When your emotional support musical is programmed by a theatre only an hour away by bus — a theatre now in the throes of establishing itself as a major player in the world of Canadian musicals — you make the time to pay it a visit.
Boy Falls from the Sky knocked me off my feet when it played at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto last year. Jake Epstein’s solo show about show business checked every square of my “things that make theatre good” checklist. It told a specific, interesting story; it was really, really funny; it clocked in at under 90 minutes; and it used musical theatre tropes to unite (and lightly tease) theatre kids of all ages. The stuff of dreams, Boy Falls from the Sky was for me, this dazzling monologue about growing up onstage.
Time has passed — Epstein’s had a kid! — and the show has continued to tour across Ontario. In the version now playing at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Brandon Kleiman’s set is slight, just three windows suspended centre stage behind the ever-excellent, three-piece band, made up of Abby David on bass, Justin Han on drums, and Daniel Abrahamson on keys. The music is sourced from Broadway shows that are important to Epstein, either because he grew up listening to them as a kid (think The Lion King and Les Miserables) or because he performed in them as an adult (Spiderman: Turn off the Dark and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical). Epstein and the band navigate disparate genres and styles with grace and good humour — Boy Falls from the Sky might be the only place you’ll hear the works of Green Day, Elton John, and Carole King in one sitting.
TLDR: the show’s still exquisite.
And it’s right at home at Theatre Aquarius, which earlier this year announced its National Centre for New Musicals, an initiative with lofty dreams of transforming the Canadian theatre landscape one new musical at a time.
Time will tell if the centre succeeds, but it seems fitting that in the immediate aftermath of its announcement comes Boy Falls from the Sky, a musical about trying, succeeding, and failing at being in musicals. The resonance between the show’s content and the values of the theatre presenting it is just delicious, and it signals a promising road forward for Aquarius as the final pieces of the National Centre for New Musicals fall into place.
If you’ve not seen Boy Falls from the Sky, do. Theatre Aquarius boasts a lovely space (with ample legroom and pleasant lobby ambiance), and Epstein’s in fine form with his solo show, which, if anything, has only tightened up since its run in Toronto last year. Boy Falls from the Sky is a love letter to musical theatre, one that offers rare proof that sometimes, the job you love can love you right back. I’ll continue holding my breath for studio recordings of Epstein’s original ditty, “Apparently I’m Too Tall,” as well as his cover of the show’s titular ballad, borrowed from the superhero show that, statistically speaking, probably should have killed him.
No, Spiderman didn’t kill Epstein. But it left him with stories that simply have to be heard. Go.
Boy Falls from the Sky runs at Theatre Aquarius until November 4. Tickets are available here.
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