Thanks to Guest Reviewer T.E. Klunzinger for this review.
NOTE: this show has ONE MORE PERFORMANCE at 2pm tomorrow (today) Sunday, September 23 - NOT 7:30. There was a mistake in the press release which I sent and also in the State Journal newspaper - probably using info from that faulty press release. The website confirms that the show is at 2 pm http://theatre.msu.edu/productions/past-seasons/20182019season/one-good-day/
ONE GOOD DAY
by T.E. Klunzinger
There are those reviewers who “doth protest too much” when sent to see Shakespeare; in the same vein, I’m the wrong guy to consider seriously a work dealing with what I call Modern Problems or Contemporary Angst, wherein the main character spends practically the whole show fretting about what to do with her/his life – enough already!
That said, “One Good Day,” which has one performance left today at 2 pm and is the 5th ImaGen collaboration between the MSU Department of Theatre and the Wharton Center Institute for Arts and Creativity, is very smartly performed as a semi-staged reading, featuring New York Equity actors sharing the stage with not only MSU students but a few area high-school students as well.
Jessica Fontana carries the huge song load of therapist Janey well, skipping right through the 17(!) of 24 total songs with precision and ease. Dialogue and lyrics by Liz Suggs are very clever and merit close attention to appreciate fully, while the music by Rona Siddiqui is lively but never really soars – in casual memory, it seems to be all of a piece.
Taylor Mueller is fun as the pithy younger sister Kat who, despite initial denials, is suffering through her own relationship/career roadblocks. In smaller roles, Sam Carter lights up the stage all by herself, Josh Cassady shimmers with dark energy as a nerdy kid and DJ Shafer blossoms in benediction over the final sequence.
As noted, this is a musical “in development” – some playwrights might call this Development Hell since the show had its first performance in 2012, although it’s presumably evolved since then. I would note a few structural problems: while it’s posited as a kind of small musical, this production had 20 named characters plus an ensemble of 12, which would be a considerable stumbling block to getting a full production. But more than that, too much time is spent on the lead character’s flailing about, with then a fun/satisfying but too-pat ending, to really qualify as Ready for Prime Time. (Then again, what do I know?)
MSU Theater and Wharton Center are to be commended for their ImaGen series which not only involves young performers with the development of new works but also gives them a chance to work with seasoned theater professionals both on and off the stage. If it’s not clear from the above, “One Good Day” will provide a pleasant afternoon for you as well.
Parking Note: be warned that after years of being $5, Wharton Center parking is now ten dollars per car – cash only, no credit cards!