35MM: A Musical Exhibition is a series of seriously show-stopping tunes, delivered by a talented cast and live 6-piece band. Written by the incredibly talented songwriter Ryan Scott Oliver, each song has a photograph that goes along with it, projected on a screen behind the actors. The songs explore everything from the tribulations of being a nanny to the pain of love lost and the joy of new relationships.
The five actors are a bunch of Broadway belters and the musical arrangements are very complex. The songs run the gamut from from tender ballads to infectious disco pop, but all with a modern musical sensibility. The songs are epic in their arrangement and quite impressive in their range. It would be great to see separate musicals built around each song. Each melody encompasses the lives of different characters and each seems to exist in a rich universe of its own.
Fans of Rent, Hamilton, Wicked and similar shows will certainly enjoy what 35MM has to offer. The show is not a divinely conceptual mediation on anything in particular, but it is a very good concert of over a dozen creative modern show tunes. I may have made the mistake of thinking that this show would be more avant garde than it’s meant to be. It really is just an excellent revue of stellar songs and not so much a “groundbreaking new concept in musical theatre,” as stated in the show’s advertising materials. It’s the start of a good idea, but it needs to be pushed to the next level.
35MM A Musical Exhibition
Produced by Made of Star Stuff
Details and tickets
The photo pairings and projections could be more ambitious; some of the photos did not seem to be paired well with the songs. And some were simply visually boring and looked like they were accidentally emulating the weirdness of stock photography. It’s a good concept, but it definitely needs to be refined. The blocking with the crates and shipping palette props felt a bit awkward at times, and the production would have been just fine without props..
Although the 5-person cast wears mics, the vocal levels could stand to be turned up a bit, as the sound of the band drowns out some of the subtler phrases. But, wow can you hear everyone at the climax of each number! Evie Korovesis, Karen Kelleher, Pat Burns, Tim Carroll and Christian Thorsen have fantastic range and control. They sound great together and and have good chemistry as they play different characters in each song. The actors leap cheerfully across stage during the upbeat songs and really know how to play to the audience and emote.
There is a particularly funny song about a psychopathic prom queen that stands out, as well as the infectious song, “Blink and You’ll Miss It.” Or is it “Think and You’ll Miss it?” I wish the songs had been listed in the program because many were very catchy. I’m curious to know their titles so I can search for them online; some of the melodies were very unusual and deserve a second listen.
Brandon Fullenkamp’s music direction is stellar and the classical sensibilities of the musicians really make this production a treat. The band features Fullenkamp on piano, a violin (Daniel Rivas), viola (Rick Peralta), cello (Katie Chambers), guitar (Chip Carvell), bass (Cyndy Elliott) and Kevin Uleck on drums.
The show is a feel-good affair, filled with both hilarity and touching moments, with good attention to musical arrangement. Go see this production if you are a show tunes nerd; you will not regret it!
35MM: A Musical Exhibition . Composer: Ryan Scott Oliver. Playwright: Ryan Scott Oliver. Director: Richard Farella and Jimmy Edwards. Featuring: Cyndy Elliot, Katie Chambers, Kevin Uleck, Daniel Rivas and Chip Carvell. Music Director: Brandon Fullenkamp and The 35MM Band. Music Arrangements: Jeremy Yaddaw, Matt Hinkley. Lighting Design: Ryan Desmond. Sound Design: Katie Facemire. Featuring: Evie Korovesis, Karen Kelleher, Pat Burns, Tim Carroll and Christian Thorsen. Reviewed by K. McDermott.