“Crossing Swords” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre (Closed July 28, 2013)

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Joe Slabe
Directed by Igor Goldin
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Crossing Swords” is an important new musical with multilayered and interweaving plot structures driven by a matrix of well-developed, dynamic characters who share a repository of complicated plots that the audience can readily identify with and understand. Joe Slabe has created an endearing book musical with transcendent lyrics and music and powerful and redemptive themes spun by an unexpected love triangle and a seemingly impossible love affair between a Francophile and an Anglophile living in more than different cultural worlds.

In the parallel constructs of the rehearsals for “Cyrano,” the relationships between Jeremy, David, and Nicky, and the relationship between Miss Daignault and “Sir,” there is indeed the crossing of many swords: secrets are revealed from the present and the past; deep-seated conflicts about status and identity flood to the surface; and, after a surprising climax, resolutions are reached that provide needed resolution and catharsis.

The stunning cast of this musical creates an ensemble performance that is remarkable in its evenness and exactitude. Voices blend, movements mesh in sweet synchronicity, and characters are created with grace and skill. It is impossible to single out any one actor for specific mention. It is enough to affirm that Linda Balgord, Ali Gordon, Steven Hauck, Lyle Colby Mackston, and Marrick Smith, under Igor Goldin’s direction, bring “Crossing Swords” to a level of professionalism from which it can do no other than move forward in success.

There are songs that shine and should be highlighted: “On the Stage” sung by Miss Daignault (Linda Balgord), Jeremy (Lyle Colby Mackston), David (Marrick Smith), and Nicky (Ali Gordon); “For King and Country” sung by Sir (Steven Hauck), Jeremy, and David; and “My Work” a beautiful duet sung by Sir and Miss Daignault. These three showcase not only the voices of the actors but also showcase the brilliance of the entire creative team.

This is a musical with heart, mind, and soul with a message of enduring importance: there is nothing that can overcome the power of unconditional and non-judgmental love. We await its return to the New York stage and wish its cast and creative team the very best for the future.

“Crossing Swords” has garnered eight NYMF 2013 Awards for Excellence including: Excellence in Writing (Musical) – Honorable Mention to Joe Slabe; Excellence in Writing (Book) – Joe Slabe; Excellence in Direction – Igor Goldin; Outstanding Musical Direction – Micah Young; Outstanding Ensemble Performance – Honorable Mention; Outstanding Individual Performance – Steven Hauck; Most Promising New Musical – Honorable Mention; and the Theatre for the American Musical Prize.