The world premiere musical Becoming George at Metrostage celebrates the life of one of the most colorful, even outrageously artistic figures of all time. Does the musical capture the indomitable spirit, prodigious writings, and mind-boggling life choices of this self-named woman clearly far ahead of her time? Yes, but in its own irresistibly charming way. Becoming George offers a refreshingly light and fun-filled approach to the tumultuous life and times of this celebrated writer whose outpourings from her pen and love decisions of her heart shocked, repelled and fascinated the literary world.
While coming off as disarmingly simple, the plot is thick with rumblings of impending war and civil disturbance, political intrigue, ruminations of a woman determined to be taken as seriously as a man (if not moreso), imaginings of a burgeoning actress ingénue, a son’s attempts to shine outside his father’s giant literary shadow, and immerging feminine power struggles for self-identity. Instead of getting lost in a shuffle, the assorted cast of characters all contribute to the story. Each represents a cause or an issue, but the writers provide them with such purpose, aided by Brett Smock’s skillful director’s touches to humanize them, that we care about them as authentic people rather than caricatures.
In addition, this is an ensemble of accomplished singers, all of whom have had their own turns as star performers. Brian Childers was mesmerizing as Danny Kaye in Danny and Sylvia several years back, and he is just as delightful here delivering just the right expressions when he transitions from playful artistic connoisseur to scowling aristocrat in a flash. Greg Violand’s rendition of the son of Alexander Dumas is boisterously funny with flickers of sadness; the same sweet complexity can be seen in Mary Jayne Raleigh’s turn as the maid/confidante, and Meegan Midkiff is an absolute standout as Sarah Bernhardt with a lyrical voice of pure operatic beauty. Her duet with Taylor Becoming George where she contemplates “Becoming Sarah” produced audible sighs of delight throughout the audience.
In producing Becoming George, Metrostage has proven once again that it has the heart and courage to trust a new script and fresh voices. Launching this ambitious story in a world premiere musical is in keeping with the indomitable trail blazing spirit of George Sand herself.