The Column Online



Written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock

Runway Theatre

Diretor – Amy Jackson
Music Director – Kristin Spires
Assistant Director – Rae Harvill
Choreographer – Shannon Walsh
Stage Manager – Misty Baptiste
Set Design/Construction – Jeremy Ferman
Costume Design – Rae Harvill
Sound Design – Mark Howard
Lighting Design – Jeremy Ferman & Emilie Buske-Ferman
Light Board Operator – Cody Martin
Sound Board Operator – Cindy Roberts
Prop Design – Misty Baptiste
Dance Captain – Jonathan Hardin
Lobby Photos – Amy Jackson
Program Design – Performing Ads
Runway Graphic Design – etzetera creative services
Board Liaison – Emily Moriarty-Philips

Keyboard – Kristin Spires
Guitar – Jesse Ramirez
Bass – Mitchell Jantzie
Drums – Mark Howard

The Narrator – Billy Betsill
Harold McClam – Cameron Potts
Mr. McClam – Jackie L. Kemp
Daphne – Briana Berk
Miriam – Emma Bruce
Crabble – Tripp Jackson
Joey Storms – Jonathan Hardin

Reviewed Performance: 1/25/2019

Reviewed by Kathleen Morgan, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

We’ve all mused on the serendipitous moments of our lives: “If I hadn’t chosen that exact seat on the bus, I never would have met my spouse,” or, “If I hadn’t bumped into that manager in the break room, I never would have gotten the new job.” We can make lists like this that go on and on and on. Fly By Night not only illuminates what can bloom out of such moments, but it examines the paths we create and re-create as other paths intersect with ours, and what roles fate and free will play throughout our journey. Runway Theatre managed to turn this treasure of a show into a gem.

Through a delivery that was part Rod Serling and part Monty Python, Billy Betsill wowed the audience as The Narrator (and a club MC, and the mother of Daphne and Miriam, and the old woman fortune teller, just to name a few). Delivering a jaw-dropping number of lines with the voice of a 60’s radio announcer, Betsill’s performance was consistently captivating, and of course, hilarious. If there was any doubt as to the range of Betsill’s versatility, it vanished for good during the sidesplitting (and ridiculous) song, “The Prophecy.” Donning a headscarf tied under his chin, Betsill became a fortuneteller and delivered the entire song in an animated falsetto voice. As you might expect, hilarity ensued. Billy Betsill gave everything he had to his characters and the result was beyond impressive!

Briana Berk captured the essence of a spunky, rising starlet through her performance as Daphne. Undaunted by the big city or the uncertainty of pursuing life as an actress, she doggedly followed her dreams- sometimes at the expense of her sister. Berk’s rich voice rang clear through the theater with each song, and was particularly lovely in “I Need More.” This number also brought more depth to her otherwise shallow character. Through Daphne, Berk showed us what blind ambition can do to relationships.

The song that has lingered in my mind for the last few days has been "Stars I Trust"- likely because Emma Bruce performed it so beautifully as Miriam. Bruce radiated joy, wonder, and optimism all at once through this powerful, and yet delicate, rendition. Though at first Miriam seems two-dimensional as a dutiful sister and a happy-go-lucky waitress, her character takes on immense depth after the prophecy. Bruce navigates this transition wonderfully. She is earnest and hopeful when she realizes she’s met her soul mate, and utterly dejected when she realizes its implications. In spite of her character’s conflicted heart, Emma Bruce never loses her starry-eyed wonder.

Harold McClam, portrayed by Cameron Potts, was the show's complicated young man. This character is figuring out who he is, has a job he isn't passionate about, and is running away from dark events in his life instead of facing them head-on. The range of emotion Potts had to convey was certainly vast, and grew more complex once a conflicting love interest came into the mix- but Potts pulled it off expertly. Potts’ performance was particularly charming during his song, “Circles in the Sand,” as he excitedly (though awkwardly) relayed to the audience the background of the song. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Potts’ Brooklyn accent was rather convincing!

Jackie L. Kemp played Harold’s grieving father, Mr. McClam. Kemp’s sorrow and longing for his late wife, Cecily, was palpable throughout the show. Kemp brought Cecily alive for the audience through his song, “Cecily Smith” where he eagerly shared their love story, one he loved to retell often. His deep voice rolled through the audience as he sang arias from his favorite opera, La Traviata. Despite his character’s loneliness and despair, Jackie Kemp gave us a taste of Mr. McClam’s unfettered joy when he spoke of Cecily.

Providing comedic relief to the audience, Tripp Jackson played the part of Harold’s boss at “Sandwiches Sandwiches”, the ever-grumpy Crabble. This curmudgeonly man is always doing one of two things: barking orders at Harold, or reminiscing about his days in the war as an air traffic controller (of all things). Each new round of re-enacting his quizzical dream job had the whole theater in stitches. Despite the strained relationship of their respective characters, Jackson and Potts had great stage chemistry, made apparent in the song, “Eternity.” After Jackson’s hysterical performance, I doubt I’ll refer to a sandwich as anything other than “mayonnaise, meat, cheese, and lettuce” ever again!

Joey Storms, Daphne’s’ dramatic director-producer-playwright, was portrayed by an ever-frantic Jonathan Hardin. Whether swooping in to the coat shop to snatch up Daphne for his show, or re-writing the ending to his play for the umpteenth time, Hardin’s energy was consistently through the roof. His devotion to Daphne was matched by his distain for Harold, made clear each time the two were onstage together. No matter the scene or setting, Hardin was delight to watch throughout the show.

The set was Spartan with a few thoughtful touches. The band played on a raised platform in the center of the stage, and the actors only shared that platform during balcony scenes. The many variations of the "Sandwiches Snadwiches/Sandwiches" sign hung to one side, and each version was creatively hidden when not in use. The furniture of Daphne’s apartment was neatly and seamlessly stored beneath the band’s platform when not in use. My favorite detail of the set was the dim light bulbs that hung like stars above the audience, and were illuminated only during certain scenes. The costumes and hair were spot-on for ‘60s style. Daphne and Joey’s more stylish outfits were particularly eye-catching with their popping colors. Fly by Night is a unique work of art- it is experimental without being too "out there." It is somehow a very quirky show- but in a way that makes it quite charming. It has a somber tone that is peppered with moments of levity, wonder, and even magic. It explores a variety of both family and romantic relationships, where many theatrical productions explore just one. Runway Theatre not only did this show justice, it gave it a life of its own. Go see this show if you want to see something that is quite simply and purely wonderful!

Fly By Night
Runway Theatre
January 25th- February 18th
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm
Runway Theatre- 215 N Dooley St, Grapevine TX

To purchase tickets, visit the box office or the Runway Theatre website
Adults - $25
Senior/Student - $22