YANK! brings heart, harsh reality, and butts to the RTP stage with outstanding results
Wow! Butts, butts, butts! If there’s no other reason to haul your lazy body off the couch to go see some theatre, there’s always naked man butts.
There is never a dull moment in at Richmond Triangle Players’ exciting production of David and Joseph Zellnik’s musical YANK! It has a phenomenal cast, crew and directing team and proved to me it has WAY more than just a few naked butts holding up its reputation.
I wasn’t sure what to expect before the play began, but I assumed there would be lots of energy and pizazz – and I guess I half expected naked sailors to come out doing a Can-Can… The truth is my expectations were basically met, but – additionally – I was completely blindsided by the center of the story: a heartfelt tale of deep, forbidden love between two soldiers and the journey of their squad as they all learn what it means to accept not only each other, but also themselves.
What first struck me when the play started was the clear communication between the lighting, set and costume design.
The dark stage illuminated a spotlight on Mitch (Ed Hughes) and the projector in the background showed a light blue plane which turned bluer and bluer as Mitch finishes his speech about his fascination for an old diary he found. As the blue increased, Stu’s (Andrew Colletti) silhouette is revealed and I could feel in that moment – while the music mixed with the images on stage – this play was going to be chalked full of intense meaning and it had a quintessential platform to express that meaning to its fullest.
The stage was composed in such a fitting way for this play because the space was so versatile, similar to the narrative from the play. One minute you have Artie (Alex Burkart), a photographer for YANK! magazine who hired Mitch, perform an exciting song and dance about how you won’t get caught being gay if you’re sneaky because there’s lots of gay people in the military who have kept it a secret… The next minute you see Mitch being tortured in a jail cell, being forced to give up the names of his fellow gay soldiers.
I really do have to take my hat off for the director, James Stover, and the choreographer, Rebecca Frost Mayer, who really did a fantastic job keeping the life on stage exciting! Their direction was clean and worked throughout the play. Even though there was some flair in the movement, I never felt like it was fluffed up just to keep the audience’s attention.
What attracts me to the direction and movement aspects of a play most is if I can see that there are strong choices being made, and this play had a number of powerful moments that added layers to the plays meaning.
I’ve barely had a moment to speak about the actors, but I would like to say that on top of each individual delivering unforgettable performances, they also showed true connection with their captivating ensemble. I could go down the list and touch on aspects of each performance, but there was nothing more impressive than seeing the trust they allowed to one another to take life on stage.
My favorite thing to take away from this play was a sense of comradery and brotherhood. I felt so much acceptance among each of the characters, and an overwhelming trust which showed through the fact that each character would put their life on the line for any other.
One of my favorite songs in this performance was Your Squad is Your Squad, because it helped me understand that your squad is your squad is your squad is your squad IS YOUR SQUAD!
If you’re in the mood for a belly full of laughs and a touching story, jam-packed with song, dance and downright fun, then I highly suggest you go see this play. If you don’t do it for me, do it for the butts!
YANK! runs until June 13th at the Richmond Triangle Player’s Theatre, you can pick up tickets here.
Books and Lyrics by David Zellnik
Music by Joseph Zellnik
Have a few cups of spiked eggnog and get over to RTP.November 29, 2016
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