Let me begin by saying you have to see this show! I came straight home after watching Hundred Days to write this post because there are only two weeks left! I don’t want anyone to miss it!
I love the theatre! I grew up doing shows- involved at a young age in community theatre, school plays, and later directing. When I moved to Cincinnati from a small town a couple hours north, one of the things I was most excited about was immersing myself in all things culture (art, music, dance). I say all of this because I’m dumbfounded that until tonight, I had never made it to the Know Theatre!?
I’d heard about Know Theatre, all good things, but just never made it in. I will be going back! But here’s what happened- I learned that Sonya Tayeh, my favorite choreographer from So You Think You Can Dance (yep, obsessed and not ashamed) worked on Hundred Days, the current production playing at Know Theatre! What?! Sonya?! Love her! I had to go! Finding out that this show is an alternative folk opera further piqued my inner art geek. So I grabbed my dear friend who also loves theatre (and gets equally excited out by SYTYCD) and we got tickets to Hundred Days!
The theatre is intimate, the set is minimal, and the cast is small. No special effects or props. It’s basically 7 cast members and their various instruments, four dancers from the Exhale Dance Tribe, and lights hanging from the ceiling. Nothing fancy here…and it works beautifully.
This show, only an hour and fifteen minutes in length, is electric! The cast of 7 is undeniable in talent and presence. The story of a Hundred Days, an opera, is told lyrically and that cannot happen successfully without a powerful, vocally talented cast and this show definitely has that. I was blown away. Honestly. The music is beautifully and tragically enthralling. The story, the journey, is thoughtful, touching, and real. It’s about love, life, death, and living and loving in spite of impending death. It deals with the reality that death is the one certainty we all face. If you’ve ever experienced loss, this show will speak truth to your soul…ugly, scary, gritty, beautiful truth. At times, as if being in church, I audibly spoke “yes” in agreement. For example, after hearing some bad news about a loved one, Abigail sings, “I’m pulled apart. I’m hovering. There’s no air.” Yes! I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. Thank you!
I definitely cried during this show, but thankfully it is infused with humor! There are also moments when you’re clapping along and stomping your feet with the cast. (At times I thought I was at a Lumineers concert!) Because the space is cozy, and the story and cast is captivating, I felt completely engaged and involved during every one of those 75 minutes. I do have to call special attention to two particular cast members. Jo Lampert may technically have been a supporting cast member as Shaun Bengson’s best friend, but her voice and stage presence are so soulful and animated. She’s engaging to watch! And Abigail Bengson, one of the leads, is a beast…and I mean that in the best possible way! Even when she isn’t “on” she is on! Her vocal range is incredible and her face and body language often tell more of the story than the lyrics or script provide. She is ridiculously good!
Since I mentioned choreography by Sonya Tayeh, know that the dancing doesn’t come in until the later part of the show, but it does add another layer of emotional complexity to the storyline. If you’re a fan of SYTYCD and Sonya Tayeh, you will completely recognize and appreciate the dance as uniquely her style.
This show…it brought me joy, it made me anxious, it made me smile, it made me uncomfortable, it wasn’t always pretty, it was raw, it challenged me to love deeper, it made me contemplate this journey called life. As an avid reader, teacher, and thinker, what more could I ask for?
GO THERE (Know Theatre)! TRY THAT (Hundred Days)!