The idea of musical theatre has been used to portray many key ideas and important issues in a more accessible way. Nowadays, there seems to be a focus on the retelling of key historic events with musical numbers weaved throughout the narrative. This is true for topics such as the French Revolution (portrayed most strongly in Les Mis), multiple assassination attempts in Assassins, the story of First Lady of Argentina, Eva Perón, in Evita or the story of Alexander Hamilton in (you guessed it) Hamilton, and I constantly wonder what the defining moment that theatre creatives will look back on to create a new musical sensation! We have, of course, had multiple, both professional and amateur iterations, shows based on lockdown/quarantine, but there is a big issue facing the world that from my perspective has not been explored as much as it should have which is the concept of global warming and its effect on the environment. This is exactly what the new musical ‘TREESON’ brings to the forefront of its narrative. I am excited to see how the genre of musical theatre (which is classically viewed as cheesy and over-the-top) would approach this very serious and important issue and in the most general sense, it did it with the uttermost respect and urgency it required. To be granted the incredible opportunity to review this musical in an exclusive preview was amazing and before we get into the nitty-gritty, I just want to say that this intense musical portrays its message perfectly and had me thinking about my environmental impact on the earth which I assume is the essential message of the show
TREESON: An Eco-musical is set in the modern-day period which helps heighten the impact of the overall message of this show. It is set in North America and specifically in the Pacific Northwest which is a location known for its splendour and magnificent nature displays. While many people respect nature, other people also seek to destroy it, for example, cutting down rainforests for paper etc. The show is very political as it reflects on the decisions and choices we and law passers have made that have had a negative effect on our carbon footprint. There is even a villainous character called “Don” who believes that “climate change is a myth” and calls people out for spreading “fake news.” In case you couldn’t tell, this is a strong reference to the previous president of America, Donald Trump, and his apparent lack of care for environmental issues. This is not like your traditional musical in the wonderfully theatrical sense. I don’t imagine wonderful over-the-top dance spectaculars but instead, an intense musical that sticks frigidly to the seriousness of the subject matter.
The show opening strongly establishes the environmental theme of the show with a group of performers representing the elements singing about the issues facing the world with a song titles “The State of Things” performed by the fabulous trio of Sinead Davies, Sarsi Grace, and Auguste Jankauskaite. The elements serve as an almost Greek chorus that helps move the narrative along almost like Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon in The Little Shop of Horrors, as it’s not made particularly clear if the elements are set in the play or a theatrical narrator. They talk about the big issues facing the world right now such as animals dying, deforestation and palm oil controversy. This is a song that is almost a six-minute long song which didn’t drag as much as I would have thought as the music changed a lot throughout, which helped break up the song. I have been informed that this song has been edited since the demo track was produced to help the music move along at a faster pace. The song “Speak Up” was an emotionally driven song that was a personal plea to gain the power to speak up for the issues facing the world. This song was perfectly performed by Sarah Waddington and was incredibly moving to listen to. My favourite song of the entire album would probably be “Raising Parents” which was a fantastic duet performed by the incredible pair, Daniele Alan-Carter and Sarah Waddington which talks about the different viewpoints of the different generations and how it falls on the shoulders of the young generation to change the damage that has been caused. This was an incredible duet with both performers singing flawlessly but it was the message of the song that I found particularly profound and something I have not heard discussed in a musical format before. “Mother Earth” is another beautiful song performed flawlessly by Daniele Alan-Carter which actually addresses Mother Earth as a physical mother which is something I have not hear of before. Everyone has heard the phrase Mother Earth but never actually explored what that suggests. It talks about how we as children of the Earth are none the wiser of the damage we cause which references our childhood experience where we do not realise the effect of our actions.
Overall, this was a very important piece of theatre that highlights issues not often discussed in a musical format. Some musicals touch on the same issues, but TREESON sticks extremely rigidly to this theme and rightfully so. There are many emotional moments in the soundtrack that will also make you reflect on your life choices. I would rate this show 4.5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who wants to explore/is interested in the more serious side of musical theatre and the impact it can have! The album will be available on all music streaming platforms from the 15th January and to stay up to date with the show by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by searching @treesonmusical!