With Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America, Georgia Ensemble Theatre has a crowd-pleasing production to open the theater’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by Robert J. Farley, the musical revue provides an entertaining show with great musical performances.
John Denver’s music has woven itself into the fabric of America’s culture. Even those that don’t know his name know at least one his songs, but for those that do know who he is, he stands as one of the country’s most beloved folk musicians.
The production showcases his music while highlighting his political and environmental philosophies. The show begins with Jeremy Wood taking the stage with just a guitar and speaking to the audience as John Denver. From that point on the songs become the main character.
Each of the ensemble take turns playing Denver, which allows or the music to take center stage. Most of his hits are represented in the review, including “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High” and “Thank God I’m A Country Boy.”
The talented ensemble, under the music direction of Scott Depoy, includes Depoy, Wood, Dolph Amick, Mary Nye Bennett, and Chris Damiano. Not only are these cast members great singers, but most of them also prove themselves to be great musicians as well, especially Wood who plays several instruments throughout the show including guitar, piano and bass. His solos, along with Bennett’s and Damiano’s stand out as highlights of the show, and Bennett rouses the crowd with a stellar rendition of “Rocky Mountain High.”
Stephanie Polhemus has created a rustic set that works well for the production. It includes logs to sit on, which are reminiscent one of Denver’s television specials. The mountain like structures of the set work especially well with the video screen at certain points in the show. In addition, Bryan Rosengrant’s lighting design compliments the show wonderfully.
A genuinely good time, especially for Denver fans, Almost Heaven: John Denver’s America runs through September 22, 2013 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell. For tickets and more information, please visit our Now Onstage listing or the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is 90 minutes with no intermission.
– Kenny Norton