Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
This is the Washington area premiere of Road Show, although an earlier incarnation of the show titled Bounce played the Kennedy Center in 2003. Most of the characters and some of the songs (or at least the tunes) are the same, but the show has been slimmed down to a cast of 11, a piano instead of a full orchestra, and one act instead of two.
The musical is a fictionalized biography of brothers Wilson and Addison Mizner, whose determination to succeed took them from the Klondike gold fields, through Wilson's high life in New York City and Addison's world travels, to Addison's unlikely triumph as an architect to the wealthy in Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Florida, in the 1920s. Sondheim and Weidman keep the surface tone light while revealing the darker side of the American dream, even quoting a melody from their earlier collaboration Assassins to make the point.
Wilson (Noah Racey) is the charming instigator of most of the brothers' schemes, but Addison (Josh Lamon) provides the heartnot that either of them is a model citizen. Racey's Wilson is fleet-footed and supremely confident even when he doesn't have reason to be, while Lamon conveys the quiet emotional upheaval of a man who wanders until he realizes that (as a lyric states) "the journey is the destination."
Addison and Wilson get conflicting messages from their parents: their father (Dan Manning) wants them to become exemplars of American greatness in the 20th century and their mother (Sherri L. Edelen) dotes on them while pressing them to achieve financial success. The ensemble does well in numerous roles, notably Bobby Smith as the siren calling the brothers to dig for gold and invest in Florida land. Pianist Jacob Kidder provides unfailing support.
Scott Davis' scenic design places a rough-hewn wooden thrust stage in the midst of seating on three sides, with a map painted on the back wall (lighted to show where in the world the brothers are at specific times) and a balcony above it. Joel Shier's lighting design and Ivania Stack's costumes bring to life locations and historic periods on the largely open acting space.