SUBMIT ABOUT FAQ
PEOPLE COMPANIES VENUES
LOGIN NEW USER PRODUCTIONS
REVIEWERS SIX DEGREES
A User-Driven Site for Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
Vivian: A Musical Ghost Story

a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Chase Peacock and Jessica DeMaria

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Theatre In The Square:Alley Stage [WEBSITE]
ID# 5145

SHOWING : October 11, 2017 - October 14, 2017

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Dr. Cliff Ben­nett want­ed a change of scenery for him­self and his two daugh­ters after the death of his wife, so he moved his fam­i­ly to a beau­ti­ful fix­er upper in the coun­try­side of Cal­i­for­nia; but the changes they found were more than they bar­gained for.

VIVIAN is a 90 minute musi­cal ghost sto­ry that will leave you breathless.


CAST & CREW LIST
Music Director Ali Lingenfelter
Chrissy Brittany Ellis
Cliff/Dad Travis Smith
James Austin Taylor
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

An Unresolved Cord
by playgoer
Saturday, October 14, 2017
3.5
Let’s start with the set for "Vivian: A Ghost Story." It represents a house that has stood unoccupied for at most 15 years. Center stage we have a room with peeling wallpaper and a dining room table and three chairs, with a doorway upstage, just left of center. Stage right we have the bedroom of Vivian (Mabel Tyler), the younger daughter of Cliff (Travis Smith). Stage left we have the bedroom of elder daughter Chrissy (Brittany Ellis). Sheets cover much of the furniture at the start. While renovations are supposedly occurring during the course of the play, all we see are the sheets being removed and a shelf and a mirror being hung. Nevertheless, it’s all very functional, with splendid special effects, enhanced or created by Anna Eck’s atmospheric lighting design.

Bobby Johnston’s sound design balances voices and accompaniment beautifully, so everything can be heard clearly. The Alley Stage doesn’t allow the full stage to be seen by all members of the audience, though, so seated action at the table or at the beds isn’t always clearly visible to everyone. Julie Skrzypek’s blocking is static enough that actors are either clearly visible or entirely blocked for large portions of scenes.

The acting is first-rate across the board. Travis Smith plays a concerned father with empathy and power in equal amounts. Brittany Ellis’s bratty demeanor as Chrissy at the start transitions nicely into her romantic involvement with neighbor James (the sweetly engaging Austin Taylor). Mabel Tyler gets a real acting workout as an even-tempered child with night terrors who becomes possessed with spirits that dwell in the house.

Singing is also first-rate, with the exception of renditions of the initial phrases of "I Wanna Be Loved by You," which are supposedly being sung by a second-rate singer. What drove me wild is that the melody of this copyrighted tune has been altered to get rid of the low notes in the phrase "else but you." It sounds like the writers, actors, and musical director didn’t research the sheet music, relying instead on some range-restricted cover version of the song.

Otherwise, Alli Lingenfelter’s music direction makes sure all voices are strong and pure. The score by Chase Peacock and Jessica DeMaria leans heavily on folk/rock power ballads that aren’t immediately "catchy," but drive the story along and improve on subsequent hearing. The music sounds its best when multiple people are singing in sweet harmony. When the three family members are ranged across the stage to sing "The Tides," the wave of stereophonic sound is pure rapture. All duets dive into rapturous territory too, with glorious vocal harmonies abounding.

Not all parts of all songs work in a dramatic sense. Dad Cliff’s singing selections from a psychology textbook in "Diagnose" bookends the number, but seems a bit forced. James’ rendition of the house’s history in "The Story" uses "she" to refer both to a mother and her suicidal daughter, which can be confusing.

This same sort of confusion harms the plot. There’s some equivalent of a spectral umbilical cord connecting that dead mother and daughter with Cliff’s two daughters, and it’s not always clear which of the dead spirits is directing Vivian’s actions. Nothing is resolved, with the show ending abruptly with an ominous vignette. There’s also a lack of clarity in the character of Chrissy. She’s supposedly upset at moving and losing a boyfriend, but falls right into a relationship with James. She sees a spectral face that terrifies her at the moment, but which seems to be immediately forgotten, to judge by her subsequent behavior.

"Vivian: A Ghost Story" has many promising elements, but its love subplot isn’t well integrated into the story, and some of the storytelling seems to be rushed. There are jarring, scary moments, but the show does not build up to a sense of all-encompassing dread that its ending appears to be aiming for. It’s an intimate, four-character, one-act show that seems to cry out for expansion. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

OPENING SOON
BattleActs! November 2018
Laughing Matters
ParaNoirmal Encounters - A Conjuration Performance
by Paige Steadman, David Benedict
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
CLOSING SOON
BattleActs! November 2018
Laughing Matters
Dry Land
by Ruby Rae Spiegel
Atlanta Theatre Club
Fruitcakes
by Julian Wiles
The Front Porch Players
Not About Heroes
by Stephen MacDonald
Aris
ParaNoirmal Encounters - A Conjuration Performance
by Paige Steadman, David Benedict
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
Reykjavik
by Steve Yockey
Actor's Express
The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Players Guild @ Sugar Hill
NOW PLAYING
A Man for All Seasons
by Robert Bolt
The New American Shakespeare Tavern
Daddy Long Legs
by John Caird (book) and Paul Gordon (songs)
The Legacy Theatre
Dry Land
by Ruby Rae Spiegel
Atlanta Theatre Club
Fruitcakes
by Julian Wiles
The Front Porch Players
It is Beginning to Look A Lot Like Murder
by Ryan Girard
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook
by Allison Gregory
Georgia Ensemble Theatre
Midnight at the Masquerade
by The Murder Mystery Company
The Murder Mystery Company in Atlanta
Not About Heroes
by Stephen MacDonald
Aris
Reykjavik
by Steve Yockey
Actor's Express
Sanders Family Christmas
by Connie Ray and Alan Bailey
Main Street Theatre Tucker
The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Players Guild @ Sugar Hill

©2012 TheaterReview.com. All rights reserved.