BWW Review: THE BOY AT THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING at Des Moines Young Artists' Theatre: An Imaginative Journey to the Edge and Back
Becoming a teenager can be hard. It can be hard as they transition from wanting to be treated like a kid and wanting to be treated like an adult. These become the formative years where interest starts to form that will impact the career path they decide to go down in their lives. This weekend, Des Moines Young Artists' Theatre is taking us on a journey with a kid who is entering getting ready to become a teenager in "The Boy at the Edge of Everything" by Finegan Kruckmeyer. This production, which explores how far a kid's imagination can go, plays at the Stoner Theatre through February 23.
"The Boy at the Edge of Everything" is the story of a 12-year-old boy named Simon. While in class, his teacher talks about the universe. Simon starts thinking about living in a space where he imagines it would be quiet, and he wouldn't have to do anything. His parents mistake this as Simon wanting to be an astronaut. So they build him a space capsule that accidentally sends him into space to the edge of everything, where we meet a character we call the Boy. The Boy lives at the edge of everything alone. He has already done everything. To pass the time, he likes to read books and look through his binoculars and observe life on different planets. As they talk about their respective lives, Simon starts to look for a way to get back to his home and family. Does he get back home? That you will have to see the show to find out.
One of the things I have come to admire about Des Moines Young Artist Theatre (DMYAT) is that they look at student's interests both onstage and backstage, which leads to students having the opportunity to design for their shows. With this show, DMYAT has student designers in every position, working along with mentors who help them through the design process. The collaboration between these young artists, and their mentors, lets their imaginations soar. Their work can be seen in Lauren Graves's scenic design, Jolie Sietz's sound design, Jack Andersen's and Greta Paulsen's costume design, and Colin Kiernan's lighting design. Each of their designs come together to take the audiences from earth to the edge of everything and back. These artist's fantastic work is guided by Director David VanCleave, as well as mentors Jenna Darsee Susanna Douthit, Chris Hanian, Yvette Zarod Hermann, and Hayley Melz.
The imagination doesn't stop with the design work. It can be seen on stage in the terrific work being done by the 28 artists that make up the cast, with 11 of them making their DMYAT debuts. It brings so much joy to see the commitment each of these artists brings into making the show the best it can be. Throughout the show, as the cast moved on and off stage, sometimes with just a few seconds, it was great seeing the artist stepping up and making sure if an entrance was accidentally left open, it was getting closed. Another place we saw their commitment was in how they continued even when there was a technical glitch. There was a moment where some of the cast members come out with globes that light up to represent planets. One of the lights didn't seem to work. The actor didn't let that distract them. The artist kept moving forward with the scene as though they had one of the brightest planets there was.
Besides having a strong ensemble, this show has some terrific artists in named roles. Amara Feitelson and Lars Oredson do an excellent job at leading the show in their respective parts of Simon Ives, and The Boy/Colin Gillespie. Each of these performances was an excellent fit for their characters. Amara gave a very grounded performance as the earthbound Simon Ives. Lars gives us an over the top, larger than life portrayal for the unworldly Boy. The fantastic performances of these young artists continue in the trio performance of Oliver James Espe, Noah Lin Nyguard, and Carl Tubbs sharing the role of Louie at different ages as he grows up during the show. Each of them bringing something unique to the role as Louie gets older. The named cast also consists of Drake Heathcote and Madelynne Straker-Seay as Simon's Dad and Mom; Lydia Davis as Simon's teacher Ms. Chester; Owen Nicolino, Arturo Sigala and Erin Lenhart as Simon's classmates Michael Haynes, Artie Monroe, and Chloe Denunzio.
From the script to the staging, and from the technical elements to the acting, this imaginative show is one that will keep you thinking after the show. "The Boy at the Edge of Everything" is an excellent example of all the opportunities Des Moines Young Artist's Theatre gives the artist that participate in each of their productions. This production will be taking us on trips to the edge of everything and back through February 23, 2020. To find out more about the production visit https://www.dmyat.org/edge-of-everything
To purchase tickets, visit https://desmoinesperformingarts.org/events/dmyat/the-boy-at-the-edge-of-everything/
Review written by DC Felton
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