I have no doubt Ross will commit to further work on this show, and in the process give it a chance for even greater success. With her determination and dedication, and her genius at the piano -- her dancing fingers highlighted ably by the set and lighting design of Jay Tompkins, which features a mirror on the back wall enabling the audience to see Ross play -- historians may one day write about her achievements.
Taking a small step back to look at recent developments in theater, I was struck by the fact that the form seems to be moving away from heavy scripts and minimalistic sets to a new style that more closely mimics the wonders of technology so dominant in this era. Today's musicals in particular feature a synthesizer-oriented sound, a reliance on stunning light and special effects, and the frequent use of wordless, mythic images played out in movement rather than verbiage to convey metaphysical truths. Therefore, hearty applause for the cutting edge must be offered to author and director Patricia Dolan Gross, composer Christopher Rodriguez, and an expertly trained cast of actors aged six to eighteen for The Parabola Star, which played to Dade County Public School students for two weeks this July at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This yearly production, the culmination of the Grove's four-week intensive training course for young actors, has taken a giant step forward from the more contrived social dramas prevalent in the program's past eight years.
Parabola is a blend of science fiction, fantasy, and myth, tracing the story of a disabled war veteran who is pitied by the great Moonmother. She sends him a star, which he subsequently loses. Many years later she returns to grace his life and help him recover both his sight and his hope. Brilliant costumes by Ellis Tillman and psychedelic lights by Deanna Fitzgerald further enhance the mystical mood. Perhaps, if we're lucky, the Grove will knock some second-rate farce off its Mainstage schedule for next season and enrich the childlike visionary in all of us with a nighttime production of Gross's work.