Sound Without Fury – Courtney Love and Todd Almond are mesmerizing in Kansas City Choir Boy at the Prototype Festival at HERE Arts Center.
by: Marcina Zaccaria
A theatricalized concept album for the stage, Kansas City Choir Boy is the story of lost souls. Composer and lyricist Todd Almond has done something special with this one, and he leads with a certain determination. Todd Almond (Kansas City Choir Boy) and Courtney Love (Athena) find each other through the darkness.
Courtney Love’s thick alto voice cuts through. Her sound, from the gut, provides a resolute foundation for the lighter tones piercing and billowing above. There is something raw and original about the composition. Moments of awe give way to moments of connection, as the two spirits consider constellations and their place in the world. As an actor, Almond (The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater, Odyssey at The Old Globe) is charismatic, delicately handling the notion of being lost and then found.
The light pop, ambient sound of Kansas City Choir Boy is refreshing, particularly supported by the choral sequences. Choreography by Sam Pinkleton has an insistence and exactitude. Music including violin, viola, cello, and electronic music, rounds out a sonic architecture that includes classic rock and contemporary flair.
LED lights, strobe, haze, and glow sticks are all a part of the show, and Director Kevin Newbury, whose work has been seen at San Francisco Opera and Carnegie Hall, pulls out all of the stops. Set Design by Vita Tzykun and Clark Parkan make the most of this jam-packed space, wheeling in keyboards and using an upstage television set as an anchor. Violinists play on each side of the space, only inches away from the audience. Lighting designer DM Wood builds a world that is supported and not ruled by the bright lights overhead and on the back wall. Costume Design by Paul Carey includes a fantastic black ball gown, worn by Courtney Love. Video Design is by Darrel Maloney.
Prototype is known for pioneering opera and music-theater. It’s great to see originality and innovation take center stage in this third year of the Prototype Festival, co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects. The work is fresh, and every new idea and tested technique is welcome.
At the end of this one hour journey, Kansas City Choir Boy acknowledges the television and the stories we are drawn to. In a world of both black and white and bright and flashing, colored images, there is time for sentiment, recognition, and dreams of days past.
Kansas City Choir Boy – Prototype 2015 at HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue. This year’s Prototype Festival is running until January 17th.
Photos: Cory Weaver