Concept, Music, and Lyrics by Ludo; Adapted by Stacey Weingarten; Arrangements and Additional Story by Dana Levinson; Directed by Stacey Weingarten and Donna Drake
Produced by New York Musical Festival and Chinese Mother jewish Daughter, in association with Michael Chase Gosselin
Off Off Broadway, Musical
Runs through 8.6.16
The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 W 42nd Street
by Sarah Moore on 8.8.16
Carson Higgins, Gabrielle McClinton, Spencer Clark, and Melissa Hunter McCann in Ludo's Broken Bride.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
BOTTOM LINE: A new rock musical that incorporates various songs from the Ludo catalog, set to a love story against the backdrop of dinosaurs and the zombie apocalypse.
Boy meets girl, dragons, prehistoric furry creatures, and the zombie apocalypse: there’s a lot going on in NYMF’s Ludo’s Broken Bride. Based on the 2005 concept album Broken Bride by the band Ludo, Ludo’s Broken Bride (adapted by Stacey Weingarten, and co-directed by Weingarten and Donna Drake) is a jukebox musical inspired by the concept album. A rock musical rather than an opera, the show contains extensive spoken dialogue and book scenes.
The story’s focus is Thomas Liridon (played in present tense by Carson Higgins, and in flashbacks by Michael Jayne Walker), how he meets and falls in love with his wife Oriel (a radiant Gabrielle McClinton). Unfortunately, she dies of unspecified causes, and he bends the laws of space, time, and physics to bring her back.
There’s a lot to like here. The rock score (music and lyrics by Ludo) is excellent, and it’s easy to see the root of the inspiration to bring this to the stage. The lyrics are strong and evocative. The creative team has assembled an unbelievably talented and diverse cast of incredible rock singers. McClinton and Higgins are both electric on stage, supported by Walker in a slightly smaller role. All three actors are compelling performers with great voices. Jamen Nanthakumar and Jackson Perrin also make a strong impression with less material.
The scenic (Christopher & Justin Swader), costume (Bree Perry), and lighting (Andrew Scharwath) designs are all simple and effective, and the projections by Pauline Lu are particularly impressive. There are some beautiful moments of choreography (by Steven Paul Blandino), performed by the dance versions of Thomas and Oriel (Spencer Clark and Melissa Hunter McCann, respectively). Ludo fans, or alt-rock fans in general, will appreciate the extensive use of Ludo’s discography. The eight-piece band is also a treat in a festival setting, because what’s a rock musical without a great band?
The classic love story with a sci-fi twist is simple enough, but a cohesive concept gets lost as too many story threads are brought together. Several different musicals, all at odds with each other, are packed into this show. There’s a buddy comedy about a prehistoric furry creature, and a dystopian zombie apocalyptic city with a demonic king (Brian Charles Rooney) that dominate the second act, almost completely overshadowing the love story. It’s just a lot of plot to process, and it doesn’t totally add up.
The problem here may lie in too many ideas. The original concept album seems to be about a tragic love story with sci-fi elements, but the musical gives too much ground to the fantasy elements, and not enough to the human story. Furthermore, it tries to include too many other Ludo songs that don’t seem to fit into the narrative at all. (The concept album is five songs; the musical has twenty-four). While the impulse to bring Ludo’s inherently theatrical alt-rock to the stage is a good one, shoehorning existing Ludo songs into a plot isn’t the answer.
(Ludo’s Broken Bride plays at The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, through August 6, 2016. Tickets were $27.50 and were available at nymf.org or by calling 866-811-4111. For more info visit nymf.org.)
Ludo's Broken Bride is by Ludo, adapted by Stacey Weingarten with additional story by Dana Levinson. Directed by Stacey Weingarten and Donna Drake. Choreography is by Steven Paul Blandino. Set Design is by Christopher & Justin Swader. Lighting Design is by Andrew Scharwath. Sound Design is by Emilio Madrid-Kuser. Costume Design is by Bree Perry. Projection Design is by Pauline Lu. Puppetry Design is by Sierra Schoening. Shadow/Light Puppet Design is by Frankie Cordero. Props Design is by Addison Heeren. Hair/Make-Up Design is by Stefani Vivian. Music Director is Peter M. Hodgson. Music Supervisor is Dana Levinson. Arrangements are by Dana Levinson. Fight Choreographer is Mick Bleyer. Stage Manager is Michael Danek.
The cast is Carson Higgins, Michael Jayne Walker, Gabrielle McClinton, Brian Charles Rooney, Larry Hamilton, Marissa O'Donnell, Jamen Nanthakumar, Jackson Perrin, Brendan Malafronte, Catherine Landeta, Melissa Hunter McCann, Spencer Clark, Ashley Talluto, Devin Richey.