Fringe 2018 review: ‘Along the Way’ mixes tunes and travel

Airport, that cheeseball movie from 1970, told of several strangers’ lives intersecting during a potentially tragic airplane flight. Along the Way puts a new spin on that predicament by presenting a less dramatic dilemma: one in which passengers never even get on the plane but nevertheless make personal, lasting connections – through song – while waiting at the gate. Though the musical dramedy is contrived and not without its structural turbulence, it comes in for a somewhat smooth landing thanks to its instantly recognizable music and competent cast.

The standouts among the 11-member ensemble are Andrew Meidenbauer as an anxiety-riddled business traveler, Brayshawna Bates as a ukulele-strumming hippie, Michelle Knight as an overworked airline employee and Robby Pigott as the reliable airport janitor who, ironically, has never been on a plane. Choreographer Kristen Danga also deserves accolades, as does Kyle Mattingly for the musical arrangements of such classics as “Life Is a Highway,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Come Fly With Me,” “Pressure” and an imaginatively staged “Make ’Em Laugh.”

Less impressive is the script by Dennis Maher and co-directors Juan Cantú and Melanie Mason. But, admittedly, even the best writers would struggle to flesh out nearly a dozen characters in just 50 minutes. Still, the sandwiching in of “What a Wonderful World” is slightly ill-advised, as the production is best when it’s not taking itself too seriously.

Also in need of tweaking is the visual design, which consists almost solely of travel-themed images projected on a large screen behind the actors. Worthwhile conceptually, they are often overwhelmed by the overhead lighting, a problem that might be avoided by removing a couple of upstage lights or moving the screen back a few feet.

Don’t make Along the Way one of your main Fringe destinations. But it’ll certainly serve as an enjoyable staycation.

Along the Way
Mertz Productions, Orlando, FL
All Ages
50 minutes
Orange Venue
Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 8:15 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 10:00 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 1:30 PM
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 6:45 PM
Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 6:45 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 8:30 PM

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