometimes, the musical style is that of perky jazz-pop harmonics that have the feel of, excuse me, a 1950s TV commercial for toothpaste. Or whatever. There is a strong sense of the clock being turned back. Cleverness is infused in many songs as individual characters sing his or her take on a specific lyric – like everybody in “Big Things,” the lovers in “Tongue-Tied,” the Hals in “Beside Myself” and the hotel staff in “Welcome Song,” which is especially jolly when a staffer sings only his or her part of the song alone. The scene for “Unexpected Music” includes a sweet illusion: Did you know you could draw a ukulele, add a new design to the instrument and then play the strings in the drawing and have sound come from the drawing? Nice.
The cast is quite game for the speedy action, songs infused with dancing and vocal harmonics and the general light-hearted aura of the show. A highlight is a mirror-image song with movement by the twins that brings the story to a head.
Chase Stoeger and Chad Luberger are the twin brothers, with Doc Heide as their father. Eva Nimmer and Molly Rhode are the twins’ girlfriends. Playing the befuddled hotel staff are Alex Campea (new to the cast this season), Doug Mancheski and Rhonda Rae Busch. Stirring the performers to bright liveliness are co-directors Jeffrey Herbst and Pam Kriger.
A few stray thoughts: Campea seems to add a bit more zing to the show with his ability to light up his character’s many moments of shock and awe. In the offseason, Doc Heide became a full professor in his other life (which continues to amaze) in academia/teaching/research. On stage in many capacities and now as associate artistic director of Northern Sky, Molly Rhode is what amounts to be a full professor. In “Strings Attached,” Rhode gets to perform opposite her real-life husband, Chase Stoeger, and they get to be love struck by each other in performance after performance – which would seem a lovely perk of their being in this show.
ALSO RUNNING: “When Butter Churns to Gold” and “No Bones About It.”
THE VENUE: Northern Sky Theater (the former American Folklore Theatre) performs in a scenic, 800-seat amphitheater in
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