Theater Review: THE STORY OF MY LIFE (Chance Theater)

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by Tony Frankel on May 15, 2021

in Theater-Los Angeles,Virtual

A STORY WELL TOLD BY CHANCE THEATER

The Story of My Life is a warm, intimate and sweet two-character musical about Alvin Kelby and his childhood friend, Thomas Weaver. A flop in its New York debut, the 2009 show — which tugs at the heartstrings far more than the intellect — has been a regional favorite, no doubt due to its minimal production necessities. It is far from terrible, but not terribly interesting. And yet…

Chance Theater’s production, Zoomed to our homes, takes the appealing team of Dillon Klena as Thomas and Wyn Moreno as Alvin, the thoughtful direction of Matthew McCray, and superlative piano accompaniment by music director Robyn Manion, and manages to take a derivative work (there are shades of intricate Sondheim-like notes flying about, friendship tropes, and even the film It’s a Wonderful Life as a plot point) and turn it into a special event — one which is far more entrancing on the screen than on the stage. Perhaps this small, intimate story does best in a small, intimate space.

At curtain, Thomas — now a famous author — is preparing his eulogy for recently departed Alvin. When writer’s block appears, so does Alvin, who assists Thomas in retracing their lives. As boys, they spent a great deal of time together, much of it at the book store owned by Alvin’s now-deceased father, who bequeathed the store to Alvin. During ninety minutes of pathos, love, devotion, and poignancy we find how Alvin had inspired most of Tom’s stories.

Neil Bertram’s songs are fascinating in that nothing sticks, even as emotions and feelings inspire tears to well up. The rather gorgeous New Age-like melodies (if you wanna call them as such) swirl around you like butterflies. Too bad they come without a net to pull them down to earth.

Still, I gotta tell you, there’s something about Chance Theater. The estimable company takes even a so-so musical and turns it into a fully realized emotional experience which I heartily recommend. And if you are a sensitive person, definitely keep the Kleenex handy.

photos courtesy of Chance Theater

The Story of My Life
Chance Theater in Anaheim
Fri and Sat at 7; Sun at 2; ends on June 6, 2021
for tickets, visit Chance Theater

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