As I promised last week, this is a review of The Great Immensity, one of the three recently released recordings in The Michael Friedman Collection. In case you are not familiar with the Michael Friedman Collection it is a collection of nine Friedman scores that will be released over a period of time. The first three have recently been released: This Beautiful City, The Great Immensity and The Abominables. This week I am listening to The Great Immensity. In recent years, this is a musical that was widely discussed because it received a grant of $697,177 from the National Science Foundation in 2010. Due to receiving this, it caused some controversy that I do not intend to cover in this article. However, in the times in which we live I was pleased to discover that there is a musical written with the intent to start a conversation about climate change. The Great Immensity is full of clever lyrics and it is an enjoyable album to listen to.
The Great Immensity is described as “a continent-hopping thriller.” The plot follows the character, Phyllis, who is seeking her husband after he has disappeared from a tropical island while on assignment for a nature show. As with all of Friedman’s work the lyrics are witty and clever, but this musical has a bit more of a serious tone to it because it deals with climate change, which is a topic that effects everyone.
From listening to the recording there seems to be a lot of research that went into the creation of the music. One of the songs I find myself remembering the words to, as well as being affected by the lyrics, is the song “The Dene Village.” This is about the Sayisi Dene, who are the Dene First Nation Aboriginal peoples of Canada and they live in Northern Manitoba. Their lives involved living a nomadic caribou-hunting and gathering existence. In 1956, the Sayisi Dene residing at Little Duck Lake, were forcibly relocated to Churchill. The song “The Dene Village” is beautifully performed by Erin Wilhemi. The lyrics are emotional especially when she sings about “How a people who were here once are gone.” One of the songs that I just found to simply be a fun song with catchy lyrics is “The Earth Ambassadors Theme Song.” It made me smile and I loved the lyric, “We will show the world a reason to care.” One last song I want to mention is the song, “Snowplow.” The song starts off kind of fun with a memorable melody, but then the lyrics turn serious as they tell a story about a man and a polar bear in the center of town. The thing I really love about this recording is listening to the lyrics and realizing all the research that must have went into writing the lyrics. I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about the Sayisi Dene and their relocation, which is considered one of the most grievous errors committed by a federal government. That is the beautiful thing about theatre, it teaches us and lets us understand empathy and emotion. The music from The Great Immensity does exactly that, it informs the listener and makes us think about what we just listened to. Please check back next week for my thoughts about another work in The Michael Friedman Collection, The Abominables.
The Great Immensity is available for purchase through Ghostlight Records. Please visit https://www.ghostlightrecords.com/the-great-immensity.html for more information and to purchase this recording.
Photos courtesy of Ghostlight Records
Kelli Curtin is founding editor and writer for theatresensation.com. She has maintained a love of the performing arts since a very early age and she is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram