Eleven Charlotte-area high school students are competing in the new theater criticism category of the Blumey Awards, the Blumenthal Performing Arts’ annual musical theater awards program (read more about that here.) Each student writes three reviews; the following is one entry:
“The Apple Tree,’ which is divided into three one-act plays, started with the story of Adam and Eve and depicted a similar theme in two later times. Each act taught an important lesson to the audience: You might long for something, but once you get it, you could realize that it is not even what you want.
Megan Maglione and Tom Lanning jumped into their biblical roles with enthusiasm. They took the bare minimum for props (a plastic bucket, faux fire, and tan track suits) and used their stage presence to entice the crowd. Although some props refused to stay put throughout the show, the actors continued with ease and smoothly made up for unintended stage errors.
They did the best they could with what they had, but the scenes felt overly rehearsed. Memorization is a crucial ability to master, but I wish more emotion had been portrayed. I did, however, enjoy the appropriate humor and modern-day flair tied into the creation story. Maglione and Lanning bickered like couples today, suggesting that males and females have interacted in the same way since, literally, day one.
The second play, set in what appeared to be medieval times, began with Maglione playing a queen and Lanning a soldier. These two impressively managed to switch roles and stay in character quickly. Unfortunately, this segment did not have the same entertaining effect as the first. The overall moral was confusing; the singing was unclear, leaving me further perplexed as to what was going on; and Maglione’s dress even tore in the midst of the chaos. However, Maglione and Lanning performed a duet that was outstandingly harmonized.
Thankfully, the third play was able to redeem the overall production with comedy and a solid, clear story. Maglione was a chimney sweep turned superstar overnight. Throughout her short journey to fame and fortune, the character of Ella quickly learned it was better just to be herself. I am unsure if all of the humor was intentional, but it was a success. Though her voice seemed slightly shot by end of the play, Maglione finished up with spunk and high energy, leaving the crowd pleased. Lanning also ended the musical well, hitting every note and maintaining a steady voice in all three of his roles.