The IU Department of Theatre and Drama opens the new school year with “The Day Boy and the Night Girl.” It’s a brand new musical, part of Premiere Musicals: Developing Musical Theatre at Indiana University.
“The Day Boy and the Night Girl” is adapted from a story by nineteenth century clergyman George MacDonald. The original is a curious fairy tale that breaks most of the conventions. There is a witch, a heroic youth and an imprisoned maiden. But… the witch is not evil. She’s a brilliant powerful woman with a driven by search knowledge. Her curse is a wolf in her mind. There’s a hero, the Day Boy, raised without any fear in the light, but he’s terrified of the dark. There’s a maiden, the Night Girl, imprisoned in a dark cellar, but she saves herself and the hero as well.
The words and music for the new musical are by musical theatre veterans Katie Baldwin Eng and James Rubio. Although they’ve been working on “The Day Boy and the Night Girl” for a number of years this is its first full production. Eng and Rubio’s show does a lovely job of keeping the lyrical beauty of George MacDonald’s original story, but they’ve added a lot of humor and some nicely integrated sub plots as they fleshed out the simple tale.
Leading the production is guest Tina Stafford in a masterly performance of the complexities of the witch. She made her by turns, frightening, laughable and finally heroic. Mandy Striph and Mark Banik were delightful as the witch’s much put upon assistants. Carmund White was bluffly energetic as the Day Boy with Lovelee Carroll charming as the feisty Night Girl. William Angulo was athletically flexible as the wolf who torments the witch. Kerry Ipema was a pleasure as the moonlight dancer who charms the excaping Night Girl. I have to mention that ensemble member Maggie Mountsier made a great horse complete with the nervous feet and the flaring nostrils.
Directing and choreographing this first production of “The Day Boy and the Night Girl” is George Pinney with musical direction by James Ivey. A woman next to me described the set as “Harry Potter” style. And, yes, the scenic design is by Seamus Bourne and Jared Rutherford does echo the fantasy. Colorful and varied costumes, a show by themselves, are by Robbie Stanton.
“The Day Boy and the Night Girl” continues in IU’s Wells-Metz Theatre with performances tonight and Saturday at seven-thirty and Sunday at two.