“Written In The Stars” opened Thursday night at the Kraft Center for Jewish Life. The cast is made up of Madison Andrus (CC ’21) , Jack Becker (CC ’21), Camryn Bolkin (GS/JTS ’21), Elli Furukawa (BC ’20), Alison Kahn (BC ’21), Habin Lee (SEAS ’18), Chrisanthi Livadiotis, Sarina Maurice (BC/JTS ’21), Louisa Melcher (CC ’20), Brent Morden (CC ’19), Gabriel Pont (CC/JTS ’20), Carys Snyder (CC ’19), and Rachael Whitley (BC ’21). The show is stage managed by Anna Fondiller (BC ’19) and features choreography by Juliana Forrest (BC ’19), music direction by Morden, and lighting design by Leora Lupkin (BC ’20). Tickets are free and seats can be reserved here.
A Western-themed musical comedy set in outer space sounds like a lot to take on, and a lot to take in. But the cheers of audience members at David Treatman’s (GS/JTS ’20) podcast-inspired, but still original story proved that he didn’t bite off more than he could chew. The witty dialogue, kitschy half-rhymes, and impressive body paint made for an enjoyable evening.
“Written in the Stars” tells the story of Sparks Nevada (Jack Becker), a Martian marshal who is in fact from Earth, and his friends and foes, both human and extraterrestrial. Sparks’ job is righting the outlaw wrongs on Mars, but he has personal issues to deal with as well. His girlfriend isn’t fitting in with the other residents of the planet, someone else wants his job and is willing to kill for it, and a group of mutant bandits are out to get him. What is he to do?
Highlights included Sarina Maurice and Gabriel Pont’s titular duet, which was so sweet that I didn’t even mind them rhyming “flowers” with “stars”. Maurice also showed some of the strongest acting chops on stage, with an impressively consistent Southern drawl and a voice that rang loud and clear above the band (who deserve their own shoutout). Much of the beauty in the show was found in its more everyday aspects, like the fear of commitment or frustration over traffic violations. There were also whole scenes discussing xenophobia and gender roles, adding some seriousness to a lighthearted story.
Musical lovers often complain that their favorite shows are asymmetrical, i.e. the first act is largely free of major drama while the second will rip your heart out with its sadness (think “West Side Story” or “Hamilton”). This show experienced a bit of that in that most of the musical numbers were concentrated in the second half, as well as most of the action. Moving some of the Sparks-related drama earlier on, such his rivalry with the robot outlaw Techs, might have eliminated this lopsidedness and made room for the more emotionally impactful conflict with love interest Rebecca Rose Rushmore (Camryn Bolkin).
One difficulty that I encountered was my lack of familiarity with the source material. During the first act in particular, it wasn’t always clear to me what each character’s purpose in the story was, and I think a bit more exposition could have helped immensely. Act II was largely free of these issues, and included one of the most delightful medleys I’ve ever heard. This show applies to a broad range of interests. Go see it if you like cowboys/space/drinking/love/all of the above, and don’t see it if you don’t like musicals. Actually, still go see it, because musicals are great!
Photos via Aliya Schneider