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UM’s “Gibson Fleck” shows promise, fine score (review) November 19, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Ann Arbor, Entertainment, musical theater, Theatre.
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It’s hard to review a workshop production of a show. Such is the case at the University of Michigan, where the musical theater program is presenting GIBSON FLECK this weekend.

There are parts of this new musical that work well. There are others that don’t. But what works well works very well –the opposite is also true of the things that don’t work well. I won’t go into reviewing the show itself in this blog review, since it is a work in progress. Suffice it to say that the show involves a young man searching for his roots (and a sense of “home” as the songs often reflect) after being moved from “family” to “family” while growing up due to a series of coincidences.

Make no mistake, this is a full-fledged UM production, so the clever set (by Vince Mountain); the lighting, costumes, orchestra, and large cast are all super. The production makes terrific use of the Arthur Miller Theater on North Campus. It’s great to see a student-written production get this type of treatment. The direction by Linda Goodrich moves the production briskly along and makes for an entertaining evening.

There is some lovely work in the score by A.J. Holmes and Carlos Valdes, especially when things slow down and become more melodic. The book by Ali Gordon never finds its voice. It’s not worth delving into this further here, because this is clearly a work in progress, and as future workshops and rewrites occur, it is sure to find a stronger center. As it stands, its a bit difficult to discern which characters one is meant to care about; and I didn’t want to care about all of them.

My own final thoughts on the way home: I loved seeing a new musical that clearly has some excellent young talent behind it; and wish nothing but good things for this team down the road. My take: I’d love to see a bit more about Gibson, and a bit less about some of the other people in his life. Congrats to the team involved. The lucky few with tickets will enjoy this new show, even if the road to the finish is a bit bumpy at this point.

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