Band: Stephen Bates (keyboards), Jeff Briggs (guitar), Randy Landas (bass), John Harvey (drums), Ezra Kliger (violin).
Musical numbers: “Everybody Wants Something,” “Miss Demeanor,” “Love Doesn’t Have to Be Dangerous,” “That’s Where I Belong,” “Life in the Backseat,” “Pain Doesn’t Count When You’re Young,” “I’ve Got Better Things to Do,” “Everybody Wants Something” (reprise), “Was It Something She Said,” “The Weather Forecast,” “The Economic Forecast,” “The Evangelical Forecast,” “I Surprise Myself,” “You Should’ve Been Somebody Else’s Child,” “Not in the Cards,” “Twist of Fate.”
If the words “new musical” at a small theater often provoke shudders, “Twist of Fate” should change that reaction: Expect word of mouth to create standing room only.
The book — sharp, involving and loosely based on a real incident — revolves around fictional Gypsy fortune-teller Dominique St. Marie (Lisa Raggio) working in Los Angeles when soothsaying was illegal. St. Marie is trying to teach the business to her headstrong teenage daughter, Olivia (Tia Texada), when an undercover policeman (Josh Cruze) arrests St. Marie.
Her court-appointed lawyer (Dan Gerrity), expecting her to skip bail or even pay the fine, finds she’s determined to fight the law — and he falls in love with her. That causes problems with his fiancee (Donna Cherry), a meticulous TV executive. When the undercover officer is shot and killed as St. Marie predicted , and Olivia, disgusted with anything Gypsy, runs around with the wrong boy (Manley Pope), St. Marie’s situation worsens.
The music by Ron Abel and lyrics by book author Lissa Levin are complex and multilayered, advancing the story more often than merely underscoring a moment. As directed by Ron Link, with choreography by Valerie Landsburg, each song is an event.
Link, too, lends a sense of sensuality and theatricality to the effort and connects the characters’ hopes to a feeling of fear. Raggio and Gerrity anchor their characters with charisma and grace, even as they joust with wit. They make believable the unlikely pairing of a driven, Di-Gel-popping attorney and an earthy, fiery spiritual adviser.
Texada imbues the daughter with an oh-so-sure fight for independence. When she sings “That’s Where I Belong” in duet with Raggio, it’s clear she’s an exceptional find within the impressive cast.
Laura Soltis distinctively portrays a stripper and a career woman; Michele Mais stands out in a few roles, including a spirited gospel singer.
Set designer Cara Hoepner brings much artistry to her craft, creating an Old World Gypsy feel and tying in the live band, high on its own platform, to the action below.
Ken Booth’s lighting, from the dramatically backlit opening in a fog, to various situations throughout, fits in with the unique production design. Costume designer Judith Brewer Curtis must have been in creative heaven, coming up with so many expressive outfits.
Jon Gottlieb’s sound design gives the songs a recording-studio quality, but on opening weekend a few songs seemed overmiked and there was some confusion as to who was singing.
Completing the lively ensemble is the band, surrounded by tires and steel drums and feeling very much a part of the whole.
A spiritual adviser might tell these folks that larger theaters and a cast album is in their future.