by Paula Citron
Elegies: A Song Cycle is a very brave musical. New York composer/lyricist William Finn was inspired by death, and the cycle contains songs that are very autobiographical about people he has lost who were very dear to him. Some of them are well-known personalities like New York legendary producer/director Joseph Papp; others include his own mother and close friends. Then there is, of course, a tribute to the losses of 9/11.
Surprisingly, the show is not heavy. For example, there is a hilarious song about a string of ill-fated dogs. In fact, the show is a joyous tribute to life – to these people, and yes animals, who lived and loved, and the strong five-member cast performs with gusto.
I found it on the sentimental side, but Finn has an engaging way with lyrics. His composing style is very New York, meaning staccato rhythms, but he does produce some lovely melodies.
Elegies: A Song Cycle continues until Mar. 3.
From the Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.