Hudson Backstage Theatre
Charlie Everson (Tom Schmid) creates one of his successful jingles in the home he shares with his singer wife Linda (Cassidy Brown) and his talented daughter Emily (actress Darcy Rose Byrnes). Emily takes after her artistic father and begins to play the piano and sings with such a beautiful voice that the audience temporarily forgets she’s only 10. This Emily is smart, animated and infectious with her charm. Father and daughter have a special bond with music. Rosa the housekeeper (Elena Campbell-Martinez) takes more of an interest in Emily after Linda dies. The two become inseparable. Rosa has a wonderful relationship with Charlie, who playfully gets him unnerved when she calls jingles, dingles. Emily’s world becomes shattered when Charlie doesn’t come home one night. He makes a quick stop before leaving for home and gets robbed. Worse yet, he lies in a coma for five months and has no memory of his life. Meanwhile social services come in and Emily lives with a relative she hardly knows. An adult Emily leaves home and lives with her deadbeat wanna be musician boyfriend Johnny (Zack Carter).
Meanwhile, Charlie is in a hospital known as Mick Richards, a clever combination of the Rolling Stones’ vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. He falls in love and soon moves in with his nurse Sarah (once again played by the wonderful Cassidy Brown). She tries to help him piece his memory together. One night at a bar, where Emily works as waitress, Charlie/Mick is drawn to the piano and continues composing a song he worked on before the robbery that keeps repeating in his head for Emily. Emily makes her own love connection with law student Edward (a very charming Carmine diBenedetto) at a nearby coffee shop. She gets with the hero and quickly leaves the zero, Jake.
Haun is wonderful to watch and great to listen to. If she was on American Idol, the other contestants would immediately drop out. The versatility in her voice not only makes her stand out but also a great joy to see what else she can do. As Emily, she’s on the road to music success but never diminishes her goal—to find her father, Charlie.
Schmid triumphs as the loving father Charlie. Like Emily, he knows there’s a piece missing from his life. Whenever he’s near music or a piano, he quickly gravitates toward it and sticks with it until it makes sense. When he and Emily finally meet, it is a welcome sigh of relief that father and daughter are reunited with two extra gifts, their respective partners, Sarah and Edward.
Director and playwright Chet Holmes has created The Who’s Tommy rock opera for the millennia. A strong story dealing with family, love, loss, and new beginnings. Plus, music all ready available at the show. Haun is the perfect choice as the heroine. Byrnes (Penny Scavo from Desperate Housewives) plays a feisty Emily who loves her father and the music. That arc, is carried forward to Haun who exhibits such a strong desire for both. Holmes writing is strong and emotional. The cast, especially Haun and Schmid, played it with such passion it was difficult not to feel either their pain or elation. It’s this type of dramatic writing that attracts and pulls in a theater lover whose second love is music. Byrnes is captivating as the musical prodigy and Haun brings it home with her dynamic voice and the fierce young woman out to take over the music world.
Emily’s Song runs until Sunday, February 27, Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Hudson Backstage Theatre located at 6539 Santa Monica Tickets are $34 and available by calling (323) 960-7788 or online at www.plays411.com/emily or www.emilysong.com