By Patrick Hurley
The Well Orchestrated Madness and Armenians of Colorado presented I Am Alive a new musical about Armenian Genocide survivors at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.The piece, with music, book and lyrics by Denise Gentilini and Lisa Nemzo, tracks the love story of Gentilini’s grandparents, Kourken and Malvine Handjian, while also following some of the horrors that accompanied a genocide that decimated the Armenian population.
Directed by Christy Montour-Larson, the piece feels very much to be a work in progress. There are moments that are underdeveloped, and in need of dramaturgical work. And some of the songs are repetitive or extraneous. The audience is told that the story is going to be the love story of Kourken and Malvine, and so the stakes of whether or not they will be together are absent. The dramatic through-line feels to be a work in progress as does the spine of piece, which right now wants to be a statement about resilience, but is coming across less clear than it may in future productions.
That said, however, Ms. Montour-Larson, and the entire cast are working with great enthusiasm and dedication to a highly worthy and what could end up being essential piece of historical theater. Some of the moments of violence, captured by actors moving in slow motion, for example, were captivating and beautifully choreographed. And the vocal work of many of the performers was lovely.
In the end, there is work to be done, to be sure, but the heart of this piece shines through. Particularly by the wonderful ensemble of actors, and a final song, accompanied photo projections, that gave the piece a resounding ending message. A bit agitprop, a bit documentary, this is story worthy of being told, and perhaps with some work it will find it’s way back to theaters.
I Am Alive
Music, Book and Lyrics by Denise Gentilini and Lisa Nemzo
Directed by Christy Montour-Larson
Presented by Well Orchestrated Madness
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