“And now for something completely different.”
It’s not often that those words can be spoken about a theatrical production, especially one on Broadway. At first glance, Everyday Rapture might not appear to fit into that category. A one-woman show (definitely seen that before) that touches upon conflicted religious upbringing (yup, that too), Everyday Rapture is a refreshingly quirky, undeniably original addition to the marquis of 42nd Street.
Transferring to Broadway after a hit run at Second Stage Theater last year and starring Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture details her upbringing in a Menonnite household in Topeka, Kansas and her subsequent move to New York and “numerous second leads in Broadway musicals.” It’s a familiar tale, but it’s told in such an unfamiliar method that it seems new and fresh.
Bounding around the stage, frequently skipping or dancing instead of walking, Scott introduces herself by describing her ongoing journey to choose between conflicting messages written on slips of paper she carries in her pockets. One states, “You are a speck of dust”; the other says, “The universe was made for you.” One can understand her conflict. Another, and more humorous conflict she describes facing throughout her childhood is being torn between two loves: Jesus and Judy Garland. Paying tribute to both, her rendition of “You Made Me Love You,” sung to a slideshow of pictures of Jesus and Judy, is especially lovely.
Dry and ironic, but also surprisingly quiet and touching, Scott’s life story provides unique insight into an unfamiliar religion and the confusion it could cause for a child. She addresses some dark topics and although it is clear she is describing both suicide and abortion, she never says the specific words. Instead, her seemingly innocent perspective and simplistic descriptions enhance the meaning of the anecdotes.
There are plenty of light-hearted moments as well, including a tribute of her love for Mr. Rogers and an especially entertaining story of an impersonator she found on YouTube. Reminded of her late cousin after viewing a teenage boy (played by an excellent Eamon Foley) lip-synching to her Broadway songs, she contacts him through e-mail to offer some encouragement and support. Her attempt to reach out backfires badly, and Scott’s portrayal of the insecurities brought up by this is especially moving. And Eamon’s over-the-top rendition of “My Strongest Suit” is nothing short of hilarious.
Scott is also joined onstage by Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe, who serve as her “Mennonettes”. They supply her with backup vocals and dancing choreographed by Michele Lynch.
The show’s underlying message of finding joy in the everyday life is a welcome reminder to New Yorkers jaded by subway cuts and unemployment. And Scott’s energy is inevitably contagious. After a year of excellent revivals, but a sad lack of original work, Everyday Rapture is a welcome addition to Broadway.