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The Story Of My Life
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Music & Lyrics by Neil Bartram Book by Brian Hill

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 4282

SHOWING : May 11, 2012 - May 19, 2012

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

THE STORY OF MY LIFE tells the story of two childhood friends and how their friendship profoundly defined their lives. Thomas Weaver is a best-selling, award-winning author. Alvin Kelby was his best friend for thirty years. But time can test the bonds of friendship, and when it does, Thomas calls on the only resource he has - his stories of Alvin - to learn where things went wrong. A richly melodic musical, THE STORY OF MY LIFE is a soaring tribute to the power of friendship and the people who change our lives forever.
Tickets are $15. To reserve tickets, visit www.centerstagenorth.org or call 770-331-0079


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Julie Taliaferro
Musical Director Bill Newberry
Lighting Design John Parker Jr.
Accompanist Barbara Macko
Alvin Kelby Kelly David Carr
Thomas Weaver John Stanier
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

A Wonderful Life
by Dedalus
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
4.0
�The Story of My Life� is an effective little tear-jerker that, despite numerous script problems, manages to tug at just the right heart-strings and funny-bones to end up working like a charm. It tells the slight story of two friends, Tom and Alvin, who drift apart and reconnect from childhood through abbreviated grown-up-hood. Alvin has died (no spoiler) and Tom, a writer of some repute, is struggling to prepare his friend�s eulogy. The ghost (memory) of Alvin pulls out stories from their lives to try to �kick-start� Tom�s permanently writers-blocked mind.

And that�s about it. The cast of two goes through the mostly sung-through piece, energetically switching from winsome ballads to angry anthems to silly digressions. And, thanks to some clever staging and two over-the-top wonderful performances, it works like a charm.

So, what�s so bad about all this? Well, the writer-slash-English-Major in me wants to tick off the numerous mis-steps � too many ill-conceived �It�s a Wonderful Life� allusions that only serve to underscore the shortcomings here, stories that are too banal and not-especially-special for serious attention, contrived character points and blank-slate backgrounds (How does Tom make a successful career out of writing about JUST his friendship with Alvin? What does Alvin really want to do with his life that is interrupted by his father�s illness? Why does Tom�s engagement fail? Does Alvin even have a �Significant other?�). There are hints of submerged homosexuality that are never explored. There are hints that there are aspects of Alvin that Tom never knew (or wanted to know). And, because the play is TOTALLY from Tom�s point of view, there are so many unanswered questions about why Alvin makes the choices he does, and what leads them to this point their (after) lives.

So, then, why did I like this play so much, and why does it �work like a charm?� After all the songs aren�t that memorable (although I did enjoy the early-in-life �Mrs. Remington� and the climactically tear-jerking �I Didn�t See Alvin�). The life being examined isn�t filled with incident and meaning. And we don�t even have the luxury of seeing the effect this particular life has on anyone around him. The works we hear from the �great writer� are not particularly compelling, not even close-to-great.

So, then, why did I like this play so much, and why does it �work like a charm?� The answer is probably because John Stanier (Tom) and Kelly David Carr (Alvin) have charisma by the bucketful, talent to spare, and could probably charm the socks off anyone. They each have dozens of solo moments that soar to the rafters, and, though their voices don�t blend particularly well, they still manage to harmonize in the duets in a way that is �better than the way it sounds.� Barbara Capogna Macko is their energetic accompanist, and embellishes the musical experience without overwhelming it.

And Julie Taliaferro has directed the show in an intimate manner that does full justice to the story. Set Designer Jasmine Vogue Pai has constructed a white-on-white set, a heavenly �library� filled with the blank and wordless books of Alvin�s life � a set that pays off beautifully when pages are scattered to the wind, only to �disappear� when they reach the floor. And John Parker has lit it all in a way that captures the vagueness of the set with the specificity of each scene � lighting white sets is an incredibly difficult task, and Mr. Parker has come up with one of the best designs I�ve seen at the Art Place (including � especially � my own).

I think it works because it�s an intimate story, told in an intimate venue. It is directed and performed by a cast and production team that wants to share a friend�s story � it may not be of great import to the world or to art, but, because it�s about a friend, it becomes of great import to us. I can�t imagine this show ever working in a large proscenium venue (and, indeed, the Broadway production closed after only five performances), but here, everything about the piece �works like a charm.�

And, being a wannabe-writer myself, I can definitely relate to all the sly references to problems and inspirations faced by those who have the more-courage-than-I-had to choose writing as a career rather than an avocation. I once had a button that said �Writing is easy � All you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.� I�m sure Tom can relate, as his planned eulogy remains stubbornly blank.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
�
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White and Bland
by TheatreJock
Sunday, May 20, 2012
2.5
The problem with The Story of My Life is the story itself. Centerstage North chose a weakly written, weakly composed show to present. There are things to admire about the production, but the show itself is weak and bland. I saw the show based in part on the perfect scores given the show by other reviewsand also because it was a show I knew nothing about. Following the show I researched it a bit and discovered others had the same view of the New York production which closed after only five performances. Like any other art, theater can evoke a wide range of responses in those who view it.

As for Centerstages production: At first glance, the set was strikingan all-white bookstorebooks, shelving, floor, all white. But for me, after a while, the lack of color wore thin and began to add to the blandness of the production. Surely, within the stories which were being played out onstage, there could have been some color brought into the story-telling. Lighting would have seemed the easiest way to do thatbut the lighting design did not rise to the occasion.

The musical score had a generic qualitythe songs all sounding alike, and nothing particularly memorablenothing which made you think wow, Id love to hear that again. The show did, however, have an excellent accompanist in Barbara Macko, who accompanied skillfully on a grand piano. But, please, Centerstage, have your piano tuned before you present a musical. As good as Ms. Macko is, she deserves an instrument without the out-of-tune keys which kept popping up.

Story is a one-act, but there didnt seem to be any real depth to the characters or the story they toldand some of the plot devices were clich. The references to Its a Wonderful Life (angels getting their wings when bells ring) and making snow angels showed a lack of originality in the script. When the 90 minutes were up, you were ready for the story to end. Somebody ring a bell for goodness sake!

The two-man cast worked hard and seemed comfortable with their material. Mr. Stainer had the stronger voice, but his high notes were fueled mainly by volume which gave him a strident sound. Mr. Carrs voice is pleasant and light, but seemed to weaken and show strain as the show progressed. There are actors who sing, and singers who actthis show seemed to require the latter. Without that, the generic score becomes even more forgettable. Both men are obviously capable actorsbut it seemed as though the weak script caused them to push too hard. Quirky and eccentric should not translate to mugging.

It was difficult to determine where the tension in the show lay-- was it unrequited love on Alvins part? Toms inability to live and let live? Were we supposed to feel sorry for Alvin that he stayed close to home, or condemn Tom who chose another life? Was each man the others only choice for a meaningful relationship? There wasnt much to build oneither between the two men whose stories are told, or between the audience and the story being told.

Perhaps The Story of My Life is one of those shows you either love or hate. Good for those who loved it and found it deep, moving and emotional. But it didnt happen for me.
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Bravo! x 2
by GCoop
Sunday, May 20, 2012
5.0
I was not expecting much from a two man musical, but a friend said go. Quite simply, this is the best piece of theatre (professional or non-professional) I've seen in Atlanta in years. Funny, touching and extremely emotional. Brilliantly acted, beautifully sung. I left the theater speechless and cried all the way home. Bravo, bravo, bravo! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Bravo!
by SummerRose
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
5.0
"The Story of My Life" is a must see production.

As I sat waiting for the show to begin, I was amazed by the set without even know what the show would bring. An all white set of books upon books, upon bookcases, upon a white floor, set against the black background brought elegance and drama to the stage before even a word was sung or spoken.

The show begins with Tom (John Stanier), an award-winning author, quietly entering the stage as he struggles to write his quirky best friend Alvin's (Kelly David Carr) eulogy. It is then that we enter into Tom's mind and he takes us through the years and decades of their friendship as he struggles to find the words and the answers.

Director Julie Taliaferro has brought to the stage a wonderful moving production, exceptionally directed and beautifully performed. I look forward to many more productions from her.

John Stanier beautifully portrays the character Tom with the right amount of warmth while still letting the audience know the character Tom can be quite the insensitive ass.

Kelly David Carr sweet portrayal of innocence and goodness with a hidden deep sadness is mesmerizing.

John and Kelly are superb in their portrayals of their characters. Contrasting in nature and in costume, they both bring heart and truth to their characters. Bravo!

Musical director Bill Newberry has worked his magic.

The piano accompaniment by Barbara Capogna Macko is beautiful.

Jasmine Vogue Pai set design is perfect.

The lighting by John Parker, Jr. extremely effective for setting the many moods of the show.

Please make the time to see this show if you have not already done so. You will not be disappointed. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
The Glory of the Story
by playgoer
Sunday, May 13, 2012
5.0
"The Story of My Life" is an affecting musical of small scope and large heart. Tom (John Stanier) is an award-winning author whose short stories revolve around his childhood interactions with his "freak" friend Alvin (Kelly David Carr). The musical charts the whole history of their relationship, framed by the need of one to write a eulogy for the other. There's humor, emotion, betrayal, and a number of questions left unanswered. And on top of that there's a musical score that continually keeps interest. It's top-drawer material, and it's being given a top-drawer production.

Director Julie Taliaferro seems to have a knack for presenting tight, stylish shows. The set design by Jasmine Vogue Pai is breathtaking, using the black curtains of the background as a contrast to the all-white set. White-covered books fill white bookcases, and a white floor covering makes for a dazzling stage picture. Lighting by John Parker, Jr. highlights the action, focusing it atmospherically at a few strategic moments. Sound design by Julie Taliaferro makes sure that all lyrics can be heard against the strong piano accompaniment provided by Barbara Capogna Macko.

The costume worn by John Stanier is grays and blacks, while that of Kelly David Carr is tan and beige and off-white. They look great against the set. The flow of movement across the wide stage keeps the action visually appealing. When papers are flung into the air near the end of the show, the image is delightful.

As visually appealing as the show is, it is also musically appealing. Music director Bill Newberry has worked with the actors to ensure that their strong voices remain true and powerful throughout the 90 minutes of action. I'm sure it's a tiring show for both of them, but their voices don't betray fatigue.

As for the performances, there's not anything much more superlative to say. John Stanier has a particular talent for being focused every moment onstage, even in those sections where he's only listening. Kelly David Carr brings a goofy charm to his role, with a tentative emotional underpinning almost achingly apparent. These actors bring the story of two lives to life on the stage of CenterStage North. Go see. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

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