In Play Reviews

Three children–the “Queen Captain” Amy (Rachel Lewis) and her subjects Seth (Joel Walker) and Mike (Michael Morrow Hammack)–are thrown together in an earlier time, and become friends for life in the musical Trails now playing at Broadway Rose Theatre. Amy is bossy and sure of herself, and her energy and ability to mesmerize and manage the boys continues well past puberty.

Joel Walker, Rachel Lewis, and Michael Morrow Hammack in Trails at Broadway Rose Theatre.

And then things change. Challenges arise.  Seth stays in their home town; Mike and Amy go off to college; there is an estrangement.

The story picks up years later, when Mike returns to the old neighborhood in search of Seth. By now, Mike is a high-flying lawyer making money hand over fist. Seth is living at home, working for an hourly wage, pottering in the garden. The two are uneasy together, but Mike manages to talk Seth into joining him to walk the Appalachian Trail. It’s something they long ago promised they would do together.

A journey taken to sort things out is one of the oldest devices in literature. In this new play by Christy Hall with music by Jeff Thomson and lyrics by Jordan Mann, the device is used because it works. Out in the wilderness without the distractions of everyday life, people start to reveal themselves–for better or worse. Under direction of Brian Shnipper, tensions build in a place devoid of everything but Nature, and the burdens the two men have carried for years are finally unloaded.

It’s a long and arduous journey, punctuated by quarrels, timely flashbacks, and encounters with other characters (Quinlan Fitzgerald, Kevin-Michael Moore, and Danielle Weathers take on multiple roles). The music, conducted by Eric Nordin, ranges from sweet to pleasantly atonal. The action takes place amid a splendidly simple set of raw boards and tree trunks (thank you Emily Wilken and crew!).

Trails has developed over eight years, and has benefitted from workshops and developmental productions at theatres in Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle. It runs through October 22 at the Broadway Rose New Stage, 12850 SW Grant Avenue, Tigard.


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