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HomeOperaKeegan's reassuring 'Elegies' displays on pleasure, grief, and gratitude

Keegan’s reassuring ‘Elegies’ displays on pleasure, grief, and gratitude


An elegy is “a poem of great reflection, sometimes a lament for the useless.” Elegies: A Track Cycle, now enjoying at Keegan Theatre, is a 90-minute assortment of songs that do that very same factor. You can name it a playlist of “infinite joys” (as one track is titled), grief, and gratitude.

Who hasn’t made a playlist for oneself or another person so as to summon consolation and pleasure? Normally, although, the playlists we create pull collectively music from quite a lot of sources. On this case, all of them come from a single (and singular) composer: William Finn. Elegies is a tribute to the composer’s expertise of life and demise in New York Metropolis. And the present could be very New York–centric in a manner that’s harking back to some Woody Allen films.

Katie McManus and Harrison Smith in ‘Elegies: A Track Cycle.’ Photograph by Cameron Whitman.

Finn’s lyrics articulate human frailty, terror, and hope with an undeniably American, late-decline-of-capitalism precision. His portraits of individuals accepting the necessity to be taught to reside with grief quite than attempting to recover from it are — properly — reassuring. His work appears to be saying: these things is difficult, and each human being is slogging by way of it with various ranges of grace. To make this assertion heard and felt musically isn’t any small achievement for a composer and no small present for audiences.

At their finest, his lyrics are like candid snapshots of an unnamable and simply missed factor that makes human life value dwelling, as on this:

Take a look at the enjoyment on her face as she emotes
Perhaps she doesn’t hit all of the notes
However have a look at the enjoyment on her face
She is in a spot of sunshine
—from “Peggy Hewitt & Mysty del Giorno”

By way of the lyrics of those songs, Finn shares with us the individuals who constituted his social atom (“Mister Choi and Madame G,” “Monica and Mark”), the disasters (AIDS, the autumn of the Twin Towers), the rituals (“Passover,” “Mark’s All-Male Thanksgiving”), and the inescapable deaths (“14 Dwight Ave., Natick, Massachusetts,” “The Ballad of Jack Eric Williams”).

Director Christina A. Coakley has put collectively a manufacturing that has many issues going for it. The set (Matthew J. Keenan) is clear, easy, elegant, and versatile: a grand piano, six stools, one mysterious field. The complete stage house was framed by overlapping stage legs that acted as projection screens and as partitions between rooms and streets.

John Loughney (with Josh Cleveland on piano) in ‘Elegies: A Track Cycle.’ Photograph by Cameron Whitman.

While you enter the theater, the stage is a cloudy blue. The looks of the stage shifts as, over the course of the efficiency, numerous colours, textures, places (façade of a Manhattan residence constructing, the Twin Towers), and documentary photos (newspaper articles in regards to the discovery of a virus of unknown origin amongst homosexual males) are projected. Every so often the performers would use their very own private screens and distant controls to mission photos onto them. Through the track “My Canine,” photos of canines have been sketched onto the display whereas the singer sang about these pets and their deaths.

The music preparations offered vibrant and diverse settings for the songs and the performers. Music Director Josh Cleveland carried out these preparations like any individual who knew what he was doing. By way of nearly 90 minutes of nonstop enjoying. Cleveland’s accompaniment pushed, prodded, and usually offered a assured and agency basis for the performers.

Brigid Wallace in ‘Elegies: A Track Cycle.’ Photograph by Cameron Whitman.

The performers’ harmonies have been beautiful, and people well-balanced small refrain moments have been all the time welcome once they arrived. Individually, the forged engaged boldly with the fabric. A presentation of elegies one after one other does have the issue of tending to sound like the identical track, and the identical excessive level time and again. It’s just a little like being in a memorial service. And typically applause could appear just a little awkward or sluggish in coming. However then, this manufacturing presents us precisely what the definition of an elegy guarantees: an area for severe reflection. Set to music.

Operating Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Elegies: A Track Cycle performs Thursdays to Sundays by way of November 22, 2022, at the Keegan Theatre – 1742 Church Avenue NW, Washington, DC. For tickets ($55–$65, with reductions obtainable for patrons below 25 and over 62), name the field workplace at (202) 265-3767 or go on-line. Discounted rush tickets are additionally obtainable on the door beginning one hour earlier than showtime.

COVID Security: Masks are optionally available however inspired for all guests. Keegan’s present Well being and Security Insurance policies are right here.

Harrison Smith, DeJeanette Horne, and John Loughney in ‘Elegies: A Track Cycle.’ Photograph by Cameron Whitman.

Elegies: A Track Cycle 
Written by William Finn
Directed by Christina A. Coakley
Music Director: Josh Cleveland

Musical Numbers
Wanting Up Quintet
Mister Choi and Madame G.
Wanting In
Mark’s All-Male Thanksgiving
Solely One
Joe Papp
Peggy Hewitt & Mysty Del Giorno
Passover
Infinite Pleasure
Jack Eric Williams
Fred
Elevator Transition
Pricey Reader
Monica and Mark
Anytime (I Am There)
My Canines
Venice
14 Dwight Ave., Natick, Massachusetts
When the Earth Stopped Turning
Mark’s All-Male Thanksgiving Reprise
Saying My Goodbyes (Half I)
Growth Growth (Half I)
Saying Our Goodbyes (Half II)
Growth Growth (Half II)
Wanting Up
Saying Our Goodbyes (Finale)

Solid:
John Loughney (Ensemble), Harrison Smith (Ensemble), DeJeanette Horne (Ensemble), Ben Clark (Ensemble/Swing), Katie McManus (Ensemble), Brigid Wallace (Ensemble), Allison Fitzgerald (Swing), Chris Gillespie (Swing)

Artistic and Manufacturing
Lighting Designer: Alberto Segarra
Projections Designer: Jeremy Bennet
Costume/Hair Designer: Shadia Hafiz
Assistant Director: Chris Gillespie
Resident Electrics Supervisor: Ben Harvey
Sound Designer/Engineer: Elliot Lanes
Resident Scenic Designer/Lead Carpenter: Matthew J. Keenan
Properties/Set Dressing Designer: Cindy Landrum Jacobs
Stage Supervisor: Gabrielle Busch
Technical Director: Josh Sticklin
Dramaturg/Manufacturing Supervisor: Colin Smith

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