Heartwarming musical about friendship and love

by David Dixon

San Diego State’s Experimental Theatre is now presenting a wonderfully lighthearted sung-through musical about friendship and romance. These are topics that will appeal to virtually all Aztecs.

“Little by Little” follows the lives of three friends, Woman I (Kimberly Doreen Burns), Woman II (Sasha Weiss) and Man (Cody Walker), who meet as children. When they get a little older, Woman I and Man start dating each other, even though Woman II has feelings for him. The story then follows how their bonds change while they grow older and develop into more mature adults.

The ensemble has given consistently strong performances throughout the past few years, and none of them disappoint in this production. Burns has a lot of spunk portraying a likeable girl who slowly becomes more selfish as her romance with Man grows. Burns impresses; she sings a tragic ballad, “I Ought to Cry,” one minute, and the next displays plenty of humor with the hilariously ironic musical number, “Little By Little V/So it Goes.”

Weiss is relatable and, at times, emotionally intense, as her character tries to figure out her feelings for Man. She has several show stopping moments, especially during some of her big solos, including “I’m Not” and “Take the World Away.”

Cody Walker has plenty of fun exploring Man’s aw-shucks attitude. A highlight is his take on the extremely sunny ditty “Rainbows,” which gives him a chance to show off his skills as a physically comedic actor.

The musical director and pianist, Rob Meffe has a witty touch, especially when he cleverly depicts the dullness of an ordinary day in “Homework/Tag.” His piano skills also make for a soothing listening experience, especially when he plays several installments of the title number, “Little by Little.”

The reliably upbeat director, Brandon Joel Maier, creates a world that feels both realistic and slightly whimsical. He finds authenticity in the situations that the trio find themselves in, while adding plenty of visual jokes into the plot.

Unfortunately, there has been minimal publicity surrounding “Little by Little,” especially in comparison to some of the bigger hits that have played at SDSU. There was a small audience on opening night; but hopefully, word of mouth will spread so that more people will become aware of this relatively unknown but extremely fulfilling comedy-drama.

“Little by Little” tells a touching story of friendship and love with big laughs and pathos. Do not miss out on this “under the radar” story.

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