Tenth of a series

NEW YORK – Old age, middle age, and young age are a given in life. In the new Broadway musical, based on a book and a movie, “The Notebook” is in residency at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.  It’s an occasional challenge and an inevitable distraction, because of color blind casting, with different actors with different ethnicities playing the six key roles of a couple, Allie and Noah, over a time span of four decades.

With an underlying  theme of the impact of Alzheimer’s, perhaps dual directors Michael Greif and Schele Williams wanted to include a memory test for spectators – visual in this case – to identify six actors portraying the same characters at different stages of life. I’ll admit; I had occasional difficulties.

Joy Woods and Ryan Vasquez are drenched in faux rain, in “The Notebook.”

Older Allie (played by Marian Plunkett) and Older Noah (enacted by Dorian Harewood)  are the elders. She’s white, he’s black. They are emotionally moving and powerful, and consequently Tony-nominated this year.

Middle Allie (Joy Woods) and  Middle Noah (Ryan Vasquez) are the middle-aged  duo. She’s black, he’s Hispanic. They make a splash – literally – as they are doused, in a clinch, in realistic rain in Act 2.

Young Allie (Jordan Tyson) and Young Noah (John Cardoza) are the youths. She’s black, he’s white. They make charming, bubbling lovebirds .

The three Noahs, from left: John Cardoza, Dorian Harewood and Ryan Vasquez.

Allie and Noah usually appear together, but there are tricky instances – part of the device of storytelling flashbacks – where old, middle and young selves all appear together. Example: In Noah’s ark, the three gents appear in a scene where all wear brown tops. Happily, though the two younger Noahs are blond, they are identifiable.

The three Allies, from left: Maryann Plunkett, Joy Woods and Jordan Tyson.

Inspired by the 1996 book by Nicholas Sparks and the 2004 rom-com weeper of a film, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, the tale revolves around the notion that if Noah renovates the family home, Allie will thus remain. In her old age, he reads her memoirs from a notebook, in a nursing home, which triggers actions and reactions with the middle duo and the young ones.

Bekah Brunstetter’s book features folks from Allie’s life, like her disapproving parents — Mother (Andrea Burns) and Father (Charles E. Wallace) – who withhold several hundred letters from Noah that Allie never receives. No confusion here, since there are just one  of each parent.

Ingrid Michaelson’s music and lyrics are reflective of the specific joy, sadness, love and depression depicted in the storytelling. Breakaway hits, however, are not likely.

David Zinn and Brett J. Banakis’ scenic design includes a water element, featuring a brook/pool running the span of the stage, with faux rain descending in Act 2, and architectural gems, like a wooden skeleton of a home and a moving second-floor porch-walkway.

Dangling lights, like upside candles, hang from above, and occasionally, the actors see reflections from mirrors at both sides of the stage, as they reminisce – as do the audience…

And that’s Show Biz…

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