ZELDA: AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY
Oct 3 – 28
Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage
Asheville, North Carolina is entranced with its connection with the lives of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda. The American author spent two summers (1935 and 1936) at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn, in hopes that the mountain air would cure his tuberculosis. During the second summer he transferred Zelda, who was battling mental illness, to Highland Hospital (formerly Dr. Carroll’s Sanatorium) in Montford, where she eventually perished in a fire in1948.
So it is no surprise that Flat Rock Playhouse teamed with veteran Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn (For The Glory, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Wonderland) and lyricist Jack Murphy to present the new Broadway musical Zelda: An American Love Story. Loosely based on American novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald (“This Side of Paradise,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Tender Is the Night”) and his love affair with his wife, Zelda.
The story (by Jack Murphy and Vincent Marini) begins at the July 4 dance in 1917, when the not quite 18 and beautiful Zelda (Lauren Kennedy) meets the handsome, twenty-one year-old aspiring author (Jarrod Emick). As the show progresses and their lives, pitching and swaying with Scott’s meteoric success and the couple’s unbridled excesses, begin to unravel, the legacy of their passionate love lives on.
Directed by Flat Rock Playhouse Artistic Director, Marini, Zelda is perhaps the most technically complex show the venue has ever put on. The use of video in the background and a plethora moving set pieces is almost too Broadway for the small theatre space. It works as the dizzying effect of being as drunk as Scott often is. Another scene where it is very effective is where the combustion of a chorus of tap dancers illustrates the author’s growing inspiration as he madly types another one of his masterpieces.
The lively musical arrangements by Ron Melrose of Jersey Boys Fame and the Book and Lyrics by Jack Murphy coupled with the original choreography by Tony Award Winner Andy Blankenbuehler along with Jennifer Jancuska and Stephanie Klemons, keeps the night at an entertainingly high level of emotion. The singing is a little uneven, however. Although Emick can really belt out and hold his final notes, his voice can sometimes be a bit nasal and hard to understand during the body of the song. Kennedy on the other hand has a sweet melodic singing style but looks as though she is trying to hard to belt it out at the end of some of her numbers.
All in all, if you love music from the Jazz Age, this is one show you will not want to miss.
The Playhouse will host a special Audio Described matinee performance of the show for the sight-impaired patrons on Saturday, October 27.
Tickets can be purchased, by calling the Playhouse box office at 828-693-0731, toll-free at 866-732-8008 or online at www.flatrockplayhouse.org. Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage is located at 2661 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock, NC.