New Line’s “Atomic”Cast Brings The Morality Of The Bomb To The Forefront

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Reynaldo Arceno, Zachary Allen Farmer and Sean Michael go over blueprints in “Atomic” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The Manhattan Project, which created the atom bomb, is usually portrayed as a pioneering moment for the scientists involved in solving the riddle of the right mix of atoms, fission and the spark to make it all into a weapon of mass destruction. What “Atomic,” the musical does is show us the struggles of those scientists with the issues of morality that haunted them from their creation. What hath man wrought? Either the story of creating the bomb or this moral landscape that they suddenly discovered when they realized it would destroy a mass amount of innocent human beings doesn’t sound like a good basis for a musical. But a talented New Line cast manages to make it a gripping tale of men and women feeling for their fellow man.

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Ann Hier and Zachary Allen Farmer in a duet from New Line’s “Atomic.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

With book and lyrics by Danny Ginges and music and lyrics by Philip Foxman, “Atomic” really does not resonate like some of the more outrageous musicals that New Line has become famous for. And in the wrong hands, this could, if you’ll pardon the expression, blow up in their faces. But directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy have energized the story by casting powerful singers and actors and bringing out the heart of the story without getting too sappy or preachy.

Zachary Allen Farmer leads the way as Leo Szilard, the “neutron” man who tackles that particular dilemma of the problem. He is the most passionate about suddenly realizing what they have done and the consequences such a bomb will have on millions of people. He’s always been a solid performer and singer and this show really gives him the chance to show off his acting chops. As his girlfriend and eventual wife, Ann Hier is superb as Trude Weiss. She sympathizes with his torment but also knows that what has been created cannot be undone.

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Members of the Manhattan Project in “Atomic” at New Line Theatre. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Bringing a certain stoicism and some of the best humor of the evening to the table is Ryan Scott Foizey as Arthur Compton. He is also a consummate professional who we just don’t see enough of on local stages anymore. Reynaldo Arceno is the hard-nosed member of this scientific family as Enrico Fermi. Another powerful singing voice and a strong-willed determination to make their project a success. Larissa White shines again, this time as the level-headed Leona Woods who must play devils advocate and keep the order in this often disruptive group.

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Larissa White, Victoria Valentine and Ann Heir assume the persona of the Andrews Sisters for New Line’s latest musical, “Atomic.” Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

Jeffrey M. Wright plays the dual role of Paul Tibbets and later as the “face” of the Manhattan Project, J. Robert Oppenheimer. Another solid performer who has been doing well on the cabaret circuit but we really miss his powerful performances on the local stage as well. Sean Michael is solid as Edward Teller- part of the scientific family and rounding out the cast is a delightful performance by Victoria Valentine in multiple roles including a bartender, physicist and a wonderful turn with the other two girls in the second act opener as a would-be Andrews Sisters trio.

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A powerful moment in “Atomic” at New Line Theatre (facing us is Jeffrey M. Wright, Reynaldo Arceno and Larissa White. Photo: Jill Ritter Lindberg

As always, New Line’s musical maestro, Jeffrey Richard Carter has put a splendid band together- this time featuring the addition of strings which lend an authentic touch to the period. Rob Lippert’s set and lighting design is spectacular. Playing in the center with audience members on each side makes for a more intimate setting and helps to get into the mindset of these concerned (for the most part) scientists when they realize what their weapon will be doing. Sarah Porter’s costumes are perfect for the era and Benjamin Rosemann’s sound design is a beautiful complement to Mr. Lippert’s special lighting effects for the testing of the bomb.

Not the usual rabble-rousing and somewhat irreverent musical that we’ve become accustomed to, but “Atomic” is da bomb anyway but in a more subtle, almost sophisticated way. Catch is at New Line at the Marcelle Theater through June 25th. Contact them at newlinetheatre.com for more information or to order tickets.

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One Response to “New Line’s “Atomic”Cast Brings The Morality Of The Bomb To The Forefront”

  1. New Line’s “Atomic”Cast Brings The Morality Of The Bomb To The Forefront | Stage Door St. Louis – Sean Michael Says:

    […] https://stagedoorstl.com/2016/06/05/new-lines-atomiccast-brings-the-morality-of-the-bomb-to-the-fore… […]

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