FLY BY NIGHT is a musical that may have a name that implies something that is rushed together to get it done, but that is not is a case in this charming and well put together production playing through December 10th at the Coronado Playhouse.
The musical follows Harold, (Weston Bennett) a young sandwich maker who just lost his Mother, and two sisters, Daphne (Tara Brown-Sampson) and Miriam (Catie Marron). Harold grew up in New York with his parents, and finds himself a sandwich maker by day but some creative meaning to life when his father (John Craig Johnson) gives him his Mother’s old guitar.
Daphne is an aspiring actress who convinces Miriam to move to New York with her as Daphne pursues her dream of becoming a Broadway star. Miriam is a waitress and very happy to be one, but moves with Daphne to help provide support. Eventually Harold, Daphne, and Miriam all meet, though not all together, and the ensuing love triangle complicates their lives.
The Narrator (Michael Van Allen) is our guide through this story, and introduces all of the characters, including Harold’s Dad Mr. McClam (John Craig Johnson), a budding playwright Joey Storms (Andrew Paiva), and the sandwich shop owner Crabble (Thomas Fitzpatrick) as the story progresses.
The stars, fate, and even a psychic make an appearance as the story explores young love, hope, loss, home, and purpose- which is a lot for any show. It takes place over the course of a year, with the culmination coming during the great northeast blackout of 1965. The idea of making your way out of darkness; be it emotional, directional, or by making a dream a reality, the stars and fate are a central and oft repeated contemplation.
Director Manny Bejarano keeps this show from tipping from sentimental all the way into saccharine, and keeps the momentum up and the plot lines as clear as possible as it jumps back and forth in time. He has the cast and the show a sense of movement by using the whole stage and the many stairways and levels.
Bennett as Harold, has a nice voice and keeps the character balanced between sweet and a bit helpless. Brown-Sampson as the budding Broadway star Daphne is energetic and Marron keeps her Miriam sentimental but grounded in her love for the study of the stars.
Michael Van Allen is winning and animated as the Narrator who not only guides the audience through all of this, but also as a multitude of supplementary characters that include the sisters Mother, a psychic, and others.
Paiva as the playwright Joey is endearing as he tries to prove himself by writing a play as well as launching Daphne’s career. Fitzpatrick as Crabble is funny as a former Air Force man who is looking for something that brings him the same joy as his old occupation. Johnson, as Mr. McClam has a lovely moment and song in the second act.
The band led by Emily Awkerman is excellent, but at times did make it difficult to hear the performers.
Ultimately, for a show about destiny, it doesn’t truly fulfill its own as it struggles under the weight of unfulfilled plot points. So many of these characters are selfish and can’t seem to find the balance to why we should care about them. Why does Harold ignore his grieving father for almost a full year? Why does anyone put up with Daphne’s selfishness or Crabble’s abuse? For a show asking the audience to contemplate who they are, it might be a good question for the show as well.
Despite these lingering questions, this is a show full of talented performers and metaphysical whimsy.
FLY BY NIGHT is playing at the Coronado Playhouse through December 10th. For ticket and show times information go to www.coronadoplayhouse.com