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'Sky's End' Sings of Human Spirit, Promises Brighter Days

September 09, 1996|JANA J. MONJI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

From the first vibrant measure of "Alive," the song that opens "Sky's End," Blank Theatre Company's latest offering at the 2nd Stage Theatre, fans of musicals may rejoice. Although Joseph Alan Drymala, who wrote the book, music and lyrics, tends to favor overwrought emotions and almost melodramatic plotting, he is unmistakably a promising new talent in the musical theater world.

Andrew (Steve Scott Springer) is hospitalized with Henry (Edward Evanko), an older gentleman who pretends he is a World War II soldier. Andrew's father (Christopher Carroll) can't really deal with his son's illness and, during one of his rare visits, prefers to talk about the weather. Andrew's mother, unseen but alluded to, cannot bring herself to visit her dying boy. Jamie (Christian Meoli), Andrew's younger brother, connects Andrew with the outside world and its normal aspirations of college and love.

Yet it is the sky and its ever-changing canvas that transports Andrew out of his confinement. There is also love: Andrew is smitten with his affianced nurse, Amy (Amy Lloyd).

Springer attacks this role with zest, evolving from a hopeful, buoyant youth of 23 who wins the audience's hearts to an embittered, angry young man.

Not all of this is convincingly scripted by Drymala. The tension of the Amy, Andrew and Joey triangle is not sustained, and the second triangle, involving Amy, Andrew and Jamie, is also underdeveloped.

Drymala's songs also tend to celebrate vocal virtuosity more than move the story forward. They cannot stand alone as a textured, satisfying, cohesive whole.

Director Daniel Henning does a good job bridging these gaps and keeping an upbeat tempo throughout the show.

* "Sky's End," Blank Theatre Company at 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Oct. 6. $22. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

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