The 5th Avenue Theatre has historically been the first residence of many productions. The newest addition to its repertoire of world premieres is called Afterwords by Zoe Sarnak and Emily Kaczmarek. It follows sisters Kali and Simone as they struggle to piece their life back together following the death of their mother. With the new burden of ever-mounting bills and the house mortgage, they rent out their attic to news journalist Jo, who is similarly in the midst of wading through the churning sea of loss. As they get to know each other, a complex history of intersecting stories unravels and new relationships form. The show bounces between modern-day and the past as we meet our characters and explore their stories. This story is one of love and loss, grieving and healing, hardships and family.
Afterwords was very reminiscent of Rent. A newer, less rock, version of Rent, but Rent nonetheless. It has some of that raw and truthful emotion that Rent’s composer Jonathan Larson loved to utilize in his work. As I sat down in the theater, the first song “After” came on it immediately engaged me. The use of bold harmonies straight off the bat to build the music and draw the viewer in immediately gave me goosebumps and a sense of total encompassment. Now, as we evolve as a music loving society, Broadway evolves with us—Six embraces our pop side, Hadestown our love of folk and jazz and of course Hamilton the popularity of rap. So Afterwords’ pop/rock/folk score was not new per se, but still thrilling, and surprisingly cohesive throughout the show given the differing genres.