By Dennis Spair
Many theater performances entertain us with amazing set pieces, stunning wardrobe, and dazzling lighting design. An Arctic Tale relies solely on its performers’ talents and music to not only charm us, but also make us aware of a critical issue we should become involved with. The show itself is very imaginative and enjoyable. For those who wish to delve deeper, there’s even further reward.
Director and writer Julianne Homokay effectively uses the minimalist performance space to highlight the plight of people whose town is sinking into the Bering Sea due to increased temperatures and melting ice. The economic and environmental effects are disastrous, and serve as a knolling bell for other communities stretching further down our West Coast.
While this dire situation’s depiction may seem heavy, the way it’s presented is very well designed. It makes its point effectively while still delivering a highly enjoyable play with a mix of upbeat, poignant songs, and memorable scenes from each of the performers. The play cleverly depicts those affected by the town’s eroding riverbank as an assortment of sea life: walruses, seals, penguins, snailfish, and polar bears.
Musical Director and Composer Ron Barnett blends lyrics and melodies that resonate instantly. Julie Ouellette is utterly riveting; Carissa Gipprich, Caitlin Martin, and Oliver Mayes evoke heartfelt emotions.
The chemistry between the entire cast is powerful. The play’s passion for enlightening us to this worthy cause is inspiring and genuinely motivates us to embrace the concerns of others.
An Arctic Tale is performed Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, at 8 p.m. at the North By South Theater at St. Mark’s Church at 1020 N. Brand Blvd. in Glendale. For tickets, call (818) 240-3860.