By Kelly Luck
Words + Music is the result of a rather fascinating collaboration between the Coterie Theatre's Young Playwright's Roundtable, the UMKC Composition Department, and the Lyric Opera. What happens is that short, original pieces by the young writers are set to music and then performed using local talent. The result is a not necessarily polished, but nevertheless enjoyable and an interesting glimpse into the creativity going on in our city every day.
The format is simple enough: the writer of the piece steps up and reads their work, just as written. Then, a singer re-performs the same reading in its musical incarnation. The handful of performances were quite varied, going from humor to slice of life to magical realist drama. The voices are not as young as their creators, and the performers bring a fine maturity to their parts.
If there is a critique to offer, having the pieces performed spoken-word first and then immediately re-performed musically does somewhat lessen the impact of the latter. Perhaps this approach might be reconsidered or somehow modified. But then, with only five in this first incarnation (and there will, we trust, be further incarnations in the future), perhaps the run time was a consideration. Understandable.
In any case, it is an intriguing experiment, and one not without dividends. We hope to see this become a recurring thing, very much in the spirit of Fringe and the fostering of young talent with the help of talent already established.