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Sky’s End

Sky's End (2nd Stage Theatre, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 22 top) The Blank Theatre Co. presents a musical in two acts with book, music and lyrics by Joseph Alan Drymala; director, Daniel Henning; musical direction and arrangements, Stephen Bates; set, Jonathan T. Hagans, Henning; costumes, Henning; lighting, Hagans; choreography, Cinera Che. Opened Aug. 29, 1996; reviewed Sept. 29. Running time: 2 hours, 25 min. Cast: Steve Scott Springer (Andrew), Amy Lloyd (Amy), Edward Evanko (Henry), Christopher Carroll (Father), Danny Fehsenfeld (Joey, Doctor), Christian Meoli (Jamie), April Dawn (Emily). Sky's End," a new musical produced by the Blank Theater Co., is remarkable for a single reason: the age of its composer, book writer and lyricist Joseph Drymala, an 18-year-old Sondheim pretender emerging from San Antonio. Both its faults and its ambitiousness are apparent in the show's concept: In a hospice, 23-year-old Andrew (Steve Scott Springer) languishes from something fatal called aplastic anemia. Its details remain elusive, and it's more or less symptom-free, allowing him to belt a good hour and a half of music. From the bed he never leaves, he tries to bring a crush on his nurse to fruition before the sun sets forever. The preciousness continues: His only companionis a deluded but apparently physically healthy man who dreams of fighting he never experienced in World War II. And Andrew's parents visit but once a year, or rather his crass, cellular-phone-toting father does his mother's too upset by her son's doom to come at all, we learn when his death is a matter of hours away. Company is provided by his brother, who foils Andrew's crush by taking up with his brother's beloved nurse, herself reeling from a sudden breakup. To make a bed-ridden man the protagonist of a musical might seem a youthful folly, but in fact Andrew is easily the most rounded character on stage, the rest going through remarkable personal transformations in a few lines of stilted dialogue. Springer gives an open, animated performance that glides over the sentimentality of his character's position. Drymala's music is never coarse, clumsy or juvenile , but many of the songs bear a certain stylistic similarity to each other, perhaps partially a function of the solo piano accompaniment, nicely played by Stephen Bates. The lyrics are intelligent and rarely cloying. In "Be in Love," Andrew's brother sings of the advantages of that state: "You'll get shade/You'll get stayed/ You'll get laid." A catchy uptempo finale is, however, a compendium of cliches. The songs are largely Sondheim-styled musings on life and love, with some nice complex rhyme patterns, though as on occasion with the master himself they betray a too slavish dependence on a rhyming dictionary. If Drymala shows nice promise as a composer and lyricist, he might try looking for a James Lapine; his book is the show's primary fault, where his youthful sentimental bent and simplistic plotting show to deleterious effect. This musical boasts not one but two deaths among its eight characters. Still, "Sky's End," proficiently acted and staged by director Daniel Henning, who co-designed with Jonathan T. Hagans the charming, child-styled set, bears the hallmarks of a musical talent well worth watching. Charles Isherwood

Sky’s End (2nd Stage Theatre, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 22 top) The Blank Theatre Co. presents a musical in two acts with book, music and lyrics by Joseph Alan Drymala; director, Daniel Henning; musical direction and arrangements, Stephen Bates; set, Jonathan T. Hagans, Henning; costumes, Henning; lighting, Hagans; choreography, Cinera Che. Opened Aug. 29, 1996; reviewed Sept. 29. Running time: 2 hours, 25 min. Cast: Steve Scott Springer (Andrew), Amy Lloyd (Amy), Edward Evanko (Henry), Christopher Carroll (Father), Danny Fehsenfeld (Joey, Doctor), Christian Meoli (Jamie), April Dawn (Emily). Sky’s End,” a new musical produced by the Blank Theater Co., is remarkable for a single reason: the age of its composer, book writer and lyricist Joseph Drymala, an 18-year-old Sondheim pretender emerging from San Antonio. Both its faults and its ambitiousness are apparent in the show’s concept: In a hospice, 23-year-old Andrew (Steve Scott Springer) languishes from something fatal called aplastic anemia. Its details remain elusive, and it’s more or less symptom-free, allowing him to belt a good hour and a half of music. From the bed he never leaves, he tries to bring a crush on his nurse to fruition before the sun sets forever. The preciousness continues: His only companionis a deluded but apparently physically healthy man who dreams of fighting he never experienced in World War II. And Andrew’s parents visit but once a year, or rather his crass, cellular-phone-toting father does his mother’s too upset by her son’s doom to come at all, we learn when his death is a matter of hours away. Company is provided by his brother, who foils Andrew’s crush by taking up with his brother’s beloved nurse, herself reeling from a sudden breakup. To make a bed-ridden man the protagonist of a musical might seem a youthful folly, but in fact Andrew is easily the most rounded character on stage, the rest going through remarkable personal transformations in a few lines of stilted dialogue. Springer gives an open, animated performance that glides over the sentimentality of his character’s position. Drymala’s music is never coarse, clumsy or juvenile , but many of the songs bear a certain stylistic similarity to each other, perhaps partially a function of the solo piano accompaniment, nicely played by Stephen Bates. The lyrics are intelligent and rarely cloying. In “Be in Love,” Andrew’s brother sings of the advantages of that state: “You’ll get shade/You’ll get stayed/ You’ll get laid.” A catchy uptempo finale is, however, a compendium of cliches. The songs are largely Sondheim-styled musings on life and love, with some nice complex rhyme patterns, though as on occasion with the master himself they betray a too slavish dependence on a rhyming dictionary. If Drymala shows nice promise as a composer and lyricist, he might try looking for a James Lapine; his book is the show’s primary fault, where his youthful sentimental bent and simplistic plotting show to deleterious effect. This musical boasts not one but two deaths among its eight characters. Still, “Sky’s End,” proficiently acted and staged by director Daniel Henning, who co-designed with Jonathan T. Hagans the charming, child-styled set, bears the hallmarks of a musical talent well worth watching. Charles Isherwood

Sky’s End

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