If the Spirit Moves a new musical by Germaine Shames is the opening show of Theatre Elision's third season. It is a beautiful show that continues in Theatre Elision's tradition of producing new or rarely seen musicals, usually around 90 minutes in length, that center around the stories of women.
The show which takes place shortly after WWI is centered around dadaism and spiritualism and specifically how these practices affect those grieving. It does so in such a way that the story feels very rooted in the time of the 1920s and tells a story that feels both old fashion and new. The story revolves around Daphne (Serena Brook), a young American woman who spent the war years in Europe and has now returned to New York to make a new start. She finds a home with her old friend Agnes, who now goes by the name Desiree (Christine Wade), an actress who encourages Daphne to start a racket - such as pretending to be a medium. Upon her first reading she is surprised that she actually can commune with the spirits and ends up giving hope and comfort to the ladies and gentlemen of society who have lost loved ones in the war.
The entire ensemble is very strong. In addition to Serena Brook, who gives a fantastic performance, switching back and forth between the voices of different characters while giving her seances. And Christine Wade who was hilarious as Desiree a girl from Saint Louis who has put on a New York accent and has entirely reinvented herself. The cast comprises of Janet Hayes Trow as Lady Aspen, Abilene Olson as Mrs. Barnes, Ben Heer as Edward, and Kyler Chase as Kurt. They all make so much of their characters with the limited time they have on stage (after all the show is only 90 minutes long).
The show is filled with beautiful songs, with music by Erin Murray Quinlan and lyrics by the playwright. The songs are only a few years old but they sound as it they came out of the 1920s. The melodies range from fun to wistful and are sung wonderfully by the cast whose voices merge together into something much greater than their individual parts.
The show is only running through this Sunday September 29th. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo courtesy of Theatre Elision