The Happiest Medium Review by guest contributor Linnea Covington
The term “rock musical” can mean a variety of things, most of them not very good. But in Zack Powell and JD Cannady’s Drowning Ophelia, the musical aspect is all part of the story and the story rocks on its own. Cannady, who wrote the book, manages to create a convincing drama surrounding Ophelia, Shakespeare’s forlorn noblewoman who has the bad luck of loving Hamlet. She also drowns herself, which is exactly how she ended up in purgatory, singing away the time with her band the Clowns and waiting for the day Hamlet shows up.
Eliza Morris takes the reigns of the title roll and does so with a finesse that makes you believe she could be Ophelia. As she sings her heart out, her powerful voice carries out the emotional impact of the songs while clearly conveying the lyrics. No stranger to the works of the bard, Zack Powell is responsible for writing such catchy tunes as “Dead and Gone,” “My Dear Ophelia,” and “What You Need.” While they do prove a bit kitschy, the tunes communicate not only Ophelia’s passion for Hamlet, but clever lines from the original play dots the lyrics like in the first ditty, “Wash Over Me,” when she belts out, “tell me what to be—or not to be.”
Powell also takes up an instrument as band member Touchstone along with Tommy Malouf as Feste and Patrick Boylan as Puck. All three do an excellent job as Morris’ backup, offering her relationship advice and threatening to beat up a tweaked out Hamlet (played by Micky O’Sullivan) when he finally makes an appearance. Hamlet, for all he is worth, gets excited to see the charismatic, sexy Ophelia and while she waxes poetically about their past, he ogles her charming figure. Morris plays the part of smoldering temptress with just the right about of cockiness and flirtation to make it believable. The audience, like her band mates, fall in love before the first song even finishes, a pretty good trick for a 400-year-old dead girl.
~~~Drowning Ophelia: A New Rock Musical Company: RIFF Collective Directed by: JD Cannady Mar 01, 6:00PM Mar 02, 9:00PM Mar 04, 1:00PM $15.00 UNDER St.Marks