Lindy in the Sky With Amelia, Orville and Wilbur





The obsessive urge to get airborne unites the singing dreamers in “Take Flight,” an ambitious concept musical about the pioneering spirits of American aviation making its United States premiere at the McCarter Theater Center here.

On a windy Southern beach Orville and Wilbur Wright pore over physics statistics to a disjointed melody, their progress confounded by problems of equilibrium. Anxious to be the first to cross the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh fights off an array of competitors who trade vaudevillian turns. Amelia Earhart sings ardently of emotional rebirth as she defies convention in her bid to become the first woman to defy gravity, Lindy style.

The separate but sympathetic quests of these famous figures have been stitched together to create a musical collage of dream chasing by three notable theater talents: the composer David Shire, the lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. and the book writer John Weidman, who collectively have logged plenty of hours navigating the choppy skies of musical making.

As these veterans well know, achieving liftoff in this tricky art form has always posed daunting challenges. And sadly, despite the talents and experience of the authors, “Take Flight” remains earthbound and conventional, notwithstanding all those heady lyrics describing the exhilaration of kissing the sky....

As it shuttles between stories, “Take Flight” keeps returning to similar sentiments, as all of the pioneers being depicted sing of their dreams of surfing the wind, and the melodies soar upward with them. The dream of flight is a natural metaphor for human aspiration, of course, but by the time these three histories arrive at their preordained destinations, the idea has been so overworked that you may feel yourself coming down with a mild case of jet lag.


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