Saturday, June 23, 2012

Solstice at Soulstice

An Evening of Song charmingly hosted by Josh Perkins

By Russ Bickerstaff
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I had made arrangements to see a program of show tunes last night. And I made arrangements to see in that program of show tunes and other assorted bits of music prior to realizing that I could instead be seeing a far more abstract theatrical presentation with Quasi Mondo. And there was some level of disappointment in that for me because well . . . I tend to prefer the more abstract experimental stuff to schmaltzy show tunes. But on a day where I received particularly miserable news about my health, I think Solstice at Soulstice was probably a better choice. As captivating as it might have been to have seen Jessi Miller doing something deeply socially resonant with duct tape over her mouth in darkness amidst a pile of crumpled newsprint, I think I was really more in the mood for something light . . . and in light of bad news about my health, maybe I really just needed to see Lumpy the Golem Boy singYou Are My Sunshine. 

 

Solstice Theatre has a great sense of community about it. Nestled there in a strange, little pocket of St. Francis, it had a warmth about it that is really amplified in the new space. Solstice at Soulstice is a fun, little uneven evening of song. Included in the performance are students who have been working in the Soulstice's young training program. 

 

The show starts with the entire cast performing Seasons of Love, which actually works as a nice, little introduction to just about anything onstage . . . after which, the show gets under way. It's hosted by Josh Perkins, who keeps lends a charmingly cohesive tone to what is essentially a bunch of people singing. Under the wrong circumstances, this could be a lot like watching a bunch of people and a puppet audition for a musical. Perkins keeps that from happening and he makes it look pretty effortless. 

 

Highlights of the show include an interesting manipulation of the Beatles' Here Comes the Sun by Shayne Steliga on acoustic guitar and Erin Walton's pleasantly wistful performance of A Way Back To Then from [title of show]. (That Jeff Bowen musical all be staged at Soulstice in September by the newly resurrected Theatrical Tendencies.) My personal favorites on the evening were Lumpy's Sunshine, which actually had a very clever ending reminiscent of a skit on The Muppet Show . . . and the very, very romantic duet between Abby Armstrong and Jordan Gwiazdowski. It was a piece from Miss Saigon . . . Sun and Moon . . . Gwiazdowski and Armstrong performed it with a gentle tenderness that formed into the fantastic little moment onstage before vanishing into the next piece.

 

The show is accompanied by Brian Myers on keyboard, who lends a certain charisma to the show. Myers will be doing an evening of tunes by Randy Newman with Soulstice later on this summer. 

 

Solstice at Soulstice closes its two-night run with tonight's performance. The show starts at 7:30 pm at Soulstice's space on 3770 South Pennsylvania Avenue.

 

 

 

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