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South Coast Repertory's Cloudlands: An Inspiring Musical With a Tragedy Ending

Various scenes throughout the play.Caroline was Monica's mom.
Various scenes throughout the play.Caroline was Monica's mom.
Henry DiRocco/South Coast Repertory

Cloudlands

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Cloudlands was written by book writer Octavio Solis, and according to the play's sign language interpreter, Kristie Cain, the South Coast Repertory is the first theatre to present this musical. SCR commissioned writers Solis and Adam Gwon to write the story, lyrics, and music for this show. Amanda Dehnert directed the show.

Monica, played by Addi McDaniel, knew what her mom was doing before her dad did.
Monica, played by Addi McDaniel, knew what her mom was doing before her dad did.
Henry DiRocco

Basically, the daughter almost killed herself. Her father works, drinks, and fights. Her mom shops. The father especially loved his daughter. "You will always be my little girl. You are the only perfect thing in my life."

Upon the opening of Cloudlands, I heard music and singing in background. There were 2-D clouds floating around, and it was not until the middle of the play when I figured out that Cloudlands was the theme in Monica's journal. Monica was a 18-year-old girl, played by Addi McDaniel, who almost killed herself with pills due to family turmoil. Under her counselor's advice, Monica took pictures of clouds and posted them in her journal to help her cope with her emotions from such a stressful home.

Her parents were always worried about Monica's whereabouts and were overprotective of her. They even made Monica go counseling weekly as a family. The parents tried hard to get along as a couple so they won't lose Monica.

McDaniel had an ability to sing practically almost throughout the play which was 90 minutes long with no intermission. Solis and Gwon both also wrote the lyrics for the performers to sing. The play was mostly expressed through music to show emotion.

Monica had to endure hearing fights at home, which even lead her to break up with her caring and loving boyfriend, Kevin (Adam Kaokept). Monica's mom, Caroline, (Katrina Lenk) escaped the home turmoil by having an affair with her long-time-ago Mexican boyfriend, Victor, (Joseph Melendez), an illegal alien.

"Shopping is f. more important than our family?!" Gerald, the father, would yell at his wife Caroline at times at home. Caroline tricked Gerald about her outings with another man by using "shopping" as a cover-up excuse. The depressed father (Robert Mammana) never knew the truth until Monica told him: "Dad, mom is having an affair at the Mission."

However, Monica killed herself right after her father told her that Victor was her birth father. This happened right before Monica made up with Kevin, with a road trip planned. Read the book and you'd see why.

Speaking of interpreting that Cain did, she watched the play once and went over the script a few times to prepare for the play. She felt it was hard at times because characters would sing or talk at the same time with different words. However, she said the play was like that because emotion was the important element. "SCR is well-known for skilled actors with good voices," Cain said.

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