By Sandi Durell
The immediate draw to see this throwback that begins in1928, with book by Sebastian Michael and music and lyrics by Jonathan Kaldor, is a talented cast headed by Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie and Tony & Olivier Award Nominee Tony Sheldon. What immediately becomes additionally compelling, however, is the world of Centoluci, a small Alpine Principality, where a young American debutante, Constance (Charlotte Maltby) becomes a Princess when a marriage of convenience is arranged to Crown Prince Cedric (Ben McHugh) to hide his homosexual affair.
The scenes move back and forth between there and the Island of Margarita, Venezuela in the year 1969, as the past and present collide and the truth unfolds 40 years later when the tragic death of the Princess, now a living legend turned icon, and her music teacher and lover Alvaro (Sam Simahk), die in a terrible fire as this becomes the real story that could never be told. Only it’s a little more complicated.
Tony Sheldon plays Gualtieri, the gentleman who guides Constance in her royal duties at the palace, and is grandfather to Marcello (Chase Crandell) who, in 1969, comes calling on Miss Vine (Donna McKechnie) living quietly on Margarita Island as a music teacher. What’s the problem? The fact that Marcello’s inheritance is now slated to go in its entirety to Miss Vine is more than cause for concern, as he seeks the truth and answers to 40 years of monthly payments sent to her as arranged by Gualtieri.
As the scenes float back to the lavish Principality and its royal subjects, and the American Princess who is being taught her duties, including musical knowledge and aptitude in order to fit in, lessons are arranged with the young and brilliant musician Alvaro who first says ‘no’ to teaching Constance, but relents when Constance herself comes calling.
Their days together result not only in a torrid love affair but in allowing her heart to overtake her royal duties as she strives to help the poor class of artists neglected by Centoluci aristocrats. Alas, what Constance wants can never be, as the Grand Duchess Cesara (Leslie Becker) warns. To tell more, would be the real spoiler!
The quality of the music and telling lyrics, along with production values are quite stunning, as are the exquisite performances of Charlotte Maltby and Sam Simahk, as well as Leslie Becker and Chase Crandell. Of course, the icons within ICON, Donna McKechnie and Tony Sheldon, are joys to behold. The entire cast is more than noteworthy in this two act, two hour (one intermission) musical, beautifully directed and choreographed by Paul Stancato at The Duke on 42nd Street – a NEW 42nd STREET Project as part of the New York Musical Festival.
ICON had been presented at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London (part of The Works Series of New Musicals) going on to a full production at the Landor Theatre.
It will not be much of a surprise to soon see this magical story here on a Broadway stage.
Kudos to costume designer Liene Dobraja, lighting designer Isabella F. Byrd, with media design by Kevan Loney, sound by Kenneth Goodwin and to Music Director Jesse Warkentin. Additional cast members include: Colin Anderson, Patrick Connaghan, Chloe Holgate, Kalia Medeiros, Erika Peterson, Chris Ramirez, Casey Shane. There were five performances of ICON.
Photos: Shira Friedman