Analog & Vinyl
"Analog & Vinyl," is a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon that made its world premiere at the Weston Playhouse last Friday. Tapping into this once common vocabulary, it whimsically looked at two people at a record store trying, in their own way, to connect with the world and each other. (Oh, and a mysterious stranger who may or may not have been Beelzebub made an appearance, too.) With conversational songs and snappy repartee on everything from Robert Johnson and Joni Mitchell to YouTube videos about dogs and potatoes, it was a lot of fun.
In the show, Preston Sadlier portrayed Harrison, a 30-something owner of a vintage record store opened in 2014 Los Angeles with many of the albums purchased by his father back in the day. Leasing the very same commercial space in which his father operated a convenience store for years, it isn't going well for Harrison, a true believer in the vinyl format. His only companion is Rodeo Girl, a free spirit played by Sarah Stiles, who sort of works for Harrison, but really just hangs out there. With no customers, barring some miracle, the store will have to close the very next day. Preston Sadleir painted Harrison with a nerdy angst that anchored the musical. His character could recite everything there was to know about an obscure cover recording of a Buddy Holly tune by a precursor of the Beatles, but did not recognize Rodeo Girl's unspoken pleas to be noticed and loved. Sadleir's clear singing voice had no trouble with the rapid-fire lyrics that permeated the evening.
Diminutive Sarah Stiles was a firecracker as Rodeo Girl. Speaking a mile a minute, she was kinetic. Bounding and spinning throughout the store, her Rodeo Girl changed directions constantly. When it came time, Stiles's lilting soprano made Rodeo Girl's final change in direction that much more poignant. And one must give the Devil her due. As the mysterious stranger who tempts both Harrison and Rodeo Girl with a Faustian bargain for their souls, Beth Glover was sinfully playful. Less diabolical than deliciously wicked, she would be a Satan with nice fashion sense and, it would seem, a heart.
Michael Beresse's direction of the show, which ran about 80 minutes without intermission, was crisp. The costumes by designer Gregory Gale, especially the togs adorning Rodeo Girl that recalled early Madonna, were a hoot. The walls of Set Designer Timothy R. Mackabee's record store set, replete with album covers, had theatregoers counting how many they knew.
Weston Playhouse Theatre Company is to be congratulated for continuing to introduce new works to its audiences. One can be confident that this piece will be tweaked as it wends its way to Broadway or to who knows. As it stands, it explores how we still can interact with one another in an old-fashioned way: Sharing a love for music - and without headphones. A twenty-ish theatregoer sitting to my right did not pick up on all of the musical references, but she had a grand time. "Analog & Vinyl" is thoroughly entertaining.
Performances of "Analog & Vinyl" continue at the air-conditioned Weston Playhouse through July 12. For tickets, call (802) 824-5288 or visit online at www.westonplayhouse.org.
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