Voices in the wilderness

Quiet Cry

Book by Adam Dick
Music and lyrics by Paul Dick
Directed/choreographed by Andrea Andresakis
Music direction by Jonathan Smith
PASSAJJ Productions, Ltd.
Lion Theatre at Theatre Row
410 W. 42nd St. (www.ticketcentral.com; 212/279-4200)
Equity showcase (closes June 26)
Review by Michael D. Jackson

Quiet Cry is subtitled, “a Musical Murder Mystery.” This hardly describes the actual experience: a social conscience musical about a hospital staff caring for single teen and drug-addicted mothers from the streets. It is difficult to understand why the authors wanted to make a musical out of this subject, for although it has a heartfelt message, it is a subject and a setting with no innate musicality. Paul and Adam Dick have written an overly sentimental, scattered, and morose show with an interminable pace. After the two-hour playing time finally runs out, there was little true joy of the theatre to be found, even as the strains of the surprisingly lovely “My Best Christmas” were reprised for the finale.

Director Andrea Andresakis, who came with substantial New York and regional credits, did little to help the show. Actors were awkwardly blocked, there was the meaningless gesturing, a poor definition of space, and conflicting styles of staging. At the end of the first act, the black Nurse (Kit Williams) led the ensemble in a revival number (“There’ll Come a Day”), suddenly giving the audience an old-school production number that might have come right out of Finian’s Rainbow. In the first scene of act two, the depiction of a fundraising carnival was handled by a series of four novelty songs, unconnected to plot or character, which only stalled the show. (Though the last of the four songs, “Choose Love,” was actually quite lovely, harkening back to the ballads of Rodgers and Hart, and became much more useful in a reprise later in the act.)

Overall the cast was uneven, though dutifully doing their best to put the show across with dignity. The standout performance was the very real Shea Hess as Emma. Hess gave the character a natural charm and made an otherwise flat role into an interesting, well-rounded personality. The leading male character of the show, Dr. Bill (Robert Kane), was short-changed. His introduction in the story is treated as that of a featured chorus kid, rather than the integral person Dr. Bill actually is. For all his importance as the “good guy,” he had very little action and even less to sing. Kane, perhaps over-earnestly, worked his darndest to give the character his just due.

The show means for the protagonist to be Dr. Bill, and had the story and characters been shown in terms of how Dr. Bill deals with them first, he might not only have been a more interesting character, but deserving of his suggested central figure status. Instead, the show meandered from subplot points of the patients, the nurse, and a colorful transvestite hooker (Kwame Michael Remy). The authors did show that, here and there, they could write a nice song, though the best of them could not elevate the work out of its dismal surroundings.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 0
Acting: 1
Set: 0
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2005 Michael D. Jackson