If you go
What:Musical premiere of “A Room with a View”
When:Matinee, evenings, through April 15
Where:The Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Box Office:(619) 234-5623
y Diana SaengerSpring is the air and so is romance for Lucy Honeychurch in the charming new musical, “A Room with a View,” premiering at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.
Creative sparks envelope the production, from the incredible voices and original music by Jeffrey Stock and Marc Acito to the beautiful costumes and exquisite set designs.
While many will associate this title with James Ivory’s 1985 film, this musical with its impressive book by Marc Acito, is based on E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel. Acito’s update about a young girl’s fantasy of her engagement to a man of position feels neither forced nor dated.
When the curtain rises Ephie Aardema is spending a summer in Italy with her cousin and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett. Ephie is in a dream state because, although she has never met him, she’s engaged to the affluent but pretentious Cecil Vyse (Will Reynolds). She dances and prances about, singing songs of her hotel room, “A Room With A View,” and her fantasies about life with Cecil “Ludwig and I.”
Charlotte and Lucy are soon amid a host of other characters, including the stuffy Reverend Beeber (Edward Staudenmayer), tour guide and wannabe novelist Miss Lavish (Gina Ferrall), the bell hop and Italian lover Albert (Glenn Seven Allen), and his love, Ragazza (Jacquelynne Fontaine). But it’s George Emerson (Kyle Harris) and his father (Kurt Zischke) who are visiting the area that become most significant in Lucy’s life.
George falls in love with Lucy, but she isn’t drawn to his care-free, simple and less affluent life that she’s sure to never experience with Cecil Vyse. Ultimately, Lucy’s journey moves from gaiety to tough decisions about who she should spend her life with.
The set and music makes up for any lapse of trying to keep up with all the characters in the story. The images of postcards that frame the stage and also appear in scenes and transport the audience into great fantasies, were from a process discovered by the Globe’s technical director Ben Thoron. They are especially essential when in Act Two, the story takes place in Surrey, England.
The scenic designs by Heidi Ettinger amaze all the way through the show, as do the moving floors that unveil a river and a pond where (actual nude) men jump in.
Director Scott Schwartz does a commendable job with this musical. Performances are great, but it’s also the actors’ beautiful voices that lead this show driven by songs.
Aardema plays the charming young romantic Lucy to a fault. Harris is equally amusing and determined to assure Lucy he is the one for her. Both of their voices are incredible and only part of the cornucopia of entertainment awaiting those who see this show.