I wrote this on ATC, but I'm reposting it here for those of you who don't go on ATC. Also so I can have it for posterity.
So Katie and I saw a concert of the new musical Einstein's Dreams at Symphony Space tonight. If any of you have a bootleg or come across one, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I was using Leslie's recorder, but I forgot to change the battery, and I managed to record four minutes of the show. :( :(
Talk about a pleasant surprise! I bought tickets for this because I love Kate Shindle (and Jen Bender, the director), and I enjoy parts of Fermat's Last Tango (whose authors also wrote this.) I was completely unfamiliar with the story, and really had very little idea of what to expect.
It's a terrific show, with Ms. Lessner and Mr. Rosenblum completely fulfilling the promise they showed with Fermat's Last Tango. I'm sure all of the concepts from the show are taken from the book (which I plan on reading very soon), but Lessner and Rosenblum managed to musicalize the story in an alternately witty and touching manner.
The plot is about a 30-year-old Einstein, working in a patent office in Berne, Switzerland, and trying to suss out the relationships of time, light, and electromagnetism. His real life in the office is interspersed with his dreams, where we see different facets of time come to life in musical segments. Throughout, a mysterious woman named Josette haunts him. For instance, the incredibly moving end of act one dramatizes what life must be like at the speed of light - time crawls to a halt, and nothing ever changes. Einstein realizes he can be with Josette forever here, because time has no meaning. Meanwhile, a mother sings to her child an achingly beautiful song called "I Will Never Let You Go," about how she loves her daughter so much, she brought her here, where she can protect her child from all the evils and ravages of facing the world. But the mother realizes that this kind of protection isn't really love after all; letting the child go and grow up is the real act of love. Seeing this, Einstein realizes that he can't stay here with Josette either; his work on the Theory of Relativity is more important than his personal happiness. It was just the first of several great and gripping moments in this piece.
And to top off the evening, John Bolton was absolute perfection as the young, passionate Einstein. He was giving such a spontaneous, fully-realized performance that he could literally open in a production of this show next week. I've only seen him on TV and in Curtains, and I was fully unprepared for his joyous and completely committed performance. Mr. Bolton deserves special commendation, but all the actors were very good - Peter Buchi and Alison Fraser as bewildered office workers, Jim Weitzer as Einstein's taskmaster boss, John Treacy Egan and Amy Justman as Einstein's wife and best friend, the co-author Ms. Lessner in a dual role of the mother I mentioned above and Einstein's shrewish wife, young Maya Goldman as a little girl with a connection to the mysterious Josette, and of course Kate Shindle as the mystery woman herself. All of them are given moments to shine, and each took advantage of those moments. High points were Bolton and Egan's office duet "Love is Not a Science," Bolton's showstopper "The Relativity Rag," and Kate Shindle's powerful performance of the title song.
It was a night I won't soon forget. I sincerely hope that this gets produced by a more adventurous off-B'way company in the near future - it might do well at the Transport Group, or even the York (given the authors' previous relationship with them.) At the very least, someone needs to give this score a recording soon.
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