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."

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.

Barn Visits Skewed World Of Python PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Thursday, 16 August 2012 17:52

First, let's get one thing straight, or as close to straight as this show allows: You do NOT have to be a faithful follower of Monty Python to completely enjoy the wild and wacky humor of "Monty Python's Spamalot."

Spamalot Barn Theatre  Augusta MIWhat you do need, at least on some level, is a sense of humor.

The 2004 theatrical version of the British group's 1975 film ("Monty Python and The Holy Grain") opened Tuesday evening at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI and all the laughs were still there and in very good shape.

Of course, my favorite is the Killer Rabbit, while my theater buddy really prefers Not Dead Fred. But then there are the Knights Who Say Ni, the Lady of the Lake and her Laker Girls, the French Taunter and the insanely skewed bits which somehow, under the direction of Hans Friedrichs, come together to form a wildly disjointed scenario which manages to be wildly funny.

If the aforementioned strike no familiar chords on your humorous bone, this would be a good time to head to Michigan for a closer look. The premise is too simple. When the initial setting (Moose Village, Finland where Finnish Folk are celebrating with the "Fisch Schlapping Song," a traditional merry dance in which the title is taken literally) is returned to its proper locale, England, the focus returns (at least sporadically) to the recentlyl crowned King Arthur (Fee Waybill) who is recruiting knights for his round table.

Coward Flies High in WW 'Blithe Spirit' PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Saturday, 04 August 2012 01:31

Reportedly written in just five days by Noel Coward, one of Britain’s most sophisticated playwrights, “Blithe Spirit” has maintained its popularity since first produced in 1941.

Blithe Spirit Wagon Wheel Theatre Warsaw INThe current production at Warsaw’s Wagon Wheel Theatre is a sterling example of why the play, categorized as a “drawing room comedy,” has maintained it’s place in the hierarchy of classics.

With a talented cast, each at the top of his/her theatrical game, a mood-setting scenic design and just the right amount of music, this “Blithe Spirit” lives up to its title and, for this reviewer, reaffirms the success of dialogue as a primary comedic instrument, albeit well-placed and deftly directed dialogue a la Noel Coward.

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