BWW Reviews: 11th Hour Theatre Company's ROOMS a rock romance
It's a professional relationship that leads to rocky romance; as the show's tagline reads, "She longs to see every room in the world... He longs to stay in his..." ROOMS a rock romance begins when Monica, an ambitious singer/songwriter and Ian, a reclusive rocker, meet in Glasgow in the late 1970s. Their lives cross creatively and romantically, taking them around the world and on a journey that examines the tensions between love and dreams.
Alex Keiper (Monica M. Miller) and Michael Phillip O'Brien (Ian Wallace) are enormously talented. O'Brien is fully convincing as the anti-social rocker who falls hard for this bundle of personality. His range, in both acting and singing is impressive. Alex Keiper is phenomenal. There is no other way to put it. She shines as the girl who dreams of being a star and her character's arc is also fully believable. Keiper's voice - in its tone, power, and clarity - is outstanding. Together, the two have great chemistry and the blend of their voices in Goodman's harmonies is fantastic.
Dialect Coach Steve Pacek is to be congratulated, as the Scottish accents are both authentic and understandable. Similarly, Dan Kazemi, the show's musical director, has two stellar voices that maintained both pitch and clarity even when working in this thick accent. The five-piece rock band sounds wonderful as well. Mark Valenzuela's sound design was very well done, perfecting the difference between sound in intimate, real-life moments and on stage performances. The costumes, designed by Lauren Perigard are both fitting for the period and incredibly functional for quick changes. The London outfits are wonderful. Lighting Design by Shelley Hicklin greatly assists in the shifts between asides, conversations, locations, etc. The scenic design as designed by Craig Vetter is incredibly creative creating a room, but also allowing for different spaces that can easily transform. However while often such non-descript sets are bland - Vetter's set is full of textures, interesting paths and hiding places for props. All are united by wonderful direction by Megan Nicole O'Brien. Her use of space to further the room motif and her clear understanding of both humor and tragedy make the piece and the relationship between the characters very strong.
The show's book by Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon really helps the flow of the piece. The one flaw of the show is perhaps simply due to the short length of the piece. While Monica and Ian are incredibly interesting characters, there are some aspects of their personalities that are casual mentioned without full development. Goodman's score is youthful and fun while striking a balance between humorous and poignant. His way with words is both clever and poetic, while his melodies switch between catchy and haunting. The use of song motifs (specifically the three versions of "Rooms" and "Steps") is not forced, but rather adds a true sense of unity to the piece. Overall, his harmonies are full of electricity that leaves the audience with chills. There's a wonderful future for this musical in regional theaters adding to the collection of small cast rock shows like tick tick...Boom and The Last Five Years.
11th Hour's production of Rooms: a rock romance is not to be missed. Keiper and O'Brien's talents are wonderful showcased in this moving piece about making music, finding fame, falling in love, and figuring out what is truly important.
For more information please see the official press release.