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Town Square

Ad Libs: Play in progress

Original post made by Rebecca Wallace, arts & entertainment editor of the Palo Alto Weekly, on Aug 21, 2012

So there wasn't a stunning set to take a photo of. But with a staged reading of a musical that's still being written, you expect to see the seams. This weekend we caught the third reading of "Triangle," a musical that centers on a tragedy: the 1911 fire in New York's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a blaze that killed more than 100 people. While the show is clearly still evolving, the actors behind these microphones and the musicians in the wings told a story that is poignant, visceral, surprisingly contemporary and sometimes very funny.

I don't want to say much about the plot, as I imagine it will evolve. Suffice it to say that a modern scientist working in the same building where the fire took place becomes entangled with stories from the past. The other lead character is a young immigrant woman working in the factory in 1911.

Going into the performance at TheatreWorks' New Works Festival, I knew the musical would include scenes in the present and past, with a love story in each time. I expected the usual: the same male and female actors playing two couples in two times, perhaps with the present pair feeling that they've somehow met before. This can be done well, and it can be done sappily. One of the first things I enjoyed about "Triangle" was that the characters and actors were mixed and matched in ways not immediately expected.

Another aspect of the production that I found impressive, especially at this stage, was the deft transition between tragedy and comedy; the writers created comic relief without awkward shifts in tone. Many of us in the audience laughed loudly and well.

Bravo to composer Curtis Moore and writers Thomas Mizer and Joshua Scher. I'm looking forward to seeing where "Triangle" goes next.

To see a larger version of the photo and read more Ad Libs postings, go to [Web Link Ad Libs].

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