Despite Flaws, TOMORROW MORNING is Sweet, Memorable and Refreshingly Uncynical

Despite Flaws, TOMORROW MORNING is Sweet, Memorable and Refreshingly Uncynical

(left to right) Tina Naponelli, Carl Herzog, Teressa LaGamba and Neil Stratman in Kokandy Productions’ TOMORROW MORNING, with book, music and lyrics by Laurence Mark Wythe, directed by John D. Glover and music direction by Kory Danielson. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Review: TOMORROW MORNING at Kokandy Productions

By Erin Shea Brady

At Kokandy Productions, Laurence Mark Wythe’s TOMORROW MORNING does a lot of things right. In the vein of Jason Robert Brown’s THE LAST FIVE YEARS, TOMORROW MORNING aims for intimate, character-driven and contemporary. It focuses on two couples—one, the night before their wedding and the other, the night before their divorce. The conceit is trite, but in the hands of this team, it lends itself to some really sweet, memorable and refreshingly uncynical moments—particularly, in what is sung.

While much of the music is successful, the book is thin and contrived. I found much of the dialogue to be generic and inauthentic. A musical like this, in accordance with Kokandy’s mission statement, has the potential to be quite complex, and I wished that the scenes between songs had received as much attention and told as much story as the music. Director John D. Glover manages to create some really nice moments despite the inferior material. For instance, a lot of storytelling and character development happens in a well-crafted pre-show—a smart and effective choice on Glover’s part. Ultimately, though, the lack of specificity in the writing makes for an unfortunate dip in the quality of the work as a whole.

Under Kory Danielson’s musical direction, this four-person cast tackles the score beautifully. As Catherine, Teressa LaGamba is exceptional. She does a formidable job of elevating the material and gives a grounded and powerful performance. Listening to LaGamba sing is a tremendous experience—I am eager to follow what is sure to be an impressive and important career. She has a strong partner in Carl Herzog, who, as Jack, is genuine and fun to watch. The connection between Kat (Tina Naponelli, who gives a lovely, relatable performance) and John (Neil Stratman) felt forced at times, but I appreciated and enjoyed the playfulness in their relationship.

The design team uses the space well. Ashley Ann Woods’ set is detailed and has a lot of character. Cat Wilson’s lighting design complements it nicely.

There’s a lot of hope and a lot of love in this story, which this production really embraces. It’s nice to see that. It’s a taste of something really uplifting and great. The production is well-intentioned—and worth seeing for the vocal performances alone—but the play itself doesn’t hold up.

About author

Erin Shea Brady

Erin Shea Brady is a contributing writer and critic at PerformInk and Newcity Stage. Directing credits include: Everybody (Brown Paper Box Co.) and Cabaret, Annapurna (staged reading) and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (No Stakes Theater Project). Erin has assistant directed and dramaturged productions at the Goodman, Jackalope, TimeLine, A Red Orchid, Northlight, and Remy Bumppo. Erin is a graduate of the directing program at Columbia College Chicago, the internship program at Steppenwolf, Jackalope's inaugural Playwright's Lab, and participated in the Goodman's Criticism in a Changing America bootcamp. Erin is a company member with Brown Paper Box Co. and is currently pursuing her MSW at Loyola.