BWW Review: A TALE OF TWO CITIES at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre is Sweeping
A TALE OF TWO CITIES, the 2008 Broadway musical currently playing at Centerpoint Legacy Theatre, is redemptive and uplifting as it weaves a tale full of memorable characters. The storytelling and dialogue are sharp, and the score is complex and often achingly beautiful.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES (book, music, and lyrics by Jill Santoriello) is based on the classic Charles Dickens novel. The action moves back and forth between the two cities of the title-Paris and London-during the time of the French Revolution. After Dr. Alexander Manette is released from his imprisonment in the Bastille, he and his daughter befriend slovenly English lawyer Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat who has denounced his upbringing. The lives of the two men become inextricably linked to one another and to the Manettes.
It is astounding that a community theatre production could gather a leading cast made up of such high quality vocalists as this. Each is professional caliber with strong technique and lush timbre. It is impossible to single out any of them, as they each take their turn to impress.
Taylor Smith as Sydney Carton (double cast with Preston Yates) delivers a moving "If Dreams Came True," among other standout moments. His voice is uncannily reminiscent of that of original star James Barbour.
Christian Lackman as Charles Darnay (double cast with Adam Millington) and David Weekes as Dr. Alexander Manette (double cast with Danny Inkley) make the innocuous "The Promise" a highlight.
Sarah Jane Watts as Lucie Manette (double cast with Megan Yates) is exceptional in "Without a Word," and Carissa Klitgaard as Madame Therese Defarge (double cast with Holly Jo Cushing) brings chills in "Out of Sight, Out of Mind."
A trio of unsavory supporting men is convincingly played by Lucas Charon as Ernest Defarge (double cast with Matt Hewitt), Tyler Hanson as Jerry Cruncher (double cast with Rob Severinsen), and JR Moore as John Barsad (double cast with Dan Call).
The acting of the entire company is both the best of times and the worst of times. Especially in the exposition-heavy first act, the relationships and scenes occasionally feel unnatural and forced. However, as the action moves forward, the dramatic situations refine and shape the performances in a satisfying way, rendering a stronger second act.
The ingenious set design by Scott Van Dyke is made up of multiple tiered pieces that are moved and merged in a continuous stream of possibilities. This creates seamless transitions between locations and constant visual stimulation. The visuals are anything but stagnant when combined with Seth Miller's ambitious lighting design and Tammis Boam's epic costuming (although the wig quality could be improved in some cases).
Any small, nagging flaws are quick to be forgiven and are transcended as audiences are swept away by the story, music, performances, and design of this stirring production.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES plays through October 28, 2017. For tickets or more information, call the box office at 801-298-1302 or visit www.centerpointtheatre.org.
Photo Credit: L-R Christian Lackman (Charles Darnay), Sarah Jane Watts (Lucie Manette), and Taylor Smith (Sydney Carton). Photo by Pepperfox Photo.