Caravanning to the stars and beyond—to a planet of flowers somewhere at the edge of the universe—is a nice coda to a long week. Even if it is a journey designed for kids. Music, after all, is a magic meant for everyone, which is what Night Train 57: A Sensory-Friendly Folk Opera is all about.
Dan Zanes, Claudia Eliaza, and Yuriana Sobrino are neighbors who convene early one evening at the local laundry line, hanging their socks out to dry and, perhaps, do a little jamming. But, this evening is special: it’s a full moon night and the trio has stumbled upon some mysterious, mystical objects—a railroad lantern, a leather book, and a map. Turns out, it’s a blueprint for getting to the stars via a music-powered train. And, these performers have music—and charm—in spades.
Yuriana, a percussionist who can turn any object into a drum, is the goofy one. Claudia, a powerful vocalist who can also slide a trombone and tame a Theremin, is the de facto group leader. And Dan is the guitar strumming skeptic, naysayer, and unintentionally funny man. Saying lines of shock and awe with the unhurried, mellow tone of an aging, but easy-going rocker, which is what he is (Zanes was the lead singer of the 1980s band The Del Fuegos and has become an award-winning family music aficionado).
Night Train 57
closes October 8, 2017
Details and tickets
“Wow, that was a wild flower,” he says at one point, a little deadpan, a little startled, but hardly surprised, to the amusement of many adults. He gives the show that little bit of droll funny needed to keep parents just as entertained as the kids, who become an intricate part of the show—dancing, clapping, and singing along at multiple junctures as Claudia conducts them from the stage.
The use of many, many instruments (flute, Melodica, ukulele, and harmonica alongside all those others) serves as entry points to learning, both about music itself and how to be good citizens unafraid to dream. The numbers are melodic and overwhelmingly positive with simple lyrics that paint gorgeous imagery, mirrored in luscious (and slightly psychedelic—just like a talking space flower and the ethereal twang of the Theremin) projections that take on dimension as they float across the screen and hanging laundry sheets.
The songs—often folky with a rock or soul sensibility—are, mostly, pretty short but they come at you fast, nearly one after the other. “Hats” is just that: a goofy song about headwear. “Shine One” is just as uplifting as it sounds. But “A Seat for One and All” offers the deepest lesson, one that many adults need to be reminded of occasionally as well.
Yet, what goes up must come down. Fortunately, “music takes us where we want to go and back to where we came from,” so it is an easy feat for the newly anointed star man and star ladies to sojourn back to planet Earth, ending a lovely, and slightly trippy, performance piece that adults and kids alike will find delightful.
Night Train 57 is good, pure fun and truly a sensory experience.
Night Train 57 . Directed by Brian MacDevitt. Featuring Dan Zanes, Claudia Eliaza, and Yuriana Sobrino. Production: Jessica Cancino, Scenic Designer; Jane Chan, Lighting Designer; Marci Rodgers, Costume Designer; Rob Siler, Projections Designer; Doug Cooney, Dramaturg; Julia Zanes, Puppet Creator and Artwork; Olivia Brann, Puppeteer; and Kenya Anderson, Flower Voice. Stage Managed by Donna Reinhold. Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.