Music & Lyrics: Chris Littler and Ellen Winter
Staring: Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton
I don’t normally review podcasts on the blog, mainly because I have so many to catch up and most have too many episodes for me to consume in one go. 36 Questions is different. It’s only three episodes long, less than an hour each, with the episodes being Act One, Act Two and Act Three. Once I listened to the first episode, I needed to know what happened next, so dived straight into Act Two.
In a bid to save their marriage, Judith tracks down her estranged husband to his childhood home. There, she suggests they work through the 36 Questions – a series of questions designed to make strangers fall in love. And there is singing. A wonderful amount of singing.
The setup for this is really intriguing, and each episode deepens the characters that little bit more. The soundtrack is fantastic, and in true Musical Tradition, the plot is driven by a deep ‘misunderstanding’ (in a sense, though it’s a bit larger than that word implies). Often in musicals, it is via dialogue that misunderstandings happen. It is in dialogue where feelings are hidden and guarded, characters unable to communicate.
However, things are different in song. Song (and dance, when watching a musical) allow characters to communicate more openly and honestly. And we see this happening here, as Judith comes clean and Jase reveals his own feelings and, later, both show – in song! – details of their past that give some explanation as to why they act the way they act.
It’s hard not to fall in love with these two, and it’s hard not to both want them to get together, and hope for their own sakes they stay apart. What I’m trying to say is that the characters are interesting and complicated, keeping the reader hooked through their interactions with one another and the constant will-they-won’t-they do-I-really-want-them-to.
And of course, the music. The music is wonderful and completely sweeps you into the story, right from the very first note until the last. Jessie Shelton and Jonathan Groff both bring these characters fully to life, and their singing sounds natural, remaining the only true way either can be honest. With each other and with themselves.
If you’re a fan of musicals, this is definitely worth checking out. The music, voice acting, lyrics and dialogue all gel together wonderfully, giving real weight to the story and keeping you completely invested in the characters.