JOY

JOY, book by Maja Ardal, music and lyrics by Joey Miller, directed by Patricia Vanstone, with Jayne Lewis, Avery Saltzman,.


JOY, book by Maja Ardal, music and lyrics by Joey Miller, directed by Patricia Vanstone, with Jayne Lewis, Avery Saltzman, Mary Ann McDonald, David Playfair, John Burgess, Elizabeth Collison, Adanya Dunn and Mike Lummis. Presented by Workman Theatre Project at the Workman Theatre (1001 Queen West). To October 15, Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm, matinees Thursday 1 pm and Sunday 2 pm. $15, pwyc for limited incomes. 583-4606. Rating: NNN

The musical Joy doesn’t seem to be about that emotion at all – not when its title character realizes that she’s suffering from clinical depression.

The show follows the feverish roller-coaster ride that Joy (Jayne Lewis) experiences as she approaches her 40th birthday. Despite worldly success, she’s troubled by images of her dead Uncle Joey and a mysterious little girl. A lot of her life, though, we have to take on faith, for Maja Ardal’s book is still in the development stage, with Joy’s relationship to those around her vague and a number of characters sketched in rather than fully formed.

The strength of the show, directed with a sure hand by Patricia Vanstone, is Joey Miller’s songs, with their agreeable, sometimes touching melodies and clever, internal-rhyme lyrics (with additional lyrics by James O’Reilly). The writers couldn’t have a better champion for their work than the incisive Lewis, who creates a totally moving Joy, a woman who falls into forgotten cracks in her past and finally extricates herself from them.

The only one who matches her range is Avery Saltzman as Joey, a ghost with a touch of Cabaret’s MC and a sleazy, desperate, stand-up comedy style that draws heckles from the house. Mary Ann McDonald has some pointed cameos, but the figures she portrays, notably Joy’s mother, are too flimsily written. JK

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