I have had the pleasure of seeing Starbuck Theatre Company perform their previous two productions, I Love You Because and The Guide to Being Single. Not only is this small theatre company quickly finding it’s feet, it has entered the scene with a bang, accompanied by a mirage of talented cast and crew. Their most recent challenge is Next Thing You Know, written by Ryan Cunningham with music by Joshua Salzman.
I have been particularly impressed with the choice of venues the company has chosen to perform in, using small individual and completely different theatres for each show, bringing accessible theatre to the Midlands. This time it was the small and hidden Worcester Arts Workshop.
The show follows four New Yorkers as they laugh, love and drink their way through the big questions that face all young dreamers who wake up in the city that never sleeps. Does marrying a really nice guy mean you’re settling down or just settling? Does taking a nine-to-five equal giving up or growing up? Does a decade in the city break you down or break you in? A truly clever and well directed musical comedy with a few familiar faces and a couple of new ones.
Small technical issues that had been apparent in previous projects seem to have been ironed out in this intimate setting, proving for a smoother and more fluid performance.
Sarah Pavlovs, director and leading protagonist Waverley, returns for a flawless rendition of a time in all of our lives as we reach the end of our twenties and continue to grasp on to our youth and grapple with our future. Supported by her best friend Lisa (played by Dru Stephenson), they slowly come to the realisation that their childhood dreams may not come to pass, as love interests come and go, and the ideals they had once pursued become less attainable with age fighting against them.
Waverley’s main love interest, Darren (played by returning Jack Scott-Walker) tries to come to terms with his internal battle between his long-time ambition of becoming a writer and his undying love for Waverley. Scott-Walker brings so much warmth and humour to the role, that you can’t help but feel for him as he explores his own capability to be the man that he thinks Waverley wants him to be.
Alex McDonald-Smith plays long-time womaniser Luke, whose flirting and omelette-cooking abilities leave us all in awe. By breaking the fourth-wall to show off his talents to work colleague and recently single Darren, Luke made every lady in the front row blush and fall in love with him.
Special mention must go to the newest addition to the company Dru Stephenson, who plays aforementioned Lisa, ex-girlfriend of Darren - turned lesbian, whose story is the hardest hitting. Having waited till her mid-twenties before coming out, Lisa is holding out for the woman of her dreams before she can move on to a better life. Her struggle with this and her close proximity to the relationship between her ex-boyfriend Darren and best friend Waverley gives for a hilarious performance. Stephenson is extremely talented with amazing vocals and strong acting, she is definitely one to watch from Sarah Pavlovs’ protégés.
Under the musical direction of Chris Corcoran, Next Thing You Know was accompanied by the beautiful ensemble of Liz Toney on the Violin and Dan Bradley on the Cello, giving the whole performance rich and deep sounds that matched perfectly with the incredible voices on stage.
In summary, I must admit that this project has blown me out of the water and I would not be surprised if it goes on to become the most successful of the three in their repertoire. Everything came together to create their best performance to date, and if you manage to catch the piece in the future, I would thoroughly recommend it! Bravo Starbuck Theatre Company!
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