Fairytale and fantasy become a refuge for high-school student Delilah in the new off-Broadway musical “Between the Lines,” playing at the Tony Kiser Theater on West 43rd Street. This entertaining, funny and engaging musical has a creatively brilliant book by Timothy Allen McDonald, which is based on a book by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, addictive music and lyrics by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson, amusing choreography by Paul McGill and stunning direction by Jeff Calhoun.
“Between the Lines” is musical theater at its best! The musical tells the story of Delilah, a girl whose father has left the family for a young yoga instructor, while she is left with her mother who never has time for her, and she is starting life in a new town at a new school. She is quietly suffering and trying to figure out what is happening in her life and how to deal with all the upheaval and feelings of abandonment that her father’s leaving has given her. Delilah is awkward around others, and her only peace is found when she reads books. Her favorite book is a children’s story called “Between the Lines,” and she feels such a kinship with its hero, Prince Oliver, that she imagines that he speaks to her and that they have a friendship.
There is such a childhood innocence about Delilah’s character and the character of the Prince, who realizes that he is a hero in a book and that he is tired of the writer having power over his life. In one scene it is shared that when the book is closed, its characters get to come to life and take a break until the book is reopened. It is absolutely hilarious to hear the complaints of the alcoholic Queen Maurine, her Lady in Waiting, the evil Magician Rapskullio, Princess Seraphima, an animal character Frump, a Troll, and others. This musical has you look at the characters in fairytales in a different way. Everyone realizes that the author has all the power and they just have to go along with however they are written.
As the problems in Delilah’s world increase, her need to escape becomes more real and it leads her to seek out a way to enter the world of the fairytale characters. This is a world she wanted to escape to, but once there she realizes that she has now abandoned her mother and must leave. Delilah needs friends and she finds those in the Librarian and in a non-binary student named Jules. They help her to see that she has a very creative mind and encourage her to write stories. Delilah goes through a great deal, and finally realizes that she must stay in reality and that the truth of the matter is that she must save herself.
The ensemble cast of this musical is absolutely splendid. Arielle Jacobs is charming, funny and delightful as Delilah. Jake David Smith is amusing, sexy, frustrated and loyal as Prince Oliver. Hillary Fisher plays multiple roles with great ease as does the rest of this outstanding cast—including Vicki Lewis, Will Burton, Jerusha Cavazos, John Ramos, Sean Stack and Julia Murney. It adds to the comedy of the fairytale when characters can inhabit very different roles with such an easy flow. Understudy Aubrey Matalon played the characters of Jules/Ondine at the performance I attended and she was fantastic.
Tobin Ost has created a fascinating set design, there are splendid costumes by Gregg Barnes, perfect lighting by Jason Lyons and sensational sound design by Ken Travis. There is also incredible music supervision, orchestration and arrangements by Greg Anthony Rassen, music supervision and additional arrangements by Daniel Green, and music direction by Chris Gurr. This is a marvelous musical which should be shared with the entire family. It is only playing through Sept. 11, so get your tickets now for this