12003152_10154166201007004_5056627724145333413_nBy Manning Harris
fmanningh@gmail.com

Atlanta Lyric Theatre’s Artistic Director Brandt Blocker is presenting the opening of the newly renovated Lyric Studio Theatre (formerly Theatre in the Square’s Alley Stage).

The inaugural production is “Edges,” a song cycle by Ben Pasek and Justin Paul about millennials’ coming of age and self-discovery. It runs through Sept. 26.

The show was written by Pasek and Paul in 2005 when they were undergraduates at the University of Michigan. In 2006 it won the Jonathan Larson Award, established by the late composer of “Rent” to encourage young artists. “Edges” has played in numerous theatres in the U.S. and around the world.

The show features Suzi Bass Award winners Austin Tijerina (also making his directing debut) and Galen Crawley; it also features Jessica De Maria and AJ Klopach. All four are accomplished singers and actors, with strong theatre backgounds.

The themes are self-discovery, liking and accepting oneself, and making connection. One critic called the show “a perfect labor of love and millennial angst.” The excellent music and lyrics are witty, ironic, and yearning.

Austin Tijerina acts, sings, and moves with smoothness and ease, and he exhibits an emotional availability that is unexpected and touching.

Galen Crawley’s vocals are quite thrilling; she can and has played everyone from Mary Poppins to Crissy, the female lead in “Hair.” Jessica De Maria brings a warmth and easy power to her vocals that make her delight to listen to.

AJ Klopach is a very nice discovery for this viewer; like the others, he’s attractive and talented. The very fact that he can hold his own with Tijerina, Crawley, and De Maria proves that he belongs on that stage.

Speaking of the stage, the Studio is a wonderful, intimate space. These young professionals exude an innocent sensuality, comic timing (their duets are divine), and vulnerability that makes them quite magnetic.

This “song cycle” has expert musical direction by BJ Brown and superb work on the piano by Chris Brent Davis. The sound design, by Daniel Pattillo, is flawless.

There are aspects of the piece that remind one of the wistful yearning of “The Fantasticks.” If you can get a seat, you’ll experience the fastest 90 minutes in town.

For more information, visit atlantalyric.com/studio.

 

 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.