With book and lyrics by Mary Bracken Phillips, and music by Craig Bohmler (who already has seven musicals, three operas, numerous choral works and quite a few songs to his credit), this show takes its inspiration from the young Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis & Clark expedition through the Rockies to the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805. Phillips and Bohmler (who have already had Mountain Days: The John Muir Musical produced by the Willows Theatre Company) plan to create several more shows based on important characters from the history of the Pacific Northwest.
Strong performances came from Ryan Drummond as Meriwether Lewis, Morgan Smith as William Clark, Jennifer Paz as Sacagawea, and Joti Gore as Clark's black slave, York. While the show could benefit from a stronger cast and stage director, this was a fairly solid achievement for a community theater group.
In Act I, as Sacagawea and Clark tried to wrestle with the meaning of the word "funny," I found myself thinking back to Jule Styne's Gypsy (1959):
"Funny, you're a stranger in town here.Come from a different place.Funny, I'm a stranger myself here.Small world, isn't it?"
"Some Indian summer's dayWithout a care.I may run away'With Big Chief Son of a Bear!"
A critical decision (which, more than 200 years ago marked the first time in American history that a woman and a black man were allowed to vote) had one character after another opting to spend the winter on the "South Side" (of the Columbia River). I kept waiting for the chorus to break into a bent V-shape and start singing "Hello, Barack!""We'll have Manhattan,The Bronx and Staten Island, too."
History relates that for three years following the expedition, Sacagawea and her husband, the fur trader Charbonneau, lived among the Hidatsa Indians before accepting Clark's invitation to settle in St. Louis in 1809.
The best -- and most unintentional laugh -- resulted from a moment of sound distortion toward the end of the show. As one of the actors described what had happened to various characters, my friend and I both thought we heard him refer to one character as "still being at war with the Hadassahs." Elliott doubled over in laughter as he visualized a busload of angry but well-coifed Jewish matrons beating the Indian staff at a casino with their pocketbooks while demanding more quarters for the slot machines.
While Sacagawea may not have been Drums along the Martinez, a relatively good time was had by all.