Theatre
'Steel Magnolias' Are Still Blooming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chin   
Thursday, 13 September 2012 18:11

In 1987, Robert Harling wrote a short story which became a play to help him deal with the anger he felt at the death of his beloved younger sister due to complications from diabetes.

The play was "Steel Magnolias," which opened last Friday evening on South Bend Civic Theatre's Wilson Mainstage Auditorium.

Steel Magnolias South Bend Civic Theatre It opened off Broadway in 1987 and two years later became a movie. Since then it returned (briefly) to Broadway in 2005 and next month will air as a Lifetime channel movie. Whether it helped Harling — who turned from playwriting to scriptwriting — or not, it has entertained many audiences since then.

The original script calls for six women. The film and the TV movie added men. While producers of those vehicles must have felt the need of male presences, it works as well if not better by leaving the off-stage men to the imagination of the audiences. After all, it is the women, not the men, to whom Harling's title was referring.

In the quarter century since its first production, "Steel Magnolias" has proven itself a solid choice for community and regional theater companies around the world. With its focus on the redeeming qualities of real friendship, it offers an ageless application to audiences of all ages.

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Sanders Family Finale for Elkhart Civic PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Monday, 10 September 2012 23:11

Elkhart Civic Theatre audiences were introduced to the gospel-singing Sanders Family in 2007 when "Smoke on the Mountain" was a surprise hit of the '07-'08 season at the Bristol Opera House.

Smoke on the Mountain  Elkhart Civic Theatre  Bristol INNever one to loose track of a good thing, ECT brought back Vera and Burl Sanders and their mostly-musical progeny several years later for a holiday celebration in "Smoke on the Mountain Christmas." Since everything comes in threes, the theater group opened its 2012-13 season Friday with the final third of the "Smoke" trilogy, "Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming."

Nothing much has changed since the first encounter with the traveling family troupe. The two-hour (including intermission) program still is filled with Christian songs, old and new, and the witness speeches given by each family member still are lots of fun with humorously applicable messages for listeners of all ages.

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The Barn Tries Original Rock Musical PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 17:42

Not every theatrical producer has the opportunity to write, direct and produce his own musical, especially one based on his favorite musical genre.

That opportunity has been taken by Brendan Ragotzy producer of The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI where "Raunch and Roll," with book by Ragotzy and original music by Troy Benton, Gary Cherone, Richard Marx and Fee Waybill, opened Tuesday evening for a one-week run.Raunch and Roll The Barn Theatre Augusta MI

This is the third Ragotzy original produced at The Barn, which has been in the Ragotzy family since it was begun by Brendan's parents, Jack and Betty Ragotzy, more than 66 years ago. He and wife Penelope Alex Ragotzy have been the keepers of this theatrical flame since the elder couple passed away. Brendan's earlier musicals had historical characters as the flawed heroes and the settings were the old west with one side trip to Hollywood. One was reworked and returned for a second run several years later.

I would not recommend this for "Raunch and Roll."

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WW Ends On High Note With Berlin Revue PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Saturday, 18 August 2012 01:04

The minute you open the program of the Wagon Wheel Theatre production of "I Love A Piano," the initial reaction is disbelief. 

I Love A Piano  Wagon Wheel Theatre  Warsaw  INOn the two center pages it lists the songs by Irving Berlin that make up this musical revue and officially end the WW summer season. Spanning the years from Berlin's first songs in 1910 to his official retirement in 1974, his output — music AND lyrics — was staggering. Not only because the final count is around 1,500 songs, but because so very many have become a part of our national heritage and, at the risk of sounding corny, a part of the fabric of our lives.

The sextet of singer/dancers who take the audience through the decades of Berlin music are talented performers well up to the task of offering almost non-stop vocals (and dances) for two hours (including intermission). Jennifer Dow, Hillary Smith, Kira Lace Hawkins, Stephen Anthony, David Schlumpf and Dan Smith have been a part of the WW company this season and, if their names are not immediately familiar, their faces and voices will be.

WW artistic director Scott Michaels also choreographed the review, a much more daunting assignment than creating dances for a book show. I mean, they NEVER stop! When not on stage in solo or ensemble numbers, cast members are off stage changing not only designer Stephen R. Hollenbeck's period-appropriate costumes but wig designer Dow's also period-appropriate coiffures (girls only). The decades swirl around an upright piano, the centerpiece for Michael Higgins' flexible set. The always excellent orchestra, under the direction of Thomas N. Sterling, gets exactly the right sound for everything from ragtime to lush ballads and show tunes to pop songs.

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