All photos by Doug Catiller, True Image Studio
Written by Patrick Chavis
The Chance Theater brings back live, in-person theater for the first time since the pandemic with the Orange County premiere of EDGES, a musical written by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, the award-winning songwriters of La La Land, The Greatest Showman, and Dear Evan Hansen. EDGES is an earlier work from the award-winning duo, and the signs of their talent are all over this script. Still, this script’s bones (structure) feel uneven, and this striped-down production shows off the flaws in the material instead of improving on it.
The show has 4 different characters: Woman 1# played by Sarah Pierce, Woman 2# played by Elizabeth Curtin, Man 2# played by Jewell Holloway, and Man 2# played by Tyler Marshall. There’s no dialogue. Everything in the show is communicated through song. The singers sing about a myriad of topics, but they, for the most part, focus on the topics of life, disappointment, relationships, fear, and upcoming challenges.
The instrumentation in this musical sounds like something composed from an early Steely Dan record, in other words, a poppy jazz fusion sound. The music was performed by only three performers during the entire show: Robyn Manion (also the Music Director) on the keyboard, Jimmy Beall on bass, and Jorge Zuniga on drums.
If this show does anything, it shows off the impressive singing chops of Tyler Marshall. His singing was clear, emotional, and he projected his voice properly each time he went on stage to sing. The show has many good songs, but they’re searching for a stronger connection. However, the show does succeed in featuring some enjoyable tunes.
“In Short” is sung by Sarah Pierce, who plays Woman 1#. It’s a quirky song that includes the mature but mostly vindictive, angry thoughts we have after leaving a relationship that didn’t pan out well. It’s a standout song in this show. It’s funny, clever, and Sarah Pierce does a great job on this tune and during the majority of the show. I’m curious to see what she can do in another production. “Ready to Be Loved” and “Perfect” are also enjoyable tunes in this production.
Listening to the soundtrack of EDGES would probably be a more enjoyable experience than actually watching the production because there’s very little theatrical weight to this show. It’s all in the songs, and it’s almost completely held together by the lyrics.
Everything from the actors’ movements to the costuming is minimal at best, which isn’t a bad thing when more story is involved or anything else keeping your attention. Expect a night of emotional music from talented up-and-comers but not much else.