Signature's 'Spin': a Fresh Musical of Family, Fame and Fortune

Teacher Allison (Erin Driscoll), Evan (James Gardiner), Evan’s grandson Jesse (Holden Browne) and Evan’s daughter Makalo (Carolyn Cole) in the musical “Spin.”
Teresa Wood
Teacher Allison (Erin Driscoll), Evan (James Gardiner), Evan’s grandson Jesse (Holden Browne) and Evan’s daughter Makalo (Carolyn Cole) in the musical “Spin.”

Signature Theatre’s new musical, “Spin,” invites us to reflect on the challenges of personal growth, all the while laughing about the unexpected twists of family, fame and fortune. A seemingly lighthearted performance about washed-up, wanna-be pop star Evan Peterson, played by James Gardiner, "Spin" offers a web of ambition, relationships and love that reveals a engaging and introspective look into a modern American family.

"Spin," written by Brian Hill with lyrics and music by Neil Bartram, is based on the 2008 South Korean film "Speedy Scandal." It depicts Peterson’s development from a boy-band wonder to a reality television host to a father – and grandfather. Peterson’s life of serial one-night stands and take-out gets spun upside down when his daughter Makalo, played by Carolyn Cole, and Jesse, played by Holden Brown, knock on his door. Because neither his ego nor his suede couches are prepared for the responsibilities of father- and grandfather-hood, he understandably goes a little haywire.

After spending more time with them, he begins to see his own musicality reflected in them. Despite his initial unhappiness, Makalo and Jesse sneak their way deeper into his life until he ultimately chooses, after a series of distressing circumstances, them over personal fame.

Also, the unfolding stories of Evan's romance with Jesse’s teacher Allison, played by Erin Driscoll, and workplace competition with his coworker Richard, played by Bobby Smith, add intrigue, helping the audience understand – and root for – Peterson.

The familiar plot of a man balancing work and family could have made the show fall flat, but the musical’s production makes it, instead, quite a lively performance. With an expressive chorus, jazzy tap dance routine, and dynamic set, the show never loses the audience's attention.

"Spin" is the first work ever created in Signature Theatre’s new “siglab.” Siglab describes itself as “a special laboratory series that gives writers the opportunity to rehearse their shows for four weeks with professional actors and designers – focusing on structure, storytelling, music and script – and to see their work come to life as fully-staged productions.” Given its unique mission, it allowed writer Brian Hill, lyricist Neil Bartram and director Eric Schaeffer to experiment and perfect the show before its debut.

Furthermore, because "Spin" stems from the South Korean film, "Speedy Scandal," siglab allowed the production team the time and resources to Americanize the performance. Interestingly enough, "Spin" will be translated into Korean and brought to Seoul, South Korea, after it leaves Arlington’s Signature Theatre.

The audience reaps the benefits of siglab and its resources, enjoying dynamic staging, a modern script and artfully integrated technology. For example, since the script was continually revised during rehearsal, the show’s pop culture references to scandals, such as Paula Deen’s recent one, feel immediately relevant. The production uses big-screen televisions to flash funny photos and quips, engaging the audience throughout the performance.

A family-friendly, thoughtful performance, "Spin" has all the ingredients to make you rhythmically tap your foot, anxiously scoot to the edge of your seat and pensively stroke your beard. Looks like its time to add this musical to your calendar.

"Spin," with a time of two hours and 20 minutes, runs through July 27 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. -- 703-820-9771 -- Signature-Theatre.org.

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Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:33:54 -0500

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