If you go to see musicals because you happen to love great music, then it really doesn’t matter where you see it, even if it’s at a theatre festival, in a mostly low-budget, blackbox production. That is, of course, ONLY if the music is that good. And I can promise you that the music in ME PROMETHEUS is indeed THAT GOOD. In fact, it’s so damn good that I will say it's one of the better musical scores I’ve heard in the theatre festival circuit in quite some time. So there you have it. I can stop right here and be happy that I caught the last performance of this sold out run at the Hudson Guild Theater and say no more. But…
Allow me to add this to the equation. This show can go places. Maybe it's a tour, maybe it's a followup Off-Off Broadway run. Maybe. But to do so, it needs an infusion of money, a lead producer, and some work to tighten the book so that it can get to where it deserves to go. How fun was the music? It was "Urinetown" or "Putnam County Spelling Bee" fun.
The story itself is about the pre-historic discovery of fire at the dawn of an ice age, and so it naturally opens with Thomas Edison (Jonathan Bethea). I am being facetious, but it's little gags and surprises like this that make it enjoyable. Go figure. This self effacing, tongue-in-cheek approach to an otherwise simple plot is all you really need to thread together with some good numbers and have a wonderful 90-minutes. It's non-traditional, the cast was young, but more than capable, and they handled the partially pre-recorded score (6 musicians were live & under direction of Stephen Ferri) with ease and skill. As is, they can clean it up and pitch this show to a college circuit, but I will hold hope that they can manuever a way to bring it back to the stage sometime soon. It deserves to be seen.
Oh, and did I mention it was sold out!
Which brings me to something I've been preaching for a while: build a following! I think the reason that this festival show was sold out for all three intial performances of the Summerfest Theater Festival (and then an added fourth performance) is because people are sensing something big could come from ME PROMETHEUS and they want to be a part of it. And you can feel it. The lyrics are witty and clever, way more than what you would expect from a bunch of kids (By “kids” I mean tremendously talented, friendly and clearly ahead of their time, millenials who deserve all the recognition that they are getting). These kids have built a following. And because at its essence the music and the songs are so entertaining, I think word of mouth has spread and their following will grow.
The creators of the musical, Simon Riker and Emerson Sieverts are both charming, friendly, easy going, hard-working. Realizing the limitations of a festival or college production (where they originated the show), they use a projection screen with cheesy looking, badly drawn slides to move the story along and represent the various scenes. They make no apologies and, in itself, it’s funny, creative, and an inventive use of limited resources. The costumes are sort of a mishmosh of seemingly thrown together prehistoric robes and something that looks like a scout might wear camping. Again, it works! The lighting was minimal, the cast was a manageable 9 actors playing 12 characters, with one guy playing a glacier. Yes, a whole glacier. It’s innovative, lively theatre that seems to be having a ball.
From Thomas Edison's opening number, "Light," to its closing number, "Start The Fire," the young cast gives it all it has and then some. Some voices are better than others, the acting is campy and going for laughs (I thought). They can sing, they can move, they have fairly good comedic timing, and they move the plot along. They are enjoying the process and you can feel it.
You won't be able to see this show at the Hudson Guild this time around, but make a mental note of it. It will be back. Check out the tracks and stay connected by subscribing to their website: https://meprometheus.com/