THE DOLLS OF NEW ALBION: A STEAMPUNK OPERA (Manayunk Theatre Company): 2015 Fringe review 14

“Circles never stop themselves…” ~ Narrator, THE DOLLS OF NEW ALBION: A STEAMPUNK OPERA

The-Dolls-of-New-AlbionPaul Shapera’s four act, ninety minute steampunk musical, directed by Gabriel Henninger, follows four generations of the McAlistair family cycling through life, death, and the aftereffects of being brought back to life.  The cycle begins when Annabelle McAlistair (Anna Flynn-Meketon), a solitary failed science student toiling to prove herself, decides to bring her childhood hearthrob, Jasper (John D. DiFerdinando) back to life within a mechanized mannequin.  The hauntingly sung number “Annabelle Has a Doll” ensues during which the Narrator (Julia Hopkins), keeper of the clock of continuity in the story, endeavors to let Annabelle know that “what you hold may wish to go…”. Jasper would prefer to return to Elysion.  The repercussions of the success and failure of her intial experiment rebound for generations to come, and plague the city of New Albion.

A strong cast, consisting of the above mentioned actors as well as Ariana Ballerini, Melissa Raub, John O’Donnell and Aubrey McKinney, many of whom play more than one role, belt out the lyrics beautifully, moving about the stage with grace and ease. Though not stated in the program, the outstanding instrumental music is performed live. Set pieces and lighting are cleverly utilized to create levels and labyrinths on the stage.  Theater space is employed to engulf the audience into the action. On opening night an audience member was briefly brought onto the stage during a scene.  So if you wear steampunk garb as cool as the actor’s costumes, and sit near the stage… [Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center, 7 Lock Street] September  3-12, 2015;


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