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'Addams Family' To Visit Kalamazoo PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Monday, 21 October 2013 19:24

The Addams Family Miller Auditorium Kalamazoo MI“They’re creepy and they’re kooky,

            Mysterious and spooky,

They’re altogether ooky,

            The Addams Family.


Their house is a museum

            When people come to see-um,

They really are a scre-um

            The Addams Family.

   (neat, sweet, petite)

So get a witch’s shawl on,

            A broomstick you can crawl on

We’re going to make a call on

            The Addams Family!”

The familiar theme for the TV version of Charles Addams’ famous cartoons in The New Yorker magazine is one song you won’t hear in composer Andrew Lippa’s score for the touring production set to play Tuesday and Wednesday evening in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.

All the Addamses — Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Uncle Fester and even Lurch — will be ready to greet visitors at 7:30 pm. Also invited for dinner are Wednesday’s boyfriend Lucas Beinenke and his parents, Mal and Alice.

Word is this will be a ”spooktacular” meal. It seems everyone has something to hide and more than a few skeletons in their closets.

Book for this new Addams Family adventure is by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice who also are responsible for “Jersey Boys.”

Tickets range from $35 to $58. For reservations, call (269) 387-2300 or visit www.millerauditorium.com.


Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 19:46
 
Newsboya Fight The System In 'Newsies' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Thursday, 10 August 2017 16:00

There’s not a princess in sight as “Newsies” bursts on to the stage of The Barn Theatre where the Disney musical opened Tuesday evening.

Disneyh's Newsies GThe Barn Theatre Augusta MIInstead the maximum energy is supplied by a bunch of feisty ragamuffins, all ready to sell the day’s copy of the New York World. Lest the audience expect pastels (from Disney), everything is in varying shades if brown, black and grey.

Lining up to buy their daily allotment (for resale to the public), the newsboys are led by Jack Kelly (Jonnie Carpathios), who shares his dreams of going to “Sante Fe” with his crippled best friend and fellow newsboy Crutchie (Justin M. Roth).

The story of their fight for fair treatment — and money — is based on an actual 1899 newsboys strike in New York City — plus a little romance thrown in because, after all, it is a Disney show, complete with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Feldstein.

Disney's Newsies The Barn Theatre Augusta MI“Newsies” seems to be the musical of choice this summer, even though it is based on a 1992 film that became a Broadway musical in 2012 and there is, of necessity, very little color in set and costumes.

Except, of course, for the scenes in a vaudeville theatre where headliner Medda Larkin (Samantha Rickard) is a friend for whom Jack paints backdrops.

The jet propulsion in this Disney’s “Newsies” is supplied by the ensemble of urchins who leap, stamp, holler and, at one point, tap like mad, at the drop of a tear sheet (“Carrying the Banner”).

With choreography by James Gresham, who is also a newsboy, the crowd of energetic urchins tears up the boards at the drop of a penny and was received with sustained cheers throughout the 2 ½ hour performance.

Disneh's Newsies The Barn Theatre Augusta MIJack’s love interest is supplied by Katherine Plumber (Kasady Kwiatkowska), an aspiring lady journalist who has her own agenda.

His right hand newsboy is Davey (Nick Barakos) who, with his younger brother Les (Brandon Davis/Henry Dunn — it doesn’t say which one is playing which performance), doesn’t fit the orphan code of the newsboys — they have both parents.

When World owner Joseph Pulitzer (Richard Marlatt), (yes, the Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer!), decides to raise the newsboys cost from 50 to 60 cents per 100 in order to increase circulation (“The Bottom Line”), Jack instigates a strike (“Seize the Day”).

Strikebreakers and police break up the rally and the end finds Crutchie in The Refuge, a juvenile detention center run by the evil Warden Snyder (Charlie King).

Will Jack rescue his friend, defeat the capitalist and win the girl?

If you can’t answer that, you don’t know Disney.

With an unflagging energy that seems never to lessen, Carpathios is indeed the focal point of “Newsies”, but the actual highlights are the equally unflagging newsboys.

On and off the stage and every available table and chair, up and down auditorium aisles and the on-stage stairways of scenic designer Samantha Snow, they accomplished every move with observable glee.

Vocally, their blend was solid and frequently moving.

Among the principals, with the exception of Roth, all seemed inclined to push, frequently resulting in rather unpleasantly harsh tones. This may resolve itself as performances go on and the balance between singers and instrumentalists evens out.

There is no doubt that everyone was doing his/her duty in “Newsies,” even director Hans Friedrichs was called into action. Of course making sure he never relinquished command, he is playwright Fierstein’s deus ex machina — the man on the white horse who saves the day — President Teddy Roosevelt.

Diisney’s “NEWSIES” plays through Aug. 20 in the theater on M96 in Augusta, MI. for performance times and reservations call (269) 731-4121.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 August 2017 16:24
 
'Hair' Plays Tonight At Miller Auditorium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 15:30

The Age of Aquarius, it seems, is always with us.

hair  tour Miller Auditorium  Kalamazo MichiganOriginally on Broadway in 1968, the James Rado/Gerome Ragni/Galt MacDermott musical appropriately titled "Hair," returned to the Great White Way in 1977 and 2009, winning numerous awards with each incarnation. The most recent is now on tour, bringing its look at the movement of the '60s and '70s that changed America forever to theaters across the country. From its score, many songs have joined the list of hits on the Great American Songbook. Among these "Let The Sun Shine In," "Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine" and the title tune.

Claude and his peace-loving friends will be on stage in (and out) of appropriate hippie attire at 7:30 p.m. today in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University. For tickets, call (800) 228-99858 or (269) 387-2300 or visit www.millerauditorium.com.

For those who were "there" — and those who were not— its one way to review past mistakes and keep them from repeating themselves.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 03:38
 
Classic Drama Alive Today at Wagon Wheel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:34

  Midway in the annual summer theatrical season of music and dance and a lot of happy endings, the Wagon Wheel Theatre offers a change of pace with a classic American drama/tragedy that should be at the top of everyone’s “must-see” list.
  The Cfrucible  Wagon Wheel Theatre  Watsaw INIn making Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” a part of its regular 2017 lineup, artistic director Scott Michaels was aware that it was a risk, but risk-taking has never deterred the award-winning director or the team of actor/directors Ben Dicke and Andy Robinson, whose annual behind-the-scenes effort is usually a comedy.
  Their determination has paid off in more ways than one.
  Not only is this production theater at its best and, in a dark way, incredibly entertaining, but it offers some of the best of this year’s company challenging roles, challenges to which they rise with naturalistic ease — even those with the most villainous assignments

The Crucible  Wagon Wheel Theatre  Warsaw INFor those who may not know, “The Crucible” combines historical fact and artistic license in telling the horrendous story of the 17th century Salem (Mass.) witch trials.   Playwright Miller admitted his Tony Award-winning play was an allegory for McCarthyism, but — listen. It is chilling how close 1953 was to 1692-93 and to the present day.
  It begins with Betty Parris (Cordelia Grandon) 8-year-old daughter of the Salem pastor, the Rev. Samuel Parris (Ben Ahlers) in a faint from which she rises only to scream. Parris demands to know what she was doing in the woods at night with a group of other young girls.

The answer is dancing, which Parris interprets as witchcraft. It results in the girls hiding their late-night outing by naming many others as witches.
Led by Abigail Williams (McKenzie Kurtz) the accusations spread and result is the arrest, “questioning” and eventual hanging of many of the good people of Salem and surrounding villages.

Abigail eventually accuses Elizabeth Proctor (Kira Lace Hawkins), wife of John Proctor (Riley McFarland), with whom Abigail had an affair. Elizabeth is questioned in her home by Reverend John Hale (Blake R. Bojewski), a reported expert on witchcraft.

As the list of accused lengthens, Deputy Governor Danforth (Mike Yocum) arrives to serve as judge. Slowly even the initial accusers become aware of the false charges but, once Danforth is on the bench, innocence is irrelevant and guilt is proven by the flimsiest proof and events attributed to “unnatural forces” and the fact that the accusers are “inno ent children.”

The Crucible  Wagon Wheel Theatre  Warsaw INThe final blackout offers some hope that the mass hysteria will subside and, finally, disappear. It eventually did, but its shadows remain and, even today, unhappily return in force.
Wagon Wheel season ticket holders may be those most aware of the excellent 2017 cast, having seen each in an extremely wide variety of roles. Even first-timers in the audience, however, will be unable to miss the richness of the performances.
Must first credit the primary players — Ahlers, Bojewski, Hawkins, Kurtz, McFarland, Yocum and Allsun O’Malley. The last was Mary Warren, the Proctors’ maid, who agreed to tell the truth then fell back under the spell of Abigail Williams.
The danger of even the slightest accusation was made obvious by Giles Corey (Michael Bradley) whose questions about books his wife was reading led eventually to her going to the gallows.
The directors’ decision to use hymns, sung acapella by the gathering ensemble, works beautifully throughout to smoothly underscore the fatal role religion played in the outcome of the witch trials.
The spare set, a raked platform seemingly constructed of wooden planks, was designed by technical director Jacki Anderson. It sets the mood immediately as do Stephen R. Hollenbeck’s earth-toned costumes. The excellent lighting design by Fritz Weaver makes one always aware of the dangers hidden in the shadows.
THE CRUCIBLE plays through Aug. 5 in the theater at 2517 E. Center Street in Warsaw. For performance times and reservations, call (574) 267-8041.
Last Updated on Saturday, 29 July 2017 21:50
 
TV Stars In Royal Roles At The Barn PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 19:40

One thing to remember while watching the royal machinations of the early Plantagenets currently unfolding on stage at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI is that, while they could have happened, they most likely did not, especially in the format so entertainingly played out by stars Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman.

The Lion In Winter The Barn Theatre Augusta MILike most historical sagas, the James Goldman drama has a basis in fact, well, semi-fact at least, and it also contains a good deal of humor, albeit 12th century humor, which makes it highly entertaining on a modern level.

Fact: King Henry II (Newman) and wife Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Zimmer) had one of history’s most storied love affairs, the result of which was eight children, five boys and three girls. The three living boys (times were hard in the 1100s)— Richard, Geoffrey and John — are the subjects of discussion during the Christmas celebration at Henry’s castle in Chinon, France.

The Lion In Winter  The Barn Theatre Augusta MIThe debate, at time extremely heated, circles around just who will wear the crown once Henry is no more. The king favors John (William Dunn), the youngest; Eleanor’s favorite is Richard (Jamey Gresham), the oldest; and Geoffrey (Jabri Johnson), in the middle, attachés himself to whichever brother seems to be winning — and it fluctuates rapidly and often.

Caught in the middle is Alais (Audrey Morton), half-sister of King Phillip II of France (Quinn Moran), who has been at court since her betrothal to Richard at age 8. That was 7 years ago and she has since become Henry’s mistress,

So you can see there are a lot of problems to be addressed and, hopefully, sorted out before the final candle is extinguished.

Under the direction of Brendan Ragotzy, and following the always-dynamic leading players, the flickering lights illuminate rivalries, passions and not-so-hidden secrets.

Played out on one of Samantha Snow’s best set designs (which puts the “Les Miz” turntable to excellent use), the shifting shadows of Mike McShane’s lighting plan are beautifully soft or sharp as the mood demands.

There was no doubt on Tuesday (opening night) that the audience had come to see the stars. Newman and Zimmer were paired for decades on the former CBS daytime drama ”Guiding Light” but if the aim was to see Josh and Reva “together again,” the fans were at least somewhat disappointed.

The Lion In Winter  The Barn Theatre Augusta MIWhat they got instead were two detailed performances by two experienced actors who. In very short time, became — believably — the multi-layered monarchs of a kingdom in flux.

And if, in theater, familiarity breeds … whatever … it is a real pleasure to watch them work. Feinting, parrying, slashing and stabbing, they provided verbal action to a script that allowed them little chance for physicality.

Both characters admitting they had little love for their offspring, there was no doubt that the fire that brought them together was still at least smoldering, fanned by the determination to be the winner in the intricate maneuverings that would eventually result in a crown.

Henry’s bellowing and blustering is stymied at every turn by Eleanor’s muted machinations. The “boys” prove that, even then, the apples didn’t fall far from the parental trees. Gresham was stoically planted while Dunn shifted with every encounter. Johnson fought a losing battle but was difficult to hear. The same is true of Moran, the slippery sovereign who hoped to win no matter who wore the crown.

As Alais, Morton is the most sympathetic figure and drew a moving portrait of the princess who would be the loser no matter who “wins.”.

It has always been a mystery here that Henry would choose John, a whimpering, whining, cowardly teen, as his successor. Also, if Eleanor was imprisoned for 10 years for her part in the attempted overthrow of Henry in 1173, why not the same for the boys who revolted with her?

Whatever the answer, “The Lion in Winter” at The Barn offers a good chance to see a very entertaining play (historically factual or not) presented by a solid company lead by two of the area’s favorite actors.

THE LION IN WINTER plays through Aug. 6 in the theater on M96 between Galesburg and Augusta, MI. For show times and reservations, call (269) 731-4121.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 19:56
 
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