World premiere musical Having It All Rocks NoHo Arts Center
The subtitle of the world premiere musical Having It All - Take Flight - speaks volumes. Five women, from totally different walks of life, are in the waiting area of a New York airport, each with a problem that needs attention. What happens to them over the course of 100 minutes gives this introspective a la Sondheim or Jason Robert Brown musical its punch and substance. With five stellar singers/actresses and fluid direction from Richard Israel Having It All has hit written all over it. It truly soars.
The five women include Julia a cynical TV executive (Jennifer Leigh Warren), housewife and mother Amy (Shannon Warne), a struggling writer Sissy, who would rather not be single (Lindsey Alley), independent yoga instructor Carly (Alet Taylor) and a happily married Indiana teacher, who really wants to conceive a child (Kim Huber). All, with the exception of Sissy, are awaiting a delayed flight to Los Angeles. At first glance each one sizes up the other by the type of shoes she is wearing and little by little strike up a conversation, some more willing than others to open up and disclose reasons for travel and personal business. There is ample dialogue, but a great deal of each one's background is revealed through song. David Goldsmith and John Kavanaugh have written some beautiful tunes reflecting the inner spirits of these women. How they are feeling, their sense of protectiveness and their reactions to one another all play in to the absorbing dramas that unfold, making them universal. Yes, these are women discussing the nightmares of dating, of cheating husbands, obnoxious children, pregnancy and other female issues, but men experience similar pain about dreams of success or the lack thereof and about the inadequacy of daily life as one grows older. So men can definitely relate. The outcome brings mutual support and unparalleled friendship among the five, and the music does propel the story forward in quite a uniquely emotional way.
Under Israel's meticulous direction, the performances from all five ladies are phenomenal. Huber as Lizzie and Warne as Amy are both heartbreaking as they represent both sides of the importance of children in marriage. Warren and Taylor create two strong supposedly successful characters who underneath need to come to terms with just how really unsuccessful and incomplete they feel. Alley, as the writer, is a keen observer and finds her own transition to happiness through the stories of the other four. Stephen Gifford's set design of the gate area at JFK and sound design by Cricket S. Myers are spot-on realistic.
This is a very slick production of a show that will move you and make you more aware of your very own happiness and self worth. Having It All is about the wittiest, wisest and most engrossing musical dramedy currently treading the boards around town.
(photo credit: Michael Lamont)