Joey Contreras has, in a short space of time, garnered critical acclaim for both his musical theatre and pop song-writing. Jonathan Larson Grant Finalist and one of Playbill’s “Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know”, Contreras brought his musical and pop catalogue together for In Pieces, which was originally presented at Lincoln Center, and now gets its European Premiere as a feature film directed by Louis Rayneau.
Contreras’ song cycle tackles a subject not unknown to musical theatre; love. But more specifically it asserts that at any given time our love life is ‘in pieces’, and constantly shifting, a concept summed up perfectly by Kyle Birch (Austyn) with one of the early numbers, ‘Unsaid’. It means that most (if not all) of the 22 songs will feel incredibly relatable, allowing the audience to truly recognise themselves in the disparate characters who come together in various guises throughout In Pieces.
As opposed to some other forms of digital theatre we’ve seen over the last year, Future Spotlight Productions have taken this theatrical offering and given it a feature film makeover. It looks stunning. The popular London attraction Kidzania makes an ideal backdrop, placing the action in an American city setting, with plenty of different spaces to be able to bring the story to life.
But there’s more to this than just the set, Louis Rayneau as director has created a beautifully shot piece of musical theatre film that would rival some of the big budget Oscar winners we’ve come to know and love. Perfectly timed costume changes, carefully considered camera angles, and Rachel Sargent’s vibrant choreography makes for a visually stunning production.
We get our first glimpse of the calibre of this production with Ross Harmon (Charlie) and the quirky ‘Me and Mr Popularity’ which flows seamlessly in to the anthemic ‘Love Wildly’ performed by Jordan Luke Gage (Grey). Hiba Elchikhe (Sam) gives us one of the most incredible performances of the year with ‘Waiting For More’, while Amy Di Bartolomeo (Alex) lifts the roof with ‘Singin’ The Same Line’.
The exceptional cast of eight are allowed to shine because of Contreras’ ability to construct these wonderfully complex musical theatre songs, which feel like chart topping hits. This soundtrack comes together to tell individual stories which are part of something so much bigger.
Even those who have perhaps become a little jaded by digital theatre, will find themselves swept up in the joyous, though sometimes heart wrenching, songs of Joey Contreras, while the slick production makes it nothing short of enamouring. This is digital theatre to get excited about, In Pieces is a musical theatre tour de force that you’ll want to watch over and over again.