“What is this impulse that drives otherwise sane men to attempt the impossible?”
Take Flight was a 2007 musical that played at the Menier Chocolate Factory (before my blogging time) written by composer David Shire, lyricist Richard Maltby Jr and writer John Weidman. Weidman is known for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim (Pacific Overtures, Assassins) and it is hard to avoid the comparisons to that style of musical theatre here, for it does come across as very much of the same school.
The musical was inspired by the early history of aviation, weaving together the likes of “the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, along with such sundry luminaries as Otto Lilienthal, the German “Glider King”; Commander Richard Byrd; French flying aces Nungesser and Coli, and various others”, bouncing around three key narratives as they attempt to…take flight.
On record, it comes across as an impressively quirky piece of musical theatre. Sam Kenyon and Elliot Levey are nerdishly amusing, a total double act which must have been fun to watch. And Michael Jibson’s Charles Lindbergh offers a real contrast in exploring the soulful sadness of the solo adventurer, its loneliness and fragility a marked difference to the portrayal of pioneers that we’re most often given.
Most appealing though is Sally-Ann Triplett’s Amelia Earhart, and in particular her relationship with Ian Bartholomew as her husband George Putnam, as she debates career over love. Triplett is such a charismatic performer but there’s something so beautiful about the tenderness of duets like ‘Earthbound’ which makes this an entirely listenable cast recording, and a show that I’d rather like to see a production of sometime soon please.