nytheatre.com review by Judith Jarosz
August 16, 2008
Green Eyes is billed as an original contemporary musical, with music and lyrics by Brian Mazzaferri, and a book by Mazzaferri, Jessica Redish (who also directs the piece), and Lizzie Leopold (who also serves as choreographer). The press material states it is a contemporary love story that tracks the rise and fall of a relationship over time through folk-rock music and modern dance, utilizing two singers, two dancers, and a five-piece orchestra to fuse both song and dance, and shed new light on the traditional "boy meets girl" story.
But there is no new light shed that I can decipher. The couple (sung by Nick Blaemire and Celina Carvajal, and danced by Ryan Watkinson and Melissa Bloch) meet, fall for each other, become euphoric, then analytical, then vulnerable, then fear their vulnerability, creating suspicion and anger. This is followed by remorse, then reconnection, disappointment, and ultimately, separation. Sounds to me like a lot of couples since the beginning of time.
Nick Blaemire, looking like a disheveled young Dustin Hoffman, has trouble with the pop vocal style. He may just have been tired, but I worry that his cords will go the way of many singers trying to push their throats for this style of singing and ending up with shattered cords. Celina Carvajal has a delicate beauty, like a petite Peter Pan, and her vocals pack a punch. But although she fares better with the style, there was some jarring unnecessary scream belting at times.
The dancers are both wonderfully trained and attractive, and Bloch in particular acts with her whole being, but it was very distracting at times when all four performers were active and you were forced to select who to focus on. And when the dancers start to peel their clothes off, the poor singers just don't stand a chance! It is telling that one of the highlights of the piece is when the couple consummates their love, and the moment has singers sitting silent while the two dancers perform a passionate and tender modern pas-de-deux to a haunting cello solo, beautifully executed by cellist Seth Woods.
The songs by Mazzaferri are sometimes very catchy, but a lot of them sound alike. I enjoyed the song "Words That Rhyme" where the two singers throw rhyming words at each other with double meanings. Music director Matt Hinkley also plays guitar and does a very nice job of leading the talented five-piece band onstage while not upstaging the action. All of the musicians, Hinkley, Alexander Rea on drums, Mike Pettry on piano, Seth Woods on cello, and Danny Stone on bass do some great work.
Scenic and costume designer Maiko Chili gives us four simple modern chairs and modern street dress, while lighting designer Ji-Young Chang makes simple choices that suit the piece. There is a lot of talent connected with this piece; it just needs some rethinking.