Leave, Your Troubles, Outside.
When experiencing a historically based musical, the audience turns to the actors to see how they reflect and respond to catastrophic events and times. Waterwell’s new adaptation, Blueprint Specials, a series of narratives and WWII style numbers, performed on the Intrepid Air & Space Museum, was aimed to give light to the lost views of maritime history, for soldiers by soldiers. In 1944, Frank Losser and Arnold Auerbach concocted this material to deal with bias of war between civilian artists and the wartime heroes/villians. Although, it was a reflection and preservation of these lost stories, the musical did not have the degree of sophistication the old-timey nostalgic effect that Broadway musicals appear to have.
To me, Seemingly essential when dealing when with serious narratives of American History to ask the audience to put themselves in the position of the plot, asking ‘what would you do?’. The production was an artifact in a non-parodying unlinked product of a niche narrative that seemed disarmingly separate from the rest of the festival. They neglected to create mood, tone, and empathy for the earth, in this case, the boat beneath our feet; instead gave us a PSA style introduction.
Many musical theatre productions are keen at creating this mood. In a pastiche way, this show and shows such as, On the Town, South Pacific, Cabaret, The Sound of Music, and even contemporary musical Dogfight, about the ambivalent and conflicted feeling of war; masterfully and stylistically.
This production was a broken link to an approach to recreate a musical, using outdated methods of entertainment, something a show like Cabaret did but with far more integrity. John Kander who wrote the music to Cabaret, a show set in 1929 Berlin, based the songs off German cabaret songs from the twenties, describes how he wanted to create a sound aesthetic by listening to an absorbing their style. He let the flavor soak in, he adapted the dance rhythms and forms of the period to evoke a sense of location and time. He dug deep into orange, whereas, Blueprint Specials, just took off the peel for us to look at the orange. I think what Under The Radar is about is connecting the past storytelling with new forms of performance that keeps theatre alive and engaging. It’s musical theatre;S curse to use another’s composer’s style in a sincere manner, not to poke fun at the temporal and geographic settings of the songs. So that in the anguished, catastrophic times we live in we feel an urgent need for theatre that is not overshadowed by events, but to arouses deep echoes within us and predominate love and healing, over our unsettled period.