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Author Topic: Find Your Way Home - A Review.  (Read 1370 times)
The Quiet Man
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« on: July 26, 2017, 08:10PM »

            FIDDLER ON THE THATCHED ROOF
                        Or
                       RED THREADS AMONG THE GREEN
      A REVIEW OF JAMES KELLY AND JEFF STRANGE’S “FIND YOUR WAY HOME”

                       
   I was something of a stranger in the audience that gathered at the Peter Sharp Theater at Symphony Space on New York’s Broadway and 95th Street.  Most of the ticketholders I spoke to were fans of one of both of the creators of this new show rather than of any of the performers, and I found myself feeling a bit odd describing myself as a transplanted Celtic Woman fan.  Truth be told, I had decided long ago that I would be circumspect about following former members of that show into whatever followed, since that 1) could appear unhealthy or obsessive, and 2) might not represent the best stewardship of my resources.  However, the opportunity to see Alex Sharpe, who I admire as much for her kind nature as her talent, just across the river, was not to be passed up.
   The show can best be described, I believe, as an Irish “Fiddler on the Roof,” since, as with that well-known show, the main plot focusses on a traditional father, in this case widower Martin McHenry (played as a hearty but believably flawed man by Andrew Holden) doing the best he can to keep to his traditions, beliefs, and promises as the world of 1910 changes around him and calls the possibility of doing so into question.  The mill that has long sustained their town is posting fewer and fewer shifts, and the writing is on the wall that it will be closing altogether soon.  Martin and his five grown children: honest laborer Michael, married with two children of his own (Kevin Fagan), aspiring engineer Daniel (well played but slightly undersung by Adam O’Brien), angry at the world Johnny (Brian Tuohy), surrogate mom Maggie (Sarah Gannon, also a CW alumna, in fine voice but looking a bit too pretty to be the plain Jane she later laments being), and boy-crazy Cara (energetic Grace Collender), must adapt and attempt to move forward, ably assisted by their kind-hearted widow neighbor, Tess Riordan (Ms. Sharpe, in a role perfect for her).     
   The plot is not the type of plot that contains too many twists or surprises.  Each character’s part in that plot can really be reduced to a single question: Will Michael enlist in the British Army as he has been thinking of doing?  Will Daniel be able to continue his schooling in America?  Where will the dark path that Johnny is on ultimately lead?  Will Martin be able to find a way forward without giving up everything that defines him as all he has ever known changes around him?  Will martyred Tess finally get Martin to notice her?  Will homebound Maggie experience more than mending shirts and brewing tea?  Will Cara’s lusty ways lead her into true love or disgrace? 
   I won’t give away too much, except to say none of the answers to these questions are too unexpected…for those that get answered at all.  This is not a musical that seeks to break new ground in terms of telling a story that hasn’t been told before, nor indeed, one that seeks to be a perfect, tightly-as-a-drum-written piece of literature.  As with the movie The Longest Day, there is only so much time to work with, and not enough to tell every character’s full story equally.   
   What it is, as with opera, is a theatrical piece that seeks to convey human feeling through its music and dialogue, and in that it admirably succeeds.  Although the music is Irish and Celtic-based, it is not simply existing tunes rearranged for the stage and strung together with dialogue as with David Downes’ topical but ultimately not very successful “The Bloody Irish.” All of the songs are original, and the score, although broken up with dialogue, is fairly through-composed in the manner of Les Miserables or Ragtime.   

The composers make good use of the ensemble in the despairing opening “Our Town Now,” the somewhat bleak “Heaven Hear Me Now,” as the McHenry children go their separate ways, the occasionally heart-wrenching “Letters” as time passes “off-stage” and the developments it brings are not always good, and the toast “Glass Full of Wishes.”  Mr. Holden provides a good strong anchor to the rest of the cast as he addresses his prayer to his departed wife Kat at the beginning and does his level best to help those around him, perhaps forgetting that if you help others too much you may forget to help yourself.  Indeed, he later shows that even his slow-burning embers may burst into red-hot flame when he condemns his Michael’s choice as dishonoring the “Blood In the Mud” and calls faithful Maggie a worthless old maid.  This last scene is particularly poignant when you consider that Maggie earlier laments that she is a “Plain Jane” while helping fix Cara’s hair for Daniel’s goodbye party.  Tess’s comforting song to Maggie “Love Awaits us All” is where Ms. Sharpe, as kind in life as the character she plays, really shines, though she too has her painful moment when she laments “My Love Within” confessing to the audience the love for Martin she dare not speak to him.  Unfortunately she and her warmth disappear from the stage for much of the second act, which focusses on Daniel’s travails, both professional and romantic in America. 

Tuesday’s show was the last of three performances in America, all of which sold well and for good reason.  It is my hope that a longer run next year is a possibility, and hopefully with the same performers, although there is room for reexamination.

Just to speak a little bit about Alex herself, I did actually talk to her both before and after.  She was kind and polite as always, and did not flinch from photographs with fans and a congratulatory hug afterward.  She also has big news about Cara Nua, however, I will leave that to her to reveal.  Sarah Gannon was also sweet as always, and misses her CW friends.
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Raving Meaviac
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2017, 08:40PM »

 Thank  you  for  this  fine  and  informative  review.   Sounds  like  a riveting  story  line  nonetheless.  I am  envious,  a  bit, of  your  Alex  time.    Wink   
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CWazyTom
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One CWazy Canadian! Chlovër for life!


« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2017, 10:50PM »

Quite an interesting and well-articulated review. Well done!

Should the show have another run with familiar faces in the cast, perhaps I will be able to go see it.

I think what hurts me more than missing out on the show is once again missing out on the opportunity to meet Alex.
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The Quiet Man
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 06:29AM »

Thanks, we'll just have to see how things play out.  As for being jealous of meeting Alex, it was not my intention to make anyone jealous, only to report the facts.  If, however, things play as I think they will going by what she revealed to me, your chance to see her again will come.
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Raving Meaviac
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Vocal Perfection..... Thy Name Is Meav


« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2017, 06:57PM »

Thanks, we'll just have to see how things play out.  As for being jealous of meeting Alex, it was not my intention to make anyone jealous, only to report the facts.  If, however, things play as I think they will going by what she revealed to me, your chance to see her again will come.
   I  know....    Cool   Actually,  back  a  bit  over  2  years  ago,  I  had  to  make  a  hard  choice.   That  was  the  reunion  "X"  tour.  I  live  in  Minnesota which  CW  did  NOT  visit  that  year- 1st  time  in  a  long  time.  So  it  behooved  me  to  go  out  of  my  way  to  see  a  concert  that  year. I  had (have)  limited  funds  so  I could  only  do  the  out-of-my  -way  thing  once.  I  love  sweet  Alexandria  dearly,  but  I had  to  see  Meav.   Meav  is  my Celtic  Goddess  #1  .    I don't  regret  my  choice- would  have  done  it  again -  but  it  left  me  lacking  Alex.  Please  know,  Lester,  that  I  did  NOT  mean  "jealous"   in  a  negative  sense.    Smiley     I know  the  day  will  come.     
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The Quiet Man
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2017, 07:10AM »

Who's Lester?  Yes, I know about states getting skipped, NJ was one this year, which led me to skip this year's tour altogether, since the only realistic choices were Philadelphia (during Easter weekend, too much family stuff going on) and  Brooklyn (onstage myself).  I did go twice during the 2015 tour, Newark and Philadelphia, only because the Philly meet and greet tickets went on sale before Newark was even announced and I thought I had better grab what could be my only chance.  It was certainly a bonus to get to see both Meav (since I didn't see her during the 2007 tour) and Alex again.  Even that was a bit of a stretch, since my usual rule is one time per tour only.  I guess I didn't really miss much, since this year's tour is going to be filmed anyway. 

Next year's tour will come back to Newark, although I am now hoping for Red Bank also due to a budding ahem, special friendship with someone in that area.  If Alex and Cara Nua come to the area I will certainly turn out to support them, because Alex has always been very kind to the fans and I think we need to try to return that, at least as far as lies within our ability to. 
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