In Harmony – Agnes Irwin in Rosemont, PA.
November 23, 2015
Review submitted by Emily Thompson from The Baldwin School
In 1962, the place to be is WKRC-TV Studios in Cincinnati, Ohio. Three singing groups of sisters compete for fame and fortune, all while dealing with their own struggles of racism, group dynamics, and one particularly ruthless competitor. Written by the director of the show, William Esher, and the music director, Jerry Kapral, the show In Harmony manages to address issues that affect everyone in an entertaining and bright light.
In the beginning of the show, three groups of sisters are introduced, the very religious Irish Catholic O’Donnell sisters, the pretentious and self-entitled Wright sisters, and the bold but caring Moore sisters, who struggle with racism and prejudice even with their success. Meanwhile, the television host, Kip Kiley (Andrew Lengel), is off in his own world, letting his under-appreciated assistant, Gladys Brown (Charlotte Alexander), do all of his work for him.
The production’s great harmonies and group dynamics held the story together beautifully. “Blue Moon”, sung by the O’Donnell sisters, was particularly well-received. In addition, the dynamics between the individual sister groups (such as the supportive Moore sisters) made the characters relatable and easy to empathize with. The connections between the actors, both vocally and mentally, really carried the show.
Linda, played by Catherine de Lacoste-Azizi, was a ruthless competitor in the competition, and was played just so. Her solo song, “No Stops to the Top”, was hysterical, and her facial expressions and tone inflection greatly reinforced her character. Every part of the sassy but lovable Jennifer, played by Dejah Bradshaw, was adored by the audience, from her character, full of determination and self-respect, to her beautiful voice and collaboration with her fellow Moore Sisters (Acacia Pressley and Sanaiyah Watts) and Mary Frances (Connie Thompson).
Throughout the show, the adorably-dressed ensemble popped out for “Sing Your Song”, and their high energy and perkiness added to the television-show contest atmosphere. While their black leggings in the final scene and shorter skirts in the first act weren’t necessarily from that time period, the girls’ perky ponytails and behavior carried the energy of the show.
This show truly brought the audience back to the sixties, particularly with their use of costumes for the main characters. The sister-groups had particularly beautiful costumes that complemented each other and expressed the group well. While the set was minimal, a screen hung above the stage, with a black-and-white video live broadcasting the action on stage. It was a cute and creative addition to the show. However, it became difficult to hear the singers at times, due to technical difficulties, but the actresses persevered.
Agnes Irwins’ cute, mainly-female show took beautiful harmonies and important lessons and created an entertaining and unique show.
Review submitted by Emma Gogol from Central Bucks High School West
An enthusiastic cast, exciting musical numbers, beautiful costumes, mesmerizing sets, and wonderful voices. All of these components came together in The Agnes Irwin School’s fall production of their original show, In Harmony.
Based at a radio show in 1960’s Cincinnati, In Harmony is the story of three groups of self-proclaimed “Singing Sisters” who compete in a contest sponsored by Hucklebury Industries. The competition heats up when Linda Wright, one of the contestants, decides that she is going to win the contest by any means necessary.
The Agnes Irwin School’s production was full of very talented student actors, all of whom brought a unique energy to their characters. Stand-out performances included Dejah Bradshaw who brought a great sassy component and comedic energy to her character, Jennifer Moore. Also exceptional was Catherine de Lacoste-Azizi, whose musical number entitled “No Stops to the Top” made her character,Linda Wright, very memorable, and Connie Thompson whose innocence and grace added to her already strong performance as Mary Frances O’Donnell.
Other highlights of the show included student Charlotte Alexander’s performance as the comedic stage manager, Gladys Brown. Another memorable performer was Andrew Lengel, who brought a wonderfully corny aspect to his character, contest host Kip Kiley.
In Harmony, as a whole, was strengthened by its enthusiastic and talented ensemble, who portrayed the studio’s dancers. Although not all choreography was always in unison, all ensemble members were exciting to watch and brought a great energy to the stage, which in turn, made the audience more enthusiastic.
Agnes Irwin’s stage crew did tremendously, although at times, it was difficult to hear what the performers were saying. A wonderful component to the show was the fake television which hung above the stage. When the studio was supposedly “recording” something for television, a live feed of the stage was played in black and white on the television above. Also, whenever there was a commercial break during the live broadcast of the studio’s competition, real commercials from the time period were played on the television. Overall, the technical components to the show added to the already enjoyable experience.
The Agnes Irwin School’s production of In Harmony was an enjoyable and fun experience, which left the audience laughing and feeling good.