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Life in the Park

a Musical One Act
by Gary W. Heath

COMPANY : Vitality Vision Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4027

SHOWING : June 03, 2011 - June 26, 2011



Making its world premiere in Atlanta this June, Life in the Park is a theatrical work conceived and written by Playwright / Composer Gary W. Heath. This is a highly stylized theatrical work with content that can touch the lives of many. Heath has taken the situation of the two main characters, Humphrey and Constance, both homeless, and incorporated it with music to expose the inner emotions of the main characters and their acquaintances, a female prostitute (Lulu), an artist (Derek), a disabled veteran in a wheelchair, a goody-to-shoes wife and her philandering husband. Life in the Park illustrates the dynamic among the lives of the characters and provides a theatrical portrayal of the harsh reality of homelessness.

Although homelessness is the major theme of this show, it should not be simply classified as such. This is a story of "every man" in any unexpected or unavoidable condition that could affect any individual in his or her lifetime. Audiences will experience an emotion-filled journey from laughter to empathic moments through musical theatrics. Live theater at its best!

Writer/Composer Gary W Heath
Cast Jessica Couto
Cast Pamela Hamill
Cast Jordan Miller
Cast John Racca
Cast Thomas Silcott
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Show and Tell
by Dedalus
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
One of the most painful “disconnects” in a theatrical production is when we are “told” things flatly contradicted by what we’re “shown.” Such is the case with Gary Heath’s “Life in the Park,” an extended one-act musical focusing on a group of homeless characters in a generic big-city park.

On its web site, the California-based Vitality Vision Productions, which has brought this show to the 14th Street Playhouse, tells us: “Although homelessness is the major theme of this show, it should not be simply classified as such. This is a story of "every man" in any unexpected or unavoidable condition that could affect any individual in his or her lifetime.” Indeed, along the way characters sing about “Same ol’ Nothing” or “Why Did I Wind Up Here,” or “The Streets Are Your Home.”

However what we’re SHOWN is a group of well-dressed characters, all homeless, all singing directly to us with little interaction, highlighting their very specific situations with no sense of “every man.” Indeed, we are given little clue as to the circumstances which brought these people here, and, in some cases, homelessness comes across as a “life style choice” rather than as a “last rung” of a ladder of desperate circumstances. This play not only romanticizes homelessness, it positively glorifies it.

One character dresses in a beige clean trench coat that wouldn’t look out of place on a patron of a trendy restaurant. He rides around the park on a bicycle that looks like it just came off a showroom floor. Another (a crippled vet – why is it ALWAYS a crippled veteran?) trundles around in a highly-polished, expensive-looking wheelchair. Even the blanket a character uses to [spoiler alert] commit “suicide by exposure” looks clean and plump enough to help him survive an arctic three-month winter night.

All these are production details that could have been averted with a little distressing. What really makes this show sink for me is its structure. Most of the songs are solos sung in isolation straight to us. Until the end, there is no interaction. There are only two characters who are NOT homeless, who come on to sing a pointless number that adds nothing to the show, then disappear (it doesn’t help that the roles are “doubled” by actors playing homeless characters). There is virtually no conflict, no real story, only a group of singers doing their numbers surrounded by a pleasantly lit and bucolic-looking park set (not even a HINT of whatever city the park is part of.

The show’s one redeeming factor is its cast. These are Equity Actors from California, all sporting impressive resumes and even more impressive singing voices. Thomas Silcott as Humphrey brings a sense of dignity and resignation to his character, with a deep singing voice as rich as velvet and as sweet as cookie dough. As Constance, Pamela Hamill brings a lot of eccentricity and wit to her role (but WHY did she have to be miked so loudly her off stage lines sound like the voice of God?). The cast is filled out by Jessica Couto, Jordan Miller, and John Racca, all of whom make the bland and banal (and there are a lot of wince-worthy rhyme attempts here) songs sound heartfelt and sincere.

Homelessness is a subject that has loads of potential – its varied causes, its potential for violence and loss, its “there-but-for-fortune” sense of “that-could-be-me.” What it is NOT is a good source for politically correct posturing or for blandly innocuous musings by paper-thin caricatures in a highly romanticized world that never existed. “Life in the Park” was, frankly, a waste of the talent on stage, a waste of a potentially deep and rich subject-pond, and, frankly, a waste of my time and energy.

-- Brad Rudy (



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