Marriage, divorce played for humor and emotion in ‘Tomorrow Morning’

Tomorrow Morning is an intimate chamber musical that allows four actors to dig into the marital trajectory of two couples, illuminating the struggles, triumphs and foibles in their relationships.

This romantic comedy with a serious side, created by British composer Laurence Mark Wythe, is making its Ohio premiere at Western Reserve Playhouse in Bath. The production is a passion project of artistic director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski that provides both an emotionally charged exploration of marriage and a healthy dose of humor.

Director Ian Atwood has cast a winsome quartet of performers who bring both charisma and talent to the stage. First and foremost, the singing is excellent, no small feat with Wythe’s challenging, jam-packed score.

Musical director Bryan Bird accompanies these vibrant singers on a backstage keyboard in a musically seamless production whose every lyric is crystal clear, thanks to great sound balance in this barn theater. Director Atwood has designed a set that’s divided into symmetrical apartments, with an exterior hall in the middle.

At stage right you have Kat and John, who are in their 20s, played by the luminescent Madeline Krucek and the likable Tony Heffner. Their chemistry feels spontaneous, fun-loving and real as they anticipate their wedding the next morning.

Krucek’s Kat is the more practical one who divulges a wistful desire for love and stability in When I’m a Bride. Heffner brings John’s jokester persona to life but also reveals his stereotypical anxieties about settling down with one woman for the rest of his life, in the tune The Dream.

Despite that, Heffner creates a high point in the show when John reveals his deep love for Kat in the tender ballad Lonely Child.

Playing the more mature couple are Sniadak-Yamokoski as Catherine and Michael Snider as Jack, who are anticipating their divorce the next morning. Sniadak-Yamokoski creates a sophisticated woman who has been betrayed by the man she loves the most. She’s heartbroken but the actress never makes her shrewish, even during her recriminations against Jack in The Reasons Behind Our Impending Divorce.

Philandering Jack is the character we get to know the least. But Snider gives us insight into his longtime feelings of inadequacy in Autobiography.

Audience members quickly learn that these pairs of lovers are actually the same couple, separated by 10 years. Director Atwood does a great job keeping their parallel stories separate on stage yet their emotional content is well integrated.

Seemingly small gestures become big moments when the two couples finally interact, as when Catherine hands Kat her jacket before Kat goes to have a serious talk with her fiancé. At this moment, we see that the older couple is ruminating on their young selves.

And in some truly witty staging, as a solitary Jack sings The Game Show, young John sits next to him and provides biting commentary on the older man’s missteps, complete with a buzzer.

Many of Wythe’s lyrics are sparkling but some are cringe-worthy, including Jack’s snipe at Catherine: “I stayed around through thick and thin while you behave like Ho Chi Minh.”

Tomorrow Morning premiered in London in 2006, was revised for a 2008 run in Chicago that received largely positive reviews, and played Off-Broadway in 2011.

The musical, which contains adult themes including infidelity, is most appropriate for older teens or above. The sexual content is largely handled with a light touch, including in the Latin-flavored fantasy The Pool Guy.

Another musical number that’s nearly pure humor is The Secret Tango, in which each character divulges a dirty secret that helps illuminate their character.

The show, which clocks in at nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes with intermission, starts to feel a bit repetitive in its emotional content during the second act. But it’s all very well performed and audiences are guaranteed a payoff by seeing these couples through.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or http://www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.