FLY BY NIGHT presented by Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through Sept. 29. Click here for a synopsis and more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
ETC kicks off their 2018-2019 season with the contemporary musical fable, FLY BY NIGHT.
While I found the show well-paced, the script itself, although engaging, could use a bit of editing. The book has an abundance of plot lines spinning and for me there are times when the show loses momentum due to that volume. I didn’t mind the non-linear storytelling and it is used best when the audience gets to revisit a previous moment with more information or a different perspective.
The bulk of the cast is comprised of faces familiar to ETC audiences and as a whole they are solid across the board. Phil Fiorini completely charms as Mr. McClam who is lost after the passing of his wife. As the Narrator, Nathan Robert Pecchia handles the multiple-roles well, but there were times when his performance level could have been brought down a notch or two to match his scene partners. While I am very much appreciative that ETC so often casts local equity actors, it would be great to see returning actors further explore the physicality of their characters and make unique choices for them.
The cast handled the vocals for the show well, backed by a four-piece band. The only issue I noticed with the sound was a couple of instances when the mics of the supporting vocalists were at the same level as the lead.
The set and lighting design by Brian c. Mehring was a standout for this production. The triangle of circular platforms, the color choices, the balcony, the set pieces tucked under the walls, and the lighting accents gave the set a great ethereal quality.
The solid black and white costume scheme worked well for the most part, but the lack of color or pattern had Harold and Joey in essentially the same costume that didn’t really speak to the period. I would also have liked to have seen the Narrator’s all-white ensemble broken up a bit. I understand the convenience of the black handkerchief for some of his quick costume changes, but for an extended scene as when Miriam visits the gypsy woman, something with a bit more size and substance would be welcomed.
Overall, FLY BY NIGHT is visually enthralling, touching. and bittersweet, this emotional roller coaster of a show hits the mark much more than it misses.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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