BWW Review: WEATHER THE STORM at Cass Act Players
It's not very often you get to write a review for a locally written, composed and produced musical theatre production. The story of Weather The Storm was written by local writer Tracy Frank and she also wrote lyrics for the songs. Local music composer Topher Williams wrote the music and also wrote lyrics. This show is a fictional tale based on real events. It takes place in Fargo, North Dakota around June of 1957 when the historic tornado hit the area that left 12 people dead, over 100 injured and destroyed more than 1,300 homes.
The majority of the first act is more upbeat and lighthearted, with the tornado hitting right at the end of the act. Act II shows the aftermath and has some very powerful and emotional scenes.
I saw the show opening night, which can be hit or miss with theatre. Other than a few minor mic issues, which is normal with a live show, opening night was definitely a hit.
I have to mention the opening (and closing) number of the show. Life is a Day at the Fair is such a fun, upbeat and catchy tune that I caught myself almost immediately singing along.
There were 24 actors / actresses in the show and they all did a great job. Some of the standouts that I definitely want to mention:
First off I have to mention Tracy Frank, not only was she the writer and worked so hard to bring this show to life she also starred as Elizabeth Paulsen. A few of her standout performances were on Kiss Me on the Carousel, More Than This, Please Come Home. Tracy has a true passion and it shows when she performs.
Michael Knutson as Dr. George Paulsen was one of the actors without a mic, but he did not need it. Michael has a very powerful voice and we got to hear him wonderfully on Falling Apart, Please Come Home and Let Me Help You.
Emily Mercier as Suzie Paulsen, the daughter of Elizabeth and George, was featured many times in Act I but some of my favorites were Kiss Me on the Carousel and Forget About the Promises.
Drake Aasen as Danny Jones, the love interest of Suzie, is such a talent. I still remember his standout performance last year in West Fargo High's production of The Secret Garden. This young man is only a sophomore in high school and is on his way to being a star. He had so many standout moments in the show including Falling Apart, Forget About the Promises and What the Storm Blew In.
Benjamin Salazar as Bert Meyer is another local talent I have seen perform many times. Most recently as Pepper in the FMCT production of Mamma Mia. Bert is kind of the bad boy in the story but he has some very powerful moments on stage. I really enjoyed him on What the Storm Blew In and Belong.
One of the real fun songs from Act I that involved numerous singers was Did You Hear About That/Not a Salad. I nicknamed this the gossip song as it features 4 of towns wives sitting around telling stories about everyone else. Its such a fun number and the audience loved it. The featured singers were Amy LaBounty, Carrie Knutson, Paula Lee and Amie Nowacki as Maggie, Betty, Doris and Florence respectively.
Not to be outdone the men got to join in the fun on Wedded Bliss which featured Rick Mangahas, Caleb Reich, Jason Miller-Dunbar and Amine Berriche as Richard, John, Albert and Billy. This one also featured Doris, Florence, Maggie Betty as well. This was another lighthearted and fun number.
Everyone involved in this production should be so proud as they all did an amazing job. This is a wonderfully written show with great music. Congratulations to the Cass Act Players on a success and thank you to Tracy Frank for making your dream come true and sharing it with us.
There are still times to see this show, but I hear the crowds are getting bigger every night.
*** Photo Credit - David Samson