“Allies” The Musical: Stage Script Reading @ The Zipper Factory (1/26/2009)

As I have lined out before, we are aiming to use the PiercingMetal Musings blog to document the other adventures that we undertake in the entertainment world and thus far it has worked out rather well in that regard. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to my first-ever script reading by my friend Celina Carvajal who I know based on her being friends with the lead singer of the band Cocaine. She and Coco could be twins that were seperated at birth if one of them dressed up glam and used about four cans of hairspray and makeup, but I digress. The show was called “Allies”, and it would feature a healthy amount of music from the band Heart. Me and some friends headed down to the reading and I had to admit that I was not sure what to expect of it. We used our existing site template for Events since it allowed me to present my commentary, our photo gallery and the songs that the show featured. Please join me by scrolling past the performance graphic below and enjoy.

Photo - Allies The Musical

Tonight’s adventure would be a part of my never ending quest to find something interesting to do with my time and fortunately as a New Yorker this is a lot easier to do than it is not. My presence here began with some email announcements about the script reading of a developing musical called “Allies” and the show would feature music that was originally performed by the band Heart. Having seen them perform over the summer of 2008 and being a long time fan of their sound I admitted to being intrigued rather quickly. Here is the information that I was sent about the official reading, and this was posted on their website for all to see.

“About the Reading: Be the first to experience this new musical in the tradition of Hedwig & the Angry Inch. Allies is a raw, concert-style musical about a love triangle that rocks the lives of a brother & sister. Gabby & Chris Ford are as close as struggling twenty-something siblings can be, when their bond is blown apart by the seductive – and secretive – Matt Rhode. Part live rock show – complete with roadies changing the set and a kick ass lead axe – and part heartstring-plucking drama, Allies features the songs of the legendary band HEART, including hits like Barracuda, These Dreams and Alone. With Celina Carvajal, Brian Charles Rooney, Chris Hall and stage directions read by Ryan Bogner.”

The event was originally supposed to take place at The Zipper Factory but apparently the venue had closed suddenly and it was moved to BLVD NYC (which also houses Crash Mansion for those who might be familiar with the place). It’s a nice space, but perhaps not really suited to such an affair but that didn’t make a difference for the reading. Going in I had no idea what to expect at a “reading” and felt I was going to be watching people read from the script at podiums (and I was half right), but I wasn’t expecting the songs to be performed live and the singing for each particular scene to be fleshed out for all to enjoy. I have recapped the story just a little bit for good measure and yet will only encapsulate it because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s chance of enjoying it on their own when it comes to a stage near you.

The story begins with Gaby (who is a stripper by night and also a singer) as she opens the show with “What About Love” singing about her recent breakup with a Swedish musician. The part is played by Celina Carvajal, who I have seen perform a couple of times over the previous year and she is a super power vocalist in my humble opinion. I was expecting her to handle the Heart material well, but she really knocked my impressed meter all the higher as she hit every note originally executed by Anne Wilson from the get go. We also meet Gaby’s Brother Chris, who is a lovelorn hairdresser student also trying to make his mark in the world. Gaby’s shopping leads her to run into Matt who becomes the love interest for her and the singing continues along with “Crazy On You” into the great Heart classic “Magic Man” as she explains this encounter to her brother. Chris surprises the audience by breaking into a version of “These Dreams”, and I had to say that for a song I never expected to hear a guy sing that he did a fine job. Eventually Gaby’s new BF Matt meets her brother and while we have been at the show for a little while now, the story almost begins again as an interesting love triangle takes place. It’s a very quirky turn I will admit but they handle it well and while more songs await the audience there are also moments of light comedy as the trio of characters try to determine which course their lives will take.

My Thoughts on It: I felt the performance had some potential to it and it was interesting to see it being delivered in front of podiums with the rock band behind them. The characters were believable enough and there seemed to be a solid chemistry between the players. I had to say that while I enjoyed Celina’s singing the most I felt that Brian Charles Rooney did a great job himself and took a couple of numbers that I would have preferred hearing done by the female lead. Chris Hall had a good voice as well, but I did feel that the show’s siblings were much better from my vantage point. It would be interesting to see how this plays out on an official stage with full sets and the band being able to pump up the volume just a little bit more. Seeing it with no real stage costumes or backgrounds makes this something that puts ones mind in overdrive as you need to envision what they might do for each scene. During the show we had stage directions called out by Ryan Bogner so the audience would know a little more about the actual setting. As far as whether or not this could work, well, it’s safe to say that it could potentially succeed since it was a cute story with some great music. “Mama Mia” found incredible success doing an off the wall romance comedy so why not. As someone who sees a lot of different bands on a regular basis I can say that there is always room for someone else to show you their stuff no matter what else is going on. Let’s hope the writers, players and musicians involved in “Allies The Musical” get the chance to put this on a bigger stage for a wider range of people to enjoy. I felt that there was enough promise in its introduction to warrant this course of action. In the end I was glad to be a part of the festivities and felt honored to be invited. The play was written by Maggie Levin and Celina Carvajal and we didn’t want to leave that fact out of the commentary. Since it was permissible to do so, we snapped a few dozen photos from the sidelines as the event took place.Program - Allies The Musical - 2009

The Cast of Players: The readers will have to follow the official link below to read into everyone else’s biography information, as for the sake of space I have only listed Celina’s.

Celina Carvajal (Gabriella Ford): Born and raised in San Francisco, Ca; Celina Carvajal traveled the world performing and received her first big break singing for Pope John Paul II at Candlestick Stadium for over 50,000 people at the young age of 7. Carvajal was a member of the Young People’s Teen Musical Theatre Company in San Francisco and the age of 17, left home to join the national tour of ‘Cats’. Celina went on to appear in the films ‘Sex and the City’, ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘The Graduates’ as well the television shows ‘All My Children’ and ‘Legally Blonde, the search for the next Elle Woods’ on MTV. Broadway credits include Tarzan (Original Cast), Dracula (Original Cast), 42nd Street (Anytime Annie) and Cats (Demeter). Off Broadway shows include starring roles in Bed Bugs at NYMF (Winner, Outstanding Actor Award), Green Eyes at the NYC Fringe Festival and Radiant Baby. Carvajal also played Pink Tuscaderro in the workshop of ‘Happy Days’ directed by Garry Marshall. Celina’s favorite thing is being a rock star as the lead singer in her band ‘Cocaine’.

Brian Charles Rooney (Christopher Ford) – Chris Hall (Matt Rhode) – Ryan Bogner (Stage Direction). Matt Hinkley (Lead Guitar), Paul Leschen (Keyboards/Guitar/Rhythm), Andrew Potenza (Drums), Michael Olatuja (Bass Guitar)

The Songs:
1. What About Love
2. Love Alive
3. Crazy on You
4. Magic Man
5. These Dreams
6. I Want You So Bad
7. Straight On (excerpt)
8. Rockin Heaven Down/How Deep it Goes
9. I Didn’t Want to Need You
10. Never
11. Secret
12. Barracuda
13. Heartless
14. Alone
15. Cry to Me (excerpt)
16. Stranded
17. Allies
18. On the Road Home

Official Website: www.alliesthemusical.com

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