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BWW Review: Go on a musical journey with Local Classic Repertory's NEW WORKS by Adam LaPorte

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Local Classic Repertory's online cabaret NEW WORKS features original songs by OCU grad and composer Adam LaPorte

BWW Review: Go on a musical journey with Local Classic Repertory's NEW WORKS by Adam LaPorte
Design by Melissa Campbell

Theatre is back in some capacity, and a slow return is better than no return at all. Reinventing the idea of live performance, new company Local Classic Repertory is presenting an online cabaret. Now through September 13th, Oklahoma City University graduate and composer Adam LaPorte has provided the original songs, while many familiar faces and voices provide the vocals.

The show is available for purchase on LCR's website, and the viewing experience is very interactive. Users log on at their performance time and can see who else is online, chat and engage with each other while the show plays. It's ALMOST like being in the room together, and it feels very present and immediate, a feeling that is often missing on other online performances.

LaPorte opens the show with introductions and then the music quickly begins. Each performer has recorded their respective tune in their own private space. It's essentially a self-tape, and we, the online audience, are the lucky viewers. This is a night of bearing witness to musical storytelling. More than just singing, these songs have heart, emotion, and many of them have full storylines within their lyrics.

Keith Gruber begins the show with "Art History", a catchy, subtly sexual tune about the innuendo and appeal of classic artworks. Gruber's unassuming smirk easily pulls off the undertones, setting the scene for a robust musical journey ahead. Jana Jackson is truly perfect in "Perfect Child", lamenting that impossible standard.

Tatum Grace tells a full story in "Someone Else's Love Song", leaving you rooting for her throughout. This soaring, hopeful coming-of-age tale is complete with a beginning, middle and end. Tatum Grace sings with her whole body, acting out a full range of emotions during this number. Collin O'Neill follows with "Batting Lesson", a committed and moving performance of a number from LaPorte's original musical The Baseball Play. It does make the audience want to play, or at least watch, baseball. And that's a feat for a musical theatre crowd.

"This Time" by Melissa Campbell is rousing and empowering, and whoever Zachary is, he's a damn fool. Bella Coppola is controlled and strong in the existentially dark "Going in Circles". It's relatable in all new ways considering the uncertain times we're in. A duet is seen by Shaila Murdock and Claire Greenberg, portraying opposite sides of one thought process in "Days of Plenty". They're both powerhouses, sultry women scorned and wronged in their own ways.

Jack B. Murphy is hopeful and innocent in "I Wouldn't Know". Bitingly truthful, this number cuts deeply in its simplicity and understated honesty. Kris Ivy holds her own in "Never Getting Married", a validating anthem of modern platitudes. The classic, jazzy dynamic of this number creates a nicely contradictory mix of sound and content.

LaPorte appears again during the five-minute intermission, which can only be described as a dance interlude. Don't skip it. It's worth a full watch.

Evie Schuckman opens Acts II with "Apartment", and anyone who's ever struggled for decent housing can and will relate to their feelings of resentment and frustration with their living arrangement. Claire Greenberg really sells it during "My Poor Sister", and makes a case for herself while remaining true to her sibling.

An intriguing and unique number, "I Want to Know Everything" is sung in three parts by Sydney Blosch, Brianna Stoute, and J. Antonio Rodriguez. Their complicated melodies blend beautifully in this layered tune.

"Job" by Elvie Ellis is deeply moving and biblical, leaving "no dry eye in the house" as they say. Well, certainly leaving no dry eye in THIS house. The "patron saint of directionless complaints", Ellis pulls this number off with profound emotion and a glorious range, and it's a heart-wrenching moment.

LaPorte is determined not to give us a single second to catch our breath, and "Job" is followed immediately by the captivating Ari Notartomaso singing the folky, quiet "Look You in the Eye". This. Song. Is. HEARTBREAKING. Notartomaso performs with her guitar in her lap, and exquisitely conveys the poignant truth of this song.

Courtney Kofoed captures the magic and sorrow of everyday life with "Tuesday", a fully contained tale of love and loss. Nina White is bold and driven in "That Doesn't Scare Me", a number about perseverance that anyone with a passion can relate to.

LaPorte closes the show by singing of course, because what can he not do?

LaPorte's compositions are robust and dense, with lyrics that are raw yet refined, unfiltered yet polished and poised, and honest without a hint of pretension. This example of lyrical storytelling is how musical theatre can, and should, be. It captures real life, all the simple yet extraordinary aspects of it, and shows the beauty within.

A central theme runs throughout the show, that musical theatre is still here. It's still accessible, still possible. For too long, (six months but who's counting), theatre has felt like it was simply gone. And living without it has brought its own unique form of heartbreak, a silent mourning process that has had no end.

Local Classic Repertory was born out of this relentless pandemic, and they're finding ways to keep theatre alive and in front of audiences now, when it's needed more than ever. For artists and patrons, this is the art we need. Don't give up, don't lose hope. It's coming back, sooner than we think. In fact, it's still here. And to quote LaPorte's own words, sung by O'Neill in "Batting Lesson"- Stay Ready.

Adam LaPorte's New Works online cabaret streams online through September 13th. To select your performance and purchase tickets to New Works, visit local-classic-repertory-mn.co.


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