Poulsbo's Jewel Box Theatre is a gem of a facility. The inside is clean and well-lit with air that smells fresh. Patrons sit in the most comfortable chairs to be found in any theater within a 50-mile radius. At intermission, the audience is invited to partake of tasty refreshments, free of charge (albeit with a prominent "donation" jar present). It was in this lovely setting that Jewel Box opened "The Crossing" this weekend. The show will continue through April 9. Friday and Saturday evening shows start at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees take place at 2 p.m.
"The Crossing" is an interesting work, written by Paul Lewis and Carissa Meisner Smit. It is the story of Amelia Earhart's 1932 attempt to become the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic in a solo flight. The sub-plot (prominent enough to be a co-plot) involves a weatherman's decision whether to help Ms. Earhart and achieve redemption for an earlier meteorological mistake that led to tragedy.
What could have been a science and history-based drama was turned on its head by a genre choice Lewis and Smit made. They decided to turn it into a musical! That became the overriding task facing Director Sharon Greany when she decided to helm this project. History, weather science, and relational drama set to music.
The earnest cast gave it everything they had. Some of them sing fairly well. Some of them...don't. One of them sings superbly.
The best singer in the cast, and by a long flight, is Nita Wilson in the role of Mary Spencer. Ms. Wilson sings like a bird and embodied nicely the supporting role of the weatherman's fed-up wife. She may, or may not, leave her husband and move home to Michigan. Whatever decision she makes, Nita Wilson shows the audience that the decision is one fraught with anxiety.
In the role of Earhart is Bronsyn Foster, bewigged and costumed to strongly resemble the aviation pioneer. Saturday night, Ms. Foster had some pitchy moments early, only to hit her vocal stride in the second act. She's a fine actress who's performance in this role will only improve through the run of "The Crossing."
The role of meteorologist Ray Spencer is played by Walter Brown. His vocalizations were the best of the male members of the cast. His role calls for the longest emotional journey of any in the cast. Mr. Brown did very well.
God gave some folks voices too weak for the task. He blessed others with voices carrying stentorian might and muscle. Fred Saas was in the blessed room when vocal chords were handed out. He has great pipes! His role as reporter Danny Riggins was well-played, and that voice was a big reason.
Riggins is professionally plagued by mixed messages and changes of direction by his editor, played by Joe Prevost. Most of the humorous lines in the script are delivered by Prevost. He needs to slow down! Rushing funny lines strips them of their potency. It is a skill Mr. Prevost will master in later shows.
Amelia Earhart's husband George Putnam is played in "The Crossing" by Jeffrey Brown. He does a nice job displaying the anxiety experienced by the spouses of all risk-takers. In love enough with Earhart to finance her adventures, Putnam is a little-known hero of early aviation. Mr. Brown does very well with the non-singing portion of the role.
Billed as "The Fury," Carly Tizzano plays the doubts, fears, and guilt experienced by Ray Spencer as he makes decisions both personal and professional. She is seen only by her victim. Ms. Tizzano, who bears a strong resemblance to actress Lori Singer (1984's "Footloose") oozes about the stage both beautifully and as judge and jury in the mind of poor Spencer. We are told that the Devil comes clothed in light. The Fury bedevils Ray Spencer while clothed in sparkles.
There is much to like about what Jewel Box Theatre has to offer the theater-lovers in Kitsap County. Community theater is an enduring gift to a city. It deserves rave accolades when it does well and patience when it stretches into difficult material. For sure, future shows will be easier to do than "The Crossing." Director Greany and this cast deserve applause for trying hard with difficult material.
A tasty and challenging night at the theater can be had with a ticket to "The Crossing" after a nice dinner at Burrata Bistro. Play tickets are available from the Jewel Box Theatre ticketing page which is run by Brown Paper Tickets, or by calling 360-697-3183.