BETTER THAN THIS
Photo Credit: Katie Powell Photography
Fabulist Theatre, Havana Theatre, until March 9th
My Two Cents
Revues are tricky! They remove songs from their storyline and context of a stage full of costumes, set, chorus, and pit band. This minimalist style demands a great deal of the performer. Thank goodness Fabulist Theatre has such strong talent onstage for Better Than This, because they take on nearly a century of musical theatre history and impress.
The revue is focussed around the evolution of women’s roles in musicals, starting with a cleaning song from the 20s and ending with a variety of interesting, complex stories and characters written in the last few years. A wide range of styles and topics is covered along the way, from the Bechdel test and intersectionality to salutes for talented female writers highlighted along the way.
The stars of the show each put their own stamp on their songs, and showed impressive range in their acting and vocal ability. Kyrst Hogan seemed to be very comfortable with traditional standards, but also impressed with a number from contemporary Next to Normal. Brianna Clark was poised and polished during ingenue numbers, and later devastated with an In The Heights song. Dionne Phillips had tender sweet moments and a confident belt as well. Cathy Wilmot embraced the absurd and sincere moments of her numbers, while demonstrating an incredible vocal range. Certainly not least, Adam Darts made each song possible from the piano with incredibly fast transitions and strong style.
The entire production struck a charming balance between cheekiness and a sense of responsibility to do better and keep track of the problems that exist. I will never look at another mother role or sex worker role quite the same way. If you’re already a bit of a musical theatre nerd, it will increase your enjoyment of the show, but I often found I loved unfamiliar songs just as much as the ones I already knew. Go celebrate International Women’s Day with the talented cast of Better Than This!