‘Troubadour’ at the Alliance Theatre
Janece Shaffer’s new play “Troubadour,” which takes place in 1951, is not just a tale about a retiring Nashville country singing star, Billy Mason (Radney Foster), and his strained relationship with his son, Joe (Zach Seabaugh), it’s also a tale that’s been around Hollywood and Broadway since the ’30s and ’40s: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, you know the ending. I love those types of musicals.
Back to old Hollywood. Just like those old musicals that proclaim, “Hey, let’s put on a show!,” Nashville is going to host a country singing contest and radio disc jockeys have announced that Joe will be competing. Joe has played as a backup singer and guitarist with his father’s band for years but has never performed as a solo artist. Away from the radio microphones, Billy tells Joe he’s not good enough to be a front man.
Inez (Sylvie Davidson), a shy newbie in town from Tuscaloosa, Ala., wants to perform and meet Joe. She’s been thrown out of her apartment for not being able to pay the rent and meets Izzy (Andrew Benator), a Jewish Russian tailor who creates sparkly Elvis-style costumes and is vying to become the next manager of the next greatest country music star.
At intermission, I am raving about this show to my companion, who is not so taken with it and can’t get past the country music, which she doesn’t like. In general, I don’t like country music either, but this music is great–it’s country, folk and music from the heart. Aside from a few mishaps with some accents being off here and there, the acting and singing are all great. I’m psyched that this show is going to be as great or better than Shaffer’s last play, “The Geller Girls.”
But in the second half, I feel let down. The action slows from the fast pace in the first half to a point that sends me to a quick nap. There are two places in the second act that I know exactly what is going to happen next. I write down my predictions, and low and behold, they both occur.
I still love the old premise that have made so many movies and musicals a hit: boy meets girl . . . Still, I want to be surprised and want fast action that keeps moving forward. Nonetheless, with the wonderful musical performances and fine acting by everyone in this cast, this is a show worth seeing.
Book by Janece Shaffer, music and lyrics by Kristian Bush (Grammy Award-winning recording artist from the band Sugarland), directed by Susan Booth, “Troubadour” runs through Feb. 12 at the Alliance Theatre.
Rob Lawhon . . . . . . . . .Pooch/Jimmie Lollie
Bethany Anne Lind . . . . . . .Miss Kitty