History Theatre in St. Paul is presenting the premiere of “The Working Boys Band,” a new musical by local talents Dominic Orlando (playwright) and Hiram Titus (composer). The show details the creation of the Minneapolis Working Boys Band, which provided young boys with a welcome alternative to factory work.
Sadly, Titus died of Parkinson’s disease shortly after finishing the score.
While one critic found the show “engaging” and “richly textured,” other critics found it “disingenuous” and “humdrum.” What’s your review?
Not only is “The Working Boys Band” a very good musical — engaging as a profile of a driven artist and educator, a portrait of a tense time of state-sponsored intolerance and a star-crossed-lovers romance — History Theatre’s production is executed with richly textured characterizations, passion for the material and energy to spare.
Sturdy and upright, the musical makes a case for integrity and kindness, values that are far greater than the petty business of earning a paycheck. These good intentions, however, rarely lift this new show off the ground.
The real snag in this production was that the idea, book, music and lyrics just didn’t match up… The play is primarily about the harassment of music professor C. C. Heintzeman because he is a German. This is a legitimate topic, I suppose, but I felt set up for one story and was given another less interesting one… The whole nature of Heintzeman’s dilemma seemed so disingenuous that I longed for the story to wend its way back to the irresistible collection of unruly boys.
“The Working Boys Band” runs through June 1.