A very short while ago, I interviewed Daniel P Webber about his upcoming concept album concept of his original musical “Unique.” The interview itself is available on my youtube channel so if you haven’t already you can check it out at https://youtube.com/channel/UCHSoxy7Iw6ru0P6mUFOr2iw where we talked about the reason this is such an important story that needs to be shared right now more than ever! I have to admit that I was a little confused as to how the concert format would be used to promote a new original album but it actually worked very well. The show was hosted by Daniel P Webber who helped to introduce each character, their purpose in the story and explained the upcoming songs. As this was all done virtually with each performer physically distanced from one another this was a clever way to avoid the awkward dialogue/chemistry moments that have become very difficult between performers with this virtual production. It also ensured that every single viewer understand the characters/songs in the way they were intended which again was a very helpful inclusion. Not only was Daniel the writer of Unique and help to drive the narrative of the show, but he also appeared within the musical as the inner critic inside the head of our main character Josh. The mere fact that Daniel was able to juggle all of these roles flawlessly was very impressive!
The show itself opens with a very powerful poem that is delivered by Jake Goldfarb who is one of the two performers who play Josh within this musical. The poem is crammed full of powerful language that sets up the story and introduces the audience to what they are about to experience and explains some of the key background information. The main message throughout is that Josh is autistic but is anxious to reveal this diagnosis to his friends and family due to fear of any backlash. It talks about how individuals struggle with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) and fights against the common misconceptions that tv and films often create. The idea of creating authentic and well-rounded Characters with ASD is clearly an important focus for the creator of this show as they made sure to cast neurodivergent and autistic actors to play the roles who struggle with the same disorders, there are discussions around the damage that the casting of films such as Music can be extremely damaging to the autistic community and despite it being free to watch show there were numerous opportunities to donate to a range of charities that support individuals with ASD.
I really enjoyed the performance of “everything I wish I had” which was a duet but was mostly performed by Sabrina Shah. This song was beautifully sung and tells the story of Alyssa (who is played by Sabrina) and Josh’s friendship which highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive friends. A highlight in this entire musical for me would have to be the song “The passion I had Inside” which is performed by Mr Wright who within the story is one of Josh’s teachers in school. This character is performed by Adam Dominick who not only sounded incredible but managed to balance the confidence of an authoritative professional with the anxiety of dealing with ASD perfectly. I thought that it was incredible to see an adult in this musical that is autistic as this is often left out of media. While it’s very important that we see children who struggle with this disorder we need to see more adults who are going through the same thing as autism is not something an individual just grows out of! I also really enjoyed Alec Ludacka’s performance in this musical as Eric the cool friend who tries to be like everyone else to attract the opposite gender. Alec built up this character (during their short appearance in the concert) as an almost caricature of a teenage student similar to the ones you would see in Disney or Nickelodeon tv shows. However, the most incredible thing about Alec was his vocal abilities as they seemed more comfortable in the ridiculous higher sections of the show which was amazing the listen to! Having experienced many virtual productions, I know how hard it is to get the performers to sing in unison (as they are all physically in totally different locations) but the team working on “Unique” were able to get the ensemble to sing almost perfectly together throughout which deserves a lot of praise!
Overall this was an exciting new musical that can only benefit those experiencing or know someone who is experiencing ASD and battles the potentially dangerous representations we see currently in the media. This concert format is a very clever way to showcase a new musical as it not only introduced everyone and allowed the audience to get excited about the new music but it also helped explain the story which is particularly important due to the fact that the performers are not in the same physical location! If this is just the first step in Uniques journey then I am sure that it will be destined for great things in the near future! I would rate this production 4 out of 5 stars and if you would like to check out the concept album recording yourself you can do so at https://youtu.be/PvPZdPmg5_w!