By Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn
Directed by Warner Crocker
Continuing at Wayside Theatre until Sept. 25. Box office phone number: 869-1776.
By John Horan Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
MIDDLETOWN -- Wayside Theatre strikes gold with "Striking 12."
Sure, it's a holiday musical, but after this sweltering summer, the mere thought of colder times is a welcome tonic, an itch the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre also scratched with its production of "White Christmas" in July.
And "Striking 12" is definitely cool. A most unusual show, it's a small-scale musical, ably performed by a gifted trio, that both captivates and resonates on several levels.
"Striking 12" is part urban fable (the "Man Who's Had Enough" is content to forgo the obligatory New Year's Eve festivities until the perky girl who sells environmentally correct light bulbs comes calling) and part fairy tale (her sales pitch reminds him of the "Little Match Girl," which leads him to explore Hans Christian Andersen's dark story).
The show, directed by Warner Crocker, shifts smoothly between the two, but also features banter among the three musicians, who also occasionally break character to engage the audience directly.
Written by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn, two-thirds of the GrooveLily trio, which first performed it, "Striking 12" boasts a clever book by Rachel Sheinkin. But it's the music, innovative and varied, that transports "Striking 12" to fanciful heights.
Sara K. Story, Steve Przybylski and Vaughn Irving revel in the score, performing their solos with style and blending their voices seamlessly, often in close harmony, while deftly plying their instruments.
There's not a lot of action. Irving and Przybylski are anchored to their drum set and keyboard, respectively, but Story is a vibrant presence, moving around the stage while eliciting a myriad of sounds from her electric violin.
Heather Reid's graceful dancing complements some of the songs.
Till Turner provides the arty, whimsical set, supplemented by Wes Calkin's inspired lighting. Tamara M. Carruthers supplies the costumes, including Story's sparkly, slinky dress.
"Striking 12" continues through Sept. 25. The box office phone number is 869-1776.