JUMP BABY

An Original Musical About War and Love

A Studio Series Production at The Lynn Theatre at Brightpoint Community College, 800  Charter Colony Pkwy, T Building, Room T112, Midlothian, VA 23114

Reviewed by Julinda D. Lewis

Performances: January 27 – February 5, 2023

Ticket Prices: $10

Info: (804) 796-4000 or email theatreinfo@brightpoint.edu 

 

I usually don’t do much preparation prior to seeing a new show so as not to arrive with preconceived expectations. It didn’t take long before Rachel Landsee’s new musical, Jump Baby, began to feel familiar. This feeling solidified right around the time lead character Amelia West (played by Rachel Rose Gilmour) remarked that the plane banked just before she jumped out. It turns out it wasn’t the plane, hence the title, Jump Baby.

 

In September of 2021 I attended a wonderfully unique performance of four one-act plays at the Firehouse Theatre. Each had been written in workshop by a veteran, with one, SOAR, being penned by a female veteran. It made an impression:

 

The first half of the program closed with SOAR,
the only one of the four one-act plays written by a woman veteran, Rachel Landsee. Irene Kuykendall was outstanding as the military lawyer and wife, Rachel. Her husband, Adam (Dean Knight) was also an officer, and the focus of SOAR included the strains military life puts on relationships, the demands made on women, especially if they become pregnant while in service, as well as philosophical discussions of the validity of sending US troops to Iraq and
Afghanistan. For me, this was the most complex and layered of the four pieces, and its appeal is enhanced by the presence of a sort of Greek chorus meets four-part harmony a cappella group composed of four of the male ensemble members. SOAR turned out to be a mini-musical, powered by foot-stomping, finger-snapping military cadence, soulful rhythms, and the bluesy strains of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”

Birds flying
high, you know how I feel

Sun in the
sky, you know how I feel

Breeze
driftin’ on by, you know how I feel

It’s a new
dawn

It’s a new
day

It’s a new
life for me…

https://wordpress.com/post/jdldancesrva.com/2727

 

Nearly 18 months later, SOAR has grown into – or provided a foundation for – a full-fledged two-act musical with an original score by Mark Messing. The a cappella quartet has doubled in size and this iteration features a full ensemble of cast members who play multiple roles, sing, and dance. The military cadences are still there, but now there is a list of a dozen songs and a trio of live musicians, under the direction of Cassie Cipolla. The story of Amelia and Jack has been placed in context, providing more of a backstory and fleshed out relationships.

There’s Jack and Amelia’s marriage, their struggle to understand the role of war and justice, the place of women in the military, and more. At one point, all the women are pregnant, opening the door to but leaving unanswered questions about sexuality, sexual harassment, and sexual assault in the military. Kerrigan Sullivan’s deft direction – and Kayla Xaiver’s choreography – keeps everything and everyone moving at a nice clip that echoes the military cadences.

The inaugural production of the Lynn Theatre’s new Studio Series, Jump Baby is a collaboration involving the development of new work by underrepresented voices (Rachel Landsee, a female veteran and military attorney), professional actors (Rachel Rose Gilmour and Adam Turck), and students (onstage and behind the scenes). It has catchy tunes, cadences, a logical story line, and humor. The minimalist set of boxes and graded planes studded with rivets provides an appropriate and versatile background, especially when creatively lit in a kaleidoscope of colors – or in red, white, and blue. Little touches, such as having the ringing of a cell phone voiced by an actor instead of a recording of an actual cell phone demonstrate a commitment to the process.

I fully expect to see and hear more of this project. “You can do so much with music that you can’t do with words,” Landsee said during the closing show talkback. “Musicals are a fantastic way to express an American way of life.”  I don’t think Landsee is finished yet, and it’s been a pleasure to see the growth and development to date. The production closed February 5, but I think I heard from a friend that you may be able to see a streaming version if you contact The Lynn Theatre.

Julinda D. Lewis is a dancer, teacher, and writer who was born in Brooklyn, NY and now lives in Eastern Henrico County.

———-

 

JUMP BABY

Written by Rachel Landsee

Music by Mark Messing

Directed by Kerrigan Sullivan

Cast:

Amelia West: Rachel Rose Gilmour

Jack West: Adam Turck

Staff Sergeant Michaels/Soldier: Jay Bynum

Deputy Big Boss/Jumpmaster/Soldier: Conner McGowan

Branch Chief/Soldier: Mac Owens

Acting Deputy Big Boss/Jumpmaster/Soldier/Assistant
Director: Russell Paulette

Big Boss/Soldier: Harrison Phillips

Soldier: Mahala Redden

Missy/Soldier: Ariana Silva

Military Doctor/Soldier: Julianna Velasquez

Band:

Pianist: Justin Lee

Trumpeter/Auxiliary Percussionist: August Redden

Percussionist: Elliot Loucks

Song List:

War Game

Homicide Rhymes with Lullaby

Jumping Hollywood

Death from Above

Undone

Called Away

59 Days and a Wakeup

Christmas Bells

On the Daily

Run, Gun, and Done

Mail Call

Green Light Go

Production Team:

Producing Artistic Director/Director: Kerrigan Sullivan

Playwright/Lyricist: Rachel Landsee

Composer: Mark Messing

Musical Director: Cassie Cipolla

Choreographer: Kayla Xaiver

Creative Team & Designers:

Production State Manager/Lighting Designer/Master Electrician: Alleigh Scantling

Scenic Designer/Technical Director/Properties Master: Hailey Bean

Sound Designer: Grace LaBelle

Costume Designer: Lindsey Ladnier

Assistant Stage Manager/Spot Operator/Costume Shop Supervisor: Claire Bronchick

Marketing Manager/Graphic Designer/Photographer/Videographer/Website Designer: Ian Glass

Assistant State Manager: Michelle Rubinstein

Sound Engineer: Lillian Foster

Crew:

Sam Richardson, Casey Allen, Sadie Tucker, Kenya Saunders

Performance Schedule:

Friday, January 27, at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 28, at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 29, at 2:00 p.m. (Talkback with the playwright follows the show)

Thursday, February 2, at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, February 3, at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 4, at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 5, at 2:00 p.m. (Talkback with the playwright follows the show)

Run Time:

About two hours with one intermission

Tickets:

General admission tickets are $10. Military and veteran tickets are $5. Current Brightpoint students may get their tickets for free with a Brightpoint Student ID. To purchase tickets, go to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5692705

Photos: Ian Glass

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Author: jdldances

Julinda D. Lewis is a dancer, teacher, and writer, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and transplanted to Richmond, VA. A retiree from both the New York City and Richmond City Public School systems, she is currently an Adjunct Instructor for the Department of Dance and Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds the degrees of BS and MA in Dance and Dance Education (New York University), MSEd in Early Childhood Education (Brooklyn College, CUNY), and EdD in Educational Leadership (Regent University). Julinda is the Richmond Site Leader for TEN/The Eagles Network and was formerly the East Region Coordinator for the International Dance Commission and has worked in dance ministry all over the US and abroad (Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Puerto Rico). She is licensed in dance ministry by the Eagles International Training Institute (2012), and was ordained in dance ministry through Calvary Bible Institute and Seminary, Martinez, GA (2009).

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