SPANISH FORK — Sirens is an original musical written and composed by Levi Taylor and directed by Adam Cannon. The unique storyline begins with a group of sailors in the midst of a battle with winged creatures and mermaids. The energy is high and the choreography (by Bethany Taylor) is big and bold during the first musical number.
After the sailors have been imprisoned by the sirens, the mood calms, and the scene changes to introduce the audience to Charlotte (played by Savannah Johanson) and Abbie (played by Elizabeth Adams). Charlotte feels responsible for the lost crew, particularly the loss of Anthony (played by Eduardo Alencar), who happens to be Abbie’s husband. So, the two set off, along with a band of women, to rescue the men. But first, they must get past Charlotte’s father, Mr. Hammersmith (played by Tyler Scott Mitchell), and the quirky Old Sal (played by Lisa King).
This part of the play moved rather slowly for me. These scenes featured two of the seven original songs by Levi Taylor. “It Really is a Wonder,” sung by Adams and Alencar, was meant to be a sweet love song between husband and wife, explaining how two very different people came together. I liked the idea of the song, but felt a lack of emotion from the actors. “How it Happened,” performed by Mitchell, was sung beautifully as Hammersmith reminisces about how Young Charlotte (played by Kiera Taylor) grew up to be a strong, independent woman who loves the sea.
The next scene brings the pirates into the story. This is where the plot really picks up, thanks to some higher energy and comical dialogue. Devin Tanner is an entertaining Ironboot, captain of the pirates, but Ironboot has one little problem: he cannot read. This is a concern because his treasure map contains more words than pictures. So, his crew captures the ship full of women to help him on his own quest. The plot gets a little busy at this point: more fighting off sirens, the reunion of lovers and the spark of new love, and a climax when the “fire mountain” explodes.
Taylor’s script is uneven, with scenes varying from confusing to slow to exciting. During the opening scene, I felt a little lost, as the scene seems to start in the middle of the plot. There is little indication of who the sailors were, their destination, or why they were traveling. But as the plot unfolds, the backstory of the sailors’ doesn’t seem to matter much. The middle part of the play, which focused on Abbie and Anthony moved slowly and seemed to be a detour from the main plot. There were also some inconsistencies in the story, for instance, the illiterate Ironboot goes on to write Charlotte a letter later in the play.
I would have liked to see and hear more from the ensemble during the songs, as ensemble numbers are generally my favorite songs in a play. There is potential for this supporting cast to add energy and emotion to the production, if Taylor would just use them more. Generally, though, the musical numbers added little to the plot. Sirens could have been presented as a straight play and been just as easy to understand. (Although my daughter, who accompanied me, will now randomly start to sing “Waves of Adventure” every now and then.)
Despite some confusion in the plot, I liked the way Cannon directed this new play, allowing the actors to add their own flair and personality to the characters. I was also impressed with the costuming of Katrina DeKarver, covering everything from monsters to maidens. Elisabeth Goulding, the set designer, expertly utilized the small space available for the stage to create the feeling of a ship, an island, and even an ocean full of mermaids.
Sirens works best as a farce. It was hard to take the romantic scenes too seriously or the fight scenes as suspenseful masterpieces. But the teenage girls I brought with me to the play enjoyed a good laugh, thanks to the unique plot and zany humor. So while this quirky original may not satisfy everyone’s taste, I think those who like the humor of Monty Python will enjoy Sirens. At the very least, audience members will enjoy watching a cast and crew who have clearly put their heart and soul into creating this new musical.