Have you ever heard about a show, and thought to yourself, “How did a show like that even get made, and how I wish I could have seen it!”? Then do yourself a favor and go see The Anthem. Based on an Ayn Rand novella about a dystopian society, it’s hard to tell which parts are scripted to be funny and which parts ended up being funny unintentionally. As a dystopian musical, you already have to work extra hard because you’re not Urinetown, not to mention when there’s a giant disco ball hanging from your ’80s-inspired set. Of course, we’re not complaining. We enjoyed (mostly) every confusing, crazy, exhilarating moment.
The main reason we enjoyed anything? The cast. They were working to sell every overblown emotion and unnecessary special skill they were asked to showcase. Like one of Stefan’s nightclubs, this show had EVERYTHING. Rollerskating, ice skating jumps on rollerblades, silks and rope work, a pansexual orgy, a lot of ’80s synthesizer…we could go on. And the ensemble performed everything with a wink. Whether intentional or not, we got it and were winking back at them. One of the big standouts (and our personal choice for Peter in NBC’s Peter Pan Live!) for us was Em Grosland. Em effortlessly switched between playing a hyper, robotic drone of The State and an animalistic, sadistic warrior of The Resistance.
One thing this show didn’t have enough of was Jenna Leigh Green. She had two songs, neither of which were worthy of her, but god knows she sang the shit out of them. And every scene she was in, she commanded the stage in her killer silver boots. The fact that her character is old enough to be the mother of another character seems to be another ridiculous plot point, but it turns out Jenna Leigh Green has a touch of KerryButlerAgelessBeauty. And when you have all that to work with, you use it. But every time she exited the scene, it just felt like we needed more of her.
Yet after the curtain call, we were left smiling, laughing, and shaking our heads. And we looked at each other and said, “We just saw that.” And when we tell generations of musical theatre lovers about it years from now, they’ll wish they could have been there. So don’t miss out! Go see The Anthem, and be a part of something weird and special.
The cast of The Anthem is Ashley Kate Adams, Patch David, Jamyl Dobson, Brian Ferree, Shiloh Goodin, Jason Gotay, Jenna Leigh Green, Emily S. Grosland, Katie Lee Hill, Crista Marie Jackson, Randy Jones, Damian Thompson, and Remy Zaken. You can get tickets here.