Review by Liz Eichler of “Legendale”: Human Race Theatre
Watching a new work is always fun. You get to see what works and what still has room to grow. Human Race’s “Legendale” by Andrea Daly and Jeff Bienstock is a musical that is a lot of fun, but is still on a quest to maturity.
“Legendale” is about a man approaching 30 with dread, because he feels it’s “game over.” He’s a capable computer programmer, who once developed and took his own fantasy game to market, only to have a fatal mistake in the code. So now he works a dead-end job and plays computer games with cyberfriends. The musical comes alive when he immerses himself into the game “Legendale” and interacts with the characters on their quest. Stuck with the avatar “Cow-Maiden,” however, eventually he stops grumbling and starts discovering this humble character’s strengths, as well as his own.
The show opens with a fun group number, but then slows until we enter the game of Legendale when the show comes alive. The costumes and props are worth the ticket. The design team includes Scenic Designer Michael Schweikardt, Costumes by Ayn Kaetchen Wood, Lighting by John Rensel, Projections by David Bengali, and Sound by Jay Brunner. Also with Costumes, Armor and Weapons Design are Anne Juul Holm and Lotte Blichfeldt. Directed by John Simpkins, with musical director Scot Wooley. The characters interact and weave through the two worlds seamlessly. There are some nice songs, including the recurring “Lord of Legendale” “I’ve Got a Rock” and “Here and Now.” The ending is perfect!
Abby Church is electric as Zelayna/The Cow Maiden. She plays her role with earnestness and force. Max Crumm as Andy has a wonderful voice, but his character has “given up” and he plays the melancholy so well, it is hard to connect with him. The spirited ensemble includes Rachel Flynn, Jesse Sharp, Travis Mitchell, Nathan Robert Pecchia, Cody Westbrook and Colin Hodgkin.
The show is concurrently being produced in Denmark, and the writers will probably tweak it some more. There is definitely something to work with, it is a great idea for a musical! The audience really loved and connected with most of it (except for the young man playing games on company time). The main character needs to be redefined, and to give the audience a reason to root for him as the underdog. I hope they build on the great line at the end “You’re the one who’s alone, I’m on a team!”
Come see for yourself. Bring the kids! “Legendale” plays through October 1. For tickets go to ticketcenterstage.com or call 937-228-3630.