Monday, March 7, 2016

Review of Porchlight Music Theatre's Far From Heaven

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Far From Heaven. The book was written by Richard Greenberg. The lyrics were by Michael Korie and the music was by Scott Frankel. It was based on the movie by Todd Haynes. It was directed by Rob Lindley with music direction by Chuck Larkin and choreography by William Carlos Angulo. It was about a woman named Cathy (Summer Naomi Smart) and she was married to a man named Frank Whitaker (Brandon Springman) and he turned out to be gay. And after she found that out, her husband still wanted to make it work and stay with her, but the only person that she feels she can talk to is Raymond Deagan (Evan Tyrone Martin) who is their gardener. Then they get to know each other better and she starts to fall in love with him. But the problem is that then her reputation and Raymond's life are being damaged by spending time together because people are racist. They can't see each other anymore because they could both get hurt. I thought this was a touching, romantic, and exciting show. I really liked it.

I really liked the scene where Raymond and Cathy talked about art. I felt like it was a scene where you can really see them bonding. They are both appreciators of modern art. Everyone else said the art was "interesting," but I think they thought it was just dumb. Raymond and Cathy seemed to have very different opinions from the rest of the room. They talked about what kind of feelings and images and memories they saw in the picture and how it made them feel. They projected (projection design by Michael Stanfill) each work of art that they saw, and I thought that was very cool. You want to know what they are looking at because there are a lot of different Miró paintings, but the ones that they are looking at in particular really speak to them, so it helps you understand the song. It is a very old fashioned thing to think that Miró, because his paintings are more about feelings and less about accurately portraying what he is seeing, is bad at making art. There are other old-fashioned ideas and ways of thinking in this show, like racism, homophobia, and sexism. Sadly all of these problems aren't yet solved, but I call them old-fashioned because I feel like people should have gotten over believing these things.

There is a party that the Whitakers put together and invite everyone from work to. Frank is not very nice in this scene, which is your introduction to the not-so-nice Frank. He says Cathy is ugly when she doesn't have her makeup on. You shouldn't say that about someone, especially in front of their friends. He is insanely drunk and his wife has just found out that he is gay. I think he has gone to drinking to console himself, but that is not the best way to console yourself. He did try therapy, but that didn't work out because his therapist (Jerry Mills) couldn't help him because you can't "cure" being gay and back then they thought of being gay as some kind of disease, which is not at all true. It kind of infuriates me that something that is just the way you feel about another grown-up person is considered an illness. In this scene, you don't like Frank very much, but when he finally makes his decision, you understand. I sympathize with Frank because he is just confused about his feelings.

I felt like there should have been more about Raymond and his daughter Sarah (Sidra Henderson) in the play. I really liked how he was very close with his daughter and interacted with her and explained things to her. You could really tell a lot just from Sarah's facial expressions. Like I could see that she didn't want to go play with the boys her father told her to play with, but she did because she wanted her dad to be happy. It would have made the play even better if we had seen the scene where Raymond was talking to Sarah after she had gotten beat up. That would have helped this play seem more culturally sensitive. Without that, it might be seen as another story about some white people not being racist in a world of racist people that doesn't really say much about African American people and their lives.

People who would like this show are people who like Miró, forbidden love, and crazy work parties. I think that people should go see this show. It opened my eyes to a lot of things about the beliefs people had in the 1950s, and I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Brandon Dahlquist

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