Dobama's World Premiere Musical 33 1/3, A Beautiful Story of Finding Our Own Truth

Dobama Theatre
Professional Equity House Theatre

*World Premiere*

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli
Directed by Matthew Wright
Music directed by Matthew Dolan
Choreography by Holly Handman-Lopez

After watching the World Premiere of 33 1/3 on Friday night, I found myself experiencing a deep connection to the story, the music, and the incredible actors that had just presented what seemed to be the story of my life. As the show evolved, I emotionally transported over and over again. Each scene reminded me of the joy and pain of the journey to find my own self in a world that didn't seem to want to see, hear, understand or help me. Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli have put together a beautiful touching effective story. The Book, Music, and Lyrics provide realistic scenarios and creative music that offers each member of the cast to emotionally split open and expose the light and the dark. It is a beautiful evening of theatre. I really encourage you to experience this beautiful butterfly.

It's 1974 and Jules (Benjamin Richardson-Piche +) finds small-town existence stifling. He lives for listening to the latest records with his best friend Jill (Hanna Shykind +) but dreams of an exciting life in New York City. While Jules mother is in the hospital, his father (Jim Bray *) is trying his best at home to manage the weight of his wife, providing for his family, and finding connection with his only son. While trying to visit his mother in the hospital, Jules encounters Francis (Tyler Tanner +), an openly gay, Bowie-loving young man, who loves to identify as a "Candy Striper". In this connection, Jules starts to embark on a journey of self-actualization of identity, and along with it, a romantic connection. Jules has the security of his best friend Jill but also encounters Victor (Jay Lee +), an angry young man from a troubled home who tries to find relief, most noticeably on his drum set. It is this collection of magnetic characters that provide the framework for becoming woke.

This cast. This cast. This cast.

It is Bray that we first meet. He tells us the tale from the perspective of Older Jules, and then adeptly steps into the story as Jules father. Bray is a dynamic actor. From the very beginning, his confidence and easy manner bring you directly into the play before you know it. His charm is undeniable, as is his talent. He shifts between storyteller and father personae with graceful ease. His acting completely on point, and his voice is glorious in tone, and emotional clarity. 

                       Richardson-Piche is perfect as Jules. His portrayal is a beautiful mix of vulnerability, likability, and convincing duress. His presence and effective character propel this story by allowing connective tissue to the audience. HIs voice is a beacon of rich timbre that can make you smile, provide comfort, and allow a window into the tumultuous and sensitive journey of self-discovery. A wondrous performance.

 As Jill, Shykind had me at hello, but then embraced me with her powerful and textured singing. She gave the "best friend" vibe to the hilt while exposing raw emotion, and resilience at just the right moments. There were moments when she sang I was in tears. I have to be honest, I love that feeling. Her performance moved me. Personally, it was one of the more painful journeys to watch. The journey of how we duck and weave our love story to survive. She is simply fantastic.

Tanner served up Francis on a golden plate of fierceness that was a scream to watch. However, he also provided some of the most touching moments. Especially when those of us who are over the top, slow down, and connect on a very personal level. He did that with excellent precision. Knowing exactly when to unfurl the flag, when to fly at half mast, and when it wasn't time to move it at all. And each moment was matched with a solid and meaningful vocal performance that rang true the entire evening. And that bitch can run in heels. He is a tornado of truth and flamboyance.

Lee, who is also armed with a great singing voice, was great as a housebound sulk while finding many humorous moments in the darkness. Especially when family members yelled. He is key to presenting the reality of acceptance is not always an easy path. Hurt people hurt people. He deftly illuminates the physical vulnerability that fuels his unrest and anger. Lee gives his character a solemn depth, and in the end, creates a window that many do not want to look through.

Matthew Wright directs this show with tender care and a deep sense of emotional connection that permeates the production. Excellent casting choices. Wright creates a symphonic atmosphere where each character is guided passionately to create fully realized movements. Matthew Dolan leads a talented band that provides a beautiful soundtrack. His accomplished skills are on full display, along with Jesse "Shredder" Fishman on Guitar and Pat "Bang Bang" Boland on Percussion. Choreographer Holly Handman-Lopez gives us uplifting movement. The production team is on fire and provides the professional quality work that is associated with Dobama, and the individual artists themselves.

Production Design T. Paul Lowry provides an animated background that provides a vibrant accent and also designed to help the timeline of events. Lighting Designer Marcus Dana Lighting Design is deftly on point and enhances the production. Costume Designer Tesia Dugan Benson brings the era to fabulous reality with some shirts and pants that I think I actually wore. Sound Designer Jeremy Dobbins provides clear and balanced sound. Stage Manager Andi Radujkovic led a dynamic and athletic crew. Assistants Jenna Fink and Sarah Gielink were excellent.

This is a wonderful evening of theatre. The music and the story will move you. The actors will connect with you. You will connect with you.

Truth is the most powerful performance enhancement drug. And that is quite evident in the production.

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

June 26 - July 14


7:30pm Wednesdays (No performance 7/10)
7:30pm Thursdays (No performance 7/4)
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
2:30pm Sundays 

Runtime: Approx. 2h 15m (Plus a 15m intermission)
Content Advisory: Adult Themes, Adult Language

$27-$35 Reserved Seating

(216) 932-3396
Order Tickets Online

Dobama Theatre
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118