Naturally the story and score must be seamlessly blended--and after more than half a decade in development, they are. Peter Webb's libretto is a cavalcade of economical but relentless snappy dialogue that often shimmers with hidden sleight-of-hand phrases that may elude at first but are virtually guaranteed to percolate to the top of one's consciousness long after the curtain call.
Together with an eccentric, facile, and whipper-snapper score by Stephen Hoffman (music) and Mark Campbell (lyrics), it's no wonder that Splendora first rose to prominence when it won the 1995 Richard Rodgers Award, a coveted prize that comes in the form of a $100,000 check. Under the proviso that the award must be put toward a production at a not-for-profit theater, Sag Harbor's Bay Street Theater happily provided such a venue that same year.
Since then, Splendora has enjoyed one of the most remarkable journeys of any musical in the last 10 years, surfacing again and again--from the American Place Theatre, where the show garnered two Drama Desk nominations, to its newest pair of lives, both courtesy of The Illyria Theatre. Described as "a new, not-for-profit repertory company dedicated to staging revivals of musicals that have pushed the traditional boundaries of the genre and the development of new works," the group first revived Splendora at Off-Off-Broadway's Pantheon Theatre before moving the show to its current Off-Broadway run (the fourth production in five years), which features carefully calibrated staging by Donna Drake.
No review of Splendora would be complete without a citation of favorite lyrics. Mine is: "Her body was burnt/But our memories weren't." And may our memories of Splendora always burn ever brighter.