June 27, 2008

Find Your Faith and Make It True

Last Saturday evening I went and saw the Off-Broadway musical SAVED from Playwright's Horizon. And as much as the critics said that it was a "sanitized" version of the cult movie from which it came from, making the adaptation tepid, I must say I truly enjoyed this show!

It's the story of Mary (Celia Keenan-Bolger), a popular girl in a Christian HS. She gets pregnant after sleeping with her boyfriend Dean (Aaron Tveit) who just revealed to her that he thinks he's gay. Mary tries to "help" him after seeing a vision of Jesus asking her to "be there for Dean, he needs you now". Clearly a misinterpretation huh? What follows is how people in her school reacts to this discovery. This includes her righteous best friend Hillary Faye (played by wonderfully by Mary Faber), Pastor Skip (John Dosset), her mom Lillian (played fabulously by Julia Murney) and the other kids: Roland (Curtis Holbrook), Patrick the pastor's son (Van Hughes) and the token Jew and bad girl, Cassandra (Morgan Weed). Oh and there's a subplot......Pastor Skip who is estranged from his wife has the hots for Mary's mom.......thus another dilemma.

Saved, although set in a Christian High School is a story of faith and not religion. It's the story of people losing and finding their spirituality in the face of adversity. Heavy topic isn't it? But the show is not preachy at all. In fact, it's light, very funny and quite enjoyable. There were a lot of funny lines and the audience that night seemed to enjoy it. The music was more in the pop vein however, I must say the lyrics need some work. I do love it though, that the show didn't tie everything up in a nice bow. It ended with the future of the characters uncertain but it was OK.....life is messy but it's OK.

The cast is fantastic......very energetic and enjoyed being onstage together. The standouts for me were Mary Faber, Curtis Holbrook (who did amazing wheelchair wheelie dancing tricks), Morgan Weed (great sarcastic line deliveries and what a rich voice) and Van Hughes (amazing voice).

However, I can't end this post without talking about Julia Murney......who incidentally got entrance applause that night. No not that "crazy screaming Wicked fangirl applause" but just a polite "glad you're back on stage applause". Anyway, it was a very different kind of singing from Wicked. You hear more of the softer, more mellow side of her voice in this show. She did get the best song I think......it's called "How To". It's a mother's lament on how to help her daughter find her faith back. The lyrics and the way she sings it gave me a lump on my throat. The audience was dead silent during that time and broke into a huge applause after. Also towards the end of the song, when she sings the line "a LOT OF JOOOYYYYyyyyy " she goes into a crescendo as if going to do a high belt but then would pull back on her voice....I love that! In the finale, where Mary is narrating the uncertain fate of the characters, Julia was sitting on a bench, stageright, not even the focus of the scene but you could totally see various emotions running through her face....turmoil, empathy, doubt as well as hope. Now isn't that just wonderful acting?

Here are some pics I took outside the theatre:

production stills:

the marquee:

SAVED poster:


bettie9945@aol.com said...

Julia Murney's skills as a singer are unsurpassed, for sure, but her skills as an actress are awesome! I believe she acts the hell out of every song she sings and every word she utters. I would fly to NYC and pay big bucks to watch her read the phone book. Add to that...she is funny. The girl is extraordinary and it kills me that the whole world doesn't know her name.

Pinky said...

^^ Thanks Bettie for the comment!

Yes, her acting choices always amazes me.

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