ANGELS SEEKING WINGS AND DRAMATIC CREDIBILITY.Byline: EVAN EVAN Expandable Van HENERSON
Choral composer Eric Whitacre may be among the next exciting musical theater voices. So, at least, say the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a non-profit performance rights organisation that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, both of which have showered laurels on Whitacre's long-gestating debut musical, "Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings."
On the score of "Paradise Lost," that is. Nobody appears to have honored the musical's book, and after seeing the show's arresting world premiere at the Theater@Boston Court, perhaps the less we say about Whitacre's storytelling ability (he's the book writer as well as the co-lyricist), the better.
This production -- a technological and multigenre fusion more operatic than straight-on musical -- is as heavy on performance talent as it is chockablock with visual bells and whistles A slang English term for exceptional features in some product. In the computer field, it typically refers to functions in software that may be greatly appreciated by some users, even though they may not be necessary most of the time. usually reserved for larger arenas. Credit director Michael Michetti, the Boston Court and underwriting angel Peter Schneider for delivering something rather grand and frequently astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. .
But when not gaping, you may giggle. And the deathly death·ly
1. Of, resembling, or characteristic of death: a deathly silence.
2. Causing death; fatal.
1. In the manner of death.
2. in earnest "Paradise Lost" is not for built for laughs.
There may be a dignified way of recounting a story of adult children of angels searching for their missing wings and the accompanying liberation it will signal, but this isn't it.
There's this colony of wingless -- and therefore powerless -- seraphim seraphim
six-winged angels of the highest order, distinguished by their zeal and love. [O.T.: Isaiah 6:2; Benét, 915]
See : Angel guarded over by protection-minded leader Logos (played by Dan Callaway). Many years before, the angels' elders, in the face of unspecified peril from the outside world, stripped their children of wings, promising eventually to return and take the kids home.
Seventeen years have passed, with Logos leading the colony -- akin to a prison compound -- in battle exercises. His kid sister Exstasis (Hila Plitmann), ostensibly the angels' savior, is less inclined to wait much longer.
Rounding out the ensemble are Gravitas grav·i·tas
1. Substance; weightiness: a frivolous biography that lacks the gravitas of its subject.
2. (Rodolfo Nieto), a simpleton sim·ple·ton
A person who is felt to be deficient in judgment, good sense, or intelligence; a fool.
[simple + -ton (as in surnames such as Chesterton, Singleton). with a knack for thievery Thievery
See also Gangsterism, Highwaymen, Outlawry.
Alfarache, Guzmán de
picaresque, peripatetic thief; lived by unscrupulous wits. [Span. Lit. ; Fervio (Daniel Tatar Tatar
Any member of the Turkic-speaking peoples who today live mainly in west-central Russia east to the Ural Mountains, in Kazakhstan, and in western Siberia. They first appeared as nomadic tribes in northeastern Mongolia in the 5th century. ), who runs a gambling ring; Pieta (Juli Robbins), who makes the fake wings for the battle exercises; and Aia (Marie M. Wallace), beloved by Gravitas. "Paradise's" ostensible villain is Logos' lieutenant, Ignis, (Kevin Odekirk), mistakenly trained by Logos to opt for force over intellect.
"There is another way," Exstasis repeats in what appears to be the show's mantra, and she's going to find it. This "other way" involves a hidden key, an underground cavern and a silver box that, when opened, releases a mass of shimmering silver butterflies (maneuvered on poles by the ensemble).
Given the mass of energy, skill and visual dazzle that have gone into this, you want so desperately to buy into Exstasis and the angel's quest. But too often, extreme hokiness is an enemy more powerful than even a battle-tested angel can combat.
evan henerson, (818) 713-3651
PARADISE LOST: SHADOWS AND WINGS - Two and one half stars
>Where: Theatre@Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena.
>When: 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; through Sept. 2.
>How much: $34. (626) 683-6883, www.bostoncourt.com.
>In a nutshell: Visually cool but dramatically corny.
Dan Callaway, left, and Kevin Odekirk are wingless angels in search of what they're missing in "Paradise Lost."