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Review of Sam’s Son by Bucket Brigade Theater

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Quote of the Day: Creating new work is demanding, exhausting, invigorating, and… at the end of it all… completely worth it. The main idea of the show is truth.What is it? What do we do with it?And what happens when we tell it, or withhold it? Jeremiah & Vanessa Gamble, co-creators of Sam’s Son, and co-founders of Bucket Brigade Theater. 

Sam's Son, new musical by Vanessa and Jeremiah Gamble of Bucket Brigade Theater, photo by Matthew Abeler

Sam’s Son, new musical by Vanessa and Jeremiah Gamble of Bucket Brigade Theater, photo by Matthew Abeler

I love supporting new work. When I read the description for this new musical, I was intrigued. It’s a new musical based on an old story, set in a new venue that was once an old church. I also noted that the Musical Director/Arranger is Michael Pearce Donley who also helped create Triple Espresso. I put this show on my must-see list. Plus, I thought it would make a fun Birthday outing with my good friend Patti. We’re both musicians and piano teachers, and love a good story. We weren’t disappointed. 

Sam's Son with Pete Colburn, Jeremiah Gamble, Bonni Allen, Seth Tychon, Gail Ottmar and Riley Parham at Art House North. Photo by Matthew Abeler

Sam’s Son with Pete Colburn, Jeremiah Gamble, Bonni Allen, Seth Tychon, Gail Ottmar and Riley Parham at Art House North. Photo by Matthew Abeler

The creative team assembled a wonderful cast to bring their characters and music to life. We loved being part of the show as audience, and sometimes church members, and sometimes patrons at an underground Speakeasy. The show is set during the prohibition. Moral judgement and illegal activity clash. The bootleggers down the river aren’t the only ones with something to hide, and even the preacher has something to confess before all is said and done. The story revolves around the folks in a small town who do what they feel they need to do to survive. Sam Jr. has a special gift, and is often called upon to save the day. But, will he always be able to use that gift for good? And, what happens when he’s faced with a challenge to his character, morality, and his heart? 

Sam's Son by Bucket Brigade Theater with Gail Ottmar and Bonni Allen at Art House North. Photo by Matthew Abeler

Sam’s Son by Bucket Brigade Theater with Gail Ottmar and Bonni Allen at Art House North. Photo by Matthew Abeler

Sam’s Son is staged in an old church converted to art space, Art House North. It’s great to see a sweet, old building like that re-purposed for the arts. We started out watching the first act in the sanctuary, main part of the church, then moved downstairs to the “Speakeasy” where we enjoyed complimentary German-style pretzels and draft root-beer. The actors brought us back into the story downstairs with an altercation at the “The Pickled Pig.” Vanessa Gamble played a songbird from the 1920’s, sexy boa and all, and sang a sweet jazzy number. (She had excellent songs as Federal Agent Miriam Rosenberg, too!) Then, we headed back upstairs to see what would happen after Sam Jr.’s temper got the better of him. 

Vanessa Gamble in Sam's Son singing in "The Pickled Pig" speakeasy during this prohibition play by Bucket Brigade Theater. Photo by Mathew Abeler

Vanessa Gamble in Sam’s Son singing in “The Pickled Pig” speakeasy during this prohibition play by Bucket Brigade Theater. Photo by Mathew Abeler

The music is a wonderful blend of folk, jazz, and bluegrass. It was fun to watch the musicians who are just off to the side of the stage, and play in one corner of the basement “Speakeasy.” All the singers were wonderful, and we had several goose-bumpy moments. Trevor Bunce (Sam Jr.) and Kayla Peters (Della) were both outstanding. It was fun to be in a more intimate setting for this musical where we were surrounded by the action and truly got caught up in the story.

Sam's Son by Bucket Brigade Theater, Trevor Bunce as Sam Jr. and Kayla Peters as Della. Photo by Matthew Abeler

Sam’s Son by Bucket Brigade Theater, Trevor Bunce as Sam Jr. and Kayla Peters as Della. Photo by Matthew Abeler

You can see Sam’s Son by Bucket Brigade Theater at Art House North in St. Paul, MN through October 28, 2017. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Do you have any re-purposed spaces in your community? Do you know of any hidden bootlegging places?

 

 

  1. That is a real cool venue for plays. Looks like it was very intimate, which probably helped when the audience became part of the show.

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