World Premiere of “Georama” An Impassioned Voyage Of The Heart

harry hamm

harry star 4andahalfstars World Premiere of Georama An Impassioned Voyage Of The Heart

John Banvard was a struggling sketch artist who, around 1840, following the bankruptcy of his father, struck out on his own traveling across the United States selling his sketches and supplementing his income by hunting. His singular stroke of success was a concept he developed that was a panoramic painting that eventually stretched to a maximum of about 2,500 feet, although Banvard advertised it as being a three-mile canvas. It was a bit of exaggeration, but it sold tickets and no one really knew the truth. His success with this artistic concept took him to Europe and earned him great notoriety and fortune, plus a troublesome relationship with P. T. Barnum. The new musical “Georama” is Barnyard’s story with agreeable embellishments that make it is easy to love, especially when presented in the intimate confines of The Rep’s Studio Theater.

Georama presented by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis on Jan 19, 2016

Photo courtesy of The Rep

P. J. Griffith portrays Banvard with all the convincing passion that embodied the man. Jillian Louis is Elizabeth, daughter of a minister who is impressed by Banvard to the point that she heads down the Mississippi with when he takes his “show” on the road. Eventually, they become man and wife.

Georama presented by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis on Jan 19, 2016

Photo courtesy of The Rep

Randy Blair is joyfully hilarious as the agreeable con man Taylor, latter to be come P. T. Barnum.

Georama presented by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis on Jan 19, 2016

Photo courtesy of The Rep

Dan Sharkey is a triple threat in three roles that include Jillian’s father, a showboat owner and Queen Victoria, who confesses, in one musical number, her need for a little sex now and then.

Georama presented by The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis on Jan 19, 2016

Photo courtesy of The Rep

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the old Goldenrod Showboat and covered most of its shows on the riverfront in its waning days when I first started reviewing for KMOX. It is depicted in “Georama” as the show begins, and frankly, that won me over. There are two musicians who also have lines in the production. The instrumentation includes a vintage piano, mandolin, fiddle and even a banjo. The score propels and gives feeling to the story. The cast is one of the most talented the Rep has ever used. Their vocal abilities are spirited and assertive.  The Studio Theater’s production design and implementation of their own panoramic painting is a treasure and a sight to be seen.  “Georama” may undergo changes as a theatrical piece as it is produced in the future. But for me, it will never be quite as wonderful than it is right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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