The York Theatre Company
Developmental Reading Series
(Reading Series Web Page)
Book & Lyrics by Erik Johnke
Music by Elaine Chelton
Directed by Craig J. George
Musical Director and Piano: Bryan L. Wade
Violin: Bob Mastro
Nick Cartell, Charlie Levy, Rob Lorey, Megan Kane
Chuck Bradley, Kim Harris, Jody Cook, Lulu Lloyd
JP Qualters, Victoria Huston-Elem
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 11, 2014
See a Review of God’s Country at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
The York Theatre was packed tonight with members of the theatre community, including producers, directors, writers, and fans of the York’s Developmental Reading Series. The dramas and musicals presented in this Series are works in progress, at various stages of production. Erik Johnke and Elaine Chelton’s God’s Country received wide and enthusiastic acclaim this past summer at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Photos and a description of the show are linked above.
Tonight’s event (there was also a matinee) was not in costume, nor with sets. Instead of an orchestra, there was piano-violin accompaniment. One actor would announce the related motion or sound effect that the audience would not observe. The program noted the historical setting, 1871, a bit of England, mostly downtown New York, with the building of the Brooklyn Bridge a significant plot inclusion. Five Points, in the Lower East Side, parade clashes between Orangemen and Ribbonmen, and “caisson disease” were detailed in the dialogue and spoken text, as well. Ten actor-singers occasionally hummed in unison for musical effect. They sat on a row of chairs, up close to the audience. This element of proximity was extremely effective in relating to the ensuing plot and dialogue, as well as songs. Act One included eleven scenes and nine songs. Act Two included seven scenes and six songs. Some songs were reprises.
With tonight’s intimate setting, I was enthralled with the strong, melodic, vocal talent of all the leads: Chuck Bradley as Tom Killian, Nick Cartell as James Watson, Jody Cook as Solomon McCreedy, Lulu Lloyd as Kathleen Cahill, Megan Kane as Sarah, Rob Lorey as Joe Cahill and Mr. Watson, Victoria Huston-Elem as Marion, JP Qualters as Seamus O’Hanlon, and Kim Harris as Ensemble. Elaine Chelton is a solo pianist with New York City Ballet, and tonight I heard many balletic rhythms within the songs, such as “Miss Should”, sung by Kathleen in an Irish Pub. In the near future, I hope to experience God’s Country in its next level of production with its sets, costumes, and orchestra. This is a show that’s destined for Broadway.