A New Review from Around Town Critic Mindy Leaf on 35MM: A Musical Exhibition (Publication Date October 5th, 2018)

 The Avant-garde Season Begins

by Mindy Leaf


As I've stated before, culture enthusiasts should consider themselves lucky to live in South Florida which has become a hub for both traditional and experimental theater. Two excellent local theater companies -- dedicated to importing the best original Off-Broadway-type shows and presenting them with Broadway-type talent -- held their Season Openers recently. ... newcomer Measure For Measure Theatre whose uniquely talented director/choreographer team of Daimien J. Matherson and Kelly Johnson was recommended for a Carbonell after last season's debut performance of  "Next to Normal."



It's taken a while for them to get off the ground (Hurricane Irma had other ideas) but Measure for Measure is now back with a vengeance and a full season line-up of shows that, as they put it, "demonstrate the most vulnerable realities of being human, opening a dialogue, promoting change." To which I'll add: will keep you at-the-edge-of-your-seat entertained.


  And what could be more entertaining than a live band bringing down the house with non-stop pop/rock music accompanied by powerful lyrics, strobe lighting, smoke effects and impressive modern dance? Modern dance? Not found in other productions of lyricist/composer Ryan Scott Oliver's groundbreaking "35MM: A Musical Exhibition" (inspired by the artistic photographs of Oliver's partner Matthew Murphy) which typically feature a "concert"-style performance. Wherein vocalists simply belt out the 22 songs as a blow-up of the photograph (rather dystopian and open-to-interpretation) that inspired each song is projected onstage.


  But at MforM's presentation -- where even avant-garde is pushed up a notch -- theatergoers were asked to view Murphy's pictures first, displayed across the width of the auditorium, museum style, where they remained. Then sit and enjoy the performance whose only background consisted of ever-changing waves of color, light, and abstract design. The feel was more like viewing a series of live music videos, infused with political and social commentary. Only after the show is over and before you exit the theater, can you confront and contemplate these photographic inspirations once again -- and perhaps debate which song was inspired by which picture. Though it doesn't really matter for, as with all good art, it's now your personal interaction with the work that will come to define your experience.


  And then there were all the standout dance numbers along varying platform heights -- another unique aspect of this show that I found particularly enthralling. Kelly Johnson's inventive choreography turned the musical, at times, into a radical dance recital, infused with emotional content. 


For the complete article about us and our fellow theatre company, Thinking Cap, please go to aroundtownnews.com on it's publication date of October 5th, 2018

Next to Normal Reviews