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The Fairy Hoax
a Musical
by Tom Diggs (words) and Jay D’Amico (music)

COMPANY : Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Brady Street Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 5318

SHOWING : August 14, 2018 - August 14, 2018



"The Fairy Hoax," a magical musical for the whole family, is a coming-of-age story about Dulcie, a thirteen-year-old girl in Yorkshire, England, who fakes photographs of fairies in order to save her relationship with her emotionally distant mother, a relationship which has been torn apart by the First World War. With the help of Francis, an eccentric male friend, Dulcie manages to create a series of photographs that not only cheer up her mother, but also enchant a nation. With the help of The Strand magazine, the children’s celebrity around the faked photos goes too far as Dulcie’s life becomes unbearable watching her mother go “round the bend.” And when she feels betrayed by her friend, Dulcie decides to stop all talk of fairies and give up her celebrity status in order to preserve what’s left of her family and her dignity.

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Utterly Charming
by playgoer
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
"The Fairy Hoax" is based on the true story of a girl during WWI who took photos of fairy cut-outs in the woods and passed them off as true pictures of actual fairies, under the imprimatur of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Book writer Tom Diggs has taken some liberties with the facts and has changed names a bit, altered a younger female cousin to a teenaged male neighbor, and added his older brother for a bit of romantic interest. It all works very well.

The musical was originally written as a play, with Jay D’Amico composing some preludes to underscore various points in the script, with a view towards a movie adaptation. The preludes have now morphed into songs, with lyrical melodies and folk touches that evoke the Yorkshire setting of the story. The orchestral beginnings of the score peek through a bit with the scansion of lyrics being sometimes a tiny bit off and with the score appearing to be fairly difficult to sing. This is a full-fledged score, though, with reprises nicely emphasizing points in the story. You’d never know it wasn’t a musical to begin with.

Nichole Palmietto has staged the show nicely, using four downstage music stands for the action, with some narration delivered from the five actors seated in upstage chairs. This is a staged reading, with books ever-present and with stage direction narration taking the place of true onstage kisses and slaps. It’s all very fluid and engaging.

The cast consists of Brandy Bell as young Dulcie Somerset, Mary Saville as her mother (and also as the adult Dulcie), David Wells as friend Francis Crawley, Truman Griffin as Francis’ hunky brother Henry, and Lamont Hill as reporter Elliot Butterfield (and also as the adult Francis). All have good voices, and Ms. Bell gives an entrancing, thoroughly natural performance, besides possessing the best voice of the lot. Ms. Saville also gives an excellent, nuanced performance. The men acquit themselves well too.

Piano accompaniment is provided by musical director Cristina Dinella, who holds forth with the serious demeanor and swaying emphases of a concert pianist downstage left. It would be distracting except for the fact that the story and songs thoroughly capture the attention.

"The Fairy Hoax" could be taken in many directions. With a full ensemble of townspeople and expansive scenery, it could become a West End-type production in the mold of "Finding Neverland." With condensation of the plot and toning down of the titter-producing references to puberty, it could become a streamlined school/family production. Or it could remain a small-cast, full-length musical that entrances with its quiet charm and atmospheric score and script. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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