Should You See "Vanishing Point" Before It's Gone? | WYPR

Should You See "Vanishing Point" Before It's Gone?

Stillpointe Theatre Initiative’s production of “Vanishing Point” continues at Church and Company through October 19.
Credit www.stillpointetheatre.com

 "Vanishing Point" is the latest production from the Stillpointe Theatre Initiative. Maryland Morning theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck reviews this new musical, which runs at Church & Company until Oct. 19.

The Rousuck Review: "Vanishing Point" a New Musical from the Stillpointe Theatre Initiative

Aviatrix Amelia Earhart, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and mystery writer Agatha Christie were probably never in the same place at the same time. But they had several things in common: they were all early 20th Century superstars, women making their mark in a man’s world, and peculiarly, each disappeared – for days or weeks, or in Earhart’s case, forever, in the 1920s and Thirties.

Their deep passions and unsolved disappearances are excellent material for the heightened world of musical theater, and “Vanishing Point” brings the three women together on stage with stirring results.

The musical – created by former Baltimorean Rob Hartmann and Liv Cummins – has been in the works for two decades. It is receiving a rousing Baltimore premiere by Stillpointe Theatre Initiative.

The opening number introduces the three protagonists and establishes their shared sense of adventure, spectacle and mystery. The musical styles are tailored to the characters. For example, there’s a touch of all-American folk for McPherson (though surprisingly little gospel) and a suggestion of British musical hall for Christie, particularly when she leads the other two in a song about “red herrings.”

In the first act, each woman’s story -- though woven through the other two -- is told separately. After intermission, there’s a major shift in approach. The three women interact and band together, trying to make sense of their own disappearances. The interaction is as intriguing as it is unexpected.

There is one fundamental problem. The first act focuses on the events leading up to the disappearances while the second act attempts to figure out why the women vanished. It is interesting background and conjecture, but we need more about the disappearances themselves – both facts and impact. 

Going missing made headlines. By now, however, the specifics, with the exception of Earhart, have drifted too far from the public consciousness to expect an audience to fill in the blanks.

Even so, this is an exhilarating show and production. Stillpointe Theatre Initiative was founded by Towson University theater grads four years ago. The company’s name refers to the still point between breaths. In this case, it is extremely apt: There are times when “Vanishing Point” nearly takes your breath away. 

 -- J. Wynn Rousuck