It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to see Thom Allison’s irresistibly handsome face contorted with emotion. We’ll all have the chance when he stars in Acting Up Stage Company’s upcoming remount of Elegies: A Song Cycle.
The Tony Award-winning Elegies is William Finn’s musical tribute to the lives of various figures, both real and imagined, including his mother, dogs and victims of the September 11 World Trade Centre attack.
Despite being a relatively new organization when they first produced the show back in 2007, Acting Up Stage’s production of Elegies sold out consistently. Because this was one of the company’s first bit hits, they decided to mark their 10th anniversary with a remount.
The remount brings back four of the five original cast members, including Thom Allison (Broadway’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Shaw’s Ragtime). This production differs from the 2007 production in that there is a whole new design team, and Allison says that not only does the inclusion of a new cast member change the dynamic between the performers, but even the original performers relate to the songs differently. “So much has happened since 2007. Some things that didn’t affect me then now have a deeper resonance,” Allison says.
Elegies may sound gloomy to anyone who hasn’t seen it. “When you see the show, you would never ever call it gloomy,” Allison says. “Sure, it’s about people who have died, but even though they’re songs inspired by deaths, the songs are about people’s lives, what they left behind, their loves, their passions. So it ends up being a crazily uplifting show.”
Even though Elegies deals mostly with specific people in Finn’s life, it’s easy to be moved by this 90-minute song cycle. “You might think ‘well, I don’t know those people, so why would I care?’ but when he writes about people it’s so specific and insightful, that we can all relate to how it feels to feel that way about someone,” Allison says. “Every single person who comes to the show will be affected by something in the show.”