Unexpected Joy – Unresolved Issues

Courtney Balan, Celeste Rose, Luba Mason, Allyson Kaye Daniel


by Alix Cohen



On the one year anniversary of his passage to “rock and roll paradise,” Jump’s common law wife Joy (Luba Mason) is planning a memorial concert. The two performed as Jump and Joy. She still dresses like the 1960s. Joy has invited daughter Rainbow who calls herself Rachel (Courtney Balan) and granddaughter Tamara/Tammy (Celeste Rose) to attend and possibly sing with her, hoping to bring the alienated family closer.

Having spent her childhood in a loose, pot smoking, free love atmosphere, Rachel is now the wife of an Oklahoma-based, conservative televangelist who preaches, among other things, that homosexuality is a sin. She’s prudish, bigoted and oblivious of her own daughter’s discomfort with imposed values.

Tammy refuses to join with Rachel in congregation’s on-air choir, while secretly performing her songs at a local open mic night. (At Starbucks?!) The number she chooses to showcase for “glamma” Joy is sheer trash. It’s unclear whether the 18 year-old thinks this is marketable, but it’s way out of character.


Allyson Kaye Daniel and Celeste Rose/Luba Mason


In addition to coping with polar opposite lifestyles and principles, Joy (a complete wuss about speaking up…about anything) must at some point break it to her daughter that she’s marrying Lou (Allyson Kaye Daniel), a black, lesbian, activist, the day after the concert. (Lou is also a vocalist.) Joy, Tammy, and, secondarily, Lou bond. Joy and Rachel grow further apart. Lou is understandably furious with Joy’s inability to be frank with her daughter. When things get upsetting, advice is to sing and we’ll work it out later. They don’t. Sharing a stage suffices. At least for the moment.

The talented cast (Allyson Kaye Daniel is a stand out both as an actress and a vocalist) delivers mostly generic songs with energy and sincerity. Appealing arrangements appreciably raise the level of material.

Direction (Amy Anders Corcoran) is yeoman-like.

The Band: Beth Falcone-Piano/Conductor/Music Director, Brian Hamm-Bass, Jack Morer-Guitar, Jeff Potter-Drums

Photos by Carol Rosegg

Alix Cohen

Unexpected Joy Extended thru May 27

Book and Lyrics- Bill Russell

Music-Janet Hood

Directed by Amy Anders Corcoran

The York Theatre      619 Lexington Avenue in St. Peter’s Church.  95 Minutes