Lucy and Charlie have an instant attraction, as dangerous as it is romantic. Likening themselves to a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, these two get hitched on a whim and head out on their honeymoon looking for trouble, only trouble ain’t that hard to find. Before too long, Lucy and Charlie find themselves on the run from the law and an international criminal organization. Featuring original country western and folk songs, Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon by Lookingglass Artistic Associate Matthew C. Yee, is a whirl-wind adventure about two First Generation Asian-American renegades.
Charlie (Matthew C. Yee) and Lucy (Aurora Adachi-Winter) are the embodiment of chaotic good. Their outlaw behavior is a reclamation of their identity, and a rejection of stereotypes. Charlie is a “cool cowboy” and Lucy is an unstoppable force. Together, they barrel across the Midwest headed toward Charlie’s family cabin, getting tangled up with a hilarious cast of characters along the way. Directed by Amanda Dehnert, Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon is a hilarious runaway train chock full of comedic partnerships.
Ching Ho and Daniel Lee Smith are spectacular as Charlie’s Grandma and Uncle Jeff respectively, with laser-focused comedic timing and the kind of goofball antics that are the hallmark of classic buddy comedies. Rammel Chan and Mary Williamson have a sidesplitting b-plot as Peter and Officer Feinberg, another funny duo on the right side of the law and the cutting edge of community-first policing. When the entire ensemble comes together for a final, gun-slinging confrontation, Chan and Williamson’s earnest resolution is an absolute riot.
The cruelty of mid-level crime boss Martin (Doug Pawlik), and the sensitive nature of his newest henchman Gabriel (Matt Bittner), is a driving tension for the story’s bad guys. The entertaining back-and-forth dialogue between the two is matched by their respective musical performances. The entire cast functions as an onstage band, with Pawlik and Bittner each displaying impressive skills that make you reluctant to root against their rotten characters. The only character without a dedicated onstage partner is Bao (Harmony Zhang), a young woman from China who just arrived in the U.S. to save her twin. This missing element positions Bao as the character with the most to lose and Harmony Zhang’s heartfelt performance beautifully balances the zany misadventures happening all around her.
Composer, playwright, and leading man, Matthew C. Yee does it all in Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon. His original score captures the rebellious spirit and style of the outlaw country genre made famous by legends the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash. Everything about the design for Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon leans into this essential component of the musical, inviting the audience to enjoy a rock-and-roll concert as well as a new play. Marcella Barbeau’s lighting design expertly blends theatrical and concert lighting techniques to guide the audience as the performers shift from a comedic ensemble to a four-piece band. Costume designer Sully Ratke doubles down on the spectacle, glitter and glam on full display, fringe leather added to as many pieces as possible.
Scenic Design by Yu Shibagaki clutters the dive-bar stage with a thoughtful collection of classic Western props and Asian cornerstones. A closer look at the exposed platform and you’ll find bags of rice, canned goods, and egg cartons nestled into the base of the stage for these country western stars. Paul Deziel’s projection design also brilliantly blends East and West iconography with a distinctive Asian American style for the title screens that accompany each song. The music in Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon leverages the narrative storytelling that is a signature in outlaw country music to tell a truly unique story. I look forward to seeing how it evolves in subsequent productions after a successful world premiere. Dare I ask for a studio album?
Lucy and Charllie’s Honeymoon runs at Lookingglass Theatre until July 16, 2023.
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Matthew C. Yee, Charlie
Aurora Adachi-Winter, Lucy
Matt Bittner, Gabriel
Wai Ching Ho, Grandma
Rammel Chan, Peter
Harmony Zhang, Bao
Mary Williamson, Feinberg
Doug Pawlik, Martin
Daniel Lee Smith, Jeff
Matthew C. Yee, Playwright
Amanda Dehnert, Director
Andre Pluess, Sound Designer
Yu Shibagaki, Scenic Designer
Sully Ratke, Costume Designer
Marcella Barbeau, Lighting Designer
Amanda A. Hermann, Props Supervisor
Photo by Liz Lauren