Jewel Box Musical Theater presenteert 'STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW'
Can an Off Broadway show from the late 70s still be entertaining and fresh today? In the case of STARTING HERE STARTING NOW, the short answer is: Yes, it can. The intimate revue written by composer dream team Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire explores the thrill of love and the ridiculousness of it, the ups and down of relationships with break-ups and loss, raw emotions from desperation to over the moon joy and happiness – themes that are timeless and universal. The show has seen an occasional stage in the States over the years, but has only rarely made it to Europe. The Dutch-German-American Jewel Box Musical Theater company has set out to produce exactly that kind of show, and they did a great job with this one.
The two dozen something mini-stories give the actors plenty of chances to show off their acting and singing skills, and they do so with contagious enthusiasm and charisma. What makes this production extra special is that the three performers have not been cast (together), but met as friends before they decided to put this show together. The evident love and connection they show for each other give this production a feel of authenticity and realness. They complete each other perfectly, on a personal level, but also vocally. Merel Zeeman gives you goosebumps with her powerful and yet effortless belt (in places where it’s called for) and shows her comedic talent in “Crossword Puzzle”, Krissy Dorn with her clear soprano adds an element of vulnerable sincerity in “Autumn”, and John Rinaldi’s melting tenor provides the proverbial warm coat on a winter’s day in “Bells”. In the harmony parts, the three voices blend gloriously, and all three express very openly how much they enjoy singing with each other.
Director Heike Werntgen made sure that the stories speak to a 2023 audience – some partner and gender swapping and mixing of sexual orientations add a contemporary feel of diverse inclusiveness. The original one-macho-between-two-girls setup, very 70s, gets a whole new buzz, even more so as the pianist is included in some of the scenes where he is being hit on or elopes with the male actor while the women argue over him (“Remember Today”).
Music director Frans Heemskerk who directs big musical theater productions, but also records original jazz music with his own trio complements the singing with some real magic on the keys, bringing the crazy hard score to life with precision, panach and sparkle.
The show is pretty wordy in parts, but the acting is so clear and the emotional intentions never fail, so that even in this European setting where most spectators aren’t native English speakers, the message always comes across. And last, but not least: David Shires melodies and rhythms make you want to jump off your seat and swing along, at the very minimum they make your soul dance, and that is how you are going to leave the theater – with a light heart and profoundly well entertained.
STARTING HERE STARTING NOW 2023 is funny, witty, playful, a bit over the top at times, presented by three utterly sympathetic pros and thus an utter joy to watch. Highly recommended.
More performances in Germany (klick for ticket info)