Smoke, Lights, Marimba Jan 27, 2012

by Chris

I am honored that On the Boards invited me to guest-blog about the new show Redemption.  Being a longtime fan of Erin Jorgensen, Steve Fisk, and OtB, I knew that the show would be a unique blend of musical virtuosity, dark humor, and attitude .  I was not dissapointed.

I thought it best to begin with a quick synopsis of Redemption


A young woman comes to the coastal town of Seabrook Island, South Carolina in the 1940's to spend the summer with her family. Still in her teens, Erin Jorgensen meets local boy Steve Fisk at a Carnival. On the spot, Steve senses that he and Erin are meant to be together. Though she is a wealthy debutante and he a mill worker, over the course of one passionate and carefree summer in the South, the two fall deeply in love.

Circumstances - and the sudden outbreak of WWII - drive them apart, but both continue to be haunted by memories of each other. When Steve returns home from fighting years later, Erin is irrevocably gone from his life, but not from his heart.

Though Steve doesn't yet know it, Erin has come back to Seabrook Island, where they first fell in love. But now Erin is engaged to marry Lane Czaplinski , a wealthy soldier she met while volunteering in a GI hospital.

Decades later, a man reads from a faded notebook to a woman he regularly visits at her nursing home. Though her memory has faded, she becomes caught up in the fiery story of Erin and Steve - and for a few moments, she is able to relive the passionate, turbulent time when they swore they'd be together always. 


If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks, please stop reading this post and go directly to to purchase tickets for Redemption, you will not be disappointed!


If you are still reading this, I imagine that you realize that the above synopsis is not for Redemption, but is in fact the plot to the film version of The Notebook, with the names of the Redemption cast and crew added in.  

These two works do share some similarities as they deal with themes of human connection, but where The Notebook plays this out using over complicated and overly trite plot devices, Redemption is satisfied with setting moods over a series of musical numbers.  Each piece within this larger work has its own look and emotional impact.  Lane Czaplinski's direction uses The lighting/set design of Richard Bresnahan and the sound design of Steve Fisk & Julian Martlew to point the focus on Erin Jorgensen's seemingly effortless performance.  Simple changes in lighting and wardrobe between pieces morph Jorgensen from being delicate & emotional one moment, to tough & intimidating and back again.

All the while Steve Fisk sat in the shadows on the edges of the stage like the wizard behind a curtain, weaving sounds and creating textures that set the foundation for Jorgensen's performance. Often repeating and manipulating Jorgensen's own vocals, while incorporating his own signature style and sound, I think I even heard the same spring sound used in The Halo Benders indie-classic, Don't Touch My Bikini (Boi-oi-oing!). I had assumed that the Marimba would be Jorgensen's focus, and it does feature prominently, however I was pleasantly surprised that she equally used her beautiful singing voice, acting ability and piano playing.  

In a very short hour, the stage faded to black and the performers disappeared leaving only smoke and light.


I attempted to take some notes during the show, in the complete blackness.  Some pages were actually helpful reminders of lyrics or moods, but I thought I would end this post with a photo of a completely useless page from my notebook that I wrote during the last number in the show...



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