Adam Kraar’s "New World Rhapsody" is a love song to the promise of hope and the image of variety held out by the United States. I won’t say that I was ready to sing along on the chorus of "This Land is Your Land" that ends the show. However, the perspective and the journey was a rich one with some interesting ups and downs. The production flowed well in the hands of guest director Heather Rafferty.
Jerry McClure played a young American who’s lived most of his life in India. Although his character seeks to be practical, he’s an innocent if eloquent dreamer. The neophyte tries to realize his dreams in high and low places. He seeks employment at a Coney Island Hot Dog place and is counseled by skillful multi character player Winston Fiore, that he isn’t really a hot-dog man, perhaps his future lies in donuts. Like Fiore, Emily Radke, played a variety of parts in the story. She appeared as a waitress, an expectant mother, an old landlady, and -even– as the Statue of Liberty. McClure’s character tries to engage the world of art and gain a gallery show for his girl friend, played by Nicole Bruce, and ends up with a success for her that relegates him to checking coats at the opening.
In between in "New World Rhapsody," he seeks to encourage his mother, played with a nicely turned nervousness by Carol Enoch, to finish some stories and leave the confines of a mental institution. He also works to understand and honor his distracted father, Phil Kasper, and even to respect and like the father’s fiancee, played with warmth and thoughtfulness by Caitlin Burke. There’s some question about his own identity and dreams, but no question that McClure’s likeable young man is hard at work in futile attempts to help all those around him.
At Saturday night’s performance the drama flowed, but all the laugh lines weren’t quite where they were supposed to be. And though McClure was effective as an innocent but there wasn’t much modulation between his simplicity and his full out yelling. Still the show will "play in" and it already does a commendable job of exploring a special vision of our country that has some familiarity and some surprises to it.
Adam Kraar’s "New World Rhapsody" at the Bloomington Playwrights Project plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at eight and Sunday at two through April fourteenth.