Matt Bogart, Jessica Boevers, and young Noah Galvin shine in this soaring world premiere musical about a troubled boy.
The plot focuses on 10-year-old Billy Lucas (Noah Galvin), who is left emotionally scarred when he is given to foster parents after his mother attempts suicide. His new home is a troubled one until his foster dad gives him the gift of a toy model of a World War-II era airplane. Soon, Billy is visited in his dreams by a mysterious Army aviator named Ace (Matt Bogart), with whom he embarks on a series of adventures. As we travel from 1952 back through two World Wars, it becomes predictably clear early on why Ace has taken Billy through this series of dreams. Yet, even as we know the reason, it is still a great journey of discovery for both Billy and the audience.
Oberacker and Taylor's score is moving and exhilarating, and the recurring song "In These Skies," drives home the main theme of the show -- how to choose your own destiny and make it fly -- beautifully. Stafford Arima has directed the piece with flair and a real understanding of the power at the center of this play. David Korins' set design helps with the soaring feel of the show and the music.
But it's the cast that shines brightest. Galvin is a remarkable find as Noah, displaying a full range of emotions and filling the theatre with a beautiful and strong singing voice. Bogart, a veteran of such Broadway shows as Aida and Miss Saigon, is once again a strong presence on the stage. Amy Bodnar and Duke Lafoon are delightful as the Cleaver-type foster parents, and Chris Peluso shines as the World War I flying ace who brings Billy to a level of maturity that he's not really ready for. Mention must be made, as well, of the superb work of Gabrielle Boyadjian as Billy's newfound friend Emily.