By Cathleen Leitch
The holiday cheer everyone seems to exude can sometimes get annoying or overbearing. This is how The Man Who’s Had Enough feels in Rider’s latest musical escapade.
Striking 12 is a “flamboyant, post-modern, meta-theatric whirlwind of holiday cheer,” said junior Zachary Bragg. On Nov. 11, this theatric wonder opened at Rider University in the Yvonne Theater.
When the musical begins, the audience meets The Man Who’s Had Enough (senior Nick Anastasia), who clearly doesn’t share the holiday spirit like everyone else. Anastasia played the character well and his voice progressively enhanced as the show continued.
The Man soon meets a very quirky S.A.D. Light Seller (junior Kaitlyn Frotton), whose role was small, but necessary to lead up to the story within the story. Whenever the plot ebbs into another tale, it’s easy to get lost in the smaller storyline. Fortunately, the main narrative flows smoothly during the tale of Little Match Girl.
The darker inside story by Hans Christian Anderson gives the play depth and introduces the best character, Little Match Girl (freshman Kelsey Renfro). This Match Girl’s story provided suspense and added a serious side to this humorous show.
During “Wonderful,” a song about the beauty of warmth, a single orange was shown, resembling what flame the girl could have had. This had a wonderfully realistic feel.
“Say What” was one of the best pieces of Striking 12. It was the juxtaposition of comedy and desperation, along with strong vocals, that lured the audience in with curiosity and wonder.
Despite the Rider troupe’s acting talent, the best part of the performance was the music. It wasn’t so much about the lyrics, but the orchestration itself. It was always keeping with the emotional state of the characters; it was a better fit than the dialogue.
The band was set up on stage, which gave the feel that the music was meant to be important in the story. From the Overture to the final tune, the orchestra played magnificently. The musicians included a violinist, guitarist, bassist and drummer, all of whom worked brilliantly together. At different moments of the play, each was able to display their talents.
Several songs stuck out over the others, including the comical and energetic introduction. Some were meant to be funny, like “Screwed Up People Make Great Art,” which provided a ridiculous answer to why someone would write such a depressing story.
By far, the songs that were done in ensemble sounded better and were more effective than the solo pieces. This is not to say that the vocal abilities were lacking; however, as a group they provided a more attractive appeal and allowed for more diversity.
Overall, Striking 12 is worth seeing. This may not be as dark and disturbed as past shows at Rider, but the cast is talented, the music is excellent and the plot mixes sorrow and celebration beautifully.
Striking 12 will be playing in the Yvonne Theater today and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for students and seniors and $20 for adults.