Take One is a musical presented by The Council of Nine as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. The conceit in Take One is that there were false starts to some noted projects. It’s composed of three vignettes.
The first section, called The Ballad of God, takes inspiration from The Book of Genesis. At its opening, we meet God himself, who sings “I’m gonna make me a world – I’m gonna build me a heaven.” He creates Adam and Eve, who name the animals, but they never eat the apple. And Cain never kills Abel. Having failed in getting them to sin, God decides to start again.
In the second section, The Ludovico Technique, we find Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. “Hour after hour,” he sings in the show’s best song, “I’m creating the power of vision.” He finds a lover in his assistant, Ludovico, but the half-white tones he uses on the ceiling fresco fail to please Pope Julius II. He’s ordered to start again.
The final section, Intervention!, presents Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. There’s a song in the musical Oklahoma that Hammerstein wants to cut. Rodgers resists at first, but finally relents. The section is very clever and it gives us a couple of great scenes, but it’s unclear to anyone not very familiar with Oklahoma.
The book, music and lyrics were written by Jeff Ward. The dialogue is smart, and the songs have some inspired premises and rhymes, with a variety of tone. It’s great fun. But the show lacks a musical leitmotif holding the short plays together, or even a running joke.
Take One is sharply and humorously directed by Michael Schiralli. The cast of seven is first-rate, singing and acting at the same time. It’s good to see a modest musical produced with such skill and precision.