Review by Jerry Laird
Once again the Charlottetown Festival has put together a fantastic line up. The 2016 season promises to be fun and entertaining.
One show that will surely have people talking for years to come is Spoon River. The play is based on Edgar Lee Masters 1916 book of poems Spoon River Anthology. In his book, fictional dead citizens give their own epitaphs through Masters’ poems. Inspired by his own home town of Spoon River, Illinois, Masters created a fictional Spoon River with a cast of corpses who tell the truth about their demise with uninhibited honesty.
The Masters book has been adapted as musical theatre by Canadians Mike Ross and Albert Schultz. They have created a comedic and moving look at the tales of Spoon River’s graveyard residents.
The play is set in the early 1800s and is a thought-provoking look at the the town’s history, through the eyes of its deceased. Original songs and musical arrangements by Ross were delivered by the cast with tight vocal harmonies and supported by a variety of instruments. The production utilizes a stellar cast with many years of theatre experience, including Charlottetown Festival veterans.
Some characters have you laughing before they even speak, others lull you in with a moving story about their untimely demise, only to hit you with a witty comment or sarcastic song to transition into the next scene.
There are also powerful scenes with Toronto native Alana Bridgewater, who, in my opinion, stole the show as she lead the cast in a gospel revival.
There was a lot of information to take in during the performance, the scenes changed quickly so you really had to pay attention not to miss anything. The show got me thinking about what I might have to say to you all when I am dead.
The music is great and the cast is amazing—it is a production worth seeing.
For a complete list of cast credits see the shows program or the Charlottetown Festival web site.