Power in Performance
By Kevin Smith, Curious Content Team
“Powerful” is the term I keep coming back to describe my experience at opening night of The Happiest Song Plays Last at Curious Theatre Company. From the acting and directing to the sets, lights, and costumes, the whole show comes together to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. The power comes from each component and reverberates through the music, which is the pulsing undercurrent to this evocative show.
There’s no good guy vs. bad guy scenario. We the audience are not trying to rally around one protagonist overcoming an obstacle. Rather, each character is a hero we root for as they battle relatable internal struggles. The show delves into forging — and inadvertently breaking — relationships while carrying themes of social justice, equality, revolution, and sense of self through personal growth.
It would be easy for the actors to go over the top dramatically during some of the more intense moments in the script; instead, they take their performance to the edge without going over it. This kept me engaged and provided a relatable realism to the plot and portrayal. The characters all could be someone I know personally, and the actors made me connect with each of these characters by the end of the night.
I was challenged to think about my own relationships, personal struggles, and social justice within our world after seeing Happiest Song.
As a new volunteer writer for Curious, I had access to the script before seeing the production itself. While some might say that ruined the surprise of seeing the show, for me, it allowed me to connect in a different way than I have in shows I’ve seen only from the audience’s vantage point. It also brought back great memories of being involved with school theatre productions and community theatre shows.
While knowing how the story ends changed my perspective while watching the play, it didn’t diminish it. It’s always exciting to see the performance and how a particular director or design team will approach the work. What will the set look like? How will the actors interact with the set? How will their portrayal be similar or different than what I imagined while reading the script?
There were elements that were brought out in production that I never got from reading the script – things that only become “real” when they are played out and highlighted by live theatre. In Happiest Song, I was impressed with how the music, set, and actors’ performances really made the script come alive.
As my first show on the Curious Team, I found Happiest Song to be a truly powerful reflection of the company’s “no guts, no story” motto. I’m excited to share with you over the coming weeks behind-the-scenes interviews with some of the folks that made this show happen and share my experiences as a newcomer to professional theatre and to Curious.