“Manifest Destiny: The Lewis and Clark Musical Adventure” Review – Macon Film Festival (****)

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Jeremy Hoffman and Kevin Abrams star in “Manifest Destiny:
The Lewis and Clark Musical Adventure.”

Comedic gold shines from sea to shining sea in “Manifest Destiny: The Lewis and Clark Musical Adventure,” and the mouthful title is worth the talk.

Opening on a classic leather-bound book entitled “Manifest Destiny,” you start to get a sense that the story will be wildly spun as the first song begins. President Thomas Jefferson starts off by appointing Meriwether Lewis (played by Kevin Abrams) and William Clark (played by Jeremy Hoffman) to explore and map the west. This talented duo set off to blaze the trail and set the pace for their masterfully created tale. Hoffman wrote most of the music and performed his fair share, as well.

Anthony Parisi did a marvelous job reigning in just enough crazy—birthed from a short film—to make this project a cohesive unit, and the collaborative environment is palpable. Though the acting is cheated and whimsical, like that of an after school special, it brilliantly suits the genre and adds to the overall appeal.

Bright colors, dry comedy, and catchy songs; what more could you want? It’s suitable for comedy, history, and musical fans of all ages, though don’t expect an accurate report for a school history paper if this film serves as a resource. The ending is outlandish and beautiful with fairly clear artistic license on the retelling of our nation’s origins.

We were lucky to have the director, Anthony Parisi, in attendance for a quick Q&A, who left us with a few fun facts. Though there was some design work with the sets, much of the landscape is natural and shows the raw beauty of the Californian and Oregonian landscape, showcased well by some drone aerial shots. The production’s Kickstarter was a small campaign, and the film was mostly created by the kind donations of talent and time from the crew. Kevin Abrams also worked on the puppets seen throughout the film. Parisi, before signing off, agreed with one last audience member: Yes, the film is noted to be fairly adaptable to stage—we’ll have to wait and see what comes of that.

Understandably, this is a comedy with which not all viewers will connect, but I would confidently recommend this musical adventure to anyone.

4 out of 5 stars.
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