Newton’s third law of motion states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Directed by Rod Lathim, Norma LaTuchie, and Peter McCorkle, Newton’s Cradle explores how this law applies to social life. Through a collection of musical numbers, the 14 young actors sing of the hardships of adolescence and show us “what kids feel, what they’re doing, and who they are.” The production is part of the Patricia Henley Foundation’s Summer Youth Theater program.
By mixing projected videos with audience interaction, the show entertained and engaged its audience, an especially important task considering the heavy topics involved. The show’s first number asks the biggest question any teenager faces: “Does It Matter Who I Am?” From there, teens become who they are by confronting whatever is thrown at them, and that is what the play proceeds to do, running through a gauntlet of adolescent pressures and dramas. Drawing its original material from the true stories of the actors on stage, Newton’s Cradle shows that the great physicist’s third law applies to relationships, for “everything you say or do has an impact on the environment.”
Among the five sections of the sequence “Drama, Drama, Drama,” “Cat Fight” was the most brilliant. Performed to the tune of Carmen‘s “Habanera,” the number was sung phenomenally well by Miranda Poett and Melanie Thomas. Miranda Poett also shone in a solo, “Up on a Cloud,” which spoke about the death of a loved one. Poett’s voice and delivery conveyed a cathartic passion. Hector Ruelas sang about the importance of finding support and love in “Where You Are Loved,” because, as actor Billy Spencer put it, “some people just land in situations beyond their control and have to deal with the consequences.”
In addition to exposing the trials of adolescence, Newton’s Cradle appealed to the love of Planet Earth. During Mitchell Bogatz’s rap “Save the Environment,” a slideshow of natural and man-made disasters combined with the lyrics’ outrage to provoke an urge to help save our natural world. With its carnival of ice cream preparation, balloon-animal making, baton twirling, and incredible singing, Newton’s Cradle truly stood out as an impressive and original work of theater. Encouraging our community to learn and empathize with adolescents, Newton’s Cradle calls for everyone to help out just a little in “restoring order to the heavens and the earth.”