Impressive talent illuminates the latest in the “Inner Voices” series, with three one-act musicals exploring individual feelings, each with a different creator, star and director. The musicals are excellent showcases, although with the first two, “Window Treatment” and “The Costume,” the writers and director should realize that less can be more, as the works are overlong.
Farah Alvin, whom I have previously admired, is an acting and vocal sensation in “Window Treatment” as she takes the stage alone in her apartment in the role of a doctor who lets her imagination run wild with fantasies about having a relationship with a guy in a building across the way. There are emotional ups and downs as she tears into the material with gusto or sadly expresses a downside, depending on her mood.
Alvin’s role is a challenge and she shows her considerable skills developing the part to the fullest. The piece has music by Daniel Green and words by Deborah Zoe Laufer, with musical direction by Paul Masse and overall direction by Portia Krieger. Brandon Wong is on vibraphone.
The problem is that for all its entertaining qualities, the musical drama runs on and on. Just when it appears that there’ll be an ending, off it goes on a new emotional blast. However, Alvin is sensational all the way.
Finn Douglas is an 11-year-old lad who has already achieved considerable success. In “The Costume” he takes the stage and dominates it solo for the length of the musical drama with utter sureness in his singing and acting. He is amazing, and if he can do a one-boy show this long (overly long, as I have said) he promises to have a solid future ahead as an adult. The kid is fantastic.
In this piece with words and music by Daniel Zaitchik, the setting is Halloween Eve in 1954, and the boy has a chore assigned. He must look after an injured pigeon all on his own, and he ruminates about the situation in a variety of ways, mostly talking and singing directly to the audience.
Finn handles himself with utter confidence, with the right expressions and gestures, and one sits there deeply impressed with his talent and ability to hold an audience. The composer and director could have shortened the piece, but as far as Finn is concerned, he looks as if he could have held the stage even longer.
Musical direction for “The Costume” is by Deborah Abramson, with direction by Noah Himmelstein. Patti Kilroy and Ludovica Burtone are violinists.
As for “Scaffolding,” the third in the collection, the star is the renowned Rebecca Luker, who has performed in a raft of major shows, including “The Sound of Music,” “The Music Man” and “Mary Poppins.” Here she sings as a compulsive mother of a son with Asperger Syndrome and works with him, encourages him and primes him for admission to the demanding M.I.T. Preparation is intense for the mandatory interview.
Luker superbly builds her character as a mother who invests her total being into her son and his future, while holding back the nature of his condition with the intention of telling him later. The son is her life, and with such an emotional investment, the scene is set for ultimate disappointment.
“Scaffolding,” with words and music by Jeff Blumenkrantz, has been smartly directed by Victoria Clark and is at about the right length for encompassing the story being told. Musical direction is by Benji Goldsmith, with Yari Bond on cello. Reid Thompson has designed the scenery for all three musicals. At the TBG Mainstage Theatre, 312 West 36th Street. Reviewed November 5, 2018.