"Trails" opens Friday night and it's not one of those musicals where you sit back in your seat and listen to the pretty music.
This story is going to make your heart work.
"It's a high stakes story of life and death and love and loss and best friends," said director Eric Ankrim in a phone interview. "It forces you to consume storytelling."
Ankrim said it's a simple story really, about the lives of three human beings and what happens "when we almost love too much."
These three human beings are Mike and Seth and Amy, childhood friends who have developed close bonds -- maybe too close.
After one of the many dramatic twists in the plot, Mike and Seth go 10 years without speaking to each other. There is a reunion and a promise to fulfill, which takes the now 30-something men on a journey to hike the 2,175-mile-long Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
Along the way, there are many flashbacks, rough patches and let's just say, lots of stuff goes down. It's a journey toward the rest of their lives, but the past has a stranglehold on Mike and Seth.
"I suspect it keeps the audience guessing and wishing and fighting for these characters and that's what makes great theater," Ankrim said.
Ankrim, who has been in and out of the chair as an actor and director at Village Theatre and the 5th Avenue Theatre where he recently directed "Elf," said this show is far removed from any piece he's done.
"I think of it as a straight play with a gorgeous musical score," Ankrim said. "It's something I haven't seen before."
Ankrim said there aren't gigantic chorus numbers. But there is spectacle enough in watching the "beauty of the human condition."
"There are so many forms of relationships broken apart and examined and told so sincerely," Ankrim said. "So if the audience comes willing to share their heart, they will really take something back with them."
Christy Hall wrote the book for "Trails." The music was done by Jeff Thomson with lyrics by Jordan Mann. Ankrim describes the score as having a true authentic folk feel -- with acoustic guitar, cello and violin -- while remaining contemporary and pop with even some rock influences.
And speaking of rock, the set is "pretty astounding" Ankrim said, having never seen a mini mountain built on a stage before. At one point in the show, the actors' heads are 19 feet off the stage floor.
"It makes the actors seem small but out in nature all of sudden you see really how small you are," Ankrim said.
This is a new musical so Everett audiences will be seeing the world premiere. This type of musical, a story with a musical score, may make audiences stretch their boundaries a bit regarding their definition of musical, but Ankrim said this show is good reason for people to "step outside what they are used to."
"These days, having that human connection is more and more difficult," Ankrim said. "We are searching for real connections and it's harder to access that kind of emotion, but we need to hold onto it. It's valuable."
"Trails" opens at 8 Friday night and runs at various times through May 19 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett.
Tickets start at $55. Call 425-257-8600 or go to www.villagetheatre.org.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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