Not being the biggest fan of house parties, and having just turned eighteen, I welcomed the new Millennium in a rather dingy night club which no longer exists. That night, for those of us who can remember it, signaled a new beginning, and When Midnight Strikes by Kevin Hammonds and Charles Miller at The Drayton Arms Theatre, seizes upon this idea, and makes a musical of it.
Auld Lang Syne may be nowhere to be heard, but it’s definitely New Years Eve in Manhattan, as perfect hostess Jennifer West (Elizabeth Chadwick) welcomes guests to a party which will have plenty of fireworks. It soon becomes obvious that all is not well between her and husband, Christopher (Simon Burr). As the guests keep arriving, and there’s a lot of them, you wonder how they are all connected, and how they will fit into the plot.
The truth is some of them don’t, they are the guests on the fringe of the party, the ones you never quite get round to talking to properly. Granted, the large cast of characters makes it difficult to really explore any one in particular, but I choose to believe that’s deliberate; think about a dinner party you’ve attended, a group of mostly strangers thrown together for one evening, you see only what they let you see in those fleeting moments.
Those moments are captured well; for most of the first act the party is in full swing, and we listen in to snatched pieces of dialogue, which are illuminated with nice lighting cues. The set feels realistic, if a little small, and the projected Manhattan skyline completes the overall look. The score is catchy enough, with a nice mix of musical styles, from classical to Latin beat.