Reviews

David ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 11,2024: Michelangelo is quoted as saying, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” The same could be said of the new Musical, David, now making its premiere at AMT Theater. Martha Rosenblatt (book and lyrics), Gary Glickstein (book and lyrics) and Albert Tapper (book, lyrics and music) have created a real gem. All they need to do is chisel away the superfluous material. And there’s certainly a great deal of it.

Kenny Morris,Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen and cast.

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 11,2024: Michelangelo is quoted as saying, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” The same could be said of the new Musical, David, now making its premiere at AMT Theater. Martha Rosenblatt (book and lyrics), Gary Glickstein (book and lyrics) and Albert Tapper (book, lyrics and music) have created a real gem. All they need to do is chisel away the superfluous material. And there’s certainly a great deal of it.

David has many plotlines. Some of them, such as David’s relationship with his son Solomon (Caleb Mathura) and the matter of how Solomon will take the reins after his father dies, go nowhere. Indeed Solomon soon leaves the scene and the play, never to return. Other plotlines, such as the possibility that Young David (Ethan Zeph) and his best friend Jonathan (Jacob Louchheim) may have a gay relationship, are silly and unproductive.

Olivia Vadnais, Ethan Zeph (center), and Timothy Warmen (rear right).

Other plotlines are more promising: David’s relationship with King Saul (Danny Arnold), who is jealous and suspicious of the young upstart; David’s love for and betrayal of his wife, Michal (Olivia Vadnais); David as an old man facing death, with the help of the prophet, Nathan (Kenny Morris). One wants to see them better developed and tied together.

Adding even more plot twists, David’s story is told as a series of flashbacks, as the aged David (Timothy Warmen) looks back and tries to justify his past acts to the skeptical Nathan. Oddly, David’s scenes with Nathan provide much of the play’s humor as  Morris proves to be an excellent comedian.

Despite the unfinished and unedited quality of the musical, it benefits from Kyle Pleasant’s excellent direction and a cast that is uniformly terrific, from the principals to the ensemble. Vadnais is a particularly lovely and lyrical soprano. And Arnold is a powerful and moving baritone. The ensemble numbers are vigorous and amusing, as choreographed by Pleasant.

Timothy Warmen and Ehan Zeph.

The score is filled with songs that have catchy tunes and clever lyrics. Mical’s “Something Was Ending” and Saul’s “I Do Not Hate Him” are outstanding ballads. Young David’s “Touch My Dreams” is an eloquent “I Want” song. But there are a total of seven reprises in David.

After watching this musical for two and a half hours (there’s one intermission), one is left with several very basic questions. Why is this story being told? What is the arc of David’s life? What has David learned as he faces death?

Impressive performances and a formidable score can go a long way to making a successful musical. But they cannot make a hit.

David ***1/2
AMT Theater, 354 West 45 Street
Runs Through July 13, 2024
Photography: Russ Rowland

Olivia Vadnais and Jacob Louchheim (center) and cast.