Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Reviews, Live Shows

190726 New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

Craving a "composition"

190717 Mitski at Hollywood Palladium

How to make pop songs performative?

190614 Imogen Heap at Greek Theatre

Hide and Seek and not much else

190601 Snarky Puppy at Orpheum

So Snarky!

190319 Monterey Symphony: Sound Waves Concert IV

A drifting concert. Water Concerto anchored by Chris Lamb

190316 Miyamoto is Black Enough, at Wallis

Holy shit this was a good show!

190127 Hidaka at International Dinner 2019

Go Hidaka Taiko!

190116 Third Coast Percussion with Hubbard Street Dance

Unsure why I was unmoved

181120 Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

Solid show to adoring fans

181108 Birdtalker at Hotel Cafe

A special band, early in their career

180623 Olafur Arnalds at Cathedral Sanctuary

The power of sweet/sad melody!

180614 Dirty Projectors at El Rey Theater

Amazing quirk-pop!

180310 Miyake x UnitOne

UnitOne shines!

180224 Batare at La Mirada Theater

Laudably ambitious but scattered.

180223 QuiltCon 2018

Inspiring works, inspiring community.

180131 Kagami Kai at Asian Art Museum

Amazing mochi-making skills, frustrating calligraphy, and take-home encouragement

170416 Sigur Rós with LA Phil

Amazing concert with a few missed opportunities.

170115 A Seed: Ichi-Ryu Manbai

Overwrought concept, thin music, tragic flowers

160927 Sigur Rós at Hollywood Bowl

Amazing sound needs mixed set-list

160918 Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Ambitious new work!

160409 Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

thought-provoking, inspiring, exhausting

130514 Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Powerfully uneventful ending

081012 Byron's Bottled Water Operas

Welcome. Stay and think.

Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Last month on the way back from our tour in the northwest, I had the pleasure of stopping in San Francisco to catch the last staging of Byron Au Yong’s Stuck Elevator. In short, I loved it.

It was a relatively large production and part of me worried that Byron’s vision and the avant-garde music would take a beating. But my first impression: yay for large-production staging! The musical tells the true story of a food delivery person trapped in an elevator for 81 hours. How does one stage a whole story that takes place in an elevator?! The answer: A wall-less steel frame elevator car suspended center-stage with a moveable floor and ceiling, fly-in elevator doors, and projections of a live-feed overhead surveillance camera on the back wall. It was really artistic. In less capable hands, the play’s most interesting staging moments would be moments of escape from the elevator, during a flashback scene when we’re free to leave the space. But the open-walled elevator, the camera work, the changing heights of the floor and ceiling made the elevator itself the hero of the staging.

Byron’s music was just my preferred balance of quirky and catchy. The last piece was particularly moving for me, and provided a bit of satisfaction that the story could not (more on that in a moment). The performers voices were great and save for a few spots, the music was able to handle the hard task of carrying the story and being musical. In other musicals, I often feel the lyrics are burdened with the telling of the story.

The play had more levity than I was expecting. Although I might prefer a darker overall tone, I didn’t mind the comedy. I was surprised how much I liked the silly “Orange Beef” scene. It felt somehow “refined”, with polished timing, interesting music, and clever staging. I laughed out loud a number of times during the show.

I really, really liked the end of the story; the uneventful opening of the doors, without rescue personnel to recognize and give sympathy to Guang. I walked away thinking, “Thank goodness that amazing experience has been captured in ‘Stuck Elevator’.” Thank you for capturing this, Byron!