Now playing at the WinterFest is a Arrowhead a musical conceived and written by 20 year-old Jackson Teeley during his sophomore year of college in about four months. Along with his good friend, co-director/ choreographer and actress Corey Potter the show has had two other short runs. The show then became a collaboration between Teeley’s and his high school theatre friends when he cast them in this production.
The musical begins as we enter the Arrowhead Coffee Shop. We meet the barista (Victoria Aldam) who tells us “You know what’s especially amazing about this place? The connections. The real, physical interaction that comes with sharing a cup of coffee with someone. More and more, I feel we live in this strange, disconnected world.”
Cody Lee Miller, Megan Lyndon
Through a series of series of vignettes, we see the connections and young love in all its aspects. Electronic communications has put a twist on millennial love that didn’t affect previous generations and this is Teeley’s answer.
Only one love connection actually runs through the entire piece, when a computer geek (Cody Lee Miller) meets his complete opposite, English Lit Major (Meghan Lydon).
The most memorable scenes are between two sisters (McKenna Powell and Caitlyn Teeley) who remember being “Pulled Back Down,” a college kid (Liam Callaghan) in love with his TA trying to convince her he’ll be her “Super Hero Man,” a nerdy girl (Julia Ray) being confronted with the popular girl (Ms. Powell) years later after high school in “Blah, Blah, Blah,” two gay men (Austin Scott Lombardi and Mr. Teeley) who finally say “If I Love You Too“ and a lover (Ms. Teeley) being dumped for his wife (Mr. Callaghan) in “When You Go.”
This show has the oddest combination. The actors who are terrific especially Ms. Teeley, can’t sing and the singers aren’t the best actors. Only Ms. Lydon and Mr. Miller succeed at doing both well.
The direction by Ms. Potter (who is also in the show), is done well, but the show suffers at times, because of it. It is hard to do both and have a perspective. The stage gets crowded and we are in a coffee shop. The choreography by Natalie Sala is inventive and in some cases really interesting, but less is more on the dance side. Also at times it makes no sense why the whole coffee shop would join in the dance numbers.
Mr. Teeley has a gorgeous voice. His music is very reminiscent of Shire and Maltby and I found myself reminded of an updated Closer Than Ever. The script is relevant and poignant to today’s society, but what the show is lacking is an arc. The show needs more tension and less feel good material, so it doesn’t drag half way through. Also not every character needs a song. Duets would be great and there’s only really one. Quartets, a solo with back up singers also works, Mr. Teeley needs to mix it up.
If I seem a little harsh on this show it is because Arrowhead has legs and could soar. Mr. Teeley is a welcome new arrival onto the musical theatre scene and I am thrilled to be able to review his first show in New York.
“Love’s weird, isn’t it? So many different kinds, so many different ways to feel it. Whether it’s in here over a cup of coffee or out there in the rain, it can pierce your heart like nothing else.
Arrowhead: WinterFest, Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 West 26th St. Feb. 8th at 6:15 and Feb. 11th at 6pm.