November 4, 2002
Life and times of legendary Randy Newman captured in musical
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
ACT Theatre's 2002 mainstage season concludes with "The Education of Randy Newman," a new musical featuring the music and lyrics of award-winning composer Randy Newman. Directed by Myron Johnson and ACT's former artistic director Gordon Edelstein, "The Education of Randy Newman" explores the life and times of this legendary musician and song-writer against the backdrop of the late-20th century.
Newman's story is told through an extensive collection of his songs, including some big hits ("Short People," "I Love L.A.," "Rednecks" and "I Think It's Going to Rain Today") and several new ones that he created specially for the show. Sung by a talented seven-member cast, the show is an entertaining, loosely autobiographical rock-opera that features some of the influences on Newman's music and his views on life. It provides a tongue-in-cheek, humorous and often mocking commentary on a variety of socio-political issues of the past century.
Act I centers around Newman's childhood in the Old South and the lessons he received as a young boy on such topics as slavery, racism and religion. In Act II, the scene moves to L.A. and the focus is on the experiences of adulthood. There are songs about fame and fortune, love and marriage, drugs, adultery, temptation and divorce, highlighting the ups and downs of Newman's professional and personal life.
Accompanying the music are various slide images projected on a large screen, which display people, places and events of the eras. The music is a pulsating, high octane mix of twang, soul, gospel and good old rock 'n roll, performed by an energetic ensemble who sing with passion and power. Each member has the opportunity to show his/her voice off to the fullest ranges, receiving notable appreciation and recognition from the audience.
At the cast's helm is Daniel Jenkins as Randy Newman. Jenkins, although a far cry from Newman in terms of looks, captures the composerís singing style perfectly, as well as some of his expressions and personal nuances. Joining him are gifted stage veterans Lovena Fox, William Katt, Allan Louis, Brook Sunny Moriber, Cathy Richardson and Jeff Trachta.
"The Education of Randy Newman" runs through Dec. 1. For ticket information, call (206) 292-7676.