By Dino Dela Rosa
The new musical “Ace” kicks off the new season at Signature Theater. Masterfully directed by Eric Shaeffer and set to music and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, it tells the story of one
boy’s attempt to find his place in the present in 1950s America. When 10-year-old Danny Lucas receives a toy plane as an unexpected gift, he is launched on an adventure of discovery to reconstruct the pieces of his shattered past. A tale of triumph, transcendence, humor and heart,
Ace magically explores the heroic lives of the men and women of our greatest generations. This new show is part drama, part adventure, part tearjerker.
In Act 1, a distraught mother, Elizabeth, (Jill Paice) has tried to commit suicide. As a result, her confused, withdrawn 10-year-old son, Danny(Dalton Harrod), has been taken away from her by a social
worker(Florence Lacey) to live with a childless couple(Emily Skinner, Duke Lafoon) who has been longing to adopt. Danny slowly learns about his past when his mother sends, through the social worker, a diary written by her late mother-in-law(Christiane Noll), and a toy plane. Once he receives the toy plane, he is transported into the past-World War 1- where he learns about his grandfather(Jim Stanek), a war hero. While he is learning about his past, he tries to get along with his foster parents and befriends a smart kid in his school(Angelina Kelly).
In Act 2, Danny learns about his parent’s early courtship and the real truth about his father(Matthew Scott) and what really happened to him. This revelations provide the emotional moments of the show( “Choose To Fly”, “Now I Know.”). By the end of Act 2, there wasn’t a dry eye in
This show boasts of a stellar cast. Jill Paice nails every line and note as the mother Elizabeth. Christiane Noll is a lovely soprano who shines in her numbers “It Took This Moment,” and “Be My Bride.” Broadway vet Emily Skinner is wonderful as Louise, Louise may not make the perfect chocolate chip cookie( “Make It From Scratch”) but she is a great wife and foster mom.
In the titular role, Matthew Scott is superb as the war hero. He belts with authority in “Soaring Again,” “December 7th,” and “Father And Son.” The pint-size wonders here are Dalton Harrold as Dannny and Angelina Kelly as the smart Emily, Kelly steals every scene that she is in and she is simply adorable when she belts out “Now I’m On Your Case.”
Both she and Harrold have the makings of future Broadway stars. A noteworthy mention to Walt Spangler’s gorgeous set, Robert Perdziola’s beautiful 50s costumes and a sumptuous 13-piece orchestra led by David Krepell. With an exhilirating score such as “In These Skies,” “It’s Better Way,” you will fall in love with this show, If you want to be entertain and moved, go see “Ace” which is playing at Signature Theater till September 28.
“Ace.” directed by Eric Schaeffer, music by Richard Oberacker; book and lyrics by Richard Taylor and Richard Oberacker. Choreography, Karma Camp; lighting, Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz; orchestrations,Greg Anthony. With Richard Barth, Jason Reiff, Danny Rothman, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Ari Goldbloom-Helzner.
Running time: 2 hrs., 25 mins.
Tickets: $49 -$77
Signature Theater, 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, Va.
Call 703- 820-9771 for tickets or visit www-signature-theater.org