There’s no doubt that composer extraordinaire Michael Antin has a vivid story to tell, amidst the dark backdrop of early World War II (1932), in “Lili Marlene,” set in Berlin, Germany. This original musical, directed and choreographed by Mark Blowers, and produced by John Lant and Tamra Pica, is a tale of incredible talent and will to survive, amidst intense fear of the unknown and uncertainty; incredible loss; and ultimately optimism and hope triumphing over despair.
The show features Amy Londyn as the perky, petite cabaret singer by the stage name of Lili Marlene; her given name, Rosie Penn, in a suspenseful story of life and death decisions . She is the heroine of her day , a queen Esther, as it were, destined to save her people and quite in love with Willi (Tavis L.Baker).
Together , in memorable duets, “Let Me Send You Away,” and “It is Time My Love,” we recognize how well suited they are for each other , with natural chemistry onstage and strong vocals. David Kamenir shines as music director, as evidenced by these dazzling numbers.
We get an intimate glimpse of the household and family life of siblings Janine (Aubrie Alexander) and Kurt (Judd Yort), yearning to stand up for ones beliefs and principles , despite the gendarme prowling about the town . His strong activism and sensibility shines through with his standout belting of “Time to Stand Up.” Things change when Kurt is tragically shot and murdered ; Lili Marlene realizes she must conceal her true identity to stay alive. Her ballad about wanting a new life, and her passion for Joie de vivre, “Two Stars in the Sky,” is the show’s bright spot .
The musical ends with anticipated hopes of Lili (with child); husband Willi and family fleeing Berlin for a new life, a new beginning , a new journey to hope happiness and wholeness . The original lyrics and songs reflect a random range of styles, while the large company of incredible talent have some touching moments indeed .
The words of the songs tell Lili Marlene’s story; the music has all the compassion of her young carefree spirit. Antin’s gift to bring this story to stage is testimony to all that was lost in the Holocaust; and the courage this family gains to reaffirm the art of living; and in turn, create a better world.
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