Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review of Underscore Theatre Company's Borderlands

Once upon a time I went to a preview of a show and it was called Borderlands. The book and lyrics were by L. C. Bernadine and the music and additional lyrics were by Erik Olsen. It was directed by Alex Higgin-Houser and the music director was TJ Anderson. It was about a bunch of friends who got together to play music, but then they all had really tough lives so they talked about that, but they expressed themselves through music. I liked a lot of parts of this show and thought the performers had amazing voices and most of them were good actors too! I think it was a great idea for a show.

There was this one song "Food Pantry Gospel" that was all about this woman Marie (Dimokratia Michalopolous) who was very poor and had to go get her groceries by standing in a big long line. What happened in the scene was that she went and got this sack of flour and she was happy because she could make biscuits for her children. But then when she got out the flour she spilled it and there were mealworms all over. And I thought that was sad and gross because I felt like, what kind of person would donate flour with mealworms in it without checking first? I found that so sad and I wanted to do anything to help this woman. I felt like she did a great job telling her story and making it emotional but not making it cheesy. I thought the song was very catchy, too, and I liked it a lot. I thought Ryan (Jon Patrick Penick) and Marie had a great relationship. I just wish they didn't have money problems. There was a song called "Wondrous Thing" that was all about her and the kids, and how much he loved them, and I thought it was very moving.

My other favorite song was "Then Again," the one that Ellie (Sarah Beth Tanner) sang about all the men that had loved her and betrayed her but then she is trying to get over all that. What had happened is her boyfriend had not come home and she was super mad about it. So she went over to this other guy's, TJ's (Aaron Davidson), house and borrowed a chainsaw. It was so funny when you just heard the chainsaw noises coming from her apartment and you thought she was killing her boyfriend. But that is not what she was actually doing. She was just sawing through her bed. I did kind of relate to how angry she felt when someone betrayed her but you felt like that person would never do anything to hurt you and make you feel sad. I've had friends that I thought would never make me feel sad or say anything mean, but then they do. This was a section where you were invested the entire time and you wanted to know what was going to happen next. The singing was gorgeous too.

I felt like there should have totally been an intermission in this show, because it was a little bit too long to watch it all in one go without being able to have a bathroom break. Or they could have cut it down so that it was only like an hour and a half. I would have cut some of the songs that I felt weren't mandatory to the story. Like the one all about the New Yorkers. You already knew where Sanders (Mike Mazzoca) was and he had already talked about the New Yorkers and how they didn't really care where you were going, so I didn't think you really needed a whole song about it. I also felt like Sanders missed out on a lot because his ex, Tara (Julia Merchant), was such a great singer and seemed like a really nice person. And that shows that he was ungrateful and that made me not like his character very much. I really liked the character of Hicks (Ian Knox), but you didn't really get to learn much about him until the end when they sort of acted like he'd been the main character the whole time even though you didn't get to learn much about him. They talked about stuff that they expected you to know about, but that they hadn't talked specifically about yet. And he hadn't had any songs specifically about his story yet. I enjoyed his song at the end, but if his acting and that song hadn't been so good, I would have thought they should just cut that character.

People who would like this show are people who like beautiful singing, biscuits, and bed-breaking chainsaws. I think people will really enjoy the amazing stories and great performances. I had fun at this show!

Photos: Zane Rerek

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