Review: TROUBADOUR at Florida Studio Theatre

Runs through May 19th.

By: Apr. 14, 2024
Review: TROUBADOUR at Florida Studio Theatre
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Set in 1951 in Nashville, country music legend Billy Mason, the biggest star of his time, is getting ready to retire. His timid son Joe is his obvious predecessor, but Billy has his doubts, and he is not afraid to voice those privately and publicly! Joe believes his father’s sneering(flat out savage sometimes) words until he teams up with a few misfits that truly believe in his talent. With the backing of A Russian immigrant tailor and a stage-frightened song writer, Joe finds his footing and enough belief in himself to rise to following in his Father’s footsteps.

When visiting the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, writer Jance Shaffer found her story. “Troubadour” was inspired by the rhinestone costumes that started to emerge on the country scene of the 1950’s, changing country music from simple tunes to something a little flashier and appealing to the masses (think AM Station radio to Rockabilly). While she had the storyline plotted out, Shaffer needed to pair with a songwriter to bring the story to life. After their first conversation, musician Kristian Bush was in- he was touched by the personal struggles of the characters that Shaffer had invented and could relate to the scraps of each character.

Troubadour is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the complicated relationship between a father and son. The dynamic between the two characters is portrayed with such raw emotion that it is almost uncomfortable to watch at times. The contrasting personalities of the father and son are evident in the blatant moments where their differences are on full display (which if you don’t get the subliminal messaging, is made plainly obvious by the great choices in costuming by Kathleen Geldard). These gut-wrenching scenes add a layer of depth to the play. Shaffer's writing effectively captures the complexities of family dynamics and the struggles that can arise between generations.

The ensemble cast was exceptional in this production, with each performer adding unique depth and flair to their respective roles. Kevin Bernard, as Pooch Johnson presents his interludes (think 1950’s radio commercials), which were outlandishly quick-witted. Similarly, the character of the bumbling sidekick Russian immigrant-tailor, Izzy Weiss, played excellently by Sheffield Chastain, delivered consistent comic relief that resonated well with audience members, eliciting widespread laughter.

Collectively, these performances greatly enriched the narrative dynamic and brought vibrant life to the stage. The play itself masterfully intertwined humor, intelligence, and emotion into a cohesive and immersive experience. This performance not only showcases excellent storytelling but also some very catchy tunes! While this show involves music, the music is used to drive the storyline, instead of characters just bursting into song to tell the actual story—this is not a musical, but a story about music itself.

Troubadour stands as a compelling recommendation for anyone seeking an emotionally gratifying and thoroughly enjoyable evening at the theater.

Toubadour is playing on the Main Stage at Florida Studio Theater through May 19th. Tickets are still available for Matinee and Evening shows.


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