Friday, June 12, 2009

Night Flight Shines

Threadbare production values still look pretty good in Night Flight
Book-it Repertory Theatre's latest production, Night Flight, based upon a short story by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (best known for The Little Prince), is their first operetta, and a ground-breaking moment in the history of novel and theater.
It's not quite a musical. Unlike Les Miserable, there are no stirring Broadway numbers to go out humming. Strictly speaking, there aren't any "songs" at all. There are no verses or choruses. It isn't poetry set to music, it's prose set to music. They literally just "sing" the book to you in a sort of endless recitative, those musical moments in operas in between the songs where people "speak" in music. Traditionally, these are the most boring parts of an opera where you're just waiting for the next aria, but thanks to the extraordinary adaption by Myra Platt and Rachel Atkins, this production takes you places unique both to theater and the written word, a hybrid that's uniquely satisfying. If you don't want to read a book, you may as well have someone sing it to you.
The story is nothing particularly exciting, a footnote in the history of airmail delivery in South America, with bureaucrats trying to keep the mail on schedule while wives wait for their husbands to return through the storms. The production is small, with pilots simply on top of ladders or scaffolding to signify flight. It all shifts the focus to the purity of the technique, the music and performances, which are all top notch. Every member of the singing ensemble has a moment to shine. The music from the Degenerate Art Ensemble's Joshua Kohl is impressionist tango, Ravel and Debussy filtered through the dance of Buenos Aires. It's melodic and soulful, the band and voices excellent, and one wishes for some repeats of phrases that would be catchy if you could only hear them more than once.
This production is at the incredibly beautiful Moore Theater, just up the block from the Pike Place Market, for a mere ten days. Fans of books and musical theater miss it at their peril as it genuinely breaks new ground. It's such a good idea that one cannot help but imagine a Kindle that not only reads but sings to you. Pick a book. Night Flight. Pick a voice. Mixed baritone and soprano. Pick a musical style. Tango. Go.

Tickets are available online at or by calling 206.216.0833. Prices range from $15 to $35; opening night, all seats are $40 (includes party). Box office hours are Tues. through Fri., Noon – 6:00 p.m. (Tues. – Sat. during production). Tickets are also available online at Showtimes are 7:30 evenings, 2:00 matinees; performances of Night Flight are held in The Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle.

Posted By Michael Dare to The Seattle Diaries

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