ROBIN’S SHOW REVIEW: UNLOCK’D
Not since Rapunzel, has hair taken on such a distinctive role. UNLOCK’D plays it to the hilt with this charming original musical comedy featuring book and lyrics by Sam Carner and music by Derek Gregor. Winner of a Richard Rogers Award and a “Best of Fest” winner at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, UNLOCK’D is a fanciful romp, with a nod toward Shakespearean romance and antics and mythology, that subtly tackles the notion of the power/quandary of being tied to your looks and takes us along for an entertaining ride.
Unlock’d is based on Alexander Pope’s poem “The Rape of the Lock,” in which a feud over hair involves mythical creatures and the Gods…in the musical….Zeus comes front ‘n center toward the end. According to Wikipedia, Pope’s poem uses the traditional high stature of classical epics to emphasize the triviality of the incident. The abduction of Helen of Troy becomes here the theft of a lock of hair; the gods become minute sylphs; the description of Achilles’ shield becomes an excursus on one of Belinda’s petticoats. He also uses the epic style of invocations, lamentations, exclamations and similes, and in some cases adds parody to imitation by following the framework of actual speeches in Homer’s Iliad. Although the poem is humorous at times, Pope keeps a sense that beauty is fragile, and that the loss of a lock of hair touches Belinda deeply. As his introductory letter makes clear, women in that period were essentially supposed to be decorative rather than rational, and the loss of beauty was a serious matter.
Clarissa (the commanding Jennifer Blood) is tired of living in the shadow of her flirtatious sister Belinda (Jillian Gottlieb…who ably captures her innocence and has a gorgeous singing voice), the most adored, beautiful (and ditzy, butterfly-chasing) woman in 18th Century England, who talks to a lock of her hair that speaks back to her. Wits sharpened and scissors in hand, Clarissa sets out to cut Belinda — and her glorious locks of hair — down to size… and to find a man of her own. Through an appealing (and sometimes beautiful) score featuring electric guitar alongside harpsichord and strings, four star-crossed lovers, dueling scissors and all, do battle as they compete for affection and struggle to stay true to their real feelings and desires.
The talented cast delivers. The trio of sylphs (Chandler Reeves, Maria Couch and Catherine LeFrere) who endeavor to preserve the purity of Belinda are an engaging threesome of BFFs. The two male love interests Sydney James Harcourt and A. J. Shiveley sing well and have a strong, physical stage presence…..not bad “eye candy.” As the three goofy, yet engaging gnomes Chris Gunn, Adam Daveline and Hansel Tan are right on the mark….Tan sings a great solo!
The script runs a bit long, but it’s overall a fun theatrical event with some tender moments, clever staging, lots of humor, eye-catching costumes, and as zany and over the top as it feels at times, there’s a lot of fun mischief and genuine talent afoot.
UNLOCK’D is directed and choreographed by Marlo Hunter, the founder of Eating Their Words and associate choreographer of The Roundabout’s Picnic. Brad Haak (Mary Poppins, Lestat) is the music supervisor.
Scenic design is by Wilson Chin (Next Fall) and David L. Arsenault. Costume design is by Amy Clark (Chaplin The Musical). Lighting design is by Cory Pattak (Cole Porter’s NYMPH ERRANT, With Glee). Sound design is by Kurt Fischer (Rent, Everyday Rapture). Kat West is the production stage manager. Jason Najjoum (Working, Myths and Hymns) is the casting director. Additional orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin. Christian Kelly-Sordelet is the fight choreographer. Adam Wachter is the music director.
Tickets for UNLOCK’D ($50, with premium seating available for $65) are available by visiting www.Dukeon42.org, by calling (646) 223-3010 or in person at The Duke on 42nd Street Box Office located at 229 West 42nd Street.
For more information and the performance schedule, visit www.ProspectTheater.org.