by Lorie Lewis Ham
This weekend I went to see 35mm, A Musical Exhibition, at the Selma Arts Center, and I had no idea what I was about to see. I could never have imagined the amazing experience that is this show!
35mm is a multimedia musical by Ryan Scott Oliver inspired by photographs by Matthew Murphy. It was intended to be done more as a concert, but Selma Arts has taken this show way beyond that by having the cast act out the songs as they perform them. In the program co-director Dominic Grijalva states, “when I decided to bring this magnificent piece to the Valley I wanted to do something different. In this production, you will hear 35mm as it is intended to be heard, but we’ll strive to tell the story visually as well as audibly by mixing different facets of storytelling together for A Musical Exhibition unlike any before.” And boy did they succeed in doing just that!
Unlike a typical musical, there isn’t just one single plot that runs through the entire show. Instead, each individual story stands on its own, and is brought to life in such a way– with the use of acting, singing, choreography, photography, and video–that you are completely drawn in to the story, even though each one is presented in mere minutes.
With its rock musical style, 35mm reminded me a lot musically of one of my favorite rock musicals, “Spring Awakening.” Favorite songs included the heartbreaking “Leave Luanne,” performed flawlessly by Cameron Briggs; the haunting song “The Seraph”; the heartbreaking song “Cut You A Piece”; and “Mama Let Me In,” with its beautiful a cappella harmony. There are some fun and more lighthearted pieces in the show as well. This is a vocally challenging show, and yet each performer did a great and at times phenomenal job, accompanied by a live band! This show just blew me away in every way!
The cast includes several performers whom I have seen in other productions, including the Selma Arts production of Heathers, and a few who are new to me. Will Bishop, who never fails to knock it out of the park vocally, was perfectly menacing as the abusive husband in “Leave Luanne,” and Brandon Valdez breaks your heart in “Cut You a Piece.” I could go on and on about this show and its cast but I will let you discover it all for yourself. The remaining cast members are Jacqueline Castro, Kindle Cowger, Michael Flores, Miguel Gastelum, Jeremy Hitch, Sabrina Lopez, Jessica Meredith, Julia Prieto, and Shawn Williams (I loved his dancing).
Major kudos to co-directors Dominic Grijalva and Michael Flores, and to this amazing young cast of performers! This is a must see show! 35mm runs at the Selma Arts Center, 1935 High St, Selma, CA, through July 1. Tickets can be purchased on their website or at the door.
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