Barely Even There
Barely Even There, follows Chris and Amy as they end their thirteen year marriage and their twelve year old daughter Grace has difficulty coming to terms with the separation. Written by and starring J.P. Chartier, along with Maude Thennon-Richard and Camille Simard-Langlois, the script lacks some originality, though the music is catchy and reasonably well done.
The music in general was basic, but well contrived and executed. I especially appreciated the live music done on stage by Brian Cook on the Piano, and though at times the singing of Chartier and Simard-Langlois could be quite pitchy, the cast has the right stage energy needed for a musical to keep the audience engaged in the songs and the lyrics. Though there weren’t any overly intricate harmonies, there were some lovely melodies, my favorite being the wedding duet. The acting was spotty, with Chartier tending to push in the fight scenes too much, though his charm and humor in the beginning of the romance is very realistic. It was sometimes difficult to understand Thennon-Richard in the songs because of her accent; she lacked the crisp diction needed to make certain words audible, though her voice is very lovely and she is a pretty solid actor in the role of Amy.
There were a few directional choices that boggled me, such as when Chartier kicks a rolling chair in a fight, then has to wheel that chair halfway across the stage in a blackout (squeaking wheel sounds included) to get it in position for the next scene. I was also not fond of the displaying of lyrics during the titular song, Barely Even There. As Simard-Langlois sings an emotional ballad about her father not noticing her, the lyrics to the song appear in script on the large white screen across the back of the stage. Reading lyrics, in my experience, pulls you out of the emotion of the performance. Though the choice may have been made to assure that people understood the lyrics, it ended up detracting from the moment rather than adding to the understanding of the song.
Barely Even there is a cute story, albeit expected. The fact that it is all original music is impressive in and of itself, and with more work-shopping and perhaps some more musical direction it could be a great success.
Presented by ArtBeat Theatre
Directed by J.P. Chartier and Scott Emery
Written by J.P. Chartier
Playing at Academic hall