How would you feel if you had no say in what career you prepared for or was told by a higher authority from the government that you had to do a certain job and that was it? A new show titled “The Anthem” provides a glimpse of a world where that occurs. This musical has some unique touches that add a lot to it and make it a show well worth seeing.
It is based on the 1938 book, “Anthem” by Ayn Rand which is a novelette. Rand’s book was a short, highly styled tale of a future dystopia where the word “I” has disappeared from the language. The show “The Anthem” is a musical with a book by Gary Morgenstein that incorporates these components. However, the storyline is written with a strong satirical/humorous flair. But what adds to the uniqueness is some fine music, dancing, great costumes, and even aerial work that takes place on stage. The concept of loss of individuality is still a strong theme throughout the show as the members of the society where The Grid dominates their lives recite the phrase “We are one” when they receive an order. Their tone of voice in reciting the phrase is a giveaway as to how they really feel; but they do what they are told rather than facing punishment.
Directed by Rachel Klein, the story centers around young Prometheus who is not pleased to be assigned to the law profession. Instead, his passion lies in becoming a scientist. He “secretly” visits the Library of Forbidden books where the woman he has been assigned to mate with, Hera, works. While there, he finds books that fuel his desire to break away which he eventually does and he lands in the Forbidden Forest where he meets and falls in love with Athena, the Golden One and leader of the rebellion. Their love is not all it seems to be as Athena has more on her mind than just making it with Prometheus. Eventually, choices are made which determines the future of the world of The Grid and the Forbidden Forest and it’s difficult to assess if the right decisions were made.
The storyline of the show is interesting and it is assisted by a number of things including a very strong cast that not only acts and adds humor to the show, but also provides outstanding singing, dancing, aerial work and even roller skating. Yes, a very talented group of people are performing in this show.
The cast leads include: Ashley Kate Adams who plays Athena with a glorious voice that soars throughout the show. Her powerful stance as the leader of the rebellion leaves no question as what her priorities are and Adams pulls this off well. Jason Gotay provides a good mix of initial arrogance then vulnerability and finally strength of character in his portrayal of Prometheus. He is a wonderful singer and the duets between his character and Athena are so well done, especially “Golden One.” Patch David pulls off surprises as his Pericles character unfolds his story and Jamyl Dobson is downright powerful and scary as the Executioner should be. Jenna Leigh Green keeps a staunch air of dictatorship in her portrayal of Pandora which leads to quite a surprising ending for her. Randy Jones is one level below Pandora and he definitely shows us a character who is scheming and plotting to take over. However, when he does, it’s rough to see him succeed along with Hera, well played by Remy Zaken. Also in the cast are Brian Joseph Ferree, Damian Thompson, Emily S. Grosland, Shiloh Goodin, Katie Lee Hill, Crista Marie Jackson and Brian Ferree.
A sparsely decorated set allows the audience to easily shift between the totalitarian world and the Forbidden Forest. Best of all, the sparseness allows for the use of vines and ladders that are used throughout the show providing some stunning acrobatic/aerial work. The dancers who perform the aerial work are absolutely outstanding. Their easy gliding and hanging from these vines and also long elastic type material adds to the sense of freedom that the Forbidden Forest provides. There is even some roller skating that adds to the action of the moment.
A band provides good rock music all throughout the show and there are some fine songs along the way. Ballads are included adding to a nice score that was written by Jonnie Rockwell and lyrics by Erik Ransom. Music Director is Michael Gayle and the Music Coordinator is Mike Lenoe.
Overall, this show is very good. It is unique, well crafted, and a lot of fun to go to see. Between the humor, music, singing, dancing, climbing, and aerial work, it is feast for theater lovers. Right now, it is only scheduled to be at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre at 45 Bleecker Street until July 6. Don’t miss a chance to see it.
The show runs Thursdays through Tuesdays. Shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are at 8PM and Monday and Tuesday at 7PM. Matinees are on Saturday and Sunday at 3PM. Check the show’s website, www.theanthemmusical.com for tickets.