Nightfall on Miranga Island
nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
August 18, 2012
An adorable romp through the pirate genre, Nightfall on Miranga Island puts a lot of talent on display. While the piece as a whole is more solidly mapped out than actually arriving anywhere, it is gratifying to have so much to watch and enjoy nonetheless.
The island is introduced through an engaging motif of various motley characters trying to stake their musical claim before being ardently moved along by a dutiful copper (Jon Bander), and his continued adamancy and victories are a hoot. Then the character is utterly dropped and the main story is underway. It is a bit of a shame as there are a few of these standalone characters who could perhaps be expanded to simplify the storyline.
There is a handsome hero in search of a long-lost sister, a relentlessly faithful sidekick, a wandering king with a mildly sadistic sense of humor in search of a wife, multiple mistaken identities, and a violin-wielding lady pirate to support a lively succession of twists. It echoes Pirates of Penzance as much as Pirates of the Caribbean while developing its own tone and story. If not all the twists are needed or help further the plot cleanly, they are almost all enormous fun.
But would that the piece did fully develop itself! In its current form, Nightfall on Miranga Island may have a beginning, middle and end, but it still does not quite feel complete. The narrative concludes, but not one character is changed by the course of events, leaving the piece at a sketch comedy level—full of wit and action but to what point? The hero and sidekick have a wonderfully established relationship that could provide a focal point but is left on the one level. The romantic relationship does not end in marriage and while a disappointment, does not affect either character deeply enough to change them.
So many contemporary musicals and plays parody themselves to avoid being about something with all the vehemence of an embarrassed adolescent. Nightfall on Miranga Island has heaps of talent and could be even so much more than it is, if it would step up and be about something. Yet it is a worthy piece with solid lead actors including Travis Nilan, Jonathan Rouefaeal, and Molly Moran; plus stellar supporting work by Claire Nuemann and Nick Kanellis and a solid ensemble.