By Maryvonne Wilkinson
If you are a fan of Charles Dickens’ novels, then A Tale of Two Cities, The Musical at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville, UT is a must see. It is not for the faint of heart, as it will delve deep into your soul and take you through a roller coaster of emotions, leaving you raw yet enlightened. Director Scott Montgomery did an excellent job highlighting the major themes of the story: of personal sacrifice, resurrection, and rebirth.
The story begins with the rebirth of Dr. Manette (Danny Inkley) as he is freed from the Bastille and reunited with his daughter Lucie (Megan Yates). In the course of their travels back to London they meet Charles Darnay (Adam Millington), who is accused and then acquitted of treason charges with the help of Sydney Carton (Preston Yates). Throughout the course of the story, we see two coinciding story lines that eventually merge with the murder of Darnay’s uncle, the Marquise St. Evermonde (Matt Stokes). Dr. Manette’s former assistant Ernest Defarge (Lucas Charon) and wife Madame Therese Defarge (Holly Jo Cushing) led an uprising against the aristocracy and imprisoned Darnay. The ending of the show, even if you are familiar with the book, I will leave for you to watch onstage during CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s A Tale of Two Cities.
I attended the musical with my preteen daughter, who was captivated by the story and described it best as being “emotional,” which aptly describes the experience we had. At times, we were laughing, usually because of a quip fantastically delivered by P. Yates. Other times, tears welled up in our eyes, brought on by the stunning performance of M. Yates as she welcomes her father home, or sings “Without a Word.” We could feel the anger and resentment of Madame Defarge’s character through Cushing’s performance, which carried with it all the pain of the loss of her family and her damaged childhood.
Jill Santoriello started writing the screenplay, music, and lyrics for this musical in the 1980s. It was performed a few times, mainly for preview purposes, before opening up on Broadway in 2008. Santoriello did an amazing job with the lyrics and choice of vocals in the songs. I’ve always enjoyed a strong male vocal performance, and the vocals in “The Way it Ought to Be” vibrate through the floor with the deep bass and baritones of the men and Charon’s voice. When Cushing and the women come in, their voices blend so remarkably that not one voice can be overheard above all the others.
Of the actors themselves, they did a stupendous job of taking on and becoming that character. Inkley’s performance of a man constantly on the edge of sanity is so remarkable, I forgot that he was anything but Dr. Manette. P. Yates’ portrayal of a drunk is so on point that one would think the glasses actually had some drink in them, and yet, as the play progresses, Yates transforms, along with his character, melding them into one to portray the rebirth of a man from a self-indulgent, miserable person, to one who realizes his capacity for love and how deep that love is.
Scott Van Dyke did an excellent job on the set design, creating pieces with multiple functionality that could fit together or stand on their own, depending on the need. The cast does an excellent job transitioning between scenes, adjusting placement of set and prop pieces, and interacting with each other. Despite a few mic issues, I wouldn’t have known that this was the actors’ opening night. They just keep on going, and their voices are strong enough that they still carry, despite the lack of volume provided by the mic.
CenterPoint Legacy Theatre provides plenty of leg-room, even for those blessed with extra height, which allows the audience to enjoy the show without worrying about legs cramping. The location was easy to get to, even on a rainy night, and the sound was done well enough that we could still hear every line despite the pounding rain on the roof. As a word of caution to those that don’t do well with sudden loud noises, there is a part in “Until Tomorrow” at the end of Act One where we hear a gunshot. It’s loud enough that my daughter screamed and several people jumped out of their seats.
Overall, A Tale of Two Cities is a fantastic production. CenterPoint delivered an emotional, heartwarming and inspirational musical that kept us at the edge of our seat and a handkerchief in our hands. This is a must see with stunning costumes (Tammis Boam), innovative sets, and magnificent voices. If you see it with your children, it is sure to lead to some interesting conversations on the ride home, as it did for us.
CenterPoint Legacy Theatre presents A Tale of Two Cities, the Musical by Jill Santoriello CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, 525 North 400 West, Centerville, UT 84014 September 29-October 28, M-S 7:30 PM, Sat Matinee, 2:30 PM, ASL Matinee, Sat Oct 7 2:30 PM Tickets: $12-$25.50 801-298-1302 CenterPoint Theatre Facebook Page