MUSIC AND LYRICS by C. Michael Perry
It’s a miserable, rainy, dreary day in London and LOTTY WILKINS, a dowdy woman of about 30, is miserable and dreary in it. Longing for a respite from the rain, Lotty finds refuge in her women’s club where she happens upon an ad in the “Agony Column” in the London Times that reads: “To Those who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine. San Salvatore, a small medieval Italian castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April.” Lotty longs to be basking in wisteria and sunshine and leave her drab and tedious life behind, if only for a month
Lotty befriends ROSE ARBUTHNOT, a rigid, reserved and sad sort of woman in her 30s, who yearns for a rest from her stifling duties and distant husband as much as Lotty. But they can’t possibly afford the castle by themselves, so advertise for companions to share the expense and are joined by two other ladies: MRS. FISHER a formidable and disapproving woman in her 60s, who wants only to sit in the sun to read and remember her receding youth; and LADY CAROLINE DESTER who longs for a place she can ponder life’s questions without the distraction of adoring suitors.
They all agree to rent the castle for a month of blissful privacy. But the castle is more than they bargained for, and it’s wondrous enchantment affects Lotty immediately. Only in dreams has she dared to imagine such a place as she transforms from the mousey, stuttering housewife and blooms into a radiant, confident “seer of all things.” Wanting to share this “tub of love” she writes and invites her husband, MELLERSH, an ambitious solicitor, who finds himself charmed by not only “this place” but by his wife.
Meanwhile, Rose is tormented by the beauty of the place, for it only reminds her of the rift between her and her husband, FREDRICK, a middle-aged writer of lurid novels. While on a book tour, Fredrick serendipitously arrives at San Salvatore to visit Lady Caroline, not even aware that Rose is at the castle.
Amid the blossoms of fragrant wisteria, the hazy heat and sensuous silence, Lotty innocently and lovingly guides each lady through this place and past their loveless lives to rediscover their hearts. Rose reunites with her husband she had distanced herself from after the loss of their child; Mrs. Fisher embraces the present and the love and kindness it affords as she lets go of her past; and Lady Caroline finds a soulmate who sees her for what she finally admits she is: a stunning, yet spoilt, sour, suspicious and selfish spinster, and loves her despite it.
In just a month, one short Enchanted April, the lives and hearts of four women are transfigured by wisteria…sunshine…and a small medieval castle.
The show is about the redemptive power of love and friendship; of believing in the people around us to be able to better their lives through introspection and through the confidence of our belief that they can be happier than they are.
5W3M One Unit Set with several locations. About 2 hours.
NEW YORK CITY PREMIERE — Recently produced Off-Broadway at Theatre Row — November 1-16, 2019
- Lotty Wilkins — LEAH HOCKING (Equity)
- Rose Arbuthnot — CHRISTIANA COLE (Equity)
- Mrs. Fisher — ALMA CUERVO (Equity)
- Lady Caroline Dester — GENA SIMS
- Mellersh Wilkins — JIM STANEK (Equity)
- Frederich Arbuthnot — AARON PHILLIPS (Equity)
- Thomas Briggs — PETER REID LAMBERT
- Francesca — MELODY MEEKS PUTNAM
- Director — ALICE JANKELL (Member SDCS)
- Musical Director — RICHARD DANLEY (Member ASFM #802)
- Asst. Musical Director — RONNIE BISHOP (Member ASFM #802)
- Executive Producer — ANDREW JOY
- Production Stage Manager — CHEYNEY COLES (Equity)
- Marketing Director — CHRISTINE CIRKER
- Press Representatives — RICHARD HILLMAN PUBLIC RELATIONS
- Projection Design — ERIN BJORN
- Costume Design — MATTHEW SOLOMON
- Asst. Stage Manager — SARAH PECK
- Scenic and Lighting Design — WILLIAM ARMSTRONG
- Sound Design — SPENCER CARTER
- Props — LIZ BURDICK
- Lighting Operator/Gaffer/Rigger — JORDAN LIAU
- Box Office Manager & Company Manager — LIZ FROST
- Rehearsal Facilities provided by STUDIOS 353
REVIEW EXCERPTS FOR AN ENCHANTED APRIL
“I think the musical version of this play is a tremendous success. It has a wonderful cast. The real power of this musical is that people need breaks and they may come to different conclusions and they expected to. Very traditional sounding score. The two writers don’t say that they have been to the BMI workshop, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they have, because the craft of the score is really quite fine.
And the music is very appropriate for the period. I thought it was terrific. One of the best shows to open this season in the musicals category. I will admit that this is not for all tastes, but my taste in musical theatre is decidedly Golden Age. And this is in the category of a Golden Age musical. But let’s consider that a compliment, ok? As long as we do, I feel that many of you who feel that way should get over to “Enchanted April” at Theatre Row. A very intimate space and a very intimate show.
Leah Hocking is tremendously effective as Lotty Wilkins. She’s the one who keeps it going and you couldn’t ask for anything more than the performance she’s giving. Alma Cuervo is really good too. Jim Stanek is quite wonderful as well. Gena Sims is wonderful, Christiana Cole, equally wonderful. A tremendous cast. A credit too, to Alice Jankell, for putting them all together, making it move splendidly, A very nice directorial touch. What can I say — I loved it. Don’t miss it!” — Peter Filichia, Broadway Radio, November 3, 2019
“An Enchanted April, delivers the old-fashioned story in both dialogue and song, in a nostalgic production … that evokes the historic style of an operetta…the story leaves us with a feel-good message about the power of love, friendship, gratitude, and communication to change people’s lives for the better. Under the observant direction of Alice Jankell, the cast delivers the distinct personalities and accents, dry wit and despair of their characters, as well as the hallmarks of the period in their comportment…Mrs. Fisher, a puckered and intolerant remnant of the old guard, risibly played with just the right touch of bitterness and disapproval by Alma Cuervo… Lady Caroline Dester, a modern aristocrat – portrayed by Gena Sims with a haughty chill, condescending attitude of entitlement, and aloof desire to be alone…Leah Hocking, turning in an appropriately dotty and self-deprecating portrayal of the likeable and conciliatory Lotty Wilkins… [The men] offer illuminating counterpoints to the women, and all, like the women, display a new outlook on life and love in the rejuvenating warmth of springtime Italy. Rounding out the cast and providing comic relief is Melody Meeks Putnam as the maid Francesca… As with the operetta tradition, the songs are performed in semi-operatic style, efficiently accompanied on-stage by musicians on piano and synthesizer (music direction by Richard Danley). Again, Cole is a standout with her exquisite tone, expressiveness, and control; her pained duet on “Everything Was Changed” with Phillips, whose rich and resonant voice is the perfect pairing with hers, is the musical highlight of Act I… the score incorporates the lilting measures of a waltz and the upbeat rhythms of ragtime, with the cheerful “Right as Rain!” – the show’s most memorable number – ebulliently sung by Hocking and Stanek…The artistic design is smartly historicizing. Period-style costumes and hair by Matthew Solomon identify the ages, status, inclinations, and evolution of the characters. William Armstrong’s set and lighting effectively transition from the dark antiques and rainy skies of London to the bright furnishings and wisteria of the castle and the vibrant daylight of Italy. The fluid scene shifts are supported by Erin Bjorn’s eye-catching projections on a cluster of umbrellas over-hanging the stage that change with the different locales in the journey. An Enchanted April offers an engaging look at the situation of women during a transitional era in the early 20th century, with an uplifting reminder that the joys of life can overcome times of adversity.” — Deb Miller, DCMetro, November 7, 2019
“With lyrical melodies, both wistful and sparkling, The Enchanted April captures the spirit of this era of relief, quiet desperation and wonder… Hocking is a radiant Lotty, the instigator of change who follows her heart. As her husband Mellersh, Stanek evolves seamlessly and believably with his character. Cole and Phillips as Rose and Frederick sing with heart breaking intensity. Indeed all of the actors are excellent singers, although it is Alma Cuervo’s clarion voice that reaches most easily across the footlights. It is such a pleasure to hear women and men sing in their natural ranges, allowing their voices to move through their registers without stress… The highlight of William Armstrong’s set design, encapsulating the story in one arresting image are the varied white umbrellas suspended on the back wall of the stage. Symbol, sculpture and scrim in one, they are an enchantment unto themselves…The Enchanted April conjures up a certain magic, comprised of vulnerability mixed with the ineffable, irresistible allure of an Italian castle draped in Wisteria vines. Would that we all could spend our Aprils there.” ––Sarah Downs, Front Row Center, November 8, 2019
“One might think there’s not much more to be done with this venerable work. But wait! An Enchanted April is directed by Alice Jankell and features an engaging cast. The score is luscious and lyrical. The songs range from beautiful ballads to bouncy jazz tunes. They have names like “Endless Rain,” “Wisteria and Sunshine” and “What If?” And they are sung by musical theater veterans, many of whom would not be out of place in an opera house. Hocking is especially amusing as the bubbly, somewhat scatter-brained but extremely insightful Lotty. Cole provides an excellent complement to Lotty in the much more somber Rose, who is both charitable and conflicted. Watching Sims glide graceful across the stage under the disapproving glare of Cuervo is a delight in itself.
An Enchanted April may be too delicate for younger theatergoers who expect loud, often tuneless, music and explicit sex rather than discreet romance. But if you have a heart that longs to be warmed and a sense of humor that wants to be tickled, this is a musical not to be missed.” ––Paulanne Simmons, theatrelife.com, November 8, 2019
“An Enchanted April – Charming! This musicalization of Elizabeth Von Arnim’s novel is so charming, that even if you have special affection for the 1991 film, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Collaborators Elizabeth Hansen and C. Michael Perry have manifest the story’s light-handed sensitivity and sentiment without treacle. An Enchanted April’s gentle heart is unimpeachable. The piece verges on operetta in the way Sondheim approached A Little Night Music. Here, you won’t leave humming songs, but every one of Perry’s attractive, supple melodies suits the moment. Group numbers interweave with high craft. Lyrics are both wonderfully literate and singable… Hansen’s book is deftly economic, offering just enough dialogue not to feel changes are abrupt, rendering each character distinctive… The excellent cast is helmed by Leah Hoking (Lotty Wilkins) whose pluck and vulnerability is thoroughly engaging and Christiana Cole whose Rose Arbuthnot begins a brittle stoic, gradually peeling away empathetic longing. Both ladies are credible, both have fine voices… Alma Cuervo’s Mrs. Fisher grows on one as her character opens to palpable joy. Aaron Phillips and Jim Stanek ably embody the husbands… Melody Meeks Putnam, inhabits feisty, droll, villa cook Francesca. Peter Reid Lambert (Thomas Briggs) speaks beautiful Italian, has a good tenor and embodies the character’s sweetness… Director Alice Jankell keeps the piece vintage delicate, allowing performers to share the gradual effect of their Italian respite. Each character has his/her own bearing. Group numbers are well staged and skillfully arranged. ––from the column Women About Town on Playing Around by Alix Cohen, November 8, 2019.
“This story is told with a witty book, and music and lyrics that evoke the period in which the story takes place. There are some moments when you might think of a play by Chekov or even Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, however this version of An Enchanted April has much of its own to offer – which is enhanced by the wonderful cast that is telling the story.” — MARK KAPPELL, Blog, November 2, 2019
“An Enchanted April, is sung extremely well… Christiana Cole, Jim Stanek, Peter Reid Lambert and Aaron Phillips have exquisite voices… Ms. Hocking grows on you and will touch your heart with her comedic and heartbreaking performance. Alma Cuervo’s “This Feeling”, shows the audience what I have known since Quilters, just how this woman can interpret a song. Ms. Putnam, is rather hysterical as the maid.” — Susanna Bowling, November 3, 2019 Times Square Chronicles
“An Enchanted April…succeeds in capturing the sense of longing, burgeoning camaraderie, and emotional transformation interwoven through the original source material. And for audience members familiar with the previous versions, the musical offers a pleasant return to San Salvatore, the Italian castle that the characters lease for their spring getaway… [the] women who are also weary of life and London, a feeling described in the plaintive quartet, ‘Endless Rain’…an affable show, the score contains, in general, an appropriate mix of operetta and musical comedy songs. Some evoke motifs from popular songs of the 1920s, and Lottie’s standout number, “Right As Rain!,” playfully integrates ragtime rhythms… This is a score, however, that cries out for lush orchestrations to match the nostalgic mood and sumptuous European setting. (Produced by Utah Lyric Opera, the show is similar in tone and aura to Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.)… there are many pleasures to be had in the course of the evening…the cast is terrific… Hocking is thoroughly ingratiating with a voice to match. She is well-paired with Jim Stanek, who plays her uptight and icy husband, who gradually thaws in the warmth of the sun. Cole and Cuervo also give fine performances, and they effectively convey the chipping away of Victorian aloofness. As the socialite, Sims (reminiscent of a young Leslie Uggams) has the least to do, but she has an exquisite soprano voice and conveys the right balance of condescension and vulnerability… Phillips, as [Rose’s] husband, and Peter Reid Lambert, as the castle owner, bring the right amount of bravado and sexual ardor to their roles. Completing the cast is Melody Meeks Putnam, who is very funny as the non-English-speaking servant, Francesca. Rattling nerves with her mealtime gong and warning (in Italian) of exploding bath pipes, Putnam is suitably zany… The production is simply yet effectively designed… Erin Bjorn’s projections, cleverly displayed on hanging umbrellas upstage, help create the new- and old-world atmospheres…An Enchanted April is a genial respite from New York’s typically cold and damp November.” — James Wilson, November 4, 2019, Talkin’ Broadway
“A radically old-fashioned romantic musical… it’s light on its feet and pleasing to the ear… First things first: The singing is absolutely superb, and, better yet, unmiked, rendering even the complicated contrapuntal vocal passages utterly audible and often beautiful… it’s agreeably retro (there’s even a genuine overture and entr’acte)—neat, well-rhymed, bountiful with the waltzes, and refreshingly plot- and character-specific. You’ll leave humming, and generously reminded of the ancient pleasures of hearing real voices unaided by elaborate audio engineering… Gena Sims, an Audra-in-training, is gorgeous with a gorgeous voice, and she makes Lady Caroline’s melting from ice queen to thoughtful aristocrat as plausible as possible…Cole…sings splendidly (and so does Hocking, who milks maximum humor out of Lotty’s flightiness and second-sight ruminations). So, in fact, does everybody, and you’ll love hearing Stanek, Phillips, and Lambert fill out the male vocals… An Enchanted April may feel archaic to the few younger folks in the audience—imagine, a new musical without a single disaffected teen singing endlessly about his/her problems—but it’s comfort food, constructed according to the old standards of literate dialogue, literate lyrics, and lush melody supported by chords that resolve naturally into one another. Antiquated? Yes, but in a way that sometimes does approach enchanted.” — Marc Miller, November 3, 2019, OffOff Online
“The enduring resonance of its source material is evident in An Enchanted April… the performances are engaging, and the piece’s emotional power is palpable… Co-lyricists Elizabeth Hansen and composer C. Michael Perry’s score with its appealing melodies and artful lyrics recalls the manner of Jerry Herman…Ms. Hansen’s book is faithful to its derivation, has wit and dramatic heft… Director Alice Jankell’s able staging is resourceful… A configuration of open white umbrellas on which projection designer Erin Bjorn’s evocative images are shown is a neat aspect of William Armstrong’s…scenic design… Mr. Armstrong’s fine lighting design casts appropriate hues. The sound design proficiently renders the music and periodic rain drops…Sunny and with wonderful comic timing, Leah Hocking is a heartwarming Lotty. Christiana Cole’s reserve and resolve perfectly convey Rose’s complexities. Gena Sims’ Lady Caroline is an alluring blend of haughtiness, melancholy and pointed humor. Harrumphing about with a cane and repeatedly bellowing “In my day…” is that magnetic stage veteran Alma Cuervo as Mrs. Fisher, the Victorian gorgon with a heart of gold. This role brought Joan Plowright an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the 1992 film version. Ms. Cuervo is comparably formidable, and her sensational performance is a chief asset of the show… As the two husbands and owner of the villa, Jim Stanek, Aaron Phillips and Peter Reid Lambert all bring requisite emotion and charm to their veddy British characterizations. Melody Meeks Putnam brings subtle hilarity to the part of the animated housekeeper who only speaks Italian…— Darryl Reilly, November 4, 2019, Theatre Scene