The Landor is currently presenting a season of international, new musical theatre entitled From Page to Stage - including Alexander S. Bermange's The Route to Happiness.
The show tells three characters' stories, as they seek happiness through various flawed means: fame, money & romance. Bermange and director Robert McWhir utilised a small cast, as is typical at the cosy Landor, with Cassidy Janson not just shining but exploding as wannabe celebrity of any type Trinity.
Niall Sheehy played the somewhat pathetically ambitious Marcus, and Shona White had the challenging role of making largely insipid Lorna a likeable character.
The show lacked profundity, as the realisations achieved by the characters were obvious, but some of the comedic writing was truly excellent; the ensemble number I Just Love Weddings was particularly relatable.
Cassidy Janson's renditions of Somehow I'll be Famous, her audition sequence (including a wonderfully ill-emphasised "To be or not to be") and her attempts at alternate careers - such as rap - were hilarious. If only there'd been time to include her proposed "comic sequel to Romeo and Juliet". Janson also demonstrated great subtlety & sensitivity at the play's conclusion. Sheehy very much held his own in dramatic terms, & demonstrated vocal prowess throughout. While a contemporary female audience might struggle to identify with her character's quest to find happiness through falling in love, White was consistent, though rather safe.
With the composer himself playing keys and Justin Homewood on bass, the music was somewhat typical of contemporary musical theatre in that it used quite a narrow range of notes, yet there were some very effective melodies. The adaptation of Lorna's ballad à la Beyonce for Trinity's audition was a wonderful touch, & Bermange himself chimed in at one point, to great comedic effect.
Lighting was used very well throughout, demonstrating how versatile a small, simple space can be. The very low lighting during Marcus's subdued song was striking and unusual.
All in all, while one might struggle to identify with the characters' specific wants, the ideas & feelings behind their goals are universal. The Route to Happiness is a no-fuss show about three people's internal quests. While you may not leave convinced that they've reached contentment, you may well feel like you've accompanied for them some of the way, and leave just the theatre just a bit closer to the end goal.
The next shows in the Landor's From Page to Stage season are Richard Beadle & Friends (Sunday February 24, 7:30) and Three Writers & a Piano (Tuesday February 26, 7:30).