Fly by Night is a funny, poignant, enjoyable musical. It’s a lot of fun and I recommend you see it.
Harold’s mother has died and, when going through her things with his father, Harold sees a guitar that he never knew she had. He goes home with it and when he’s not working in a New York City sandwich shop, he’s learning how to play the guitar and trying to write songs.
Daphne has done some community theater in her small town in South Dakota. Now she’s ready for the big time—she moves to New York City to see if she can get to Broadway. She brings the family car and her sister Miriam with her—Miriam is good with maps and also makes a mean cup of coffee. Miriam goes reluctantly, since she is content pouring coffee at the town diner. She’s a stargazer not an aspiring star and it’s hard to see the stars in the sky in New York.
There is more than one love triangle when Harold crosses paths with Daphne and Miriam. but this is not a light farce or story of mistaken identities. It’s about themes like love, fate and chance, hope and disappointment, dreams and realities, the healing power of music told with clever writing that had me laughing out loud.
At one point, a couple is talking about breaking off their engagement. They say that the vows they hear are “for worse, for poorer, in sickness, until death do us part.”
Some of the humor revolves around the sandwich shop where Harold works and the owner of the shop. I’m still repeating the mantra “mayonnaise, meat, cheese, lettuce”.
The storyline is not linear. It jumps ahead and then goes back to explain what just happened. Things build to a climax on the night of the Northeast blackout on November 9, 1965.
The music is more rock ‘n roll than Broadway musical. The band (Foe Destroyer) is center stage. And in addition to playing the music, with an almost sleight of hand, they give props to the actors.
The stage itself is entertaining. Plain tiered levels, what looks like a floorboard opens like a bench. Inside is enough detail–phone, alarm clock, cushions–to indicate a bedroom or living room of a New York apartment.
If you want to know more: the New York Times did a feature about the three writers of the show, Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick and Kim Rosenstock.
Conceived by Kim Rosenstock; written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick and Ms. Rosenstock; directed by Carolyn Cantor; choreographed by Sam Pinkleton; sets by David Korins; costumes by Paloma Young; lighting by Jeff Croiter; sound by Ken Travis and Alex Hawthorn; production stage manager, Kyle Gates; general manager, Carol Fishman. Presented by Playwrights Horizons, Tim Sanford, artistic director; Leslie Marcus, managing director. At Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, Clinton; 212-279-4200, phnyc.org. Through June 29. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
WITH: Henry Stram (Narrator), Adam Chanler-Berat (Harold McClam), Peter Friedman (Mr. McClam), Patti Murin (Daphne), Allison Case (Miriam), Michael McCormick (Crabble) and Bryce Ryness (Joey Storms).