BWW Review: Seattle Public's VANISHING POINT Suffers Repetition and Melodic Inconsistency
Seattle Public Theater currently has a musical on their boards, "Vanishing Point", highlighting the stories of three remarkable women, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson (Heather Hawkins), aviatrix Amelia Earhart (Cristin J. Hubbard), and mystery writer Agatha Christie (Rebecca M. Davis). Each of these women, very different from each other, have one thing in common, that they each disappeared under mysterious circumstances. And while the premise may sound fascinating and they may boast an impressive cast, the musical itself is weighed down by repetitive lyrics that fail to move anything along and few melodies you can latch onto.
The show follows these women from their early days that lead to their fame and success up to the moments of their disappearance with each of the actresses playing supporting characters in the lives of the others when their story is In Focus. So, three strong female performers playing three strong women. Unfortunately, the script is nowhere near as strong. With an original concept from Scott Keys and book and lyrics by Bob Hartmann and Liv Cummins with music by Hartmann the piece starts with an interesting song highlighting the main aspects of these women, "Adventure, Spectacle, Mystery" but then loses any momentum it may have gained from that song by beating the same song into the ground throughout. When Hartmann and Cummins do venture to another song they mainly do so by repeating the same words over and over again and convey very little. And the music, while at times engaging, cannot make up its mind as to what melody it would like. Mid song they would switch to, what sounded like a whole other song, making it impossible to take any melody with you. To make matters worse it feels like they wrote each of these women's musicals separately and then jammed them together. They started with Amelia's which manages the best at any kind of story or melody and then moved onto Agatha's which they decided to make a comedy and then came to Aimee's and realized they had no idea what they wanted to say about her so they just kept having her repeat descriptive words. And if the debacle of "Scandalous" a few years back taught us anything, it's that you really shouldn't attempt to make a musical out of Aimee Semple McPherson's life.
As I said, the cast is wonderful. Hubbard has a voice from the Gods making Amelia soar. Davis manages to make even proper British sound sassy and hilarious. And Hawkins keeps the spirit of McPherson alive. And director Annie Lareau does a fine job keeping the pace of this going as much as she can but it's difficult with a show that fights you at every turn as the songs want nothing more than to halt any kind of story.
One of McPherson's songs in the show repeated, ad nauseum, the lyric "say yes to no" (whatever that means) and with a show with an immobile story and no decent music or lyrics I wish they had simply said no. And so, for Seattle Public Theater's production of "Vanishing Point", I have no choice but to say yes to NAH with my three-letter rating system. Three interesting women stuck in a show with little to say.
"Vanishing Point" performs at Seattle Public Theater through February 25th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.seattlepublictheater.org.