Hidden Treasure On Display in EDGES at Playcrafters of Skippack

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Every once in a while a new property comes along that speaks to a certain generation. EDGES was written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul as 19-year old undergrads at the University of Michigan. A revue (or self-styled “song cycle”) about coming of age, growth, self-discovery, and poking fun at modern relationships, EDGES has something for everyone.

Director Sarah Shinn (a high school senior) discovered EDGES on YouTube, (appropriate, given the material) and assembled a cast representative of the generation. Traditionally performed with four people, Shinn expanded the cast to six: Jonathan Ruch, Matthew Mitlas, Tyreese Kadle, Samantha Riesenberg, Meredith Yannuzzi, and Casey Clark. There seems to be no awkwardness with this, and in fact makes some of the transitions smoother than it would with four performers.

The show evokes thought through songs about the dynamic between sisters (“Caitlyn and Haley”), Facebook (“Be My Friend”), relationships (“I Hmm You”, “Lying There”, among others), and other topics relevant to young and old. Transitions are bridged quickly, pace is brisk, and many of the tunes are quite beautiful. The cast all have beautiful voices, and handle the material very well. Musically and vocally this production is very solid.

Visually, the set is functional, a basic “apartment” look with chairs and tables moved in and out as needed by the cast. Lighting is mostly area lit, with spots in certain places…the cast needs to “find their light” a bit better. I can see what the director was going for, but it lacked impact when a cast member missed their mark. And, I think the production would have benefitted from a choreographer; too many of the songs (especially the solo numbers) were static, with the cast standing in one place for lengthy periods. However, the stars of the show are the voices and the music, and both were first-rate.

This was a worthy effort from a young director and a talented cast. It runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, and the pace kept it from getting boring. Kudos to Shinn for finding and putting together a lovely production.

EDGES
by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Directed by Sarah Shinn
December 5-14, 2014
Playcrafters of Skippack
2011 Store Road, Skippack PA 19474
(610) 584-4005
http://www.playcrafters.org

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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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