Reviewed by Helen S. Bas
Among the treasures Flintoids can claim is the talent of Andrew Morton, whose award-winning and delightful play, Bloom, can be seen this month in its world premiere, staged by the Flint Youth Theatre.
Morton, who teaches at the University of Michigan-Flint, is a frequent guest artist at FYT. He wrote the first draft of Bloom in 2012, and its first performance was last evening.
Directed by Jeremy Winchester, FYT’s executive artistic director, Bloom tells the story of a teenage boy with attitude — and an older man with an equally annoying, if different, attitude.
Daniel, played by Davison High School student Merek Alam, has moved to a new city with his mother. He’s not happy about anything, from missing his recently deceased father to living in his aunt’s basement. In a fit of pique, he throws a chair through a school window.
Caseworker Michelle (FYT veteran Deirdre S. Baker) takes Daniel to her father’s home, hoping he will occupy the boy through his suspension. Bobby, Michelle’s father (FYT associate artistic director Rodney Creech), lives for his garden in a rather shabby area of town. While the city is not named, Flint residents will pick up on a number of clues throughout the play.
Bobby and Daniel very reluctantly agree to spend time together to please Michelle. Bobby throws a pair of old boots toward Daniel and puts him to work in the garden. What follows can be described in many ways, but to this reviewer it’s best called a burgeoning story of love and respect.
Daniel’s mother, Lisa, (played by veteran actress Beth Guest), plays a key role in the developing relationships, as does Ashley (Genesee Early College student Layla Meillier), a teen with issues as critical as Daniel’s.
It is heartwarming to see this unlikely mishmash of folks meander their way through relationships as Daniel and Bobby work their way through the garden. Alam and Meillier are credible as sullen teenagers, and Creech is convincing as a crotchety, well-made-up man much older than himself. Guest and Baker round out the uniformly talented cast.
Winchester has done a remarkable job (as usual) of making the very worthwhile story that is Bloom, well, bloom on the stage. The production is well done from all aspects and is a delight to watch as relationships unfold and events lead toward an inspiring conclusion.
Also heartwarming was the large audience at this world premiere play. It is enjoyable, well-done, and will provoke many a chuckle, smile and — for parents — nod of recognition. I suspect successive performances will fill up. Don’t miss this engaging play about issues near and dear to our hearts.
Bloom continues at 7:30 p.m. on May 10, 16, 17, 23, and 24; and at 2:30 p.m. on May 11, 18, 24 and 25 at the Elgood Theatre on the Flint Cultural Center campus. For more information or tickets, call 810-237-1530 or visit FlintYouthTheatre.org.