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Edges tests PEMCo’s limits

Michelle Fordice | Tuesday, September 30, 2008

“Edges” is a show made up of snapshots. There is no enveloping plot, just miniature stories found in each song. They are linked by a loose theme, found in the opening and closing songs, of the fearful prospect of what you might lose on the way to discovering who you are; the cast sings, “Do I really want to see? Do I really want to mess it up to know?” There are admittedly rough spots in the acting, directing and score, but for the most part the actors make you want to hear what their characters have to say, and the show is without a doubt an enjoyable performance. The show revels in simplicity. The music, mostly Broadway-style pop with a jazz edge, is all vocal and piano, no orchestra or band. The lyrics are often quirky and light. There is no substantial set. All this gives the show a conversational quality; the characters are supposed to be talking to the audience more than performing for them.The show, like all of the Pasquerilla East Musical Company’s productions, is produced, directed, and performed by students. It is a four man show, featuring Kelly Hunt, Michael Clark, Brian Davenport and Molly Lamping. It is directed by Lindsay Schanzer, assisted by Musical Director Nicholas Shaneyfelt. The show works best in its irreverent moments. “In Short,” excellently performed by Davenport, takes every song longing over a lost love and turns them on their head. The character may be pining, but that doesn’t keep him from expressing what we are all really thinking in that awkward break up situation: “I hope you die.” “I Hmm You,” might have been saccharine, but Lamping and Clark play with the cutesy lyrics in a way that makes them endearing instead, as they depict a couple tiptoeing their way around the dreaded L-word. (The bars of “If I Loved You” from Carousel in the introduction to the song were a smart touch by the composer as well.) “Caitlyn and Haley,” is a funny and meaningful take on how two sisters feel as they slowly grow apart; Haley sings, “Caitlyn is bad now,” while Caitlyn responds, “Haley is a baby,” but they both want their sister back. Hunt and Lamping capture the dynamic between an older and younger sister beautifully. “Be My Friend,” performed by the entire cast, captures the ironic and addictive nature of The Facebook. There are also some successful moments among the more thoughtful songs. “I Once Knew,” performed by Clark, takes some time to build, but eventually blossoms into a touching cry of a son to his mother, as he asks, “So hold on, hold fast, hold tighter for me.” Lamping captures the vulnerability of “Perfect” as she depicts a girl trying to convince herself that she can be perfect, if only she doesn’t have to be lonely, and carries “I’ve Gotta Run,” which is a complete contrast to “Perfect” in it’s obsession with independence, with strength. Hunt captures the melancholy and confusion of “Lying There,” which debates the differences between passion and comfort, love and wanting. Some songs were more forgettable. Most of the audience will be able to relate to, “Boy With Dreams,” but perhaps its theme of a college student with dreams that will be fulfilled soon is a bit too familiar. “Ready to Be Loved,” is catchy but not novel. The lyrics of “Part of Painting,” are interesting, but the performance needed more focus. “Edges” is a success for PEMCo as they branch out into smaller, non-traditional musicals. The directors and the cast did a great job interpreting material that doesn’t have the maturation of a professional production behind it and shaped an enjoyable show.