‘As Always’ an ambiguous musical night 

Composer-singer Peter W. Tucker dedicates his new musical, “As Always,” to a San Francisco Parks Trust program called Music in Parks, which is the modern counterpart to a city-sponsored youth theater program he attended decades ago, a pursuit that sparked his lifelong interest in the arts.

Now he comes full circle, performing with vibrant singers Jessica Fisher and Nephi Speer, pianist Frederick Harris and cellists Cornelia Leuthold and Severin Suter in this modest-scale, 85-minute show featuring melodic original songs.

Tucker’s love of musical theater,­ and his advanced training in composition from the Boston Conservatory, are evident in the show, which, with no dialogue and 18 songs with slightly varied style, is operatic in format.

Featuring a thin story, minimal character development and a set with just a bed, dresser, window and small staircase, “As Always” plays more like a staged concert — with lovely accompaniment — than a full-blown musical theater piece.

At the outset in “Waiting for Sleep,” a Dreamer (Tucker, wearing pajamas) laments that slumber eludes him, and so begins a night of psychological encounters with a woman (Fisher) called Luna in the program, but never named in the show, and a man, Solis (Speer).

Each of the characters have solos and each clearly is experiencing  turmoil. A love triangle becomes part of the action, although specific reasons and motivations remain unclear throughout.

The songs — while tuneful, emotive and lovely at points — don’t ultimately resonate and feel cliched, and are filled with lyrics about stars and the weather and titles such as “Meant for Me,” “Release Me,” “Come As You Are” and “Don’t Forget.”

While “As Always” doesn’t work as a full-fledged theatrical production, it does display talents of a hard-working composer, singer and musicians.

 

THEATER REVIEW

As Always

Where: Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St. San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays; closes March 27
Tickets: $25
Contact: www.asalwaystickets.com

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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