by Desert Stages Theatre
Life is brief. But usually we do have some chances to enjoy its wonders, whether they are friendships we make or beauty we discover or opportunities to do something we can feel good about. In The Butterfly’s Day, butterflies have been cursed following defeat by the moths so that they will only live one day. But they can be free of this curse if one butterfly can discover and achieve its purpose during its short existence. There are whispers throughout the garden that one new butterfly may be the one who can break the spell – that she’ll find her purpose.
Elysha Nemeth is the kind and hopeful Butterfly, her voice, optimism, and determination all working perfectly for the role as she discovers her purpose and goes for it. But she’ll need that determination with her equally determined antagonists. The Gypsy Moth Queen has no intention of letting butterflies gain their freedom, with Melanie Heredia trying to crush the Butterfly’s hope with cruel words and some great vocals as a rock diva and as a honky tonk diva. Jacqui Notorio embodies evil as the Demon seeking to take a Little Girl’s soul, doing so with great attitude, hair, costume, and makeup (the makeup designed by herself, with Jacqui doubling as the show’s makeup designer). But no matter how evil she is, there are certain rules that must be followed, with Cassie Daly dutifully keeping the letter of the law as the Dream Master.
Haley Johnson is the sweet but sick Little Girl in a coma, her frightened soul trapped in a subterranean dreamland, joining with the Butterfly in That’s What a Friend Can Do, and sharing a couple beautiful numbers with her Mother played by Margaret Stuart, who also shines in her solo Mother.
The garden is populated with many colorful critters who seem totally into their insect personas. Haley Cohn and Alicia McCullough are the constantly bickering, sassy sisters Katy Did and Katy Didn’t who somehow make their two standard lines hilarious in all their scenes using great timing, expressions, and a variety of sisterly fighting. Alex Partida and Shayna Moellenberg are a hoot as two silly and lazy worker bees. Savannah Tate is the more sensible and helpful of the bugs as the ladybug. Maggie Barton provides lovely vocals as the Garden Angel who hopes the ancient curse can be reversed. While Lauryn Martin as Black and White and Maria Lewandowski as Singer of Forgotten Songs try to help the Butterfly and her friends navigate dreamland.
The ensemble of moths and other garden insects sing and dance to a great variety of music, from rock to hip hop to country-western and more. It all takes place within an amazing set designed by Doug Brauer, Terry Helland, and Phil Manning. We are drawn into the garden thanks to the paintings around the perimeter of the walls and on the stage floor, and flowers that climb along pillars at the corners where other impressive settings are perched like the Little Girl’s room and the cavern where the Little Girl’s soul is trapped – deep in the ground where the Butterfly saw her before she bloomed into a butterfly.The show holds a special place in the heart of Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale. Their late artistic director and writer of many of their original productions, Gerry Cullity, wrote the musical in just four days, inspired to help his grieving wife who had recently lost her mother. During the previous run of the show four years ago, Gerry died. His story and his gifts to the world live on. As he put it in his beautiful musical, “we’re always with each other if we look into our hearts.”
Performs February 20 - March 22, 2009
~ Cast ~
Butterfly: Elysha Nemeth