Saturday, August 20, 2011

Winner Take All ( A Rock Opera) : A NYC Fringe Winner

Winner Take All ( A Rock Opera) is the story of two (possibly teen) lovers -- Catie (Anna Eilinsfeld ) and Ricky (Jared Zirilli), who get entangled in the cosmic musical battle between the bands of heaven and hell.

Trent Armand Kendall is the Narrator - someone between God and a Sunday preacher - who keeps the story moving. Jacquelyn Graham is Sally, the archangel who encompasses all the glories of soul and jazz. Her two angels are Ivory (charming Darren Lorenzo) and Chardonnay (sassy Kyle Lamar Mitchell).

The Devil is star of course. Brian Charles Rooney can do things with his voice and his charm that are a match for his role. The two Devilettes: Zakiya Young as Scarlett and Kat Nejat as Beaujolais are, of course, irresistible.

Winner is in every sense an opera, not a musical. The songs move the story along with only the briefest dialogue between sets.

The characters might at first all seem stock from the everlasting character prop shop--but they are cleverly drawn from a variety of myths. The star crossed lovers (Romeo and Juliet anyone?) Those two Devilettes trying to get Ricky and then Catie to sign a contract (sounds like Faust?) Ricky with a guitar and having to go across a river to get Catie back. (Orpheus with lyre, going to Hades, to get Euridice?)

Without spelling it out quite that bluntly, the plots of some not-Rock operas are there, cleverly wrapped under a smooth coat of the infinite variety of genres of rock music.

From Catie’s poignant arias on love, to the Devil’s ranting showmanship, with the rhythm and blues, soul and jazz of Sally and her hip-hopping Angels, this is a whirl wind world musical tour.

Whether in trios or ensembles, the heaven and hell teams step up to the plate and bat 110 % each time.

Skip Brevis, the writer with Claudia Brevis, as well as Musical director and Keybooardist/Conductor is the major force behind the show.

While there were some moments when the words were not clear due to acoustics of the venue (45 Bleeker), the combo of classic stories with re-freshed rock compositions were a piece that could continue well beyond the New York International Fringe Festival.

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Picture: Brian Charles Rooney with Zakiya Young and Kat Nejat (photo credit: Russell Rowland)