Theatre
Music And (Tap) Dance Beat The Blues PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Friday, 14 June 2013 02:46

Back in the days of the Great Depression, Americans found some relief at the movies, especially when a musical comedy was heading the bill. One of the really big cinematic hits of 1933 was a musical which survived that depression and, in the current “slump,: is still a great way to lift your spirits.

42nd Street  The Barn Theatre Augusta Mich.“42nd Street” is now live and currently on stage at The Barn Theatre in Kalamazoo, Mich., where the all-singing, all-dancing, all-comedy show opened the 2013 season Tuesday evening under the direction of Hans Friederichs.

OK. The dialogue written by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble for the 1980 Tony Award-winning Best Musical (and Tony-winning Best Revival in 2001) is happily as consistently corny as the plot, but the score by Harry Warren and Al Dublin is wonderfully familiar and contains songs that have become a part of the Great American Songbook.

It’s time to suspend disbelief — bigtime!

Maybe you won’t believe that little Peggy Sawyer (Melissa Cotton) from Allentown, Pa., could come to New York and immediately land in the chorus of a new musical “Pretty Lady,” being produced and directed by Broadway legend Julian Marsh (Eric Parker). The show is his chance to overcome a series of flops and he is forced to accept fading diva Dorothy Brock (Penelope Alex) as its leading lady because her boyfriend, Kiddie Kar King Abner Dillon (Roy Brown), is bankrolling the production.

Maybe it seems improbable that Dorothy breaks her ankle the night before opening and Peggy is the only one who can replace her. Can she learn 25 pages of dialogue, 10 dance numbers and six songs in 36 hours? Hey, this is show business. Of course she can!

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Under The Laughter, Food For Thought PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Monday, 10 June 2013 19:49

The debate between religion and science has never been so hilariously handled as it is in “End Days,” the comedy by Deborah Zoe Laufer which opened Friday evening in South Bend Civic Theatre’s Warner Studio Theatre.

End Days  South Bend (IN) Civic TheatreHave no fear that this is a ponderous philosophical discussion between studious opponents. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the laughs come so quickly and frequently it’s difficult to describe the dysfunctions of the Stein family — and neighbor Nelson Steinberg — as any kind of a debate.

Excepting that the idiosyncrasies of the individuals begin to take on familiar— if not rings, then dingles, as they state/plead/demand attention to views that seem at firsdiametrically opposed but which, by the end (which really is the beginning), seem not so far apart.

The premise is ridiculous but unsettlingly familiar. Sylvia Stein (Andrea Smiddy-Schlagel) is a Jew who has converted and found a personal relationship with Jesus (Arthur Gilchrist). He brings her coffee and chats with her in the living room. She is certain the Rapture is coming soon and is determined to take this saving message not only to husband Arthur (Tucker Curtis) and daughter Rachel (Isabelle Gilchrist) but also to the rest of the unsaved population. To this end, she and Jesus head out daily to distribute pamphlets and recruit possible converts in front of the XXX video store.

End days  South Bend (IN) Civic Theatre

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'Shrek' moves from film to musical stage PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Saturday, 08 June 2013 19:19

Wagon Wheel Theatre opened its 2013 season Wednesday evening with a monster musical aimed at the child in all of us.

Shrek the Musical  Wagon Wheel Theatre Warsaw IN“Shrek The Musical” is based on the 2001 Dreamworks film which evolved from William Steig’s 1990 fairytale picture book “Shrek!” There has been little lost in the translations, this one with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori. The theatrical version, however, leans more obviously on the theme of being yourself and proud of it, no matter what.

Under the direction of Scott Michaels, who also is choreographer, the talented cast throws itself energetically into the tale of the swamp-dwelling ogre who winds up with a princess in spite of himself.

There is no question that this production, in addition to the aforementioned talented cast, is helped into the winner’s circle by the amazing outfits designed and built by WW resident costumer Stephen R. Hollenbeck. From the first appearance of young Shrek to the rousing finale in which EVERYONE (and there are many) sings and dances, the outstanding costumes just keep coming.

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Family Conflicts Fill 'August: Osage County' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 15:09

The truth is, no one can resist gawking at a disaster, the bloodier the better. We just can’t look away.

August: Osage County  South Bend (IN) Civic TheatreThis may be one of the reasons audiences are fascinated by the incredibly dysfunctional interactions of the Westons of Pawhuska, Okla., the extended family in Tracy Letts’ Tony Award/Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County” which opened Friday evening in South Bend Civic Theatre’s Wilson Mainstage Auditorium.

As the 31/2 hour drama (or comedy, could not decide which was more prevalent) unfolds, I kept hoping that the next character to enter set designer David Chudzynski’s amazing two-story house (plus front porch and attic) would have a least one redeeming quality.

No such luck.

The fairly mild atmosphere of the prologue during which Weston patriarch Beverly (Paul Hanft) interviews prospective live-in cook/caregiver Johnna Monevata (Lisa Blodgett), disappears quickly as the poet/professor lists his wife’s prescription drugs of choice — “Valium, Vicadin, Darvon, Darvocet, Percodan, Percocet, Xanax for fun, Oxycontin in a pinch, Black Mollies and Dilaudid.”

“She takes pills,” he says, explaining their “marital contract,” “and I drink.”

That’s putting it mildly.

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