QuiltersWho Syracuse University When Through April 7 Where Storch Theatre, 820 E. Genesee St, Syracuse Review by Lauren Smart
There are female ensemble musicals that work. And for me Quilters is not one of them. This 1984 Tony-loser stitches together prairie stories with a clumsy approach to story and mostly boring songs reminiscent of Americana folk music.
Ostensibly the musical challenges the boundaries of this stage genre and finds a thread that connects all women heading West in the days of pioneering. But in execution the musical grows monotonous. The Syracuse students tackle this musical with enthusiasm and superb performances, but there's only so much redemption for shoddy material.
Especially impressive are the set and costume designs by Sally SangHee Bae and Josh Oliver, respectively. Bae's set captures both the simplicity and austerity of the West with functional space for the cast to move around in as they act out each story. Oliver brings a dash of color to this world, as he designed costumes to reflect the overarching personalities of each character, while still allowing them to transform into different roles throughout the play.
The seven women in the play sing beautifully and wring a good amount of humor from their interactions.
And yes, they really do sing about quilting the whole time.
Rather than discuss the show's inlaid problems, I will thank the women and the live orchestra for their talent and passion.