nytheatre.com review by Seth Bisen-Hersh
Marginal Saints, written by Lee Gundersheimer with music by
Luther Blackwell, Jr., is primarily about a typical girl,
Christina, who accidentally gets knocked up by her jerk
boyfriend, Carlos, who also happens to be a gang leader. The
show is based on true stories about “blight, violence and
prevalence of teen pregnancy.” The other main characters in the
show include Christina’s best friend, the comic Consuela; BJ, a
homeless guy whom she befriends and who then becomes an angel
after he is brutally killed by the aforementioned gang after he
upsets Carlos; and a talking/ singing statue of St. Agnes. The
basic plot is that Christina gets pregnant, everyone finds out,
and then she eventually deals with it.
August 15, 2002
Unfortunately, even though it’s supposed to be based on reality and true stories, Marginal Saints feels far-fetched and unrealistic. The plot attempts to put as many bad things about teenage life into every scene. The dialogue, which feels like it was written for an after-school special, painfully makes one cringe most of the time. The lyrics, which are too simple and ordinary, hardly ever rhyme (my personal pet peeve). The music is sometimes catchy, but the lyrics are crammed into the melody line way too often. To add to these problems, the sound system is completely out of whack, there is way too much time between scenes, and many of the actors seem inexperienced and/or at sea.
There are some good things about the show, however. The monologues are really good and may well be the only things really taken from the original interviews. The dance numbers choreographed by Michael Belmonte are phenomenal but sadly sparse. Marsola Esaw as BJ, the homeless angel, is very good even if the material he is given is not. He sings well, too—his song is by far the highlight of the show (and the only bearable solo number). Celia Ortiz is very funny as Consuela. Waleska Morales acts the part of Christina very well. Finally, the program with lush illustrations by Ricky Mestre is wonderfully crafted.
Overall, the show feels like it is trying very hard to be taken seriously. But one can hardly take a show seriously when there’s a friendly homeless guy who dies and becomes an angel.