A Perfect Mixture Of Dazzle and Heart In ‘One More Yesterday’

Who among us hasn’t, at one time or another, found themselves longing for yesterday? But for aging Tony winner Lydia Taylor, the protagonist of the Foundry’s new musical One More Yesterday who has now spent nearly 50 years out of the spotlight, longings for her happier yesterdays are just about all that she has left. 

At least, that’s true at the beginning of this charming, winning new musical with a book by Ronnie Larsen, lyrics by Dennis Manning, and music by Manning and Bobby Peaco, who also serves as its musical director. 

Notably, though I saw the show a good three weeks ago (having subsequently been thrown off my usual practice of attempting to write a review as soon as possible after the fact by the fact that I was rehearsing for a show at the time and caught up in various other madness), I can still vividly recall how dazzled, touched, and amused I was by the production. More than that, I can still vividly recall the melodies of quite a few of the show’s infectious musical numbers after only one (or in the case of a few reprised tunes, two or three) listens, and could easily imagine happily hearing them again many times over. 

As the show starts, former starlet Lydia can barely afford her rent controlled apartment and Top Ramen, and must report to an agent young enough that she could be his mother’s mother and he has not managed to get her actual acting work in over a decade. When she finally does get an audition, she isn’t at all surprised that the director she’s appearing before just wants her to “die again,” a moment which inspires a witty number in which she finds herself fantasizing that the young “Karen” she is up against for a part would instead suffer the fate, and then, more strikingly, ponders “But I’m already dead.” 

But the tables begin to turn when it turns out that, as the iconic character Lydia was auditioning for puts it, “Granny ain’t dying today!” The side, it turns out, was merely a clever ruse meant to trick the audience into thinking this spunky “vigilante granny” was down for the count. 

When she gets cast, while she may be working for mere points on a movie shot on an iPhone, she is, indeed, finally a working actress again, which is enough to make her jubilantly proclaim she is “thankful for today” in a wonderfully optimistic number. And, along with a revitalized career, the movie also brings Lydia an unexpected chance at love, which becomes especially poignant when her tragic romantic history is revealed. 

Among the few gripes I have with the otherwise winning script mainly have to do with how slowly that backstory is revealedfor instance, rather than a revelation about Lydia’s family life only coming at the end of Act One, it being at least hinted at earlier could’ve added weight to her pathos and made later plot payoffs somewhat more rewarding. 

Still, while there’s a sense in which the easy happy ending the play eventually comes to felt like a betrayal of its earlier, rawer moments of melancholy, there’s also a definite charm in the wish fulfillment fantasy the show peddles and the way in which all of Lydia’s loose ends are satisfyingly, if a bit belatedly, tied. 

And amidst the effective campy humor that defines much of the show, there are also quite a few deeper, more poignant moments, such as the one in which we watch present-day Lydia dance with a twenty-year-old Lydia, which speaks to the way in which many of of us become haunted by our memories, and by the past versions of ourselves. 

And if this stellar show didn’t have enough going for it, it also boasts an equally stellar cast, with obvious accolades owed to Angie Radosh as the guarded and wounded Lydia gradually rediscovering her warmth and her passions. But while it’s no surprise that Radosh, a veteran actor with a variety of accolades, has more than enough star power to shine throughout Lydia’s poignant story, several supporting players were also pretty damn incredible. For instance, as her unlikely love interest, Avi Hoffman exudes charm as a character who could easily have come off as sleazy, revealing an impressive range in the process considering his turn earlier this season as an easy-to-hate boomer.

Sheena O. Murray was also at the top of her game delivering a standout solo at the end of Act 2, and Casey Sacco as Lydia’s younger counterpart was a perfect embodiment of ingenue-style-innocence. Toddra Brunson also revealed some impressive vocal chops as the “Director” of the movie within a play, and all three struck me as stars in the making that I’d be eager to see take center stage any day!

The creative production elements (including lighting by Preston Bircher, set by Melqui Dominguez, choreography by Oren Korenblum, and costumes by Nicole Alcaro and Company) also added plenty of shimmer and style to the story, which remained visually engaging throughout. 

Overall, the accessible nature of One More Yesterday makes it easy to imagine it winning over popular audiences of all stripes, and the fact that there are only a few tickets left for the show’s upcoming closing weekend also speaks to its near-universal appeal (and that I don’t need to feel as guilty for not reviewing it earlier!)

Silly as the show can sometimes get, at its core is a moving story of a woman learning to re-open her heart to the possibility of love and happiness after having spent years thinking both were lost to yesterday, and learning she does not have to let her age or anyone’s opinion of her keep her from being her best and brightest self. Because I think that’s a message plenty worth proclaiming, if you have a chance to catch this production before it gets lost to yesterday, you should definitely check it out before May 14th!

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