Florida Festival of New Musicals (Act Two)
Propaganda! and Section 60
Winter Park Playhouse
Winter Park, FL
On to “Propaganda! The Musical” Book, Music & Lyrics by Taylor Ferrera & Matt Webster. This is tonight’s current events piece. A secret government agency works to distracting the American people from presidential gaffes with celebrity gossip and feel good pictures of kittens saved from rain storms. It’s a busy, busy place. For many years “Grandfather” leads this group with the aid of Agent X but now he has replaced himself with his grandson “Rookie.” This raises the hackles of conniving Agent X and she sets off on a campaign of intrigue and espionage. This sounds like it could be “West Wing” but really reads more like “Men in Black.” We hear some crazy songs including “The Artistic Vison of this Bureau” and Agent X’s “Evil.” There’s promise in these pages and while the script relies on current events, but the events depicted here aren’t all that different in this administration than in any previous one. And here again we must settle for a quick outline of the second act leaving us to wonder: “Who will end up in charge?”
Now we come to the darkest, most difficult experiment in this laboratory: “Section 60: The New Ghosts of Arlington.” Music and lyrics by Waldo John Wittenmye, Lyrics and Book by Todd Olson The war drags on, and everyday fresh corpses are taken to Arlington Cemetery for internment. They all carry ghosts, ghosts of their trauma and ghosts of their past home life and ghosts of the horror of being newly dead. Private L. E. Nott arrives and goes through the three-part post-life grieving process: First your body dies, then you are hopefully interred, and at some point, no one speaks your name any more. Nott is through the first two, but the last may take…well, a long time. There’s some bold political stuff here along with language we are not used to in this Temple of Winter Park rectitude: Shawn Kilgore belts “F*ck the President!” to no small applause. Later we hear a calmer “My Quiet War” as well as the stories of so many vets: children and spouses and loving parents left behind, all for that vague and difficult to define quality of “Patriotism.” There’s some real heart in this story, and since we haven’t NOT been at war for decades, it seems to promise a long shelf life once its complete.
Click here for more comments on Florida Festival of New Musicals.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse and the Florida Festival of New Musicals, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org