The first striking quality of student-written "Missing Gemini" is its minimalist set. Set in a dark, intimate black box theater, "Gemini's" onstage setup consists of three simple black boxes, revealing nothing about the show's content.
The show commences with the wistful melody of a lone clarinet, foreshadowing the lovely musical composition that defines the performance. But the show's allure also resides in its compelling plot.
Written by Christine Rosenblatt, BC '16, the show is set in the summer of 1959 and focuses on 17-year-old Erin O'Brien's struggle to overcome the loss of her twin brother in a sailing accident eight years prior.
Among countless other musicals about grief, familial bonds, and reconciliation, the plot of "Missing Gemini" is made unique by one facet: sailing.
The show is set in Castleton, a small harbor town where all the locals love water sports and activities, be it sailing, fishing, or volunteering at the annual Sail Out competition. This is a motif throughout the show—in fact, many songs focus on aquatic activities or use them as metaphors to further character development.
Sailing was of particular importance to the protagonist, Erin O'Brien, played by Sophie Laruelle, CC '17. In an attempt to keep her late brother's spirit and memory alive, Erin vows to complete the Sail Out competition in the exact way that the two had planned when they were children.
Erin's dependence on living in the past not only puts her in a dangerous position during the sailing competition, but also creates a rift between her and her father. One of the most emotionally captivating songs in "Missing Gemini" is "Confrontation," a duet between Erin and her father Tom, played by Sal Volpe, CC '19. The strain on their relationship is best described by Erin's complaint: "How do you go on pretending, erasing the truth, when it happened to you?" Subsequently, Erin's principal internal conflict throughout the play is illustrated by her father's response: "Please, I beg, though memories last, let them live in the past."
Combining evocative lyrics and beautiful composition, the songs are by far the strongest aspect of "Missing Gemini." The group numbers feature magnificent harmonies and vocal layering. Rosenblatt, a music major at Barnard, expertly engineers a euphonic show executed by a flawless three-person orchestra.
The actors were successful in performing musical numbers that vary stylistically. The group numbers are cohesive and exciting, while the duets and solos depict the characters through a more personal lens. Though she was rarely the focus of the show, Mira Davis, CC '18, emerged as a stand-out performer in her role as Joyce O'Brien. Not only is her vocal ability impressive, but she also plays the role of Erin's mother with exceptional believability. One of the show's strongest songs is "Move On," the touching finale, which presents the entire O'Brien family overcoming their grief through a poignant, delicate melody.
Though "Missing Gemini" provides the audience with pleasant composition and an interesting plot, the show does have some issues concerning development and progression. For instance, the show's second number titled "My S-I-S-T-E-R" is a cute, albeit corny song about how much Erin and Megan O'Brien love each other. It feels out of place and does very little—if anything—to further the plot. Additionally, the character Megan, Erin's little sister, is supposed to be in fourth grade, but the way she speaks often makes her seem significantly older.
The show lasts only 60 minutes, which constricts character development and makes some of the characters very one-dimensional. Rosenblatt has said that she hopes to continue working on "Missing Gemini" and extend its length to 90 minutes, which may solve the show's developmental shortcomings.
Overall, student-written "Missing Gemini" features beautiful composition and an interesting plot. While the show has some organizational issues, an expansion of the book would create a complete and polished production.
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