Mark Sickman’s new musical, Intruder, is a unique type of play, and one that stands out in what’s typically a theatre festival of works in various stages of development. From the simple, but effective sets (take a look at that photo), to the well thought out blocking, Intruder manages to pull you in with a story that at first seems unbelievable, but then creates layers upon layers of a beautifully crafted plot. The direction by Debra Whitfield is first rate. The actors, Robert Newman (Newell Chancellor), Zoe Johnson (Michelle Taylor), and Shabazz Green (Wade) are outstanding, both in their acting as in their singing.
The premise is that Newell Chancellor is a world famous and revered composer of musical theatre who is at his home studio working with his assistant, Michelle, on the songs for his new production when an intruder (Shabazz Green as Wade) suddenly appears out of nowhere. Wade has managed to think about every possible obstacle an intruder would have, from handling nosey neighbors to taking care of Newell’s guard dog, amusingly named Andrew Lloyd Webber. The intruder at first wears a mask, but when he reveals his identity there is a shocked looked on each of the “victim’s” faces. Why?
As the story unfolds, and those layers begin to reveal just how complex this story really is, you can’t help but enjoy the journey. Along the way, Wade mocks, threatens, bullies, and eventually reveals that there is more to him than meets the eye. He sings (beautifully) and seems to have this uncanny ability with words and music that make him more than just some stereotypical thief. As Michelle, the lovely and talented Zoe Johnson plays a wide range of emotions, from fragile and victimized, to seemingly ruthless. As the supposed muse for Newell Chancellor, you can understand why he would fall for such a woman... and why it may come back to haunt him. As Chancellor, Newman plays the composer with great realism and somehow the trio make every moment, every segue to song, truly plausible and enjoyable. It’s not really a musical in the traditional sense, and that’s what works best. Director Debra Whitfield knocks it out of the park with great casting and direction. This is a very well put together evening of theatre by a talented production team.
After three performances, you won’t be able to see this play at the Winterfest festival this year, but I do hope they take it somewhere for another run. You can find more about this play and follow them on their site, www.intruderthemusical.com.