part three: running from the forms of the sparrow in july
After the ravings and recommendations of Bret, I finally got a chance to see The House Theatre's production, The Sparrow. Having grown up in a family that emphasized and encouraged the performing arts, I had the great fortune of exposure to the whole gambit of what can be called "the pop musical spectrum". My sister and I touched the fake fur paws of Skimbleshanks, the railriding tabby in Cats, interpreted psychadelic theology in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, gravely misunderstood the intentions of Uncle Ernie in The Who's Tommy... you get the point. Maybe it's the seemingly limitless possibilities for presentation of the artform, but despite the adolescent overload, the theater remains one of my favorite mediums for live experience of the arts. When it's on, there's really nothing like good acting. When it's bad, lets face it, it's really really awful (see definition below).
In it's third and most impressive mounting at the Apollo Theater in Chicago, The Sparrow delivers amazingly thoughtful and creative expressions of human experience through everything but bad acting. The comic book worthy narrative follows the hometown return of Emily Book, a teenage outcast with secret telekinetic powers. The only surviving member of her elementary school class killed in a tragic accident, Emily struggles to find a place among a mourning town faced with her symbolic presence. The play begs interesting questions about forgiveness in a high school context boiling over with a lively synergy between Tommy Rapley's choreography, Kevin O'Donnell's score and a well written (Chris Matthews, Jake Minton, and Nathan Allen) and directed (Nathan Allen) play. I wondered what all the fuss was about. Why the 8 Jefferson Awards? Why the two previous sold-out runs? Now I know. The investment of the company is so evident and pours through the obvious attention to every fathomable detail. Even NPR's Ira Glass thinks so... check this clip from a House Theatre benefit dinner. Preach it brotha!
If in any way possible, experience this play. I've seen it twice, mined what treaures I could, and am going back for more. Gold, gold, gold.