The first question I got when talking about reviewing The Fortress Of Solitude at Dallas Theater Center…is it about Superman? No. But, there are capes, super powers and all of the imagination of a comic book present in this fabulous production.
My first show in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, The Fortress of Solitude takes place first in Gowanus, Brooklyn, a rough and tumble neighborhood in the outskirts of New York City. As the story progresses, we move back and forth from Brooklyn to California. Fortress follows the lives of two unlikely friends, Mingus Rude (Kyle Beltran) and Dylan Ebdus (Adam Chandler-Berat). Mingus is black, Dylan is white, and when Mingus stands up for Dylan against a neighborhood bully, their friendship blossoms. They imagine a fantastical life where together, and only together, they can fly and do the most extraordinary things. But, life has other plans and eventually pulls the two apart. Fortress is a social commentary on how race and socio-economic status can force us down different paths. Dylan finds success, Mingus ends up in prison. You can fill in the rest.
This play is very “Rent-esque” or “Next To Normal-y” (just go with my made up words)…as in the music is infectious, the staging is sharp, the story compelling and powerful, and the cast is absolutely superb. Musically, this is a rock/hip-hop musical, but there are elements of classic musical theatre in the libretto, the character’s strong and poignant lyrics seamlessly interweave during most numbers, effortlessly flawless harmonies are a delight to the ears, the lyrics are strong, and the orchestrations are pure perfection.
The cast is the real difference maker in this show. Kyle Beltran is absolutely perfect as Mingus, and Adam Chandler-Berat is his perfect opposite as Dylan, yet together they work flawlessly to tell a light-hearted and at times emotionally difficult story of misunderstood love, racial tension, and the inevitable pull of opportunity and change. Other notable performances from André De Shields, Nicholas Christopher, Kevin Mambo, and Alex Organ combine to bring this remarkable story to life.
The Fortress of Solitude is a powerful, modern musical that is bursting at the seams with heart. It’s well acted, well staged, and well developed. Do NOT miss this show! The Fortress of Solitude plays Dallas Theater Center in the Wyly Theatre through April 6th, tickets and information at DallasTheaterCenter.org.