Thursday, January 30, 2014

Music Theatre Of Madison's "Hostage Song" - Grim Beauty

There was something unsettling walking to the back of the Frequency nightclub to see Music Theatre of Madison’s production of “Hostage Song.” The back room is dark, dingy, cramped and for the most part standing room only. I felt almost uncomfortable as I stood waiting for the production to start.
And it was the perfect setting for what turned out to be an eye opening experience for me with this modern theatrical production.

“Hostage Song” follows Jennifer – a journalist, and Jim – a government operative abducted by radical terrorists. Katie Davis plays Jennifer and I felt, provided the strongest vocal performance of the night. Mikhael Farah provides a good male counter in his portrayal of Jim. Both have solid acting chops.

What struck me about “Hostage Song” were the juxtapositions throughout the 80 minute show. Descriptors of brutality followed by beauty are peppered throughout the script. An example is when Jim’s wife, portrayed by Dana Pellebon, describes seeing home movies – her first images - of him as a child playing “Pin the tail on the Donkey”… with a blindfold on. Due to the early technology, these images are grainy. She then transitions into her last grainy images of him as a blindfolded hostage. Pellebon delivers a heartbreaking account of foreshadowing in her lament of the Government not letting her see the final images of her husband: beheaded.

This story will lift you up and then punch you in the gut. We watch to the inevitable end as these two hostages form a unique bond that shows a beauty in the midst of the most ugliness of human behavior.

Clayton Hamburg has multiple roles as the Frontman (and bass player), as well as a very convincing performance as Jim’s son. The cast is rounded out by Paul Lorentz as the Father, who in his dual role was menacing as he donned the terrorist cloth that covered his face.
Musical Director Ross Shenker (also on keyboard) led the tight ensemble including drummer Jacob Wolbert and guitarist Jason MacPherson. Director Catie O’Donnell did a wonderful job of managing a challenging space the Frequency provided. The setting was intimate to say the least, as the audience was in the same cramped room as the hostages. As stated, I felt this provided the perfect setting for this particular show.

This is a gritty and gutsy production, and due to the venue and content is for an 18 and over crowd. I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in theater to take the opportunity to see this unique work, in this unique setting. Music Theatre of Madison’s “Hostage Song” demonstrates how powerful and moving modern theater can be. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this show is how much emotion “Hostage Song” can address in its fast paced run.

"Hostage Song" runs Thursday - Saturday. This unique theater experience is not to be missed.

Jeff Turk
Fresco Opera Theatre

Ticket Information For "Hostage Song"

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