NEW YORK—“Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s not real,” proclaims a character from the new musical “Between the Lines.” Based on the book by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, this delightful, almost-but-not-quite-Broadway-ready tuner is now at the Tony Kiser Theatre.
The life of 17-year-old Delilah (Arielle Jacobs) has been turned upside down by her parents’ divorce. Her father, with whom she has always been close, is more interested in his new wife and her family.
Meanwhile, Delilah and her mother Grace (Julia Murney) have moved to another town, and she finds herself enrolled in a new high school where the social hierarchy for students her age has long been established.
fairy tale book
Delilah finds she has to contend with queen bee Allie McAndrews (Aubrey Matalon, Hillary Fisher’s replacement), her Neanderthal-like boyfriend Ryan (Will Burton), and hangers Janice (Jerusha Cavazos) and Martin (Sean Stack). Grace, who is still dealing with the breakdown of her marriage and trying to balance work and nursing school, has few opportunities to spend quality time with her daughter.
In an attempt to escape the pain of the real world, Delilah spends most of her time taking refuge in the pages of books: in particular, stories filled with adventures that can transport her to distant lands. One day in the high school library, a place where she hangs out as much as possible, she comes across a book called “Between the Lines”, a self-published work by author Jessamyn Jacobs (Vicki Lewis), which he never only one copy exists. in existence.
Although this is a children’s fairy tale, Delilah finds herself captivated by the handsome Prince Oliver (Jake David Smith) and the quest he undertakes, which includes battling a dragon in order to save the princess. Seraphima (Matalon). Reading the story for the umpteenth time, Delilah is stunned when Prince Oliver suddenly starts talking to her.
Oliver, she quickly learns, is actually a much calmer guy, with little love for jousting and fighting. He also longs to escape his own reality where he and the rest of the characters have to replay the same story over and over, every time the book is opened. Delilah and Oliver quickly discover that they are kindred spirits and yearn to find a way to be together.
“Between the Lines” brilliantly combines teenage angst with the struggle to connect with others. Added to this is the idea that some situations are set in stone for a reason, so that one can learn from experience and chart one’s own path, rather than just letting it define one.
The actors, many of whom play multiple roles, are aided by a solid book by Timothy Allen McDonald and a powerful score by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson.
The way the story mixes emotional moments with humorous moments is also important. We learn about the world of Prince Oliver and the characters who inhabit it, and what they do when the book is closed.
Musical highlights include “Another Chapter,” an infectious opening number that sets the tone for what’s to come; the comedy “Happily Ever After Hour”; “Start Again Tomorrow” and “I’m Not Through,” numbers that allow Grace to expose her own pain. There’s also “Inner Thoughts,” in which several people reveal hidden fears; and “In My Perfect World” where Delilah and Prince Oliver dream of a life together; and, of course, the title melody.
Jacobs gives a stellar performance bringing Delilah and all of her emotional baggage to life. Murney is excellent as Grace, a woman who tries to move on but sometimes forgets the importance of making time for those you love.
Jacobs and Murney have great chemistry together and their scenes are particularly effective. Smith makes a good Prince Oliver, albeit a little stiff in nature, showing his own passion and dreams while trapped in a seemingly dead-end book.
John Rapson is very good in a small but essential role as the school psychiatrist. Wren Rivera is strong as Delilah’s friend Jules, someone who’s had their share of troubles but learned to face them head-on and not care what other people think.
The only major issues arise when some of the real-world characters take the parody too far. In one clip, school librarian Ms. Winx (Lewis) explains her 38-year relationship with Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
The sequence, while meant to illustrate how Delilah isn’t alone in believing that literary characters speak to them, would work much better if the scene and song (“Mr. Darcy and Me”) were treated more seriously and with a little nuance. .
Gregg Barnes’ costumes of various fairy tale characters are fun to watch, while Tobin Ost’s set sets the appropriate literary atmosphere.
Taking audiences on a very special journey, “Between the Lines” offers something for children and adults alike and is well worth a visit.
‘Between the lines’
Tony Kiser Theater
305 W. 43rd Street.
Duration: 2h30 (one intermission)
Closing: Oct. 2, 2022