Written by 12:34 am Musical, Review, Santa Ana, The Wayward Artist, Theater, Uncategorized

The Cloister Years: In the Green @ Wayward Artist in Santa Ana – Review

photo credit: Francis Gacad

Written by Patrick Chavis

In the arts, there’s always a battle between what sells and what moves us. Sometimes, they are the same thing. One of the things I appreciate about theater is I still see a hunger to experiment and fail on a grand scale. There’s something brave, honest, and necessary about taking those kinds of risks. After stepping out of In the Green at the Wayward Artist, the bravery to do something new and unorthodox ran through the machinery of this production. From hiring a vocal looping Charango player to the decision to put on a musical about a 12th-century nun, somehow, it all worked, and they did it with passion and style.

Story:

In the Green is a musical about a 12th-century Medieval saint named Hildegard (Jess Ward, Hildegard’s Hand) (Audrey Lyn Crabano, Hildegard’s Mouth)(Lily Edwards, Hildegard’s Eyes). The play chronicles her time in a cloisters cell with her mentor Jutta. Jutta (Amanda Godoy), the self-professed whole person, attempts to reassemble a broken Hildegard displayed in three distinct parts: Mouth, Hand, and Eyes.

It’s not only a play but a unique theatrical experience. The moment you walk into the theater, music that could only be described as ethereal plays over the speaker system. Combined with the music is Anais Azul’s other-worldly singing from the corner of the stage.  Azul also plays a lute-like instrument I’ve never heard of before. It’s called a Charango, and it comes from the Andes. The entire stage is covered in white sheets. The only parts uncovered are the live musicians only a few feet away from the audience. The show begins, and for the next hour and twenty-five minutes, we are treated to a show that reads partly like a show about religious devotion and partly a dangerous cult drama.

Music:

It’s a musical, and the show consists mainly of the three cast members playing Hildegard and Jutta. The show transitions from the dramatic moments into song throughout the performance. While this is happening, the band, especially the drumming from David Page, is killing it on that set. Page lays down an infectious driving rhythm that reverberates the small staging area of the Wayward Artist. The band is tight and eclectic in their playing. They are led by Musical Director Diane King Van on Piano/Synths and are one of the better small instrumental ensembles I’ve heard in a theatrical environment. Not an inch is uncounted for in this inspired design from Scenic Designer Avery Tang. To mention all of the artistry placed on this set would add too many spoilers to this review.

Wayward Artist took a risk by casting such young actresses in all of these roles. However, their youth plays well with the themes of indoctrination and how much easier it is to indoctrinate the youth. While the show plays out in the songs and the acting, we see the social and physical impacts indoctrination can have on a group of people. The material is dense, yes, but so entertaining I think it warrants multiple viewings.

While the material is pretty dark and dreary, there’s humor in the most unexpected places. I found myself laughing and smiling at the exchanges between Hildegard and Jutta.

Acting/Direction:

The acting, in concert with the direction from Anna Miles in this piece, is laser-focused and purposeful but also loose and free. The singing of these performers and the emotion they displayed on stage were powerful in their execution and willpower. I could see tears coming out of actress Lily Edwards, who plays Hildegard’s Eyes in the show. I will forever be impressed with actors that can cry on command. It’s great to know we have talented and inspired direction from the SoCal area like this. This show is a prime example.

The performances from Amanda Godoy, Audrey Lyn Crabrano, Lily Edwards, Jess Ward, and Abrianna Lawrence were exceptional.

There was a minor sound issue with balance and tech during my performance.

Review
9.2 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story9.5
Acting9
Set & Design9
Costumes9.5
Entertainment9
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Exceptional show! OCR Recommended!

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