Review by Ariel Mary Ann
Saturday I attended the opening of George Remus, A New Musical put on by The Carnegie Theatre of Covington, Kentucky. This powerhouse of a show introduces audiences to the infamous bootlegger of Cincinnati, George Remus. This name may not sound familiar to many, but this man may have been the inspiration behind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. This new original musical charts George Remus’ rise to power and eventual downfall during the prohibition era.
At the top of the show, we meet Remus, a lawyer in Chicago who is a man that means business. The opening song, “There Once Was a King” introduces us to Remus and his world. As the show progresses, we learn quickly that Remus is man who is power hungry and will do anything he can to keep climbing that ladder of wealth, fame, and success – including working with the likes of Al Capone.
Maggie Perrino, as choreographer and director, brings history to life through her eye-catching choreography. Her direction succeeds in helping to further the overall plot by creating strong moments to reenforce each character’s choices.
Structurally, many musicals can have strong music and lyrics with a book that falls flat on its face. While songs play an important part in the landscape of a musical, without a strong book, the characters and their choices drift off until the next big number. Book writer, Joseph McDonald, moves this musical along through a well detailed dramatic structure and creates a strong “moment before” with Remus and gives reason to why Remus makes the choices that he does.
Music and lyric writers, Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman do a wonderful job in taking this local history to new heights with how they’re able to lyrically show the underbelly of what happens when you became the face of your own downfall. “Don’t Mess with Mabel” perfectly sets up the second act pitting well known, bootlegger, Remus, against no nonsense Mabel Walker Willebrandt, an assistant attorney general, who will stop at nothing to get Remus behind bars. Kate Mock Elliot truly shines in this moment as Willebrandt showing off her vocal prowess and truly making this number her own.
Overall, the cast does a wonderful job and give this show their absolute all. World premiere musicals can be challenging in many ways, what may work in the rehearsal process may not work when being presented to audiences. With George Remus, A New Musical – the creators have set themselves up for success with a story of epic proportions that you don’t want to miss. George Remus, A New Musical runs August 13th through August 28th. Tickets can be found here
Note: This show runs for approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes with a brief intermission.
Ariel Mary Ann is a Women and Gender Studies graduate from University of Cincinnati with a life long love of performing. She is an actor and playwright.