EVERETT — The work to get the new musical “String” to its professional world premiere on the Village Theatre stage has been tremendous, and it’s taken about six years.
It started with author Sarah Hammond and composer-lyricist Adam Gwon. They wondered why The Fates of Greek mythology did not have a story of their own. The Fates only show up in other gods’ myths, even though these three sister goddesses have the important job of maintaining the string of life. One spins the string, one measures it and one ends the life with a snip of the scissors.
Then, with a rough draft script in hand, the folks at Village put “String” through the theater’s Festival of New Musicals and Beta Series programs, along with other developmental programs on the East Coast. The musical was tested before live audiences. The authors made changes based on audience reactions.
Developing new musicals has been going on at Village for decades. Village Theatre personnel such as “String” director Brandon Ivie are known for their pioneering work all the way to Broadway.
This new musical is humorous, thought-provoking, endearing and fun. The music is often brilliant, but as one audience member on opening night said, “It’s not Disney.” Nor is it “Carousel” or other classic musicals that immediately plant tunes in the audience’s heads.
That’s sort of the nature of many new musicals. It’s more about the story. The music, however great, is just one of the vehicles that move the story along.
So, in this story, Zeus is angry with The Fates and he tosses them off Mount Olympus and banishes them to a modern-day skyscraper.
As Hammond and Gwon note, it’s “a microcosm of the universe: the gods at the top, the security guards in the basement and everyone else in between, grinding through their days without any clue what fate has in store.”
The interaction between The Fates and the people who work in the Infinity Building is limited until the oldest sister, Atropos, meets Mickey, a security guy.
They fall in love. It’s a sweet, simple, stolen-kisses relationship, and all is well until Atropos ends up with Mickey’s life string in one hand and her scissors in the other.
The cast includes some of the region’s hardest working and best in the business.
Jessica Skerritt, outstanding in the role of Atropos, is known for her work in “Singin’ in the Rain” and “No Way to Treat a Lady” with Village, and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “A Christmas Story” with the 5th Avenue Theatre.
Eric Ankrim, who is believably brilliant as Mickey, has worked on Broadway. Along with his past Village credits (“The Tutor”), he is known for his lead roles at the 5th Avenue in “How to Succeed…,” “Oklahoma!” and for the before-Broadway presentation of “Come From Away” at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Village season subscribers will remember Lauren Du Pree from her dynamite turn as Deena in “Dreamgirls.” She portrays Lachesis, the middle sister, who holds Atropos’ feet to the fire in a way only a sister can. The youngest sister is performed by Sara Porkalob, who stole the show in Village’s “Pump Boys and Dinettes” a couple of years ago. She does an equally good job in “String.”
The ensemble offers notable performances by Bobbi Kotula (“No Way to Treat a Lady”); Nathaniel Tenenbaum (“Dreamgirls”); Michael Feldman (“Pump Boys”); Sarah Bordenet (“A Proper Place”); Danny Kam (“Billy Eliot”) and Cassi Q Kohl, a University of Washington graduate who has performed with Disney Cruise Line.
The pit orchestra does a wonderful job. The sets, costumes, lighting, stage management and choreography are great, as always.
Ivie, the director, is the associate artistic director at Village Theatre. He is a rising star in the musical theater world, having worked on Broadway and having directed numerous new musicals.
He gets this one, and it shows. Don’t miss this world premiere.
If you go
Village Theatre’s “String,” is on stage through May 20 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays — though closing day is matinee only. Tickets range in price. Call the box office at 425-257-8600 or go online to villagetheatre.org.