OREM — Blink is a new musical by the writing duo Chase Ramsey and David Paul Smith, making its debut here at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. Ramsey is no stranger to the stage; before COVID 19 he played Elder Cunningham in the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon. The writing pair have written other theatrical productions before, and when COVID hit, they decided they wanted to create something again. With a small, COVID-friendly cast of six, the story follows Sam, played by Patrick W. Kintz, as he watches his daughter, Sarah, grow up, played as a young girl by Kelsey Plewe, as a teenager by Ava Hoekstra, and as an adult by Amelia Moore. The audience is to watch these moments, as is often mentioned, in the “blink” of an eye, and are left to ponder on how fast life moves. Smith stated that the experiences are loosely based on thoughts he had when experiencing life with his own children.
I have attended a few different performances post-COVID, and it appears that Orem Hale has done less than some of the other venues to keep the audience distanced and safe. They did have one seat between parties, and they did remind the audience several times that masks are required throughout the show. However, concessions were still sold and in many instances, a one seat buffer was not a full six feet away from the other patrons. They had the front row of the seating blocked off, which kept the audience away from the cast, and the cast was only six people, a minimal number that can make for less contact and easier tracking and safety.
The story of Blink has a lot of heart. Kintz as Sam also has a lot of heart and certainly fit as the all-American dad who wanted what was best for his daughter. There were many scenes that were quite endearing, from the moments up late at night trying to get his daughter to sleep as a baby, to trying comb her hair, to the first date, to going off to college. As a mother myself, I recognized many moments gone by and moments I look forward to. Kintz’s voice was strong and clear. I really enjoyed his voice, though it took a while to build; he was much stronger by the middle of the show.
The show really started to pick up with the storyline when Hoekstra started her scenes as teenage Sarah. During a powerful song in the middle of act one, I was impressed not only by her voice but also by her connection to the character, emotions, and suffering. Kintz as Sam did what many parents try to do, interrupt, and she quickly pointed out how he needed to listen, because he did not know what it was like to be her. It was the most powerful performance of the evening. This young performer is one to watch.
Smith as writer and music director has done some excellent work with harmonies and pulling together the music. Some of the numbers are stronger than others, and as with most new musicals, I would encourage some work to tighten some of the weaker ones to match some of the more impressive ones that really stick. The first 20 minutes of the show are a lot slower and harder to connect than the middle, and it slumps again towards the end.
The side characters of Jim, played by Geoff Means, and others, played by Nic Thomas, add some good comedic effect and great musicality necessary in such a small show. I appreciated Thomas’s ability to differentiate his characters well enough to be believable. I also appreciated how Means could be a mostly jovial friend but also have a serious and caring side.
Moore as the grown up Sarah was impressive as she helped her father navigate through the letting go part of parenthood. I was touched by the sentiment that love can expand, not take away. I was glad she was able to help the character of the father see that sentiment, thereby also helping me understand this concept during this time in my own history.
On the technical side of theater, I thoroughly enjoyed the costuming by Olive Kline. Early in the show it is stated that Sarah wants to be a designer, and I hoped that detail would not be overlooked in how Sarah would dress. Luckily for the choices of director and designer, Kline certainly made great use of that aspect, especially in the prom dress and wedding dress, but also in a lot of Sarah’s everyday clothing choices. As someone who is raising a budding designer, I appreciate those details. Set design by Cole McClure was minimal yet intriguing, with certain things like an fun car aspect that kept the story going and a focal point in the home that seemed to ground the story in a way that was comforting.
Blink has the makings of a strong story of family and love that ties people together. The cast and crew have done a fine job of bringing the story to life.