Dead Reckoning is a new musical from Loose Tea Theatre Company. The book and lyrics are by Lezlie Wade and the music by Scott Christian. It is written for five female actors and focusses on the life of Amelia Earhart and the true story of the teenage girl who received Amelia’s final distress signal. The complete work is something like 90 minutes long but last night we got to see a 30 minute film adaptation of the first part of the piece.
It’s a good story with a strong emphasis on women refusing to be confined to their traditional roles. The film version finishes at the point where Earhart is about to set out around the world and disappear so there’s nothing about Betty Klenck hearing the distress call and the reaction to that. This makes the piece a bit Earhart heavy but I guess that’s unavoidable. The book is clever and effective and quite cheeky. The music is like a 1930s musical for the most part with a few extra elements but it’s certainly not what we might usually think of as an opera. Actually I like that some of our more experimental opera companies are exploring forms beyond what we usually define as opera. One thinks of FAWN’s opera ballet Pandora from last May as another genre bending piece. Anyway, Christian’s music works well for this story and book and music combine well.
Lezlie Wade’s film adaptation is also very effective. It uses both film of the singer/actors and archival footage to good effect. Technical audio and video quality were also very good. The performances are strong. Laura Larson gets the most air time as Earhart and she gives a very engaging performance that is a credible version of what someone like Earhart may have been like. We don’t see so much of Kelsey Falconer as Klenck but what we do see is promising. She’s playing a teenager and she does it well. Alicia Barban, Aisha Jarvis and Sara Shanazarian represent conventional public opinion and completely capture that entirely self satisfied bourgeois conventionality that both Earhart and Klenck are rebelling against.
All in all I found this an interesting experiment and I look forward to seeing the full work when some semblance of normality returns. Although the piece was shown on Youtube it appears no longer to be available there.