Tomorrow Morning Gets a Smart and Well-Sung Production at Western Reserve Playhouse

Western Reserve Playhouse

Community Theatre

Review by: Kevin Kelly

Not many people may know this hidden treasure of a show by Laurence Mark Wythe, but it has had quite a ride so far. The musical was first seen in London in 2006, then traveled to Chicago in 2009 and won a Jeff Award for Best New Musical, and landed off-broadway in 2011, earning a nomination for Outer Critics Award for Best Musical. Tomorrow morning is the brainchild of British Wythe who provided the Book, Music, and Lyrics. So bringing this musical to the Western Reserve Playhouse was a well-played selection. The musical is not often produced, hence the Regional Premiere, but interestingly enough, Michael Snider, who plays Jack in the production, was lucky enough to be in a production in Indiana a couple of years past, so luckily it is our region’s turn to bring it to life. Director Ian Atwood has the privilege to helm this production, along with musical director Bryan Bird, both accomplished performers.

The story concerns the relationships of two couples separated by a decade of life. The older couple, Jack (Michael Snider) and Catherine (Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoksi), are getting divorced. They navigate through a discretion that rips their trust apart and presents some very tough questions that a lot of couples have to face sometimes. How do you apologize? How do you forgive?

The Younger Couple, John (Tony Heffner) and Kat (Madeline Krucek), are getting ready to be married. Before the big day, the stick turns blue, and reality becomes reality. Growing up sucks, but higher responsibility is not always a welcome gift. Three is company. and stressful. They have their own questions. Are we ready for this? Do we love each other enough to get through this?

As we meet the couples, each has their conflicts established, and we watch as both couples work at it, and work through it. And the importance of the bond with a child provides the answers to the most difficult questions.

Director Ian Atwood has put together a strong cast of endearing actors and vocalists. As the older couple, Sniadak-Yanmokoski and Snider are given the emotional heavier roles to play. They both are grounded in character and certainly create a depth of despair and regret that each has to accept. It will be enjoyable to continue to find that line between angst and introspection. Both have beautiful voices and connect well with the storyline, even when it calls to be disconnected. As the younger couple, Krucek and Heffner get to play around a little more, and they work beautifully together. They both pack formidable voices and quite frankly, are charming as hell. They handle the touching moments well, especially after their playful moments which are really enjoyable. You just want to give them a savings bond and say “You’ll be alright!” Don’t get me started on “The Pool Boy” number. Heffner has more humps than a herd of camels. The good thing is you care about these two couples, and that is an important quality to crystalize.

Also, each actor has poignant musicals moments. My favorites for each are Catherine’s Self Portrait, Jack’s Autobiography, John’s Every Day, and Kat’s Girl in the Mirror. Each song owned as if a part of their DNA. Beautiful, touching, and sometimes funny adept choices of performing gold.

Atwood keeps the pace flowing, and does a nice job of working the two sides of the stage in tandem to keep the stories separate, but also connected. At times, there does seem to be a repetitive staging group sing position, and some songs are blocked with upstaging with distracts a bit. But the good thing is this is original work, and Atwood is bringing this show to life with his own themes and execution, and that is to be applauded. Bryan Bird does a wonderful job playing the score, although I wish the piano had more of a sharpness out in the house in the sound system. But Bird accents and joins the characters in performance seamlessly.

Stage Manager Whitney Miller called a great show. Atwood designed a solid set to highlight both families and lives. Luke Scattergood did another solid costume design. The Lighting Design seemed a bit weak though. Something about the blend of color and stark white, seemed muddles at times, and to be honest, I don’t know if that is unfocused, a choice, or a lack of instruments. The Sound design was clear, however, Snider’s mic was off for a large part of act one. But, the balance in the house was good.

Western Reserve Playhouse is on a mission. This season was expanded to include an enhanced offering of plays and musicals to push the theatre to grow and assimilate itself to a variety of audience members. Artistic Director Sniadak-Yamokoksi and Co-Artistic Director Brian Westerly are doing a wonderful job of expanding the vision and the offerings to the theatre community, and as a result, the audience members. Bringing in talent to direct, such as Atwood, and performers with enticing production choices is definitely a plan for success.

CSA

Cleveland Stage Alliance