Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: (Vancouver) The Girl in the Frame

This Musical Is A Fantasy
It is light as air.
by David C. Jones
The Girl in the Frame written by Jeremy Desmon concerns a young engaged couple that fear commitment and live in denial.
Lanie is a workaholic and Alex… doesn’t appear to have any means of income but plays video games. When Lanie has to hightail it to Madrid he has a play date with the stock photo in the picture frame he bought her and POOF – the Girl In The Frame comes to life.

Evelyn is sexy, funny, a great cook and knows all about  baseball.  She and Alex play strip poker, dance, and eat as they sing “That’s What Fantasies Are For”. 
Lanie, we learn, is obsessed with fireman calendars, and soon her fantasy shirtless fireman comes to life singing “Pinch Me”. Will Lanie and Alex live with their fantasies of can do and be everything, or learn that it is time for them to commit to each other? (What do you think?)

So the rules of the fantasy portrayed are fast and loose (similar to the rules of reality).

When dealing with fantasy or magical elements in a story rules have to be set in order to keep tension alive - Kryptonite always kills Superman and a silver bullet can kill a Werewolf. The rules must be consistent and once the protagonists learn of the consequences they should not conveniently forget them in order to move the story forward.

Evelyn disappears when her picture frame is broken. But when Alex is distressed that Tomas the fantasy fireman is with his fiancée in their bedroom – he never grabs the calendar sitting right in front of him, and tears it up to make Tomas disappear.  (Why doesn’t fantasy Tomas take the calendar to save or protect himself? Evelyn tried to grab the picture to save herself just a few moments earlier.)

So the rules of the fantasy portrayed are fast and loose (similar to the rules of reality).  A killer cast  is needed to get over these hurdles, tight musical direction to keep it tuneful, and sharp direction to keep the pace up so we don’t notice the flaws and questions posed by the script.
Thankfully this is a very good cast. Robyn-Leigh Johnson and Joey Herbison are likable and have damn fine voices as Lanie and Alex. The fantasy actors are fantastic. Synthia Yusuf has a light touch with the righteousness of Evelyn, witty comic timing and a lovely voice in a sexy body. Paul Almeida looks great without his shirt on, and he is brave in the comedy and bold in his choices.
The duet  in Act Two between the re-born Evelyn and Tomas “What can you do?” is a highlight of the show. Funny, with a touch of pathos, you actually feel a little sorry for these slaves of desire.
Wendy Boss Stuart is one of the best musical directors in the city and she is a one-man band perched high above stage left – it is a testament to her professionalism that she can be part of the music in such a prominent position and not pull focus. 
A fantasy story like this really needs to be outrageous or dangerous to make it pop. This production is a lot of fun and is well sung with a sexy and likable cast. For many that will be enough.

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