Three young Amish girls exploring their identities on their Rumspringa (the timeframe in which Amish youth are given the opportunity to explore the English world and increase their social activity), a lovable, but troubled teen, a matchmaking business owner walk into a local amusement park in Lancaster, PA. What’s the punchline? Well, it’s surprisingly the recipe for a dynamic and feel-good original musical.
Single Rider, which opened last week at The Players Theatre takes park visitors [audience members] on an emotional and fun-filled roller coaster ride that touches on everything from tasting sweet teenage freedom to the first moment you sort of realize the harsh realities of the cold world. Under the vibrant direction of Allison Benko, we [the audience] are immediately invited to join the quirky characters of Lucky Land on the hottest day of the year and to take a chance on the newly re-opening roller coaster ride, a not-so-secretive metaphor for the unpredictability of life. Upon learning about the re-opening of the iconic ride, Angela [the narrator] who is incredibly similar to the leading player in Pippin, sets the scene. Angela (Alexis Floyd) explains (via an incredibly energetic tune) that she is essentially a modern day cupid and enjoys placing two strangers from the single rider line in the same coaster car, hoping they’ll find love.
When we were first introduced to three Amish girls, Abigail (Angela Sclafani), Moira (Mary Malaney), and Sarah (Kelly Krauter), who all have distinct and vastly different personality traits, I’ll admit I was skeptical. I was skeptical that an upbeat musical could focus on a peaceful, yet relatively unknown culture while pointing out the positives and negatives in a tasteful and educational way. Upon meeting the girls, we learn that Abigail is the quiet, goody two-shoes, Sarah is the queen bee, and Moira, the happy-go-lucky one (who also happens to have stellar comedic timing and a perfect lisp). The three are related and are going through their adolescence together, although they have seemingly opposite objectives and thoughts on their upbringing. Cue Shane (Clay Singer), an awkward and well-intentioned teen who is also obsessed with physics and hopes to design a coaster some day. When Angela sees the opportunity to place Abigail and Shane in the same cart, she doesn’t hesitate, she has a feeling this could change the course of their lives. You probably think you get the gist of this love story, but it’s not as black and white as it seems, you really need to see the show for its additional storylines (Note: perspectives change with experiences!)
The complicated and impressive book (by Amanda D’Archangelis & Sami Horneff) touches on a multitude of personal and societal issues including sexual identity, repression, addiction, sexual assault, and then some. By the end of the 2.5 hour show, we truly feel and root for these characters and support them on their individual journeys.
The opening number (music by D’Archangelis, lyrics by Horneff) captivates the audience immediately and throws them right into the setting (an eye-catching carnival-esque set with impressive lighting that fully optimizes the small stage space) by sticking a catchy tune in their head. Musically, the piece is astounding and effectively moves the story utilizing humor and sentiment along the way. D’Archangelis & Horneff touch on a wide variety of genres ranging from contemporary musical theatre to rap (yes, rap!) making this a show you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the market for an up-and-coming all female writing team.
WARNING: “Life in Color” will be stuck in your head for DAYS.
Put your arms up and go for a ride because Single Rider is a unique musical that will take you on a 2.5+ hour joyride with twists and turns that will make you think, feel, and most importantly, smile. Single Rider is playing through June 17, 2018 at The Players Theatre. You can learn more by visiting https://www.singleriderthemusical.com/
Additional Cast Credits: Ben Salus (Larry the Leprechaun/Weird Guy 1); Monica Ramirez (Nikki/Lucky Penny); Marc Cornes (Garett/Joseph); Andrew L. Ricci( Buster/Weird Guy 2/Jacob); Samantha Disney (Lollipop Lady/Miriam/Usher)
Creative Team: Amanda D’Archangelis (Book, Music, Vocal Arrangements); Sami Horneff (Book, Lyrics); Allison Benko (Direction); Sarah Crane (Choreographer); Anthony Brindisi (Music Supervisor & Orchestrations & Vocal Arrangements); Jonathan Bauerfeld (Music Director, Orchestrations & Vocal Arrangements); Ann Beyersdorfer (Scenic Design); Susannah Hyde (Scenic Design); Sam Updike (Lighting Design); Emma Sheehan (Assistant Lighting Design); Suzan Perry (Assistant Director); Kate Lumpkin Casting (Casting)