This collaboratively created music-theater piece has plenty of charm.
Break Time, written and directed by David A. Miller, is actually set in the West End Theatre itself, and makes reference to its unusual architectural structure. Janitors Martin (Andrew Zimmerman) and Missy (Sarah Bowles) wander into the space during their breaks, playing with some of the props, wondering why the theater is shaped like a dome, and receiving mysterious messages sent to them via paper airplane. The playlet is a charming and quirky love story of sorts, and features endearing performances from both actors, as well as Kyle Williams and Jesse Kearney who perform hilarious physical comedy routines.
Marisa Michelson and Rinne Groff collaborated on the mini-musical Hey Baby, in which unmarried couple Paul (John Gardner) and Corrine (Kathryn Holtkamp) anticipate the arrival of their first child. Gardner nicely captures Paul's anxiety about his impending fatherhood, particularly in the song that starts off this segment of the performance. And while the writing doesn't avoid cliché, under May Adrales' sensitive direction, it at least manages to be sweet and uplifting.
Hypothesis -- the final major story arc written by Laura Marks and directed by Stefanie Sertich -- concerns 18th century poet and philosopher Voltaire (a charismatic Dino Antoniou) and his relationship with scientist and mathematician Emilie du Chatelet (Dorothy Abrahams). The piece is full of humor (particularly its opening scene) while also thoughtfully examining the intersection between faith and science.
The first act culminates in the rousing title tune, "The Dome," with music by Hyeyoung Kim and lyrics by Michael Cooper. Deborah Abramson's poignant song, "Liliana," is well sung by Sarah Statler, and fits in nicely with themes in some of the other pieces in the program, particularly Hey Baby. On the downside, a quartet of monologues, written by Norman Lasca, are scattered throughout The Dome, but none of them really amounts to much. Similarly, Michelson's song collaboration with Jason Grote, "Wreck / Time" makes good use of the chorus of performers but otherwise doesn't make much of an impression.
There are recurring images, such as beach balls and paper airplanes, that help tie together the various narrative strands. Video designer Richard Dibella has also made significant contributions to the overall visual aspect of the piece. Images are projected not only onto the theater walls, but also on the ceiling of the dome, showing sonogram results, trees in a forest, and most impressively, a starry nighttime sky.