Triplight – Rock Musical at Joe’s Pub

Photo Credit – Richard Termine

 

by Carole Di Tosti

 

     

The allure of second chances is what infuses Triplight, the new rock musical at the Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub with grist and power. This quirky, fanciful production written by singer-songwriter Greta Gertler Gold and playwright Alexandra Collier has the flavor of an outsider’s perspective. Both Gertler Gold and Collier hail from the land of Oz (Australia). Their riff of a concept that has been done before in film (i.e. Eddie and the Cruisers-1983 based on the book by P.F. Kluge) is an intriguing update.

Directed by Mia Rovegno, who manages to well negotiate the space/time continuum of Joe’s Pub’s cramped stage, the musical features the 4 member band Triplight. The symbolic title which refers to the band’s ability to encourage vision comes into full circle by the end of this musical. It is a major theme which the audience should realize to uplift their spirits in an unusual time.

The band’s opening song assisted by the chorus who sing and encourage throughout (Angel Lin, Gabrielle Cuadra Guillermo Contreras) reflects back to a time when fans were cheering for lead singer Willow Spark (Kristen Sieh from 1-3 June, Joelyn MacKenzie on 4 June). A late night community radio host “Sam the Man” (Tom Torn) ruminates about the group Triplight which he really liked. He plays their single which turns out is the only song they released. Why?

Triplight, one of the finest upcoming bands in the 1990s disappeared with no explanations and dissolved into Rock and Roll oblivion along with countless other bands. When reporters attempted to discover why, the echoes of silence answered them and Triplight was forgotten.

However, the radio host, himself on the music rebound having once played in a band, investigates the rumors about what happened and manages to dig up Willow Spark (Kristen Sieh) whom he interviews by phone. With prodding she tells him one version of the story and dispels the rumors. Getting to the truth takes a profound realization on her part. And initially, she is not capable of facing it.

During the course of telling “Sam the Man” how the band started and other details about their trip out to Wyoming to come up with songs for their album, Willow finds redemption discussing band members: Caddy (Maya Sharpe) Shark (Jake Roa) Cuttlefish (Titus Tompkins). To fill in the background about the young Willow Spark when she auditioned for Caddy, Shark and Cuttlefish is Caitlin Cobb-Vialet.

“Sam the Man” uses his listening skills and empathy to eventually ferret out Willow’s angst and regrets about the past and the band’s breaking up just before their first album was set to be released in New York City. Sam is able to push her to explain the circumstances only so far. It is up to Willow to confront her own actions with the band and admit who and what she is. But she fears the truth. The problem is the truth involves a life and death risk. Hers!

Triplight is a musical that redirects into New York’s past and reveals the world of musicians that no longer exists today with the internet, Social Media, iPhones, with the NYC high rents and out-of-this-world real estate prices. In this, Triplight is refreshing as is the original score that melds indie pop and 90s rock to reveal Willow Spark and the band’s story and bring its vital truths to light.

The voices of the band members are gritty and roughly hewn. Sieh’s Willow is a vibrant, exuberant singer as are her band members Sharpe, Roa and Tompkins and the young Willow, Cobb-Vialet. The humor is ironic and sometimes dark with a strong point. The conclusion is poignantly realized.

Finally, Tom Torn’s performance as Sam holds this production together in spades helping to emphasize a profound message. We are around to share our presence and voice. That must never be underestimated, especially when we reach for second and third and fourth chances, for as long as it may take to realize the truth of ourselves and our purpose.

This is a unique musical with a twist that delivers. Kudos to these creatives: Kate Freer (Design) Whitney Locher (Costumes) Katie Rose McLaughlin (Movement) JoAnne Harris (Music Direction) Lucas Elijah Friedman (Assistant Music Direction). A special shout out goes to Alexandra Collier (Book & Lyrics) and Greta Gertler Gold (Music & Lyrics) for their energy and testament that New York City is still a cool place to fulfill one’s dreams.

Triplight runs for 70 minutes at Joe’s Pub, The Public Theater on 425 Lafayette Street until 4 June. The doors open at 6 pm and the show begins at 7 pm. For tickets, go to their website https://www.publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/Joes-Pub/2019/T/Triplight/

 

Share