.....................Saturday, September 22, 2007
 
Hilarity meets humanity in One Moment
 
Ayrin Mackie, Donnie Schram and Alex Saslove
 
Ashley Goodfellow, Banner staff writer
 

When watching a musical, I always hope for two things: music that highlights the story and builds the characters, and a plot with enough muscle to carry itself without the music. It's a fine balance that many teeter around. One Moment, a collaboration between playwright Norm Foster and composer Steve Thomas, nails these two elements and provides the audience with a flawless example of the ideal musical. The two find this vital equilibrium, and Thomas' intelligent music works to heighten Foster's astute writing -- it's the perfect marriage of script and song, and makes for a raging success.

As can be expected, Foster delivers a story with his signature "humour meets humanity" take on the issue at hand -- and although the laughs are reliable (and abundant), they are never humdrum or uninspired. You are simply getting a brand new dose of what Foster does best. Musicals are a welcomed venue for Foster's work.

The story is built on the premise that all it takes is one moment to alter your path in life. It examines the lives of six employees of a call centre selling self-help DVDs, and one pivotal moment they all share. There's Danny (Alex Saslove), the eternal optimist; Stuart (George Masswohl), the ex-con; Gail (Lisa Horner), the cynical boss; Kenny (Donnie Schram), the happy-go-lucky homosexual; Maria (Ayrin Mackie), the desperate lover; and John (Shawn Wright), the aspiring writer.

The play opens with Danielle (but everyone calls her Danny) starting her first day of work at One Moment. She's a na?ve, eager-to-please young woman who left her comfortable and simple rural life to venture out into the big city. She has a fresh face, a permanent smile and a homemade heart-shaped poster with shiny ribbons in her cubicle that reads "Believe in your dreams" -- enough said. You can't help but like Danny.

Saslove portrays Danny with a vibrant enthusiasm that is so animated, so energetic that you'd think the role was written with her in mind. It's a performance that sparkles through and through, and one that will likely launch her young career to new, impressive heights. She has definitely set the bar way, way up as the first to take on this role. In fact, the entire cast delivered performances that were polished, creating the perfect template for the world premiere of One Moment. Everyone was spot-on -- and kudos to director David Nairn for a job well done.

The audience will thoroughly enjoy Thomas's music and the cast's singing -- it's buoyant and powerful at the same time and never excessive or overstated. And, just wait until you see the set -- it's a simple masterpiece in itself. Foster takes two steps forward (and no steps back) with One Moment -- so do yourself a favour and be one of the first to see its world premiere at Theatre Orangeville.

One Moment runs until Oct. 7 at Theatre Orangeville. For tickets, call the box office at 519-942-3423.