Opened Oct. 5, 2008
Christian Cagigal (left) is Miguel, Andrew Calabrese (center) is Cardenio and Erin Carter is Don Fernando in Precarious Theatre’s new musical I’m Yours! (or Deranged by Love) at the EXIT Theatre in San Francisco. Photos by Stephanie Temple
Cervantes gets the musical treatment in `I’m Yours!’
Precarious Theater is becoming the go-to company for intriguing new small-scale musicals.
After the success of Chemical Imbalance, a riff on the Jekyll/Hyde story, director Matthew Graham Smith and his ensemble return with I’m Yours! (or Deranged by Love), a pop-rock romance adapted from an episode of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
As with most new musicals, there are still some kinks to be worked out – the plot build-up is lengthy and the resolution almost inconsequential – but the general tone is fresh and enjoyable as an innkeeper, who fancies himself a knight errant, tells a tale of thwarted lovers that ends up finding its conclusion in his inn.
The score, by H.P. Mendoza (of Colma: The Musical fame), is sweet and ambitious. The cast, though game, isn’t exactly bursting with musical theater talent. Their approach is more about keeping up with the pre-recorded track and getting through the songs and less about truly selling them.
That said, the gem of the seven-song score is “Luscinda,” a catchy tune that captures the flavor of Andalucía, where much of the action takes place.
Christian Cagigal is Miguel, the innkeeper, also known as the Knight of the Sorrowful Face. He’s inspired to tell a tale of romance when a weary young woman named Zoraida (Sarah Meyeroff) – her feet aching and belly rumbling – shows up at his door and asks for sustenance. He has no food, so he tells a story of a gallant youth named Cardenio (Andrew Calabrese) in love with a beautiful maid named Luscinda (Hannah Knapp).
Theirs is a love story built on letters more than physical attraction, but their fairy tale romance is blocked by Cardenio’s father, who wants to put him in the service of the Duke by becoming a companion to the Duke’s son, Don Fernando (Erin Carter in a trousers role).
The innkeeper’s tale inspires the young maid to tell her own romantic yarn: this one involves her mistress, a peasant woman, Dorotea (Nicole Lungerhausen), who came under the spell of a nobleman – Don Fernando again – and agrees to marry him even though both are advised it is unwise to marry outside one’s class.
The two tales eventually merge as the “blinding force of love” –an oft-repeated phrase in the show’s two hours – results in betrayal, forced marriage, derangement and chance meetings in the woods. A late plot development involving a gender-bending disguise promises much more than it delivers, and the final untangling, though satisfying in a happy ending sort of way, comes with too much emotional ease.
One of the most delightful aspects of director Smith’s production, maybe even more than the score, which tends to disappear for long stretches, is the use of puppets and masks to play parents and nuns and the like. Designed by Lanie Wieland and most frequently operated by the expert Cagigal, the Picasso-inspired faces are attractive, and the whole use of the puppets lends an enchantment to the tale that is most welcome.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
I’m Yours (or Deranged by Love) continues through Oct. 25 at the EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco. Tickets are $10-$30. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.precarioustheatre.com.