A young woman with long dark hair in a red patterned blouse is kneeling in the foreground, looking at a photograph. Behind her is another woman with short dark hair, wearing khakis and a leather bomber jacket. Behind them we see a collection of old suitcases and crates, and white sheets hanging against the wall. A wooden platform is visible to their left
Carter Rose Sherman (left) and Kayla Higbee in Miranda: A War-Torn Fable at the Impostors Credit: Kyle Smart/The Impostors Theatre Company

Dominick Alesia’s original musical, now in a world premiere with the Impostors under Stefan Roseen’s direction, follows a young girl, Amelia, as she searches through a country shattered by war for Miranda, the older sister she never knew she had. Along the way, much like Dorothy and Alice, she encounters helpmates who are on their own quest, and odd-duck opponents who throw obstacles in her way. 

Miranda: A War-Torn Fable
Through 3/4: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee, theimpostorstheatre.com, $25 reserved, $20 general admission

If dystopian whimsy is a thing, then Alesia’s show nails it. It does spin its narrative wheels a tad in the second act, where commitment to some comic bits gets in the way of the unfolding emotional arc. But overall Miranda: A War-Torn Fable contains bittersweet insight into what “home” and “family” actually mean, especially in a world destroyed by humans bent on tearing everything down. Carter Rose Sherman’s Amelia is a forthright heroine, and Kayla Higbee’s Miranda feels a bit like Peter Pan—she’s discovered her “lost girls” in a group of women warriors who protect each other but are distrustful of reintegrating with other people. 

Alesia’s score (which he plays on keyboard with percussive assists here and there from the cast) contains clever nods to everything from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” to “Make ‘Em Laugh” from Singin’ in the Rain. Gabe Retemeier and Victoria Olivier provide rich vocals as Amelia and Miranda’s parents and gruesome comic chops as Mr. and Mrs. Severhead, a morbid couple whose desire to resurrect their own dead daughter leads them to extreme measures. Ethan P. Gasbarro and Sam Martin as Amelia’s comrades—soldiers in search of their lost general—add warm wit as versions of the Scarecrow and Tin Man. Miranda adds to the growing body of work by the Impostors that creates imaginative worlds juxtaposed with the darkest impulses of human nature.