It's not often that I'm gifted with the staggering experience of seeing a raw, powerful piece of music theatre without knowing a thing about it beforehand. I saw Spoon River just freshly after it opened at Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre, and nobody knew anything about it yet. And I knew within five minutes of the show that it'd be one to get people talking. By the end of the show, I was a quivering mass of tears. It devastated me. I went back to see it another three times.
Spoon River is a musical adapted from poetry anthology of the same title by Edgar Lee Masters, which focuses on a rough little American town in which we visit a graveyard and the dead are given a voice from beyond. Here, the poems are set to an original score by the incomparable Mike Ross. Ross, no stranger to adapting poetry to musical composition, has here done what is inarguably his fullest, most stirring work to date. It deserves to be a landmark of Canadian musical theatre.