We all know that Broadway and hamminess go hand in hand. One is just a part of the other as peanut butter is to jelly. Yet the level of obnoxiousness that Sherie Rene Scott reaches in her one-woman show Everyday Rapture is downright off-putting.
As a last-minute replacement for Lips Together, Teeth Apart, (the play that Megan Mullally unprofessionally ditched), causing the show to cancel) the Roundabout Theatre Co. rustled up Everyday Rapture, which performed at the off-Broadway Second Stage Theatre last May. Written by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott, the one-woman show (with backup vocalists and a brief character role, so… kinda sorta) focuses on Scott’s journey from oppressed childhood in Kansas to her self-proclaimed semi-stardom on Broadway.
Most know Scott from her Tony-nominated turn in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and for playing Ursula in the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid. In addition, she and her husband Kurt Deutsch founded S-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records, which is one of the largest Broadway record companies that publish cast recordings. Scott is by no means short of talent or artistic ability. That’s actually not my issue with Rapture—it’s the manner in which the material is presented.
Speaking in an irritating, childlike voice for the duration of the show (a very odd acting choice), Scott rambles and muses on her desire to be in the spotlight since early childhood. The audience enters Scott’s world, which is definitely intended, since the set (designed by Christine Jones) seems to emulate an “in-between” solar system, which we can only assume is in the Scott Galaxy. Yet—and I’m sorry to make this comparison—the whole writing and delivery feels a bit, you know, spacey. Sitting in the American Airlines Theatre, I felt as if there was giant inside joke on stage that I was not a part of.
Scott’s narrative is difficult to follow. The childhood portion of her tale is easy enough. There are close-minded townspeople and more churches than houses on her block (she grew up in a Mennonite neighborhood). The most charming introspection into Scott’s craving for stardom is when she admits to enjoying only one aspect of her church upbringing—participating in the choir. However, solos were not allowed; hence, little Sherie was not permitted to take the spotlight.
Then we follow Scott to her arrival in the Big Apple, a segment that is like a dozen other small-town-girl-in-the-big-city stories. The story drags until Scott is struggling with her Broadway fame, and an immensely grating bit with Eamon Foley comes into play as a super-Sherie fan who challenges her authenticity when she reaches out to him through the Internet. As we sense the show is wrapping up (OK, she’s going to tie this together and make it make sense, I know it!), Scott rubs it in the audience’s face that she and her husband have a summer home in Connecticut, and rambles about her young son finding a four-leaf clover on his first attempt. (Curtain down. So, I guess she’s not going to sum this show up in an encore?)
I get that the show is about fulfilling a destiny and also reaching an inner peace and happiness with one’s life. (Find the rapture in every day. ::wink, wink::) The message is very Buddhist, Kabbalist, The Secret, etc. I love the notion of living life to the fullest. However, Scott gets to this point through such a self-indulgent way, I am turned off to her and her message by the end of it. I’ve discussed this issue with a few friends. Linda of Pataphysical Science countered, “Aren’t all solo shows self-indulgent?” No, they’re not. As my friend Kym (@fakeplasticreep) pointed out, Colman Domingo’s solo show A Boy and His Soul was all about his childhood and how soul music interlaced with so many moments in his life. Domingo’s story all about his development from boy to man, and yet it reminded so much of each of our own personal childhoods and carried with it so many heartwarming values of family and love. Scott’s story left me feeling none of that.
For a show pinch-hitting for Lips Together, Teeth Apart in such short notice, it’s amazing that the production value of Everyday Rapture is so good. Although there isn’t much needed here, Jones crafts a whimsical and attractive galaxy of Scott’s mind (as previously mentioned), with polygonal shapes and lines against a glossy black stage and walls. Kevin Adams’ lighting (more reminiscent here of Spring Awakening and Next to Normal than his work in American Idiot) compliments Jones’ set well (his Spring and Idiot collaborator), as the colorful dots printed on the stage are embodied in luminescent form on the set’s frame. Interestingly, Michael Mayer directs the show, which means Everyday Rapture share most of its creative team with that of American Idiot. It’s strange how one director’s production like Idiot could make me feel so much, and his other make me feel so little.
Everyday Rapture has a general rush policy, which offers two tickets per person for $21.50 when the box office opens. Yet I didn’t get my ticket that way. I saw on Twitter that Roundabout was offering $10 tickets to Rapture through the use of a discount code on their website. I clicked over to roundabouttheatre.org and learned that for every Roundabout production, $10 tickets in the mezzanine are available for the show’s first four previews. Fantastic deal! You can read more about the policy here at the Roundabout’s website.
Play: D / Discount: A