|Violet (Kaylee Miltersen in pink dress and white sweater on right) and others travel via Greyhound bus. (Photo by David Allen)|
In “Violet,” a musical presented by Foothill Music Theatre, the title character is a young woman who has a terrible scar on her face.
People gasp and recoil when they see her, so she’s scarred inside, too.
Believing that a televangelist in Tulsa can remove her scar, she takes a bus from her home in rural North Carolina in 1964. During the trip, two soldiers who are on their way to Fort Smith in Arkansas befriend her.
Undeterred by their skepticism, she arrives at the preacher’s church only to be rudely rebuffed.
However, because of her friendship with the soldiers, she’s able to face the world and her life with greater self-confidence.
In this production, directed by Milissa Carey, Violet is played by Kaylee Miltersen, who doesn’t seem to have grasped how to undertake the character’s emotional journey. Sure, she’s angry, but her pouty expression doesn’t change much.
(It should be noted that no special makeup is used to show a scar. It’s up to the audience to know she has it, and that is accomplished.)
Her younger self is played alternately by Sheridan Stewart and Sofia Oberg, who fulfilled the role with assurance in the reviewed performance.
The soldiers are Monty (Brad Satterwhite), a pleasant but womanizing white corporal, and Flick (Thomas Times), a Black sergeant who’s still feeling the sting of prejudice against his race. Therefore, Flick has greater empathy for Violet and comes to care for her. Both actors excel in their roles.
Violet’s father is played by Ray D’Ambrosio. He’s dead in the 1964 scenes, but is seen in flashbacks. A well-meaning widower, he does the best he can as a parent, but he’s the one who caused the accident that scarred her when she was 13. During her emotional transformation, she learns to forgive him.
Most others in the likable 16-member cast play multiple roles. Chief among them is James Schott, whose roles include the Bible-thumping preacher who leads the raucous revival service seen by Violet.
Based on a true story, “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, the lyrics and book for this show are by Brian Crawley.
Jeanine Tesori’s music is a mix of country, rock and religious styles. Two highlights are “Let It Sing,” well sung by Flick, and “I’m on My Way,” sung at the revival.
The simple set by Yusuke Soi, who seats the five-member band upstage. An overhead sign shows the names of towns where the bus stops.
Amanda Ku is the music director, and Debra Lambert is the vocal director. Choreography is by Stacey Reed with costumes by Y. Sharon Peng, lighting by Lily McLeod and sound by Andrew Heller.
Running about two hours with one intermission, “Violet” will continue through Aug. 7 in Foothill College’s Lohman Theatre, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.
For tickets and information, call (650) 949-7360 or visit https://foothill.edu/theatre/productions/violet.html.