The Kansas City Repertory Theatre presented an encore performance of “Clay”, at the Copaken Staged in the Power and Light Entertainment District. “Clay”, written scored and performed by Matt Sax and in collaboration with and directed by Eric Rosen, opened the Rep’s 2008 season. The show has had successful runs in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Chicago, Kansas City and New York. John Williams and John Schmidt provide additional music for the hip hop musical.
In the beginning it’s easy to believe that the audience is listening to the ramblings of a man with multiple personalities. Only a few minutes pass before the audience realizes they are watching a poignant story of a young man from a dysfunctional family, who rises to fame through hip hop music.
Sax gives a dynamic performance as Clay, Clifford (Clay’s true name), his mom and dad and Sir John. The brilliant use of a hooded sweat shirt distinguishes Sir John, Clay’s mentor and friend, from the other characters. Sax has a wonderful voice whether he is speaking the dialogue or involved in one of the many songs that describes the rise of Clay.
Sax brings out a multitude of emotions from sadness for Clay after the death of his mother, to suspense as to why he is hesitant to perform. The intensity builds throughout the night and is broken up by moments of humor, allowing the audience a chance to catch its breath. The dialogue is helped along by the Orchestration and Sound Design of Joshua Horvath. The flash of a high intensity light as a gun goes off helps the imagination to paint the picture that Sax is providing a visual and audial canvas for.
“Clay” was brought back by the Rep as a part of its First Page series, which runs through Mar. 2. On Sunday Feb. 25 participants can join Kansas City playwrights Pete Bakely, Jerry Genochio, Kyle Hatley, Frank Higgins, Nathan Louis Jackson, Natalie Liccardello, Matt Sax and others in at the Playwright Slam, as they read brief excerpts from their scripts. The Playwright Slam will be held at the Copaken Stage at 7 p.m.
Clay runs through Mar. 2 at the Copaken Stage. The Kansas City Repertory Theatres next production is “Carousel”, produced by Artistic Director Kyle Hatley and with the Living Room Theater. The show will run from March 8 through March 31 at the Spencer Theatre and will feature in-the-round seating.