The New York Musical Festival is in its thirteenth year. Having birthed three Broadway shows (Next to Normal,
The plot is compelling through and through, really resting on developing characters both individually and through their relationships with one another. Throughout the show you really get to know the characters, all of which Raúl interacts with on the beautifully designed beach of his childhood home. It would be hard to speak too highly of the actors’ performances in this show, offering both quiet moments and belting cathartic numbers with equal grace, though the highlight comes in the form of star Mauricio MartÍnez’s performance of the number Enough is Enough, leaving the audience applauding loudly enough to cover their own tears.
Unfortunately, as compelling as the plot is and in spite of the actors’ best efforts, the show’s lyrics are wanting. It never is a rewarding theatrical experience to sit in the audience and be able to anticipate an upcoming line in a song. This would be a miniscule problem, if not for the fact that 20 songs are crammed into the 90 minute show. Both the book and lyrics were penned by Lauren Epsenhart, but the dialogue is without a doubt the most emotionally compelling aspect of the show, in spite of the majority of it being filled with beautiful music by Jaime Lozano, tainted at least slightly by amateurish rhyme schemes that leave the impression that it may be better to see the plot develop through dialogue rather than mostly solos and duets.
In spite of this, the show truly transports you to a beach in Mexico, both pure and local in flashbacks and also implied as modernized and touristy in present day. The real shining moments happen when Raúl faces his past, which is beautifully juxtaposed against the scenes which slowly develop exactly what it is that he ran away from to begin with. There is no happy ending necessarily, but it isn’t exactly a sad one either. Instead it settles somewhere between the two, leaving the show on a note that feels happy initially through the final number, Tomorrow Starts Today, but doesn’t imply that everything has been worked out over the course of one visit back home, which really caps off the sense of realism that the show creates between characters. All in all, Children of Salt is a show worth seeing, if not for groundbreaking lyrics, then for earth-shaking performances and beautifully written dialogue.
Children of Salt is running at the Pearl Theater through July 26th.