Monday, May 20, 2019



   Based upon the Academy Award-winning 1991 Disney animated film, DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST premiered on Broadway in 1994. In 1998 it received the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London.
     Dear reader, I must tell you here and now that this review is going to be a long list of accolades for an outstanding full-on production that’s unforgettable.
     Enchanting Lilliane Buonacore, who played Ariel in last season’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a fetching Belle. Her ribbon of silk voice, which Ursula clearly did not get to keep, is la crème de la crème.
     Cole LaFonte, who played Prince Eric in last season’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, is the Beast. As powerful displaying his fiery anger as he is poignant being “tamed” by Belle’s reading to him about King Arthur, LaFonte is a commanding presence onstage.
    Illuminating the proceedings with his candle labra-like hands, Bob Hoppe is smashing as Lumiere. This superb musical theatre actor ‘waxes’(sorry!) poetic as he leads all the Beast’s very animated kitchen utensils in an elaborately conceived and executed version of “BE OUR GUEST.”  
     Scott Severtson’s performance in the role of the arrogant, narcissistic and self-absorbed Gaston, is, as usual, top-notch. Belle’s unrelenting suitor, who refuses to stop stalking her, Gaston is the character we love to hate. Flexing, posing and swaggering throughout, Severtson nails this character with consummate skill. 
     In yet another outstanding performance, Tracy Warren delivers an indelible portrayal of Mrs. Potts. This multitalented actor’s singing of the title song, “Beauty and the Beast,” is delicious to the ear. 
     Wayne Kennedy plays Maurice, Belle’s kindly inventor father as well as providing us as audience with a masterful sound design. The “bone-headed inventiveness” of Maurice’s newest contraption is eye-and-ear-popping- all on its own. And whether the wolves are howling or the Beast is roaring, Kennedy’s design delivers the goods with clarity and ease.      
     Scott Beyette is most memorable as Cogsworth.
     Danielle Scheib is a deliciously comical and sexy Babette.
     Leo Batlle is both goofy and amusing as Gaston’s fawning sidekick, Le Fou.
     Alicia K. Meyers and Matthew D. Peters share credit for direction and choreography. As co-directors these two artists keep the stage alive with vibrant action throughout. Likewise, their success in the realm of choreography ranges from the exuberant tankard-clanking dance in “Gaston,” to the gorgeous ballroom dance for which this show is famous. The duo even allows for a bit of tap dancing in one number.
      Thanks to Tom Quinn’s projections BDT Stage’s production has a certain visual fluidity akin to that which one finds in cinema. Mr. Quinn’s visual illusions allow for the child in each and all in attendance to be swept, wide-eyed and mystified, into this beloved fairy tale. The decorative illustration of the rose on the stage frontispiece at the top of the show is a wonder all on its own. 
   This production also leans heavily upon the delight created by stage magicians. At certain junctures in the story a sparkling cloth appears before the objects in a scene. And Presto/Change-O, the drape is instantly drawn away leaving some new wonder for us to discover. These quick flashes of magical legerdemain involving stage transformation work beautifully. The ultimate transformation of beast to prince is something altogether different. It’s a masterful stroke of theatrical magic! No spoilers here! 
     Linda Morken’s costume design is a knock-out! The visually spectacular gown Belle wears for the famous waltz near final curtain is simply gorgeous. Those she created for all the other characters are eye-popping!
     Amy Campion has done an outstanding job with the scenic design. Her creation of Belle’s village is enchanting. The Beast’s castle is an architectural wonder that’s awe-inspiring.
     Brett Maughan’s lighting design is magnificent!
     The prosthetics for the show are created and designed by stage make-up magician Todd Debreceni.
     The memorable and tuneful score for this romantic fairy tale by Alan Menken, Tim Rice and Howard Ashman, is played with true musical virtuosity by Neal Dunfee and the BDT Stage orchestra.

   Exhilarating and enchanting, the joie de vivre of this production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is infectious. 

                                Run to see it.
Marlowe's Musings

Call 303-449-6000 or go online at bdtstage.com for tickets
5501 ARAPAHOE AVENUE, BOULDER COLORADO 80303

Saturday, May 11, 2019

HAY FEVER
GERMINAL STAGE DENVER:
May 7 – June 8
                                         

     A stylistic mash-up of a comedy of manners and a farce, Noel Coward first produced HAY FEVER in 1925.
     Eccentricities abound as the members of the Bliss family invite guests to spend a weekend in their English country home. Each and all have invited someone special without the knowledge of any of the others.
     Leroy Leonard plays David, A self-proclaimed ‘writer of bad novels,’ his wife, Judith (Michelle Moore), a retired actress, and their two spoiled adult children, subject their four guests to a tortuous weekend of witty madness and social malaise. 
    Linda Suttle plays Clara, the maid ‘of many hats,’ who having been Judith’s dresser during her stage career, stitches the play together with just the right contrasting British propriety. As always it is a great pleasure to see Ms. Suttle onstage.
     From awkward introductions to charade-like parlour games, nearly everything is a cue for theatrical excess and flamboyant dramatic expression!         
     Judith’s semaphore-like gestures, accompanied by heightened operatic-like posing, verge on those one remembers from silent films.
     Leroy Leonard(David), Michelle Moore(Judith) and Anne Smith Myers(Myra) are the standouts in this genuinely fine cast. Seen previously in an outstanding performance as the young Helen Keller in Firehouse Theater's "The Miracle Worker," Hannah Lee Ford is hilarious as Sorel Bliss.
     New to this reviewer, Greg Palmer  deserves special mention as Simon.
     Owen T. Niland ( Richard) and Andrew Horsford (Sandy) round out this wonderful cast.
     Ed Baierlein, who brings this hilarious old war horse to life with deft direction, also designed the beautifully appointed set.
     Known for her superb work as a costume designer, Sallie Diamond outdoes herself with frocks, kimonos and flapper apparel of the outrageously funny variety.
     Having seen this show on first preview one can only imagine how delightful it will become upon subsequent viewings.
     Germinal Stage Denver’s production of HAY FEVER comes with high recommendations from this critic’s desk!
     Run to see it!

Ed Baierlein, wife Sallie Diamond and Ginger Valone opened the original Germinal Stage-Denver at 1820 Market St. on Nov. 7, 1974. The company operated for 25 years at 44thand Alcott St. and, after four years of producing in Westminster, Germinal Stage is delighted to have found its new home in Lowry. Marlowe's Musings

Germinal Stage “Hay Fever”
The hilarious comedy of bad manners.
May 10 – June 8
Fri./Sat. at 7:30 p.m. ; Sun. at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets $17 - $25
303-455-7108 or emailgerminalstage@gmail.com
@ John Hand Theater is located at 7653 East 1st Place, Denver, Colorado 80230


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Every Brilliant Thing
Vintage Theatre: March 8 – April 14

       John Ashton as the Narrator

 “Every Brilliant Thing” is a play about a boy whose depression after his mother’s attempted suicide leads him to start to write a list of all the wonderful things that make life worth living as a gift for her. 
     As he grows up we see the list grow through happy times and sad, love found and love lost.  Although there are some sad moments, there are also a lot of smiles and laughter. (Be assured that this is not a maudlin tear-jerker.) 
     John Ashton is the Narrator of this show, and anyone who has ever seen this actor onstage, knows that he/she is in for an unforgettable evening of great theatre.
     Showcasing Ashton’s charismatic humor and unabashed empathy, Peter J. Hughes directs the proceedings with a deft hand.
      To say that the show is interactive is to overstate the obvious. It’s about as close to a conversation between actor and playgoer as there will ever be. Upon entering, audience members receive numbered cards imprinted with words or short phrases which they read aloud when their number is called. “Really good oranges,” “birdsong,” “watching little kids learn to use chopsticks.”
      There is very gentle, and very enjoyable audience participation in this show. 
     Ashton’s gift for theatre allows for an easy joyful interaction for each and all. This reviewer and another audience member held a keyboard aloft so Ashton could add some musical notes to the conversation.
     In the newly reconfigured Bond-Trimble Auditorium this poignant piece becomes more than intimate. Now it’s an all-inclusive circle creating what feels like a truly safe space for this heart opening experience.
      In the capable hands of Ashton and Vintage Theatre’s production team, Duncan MacMillan’s and Jonny Donahue’s touching play about one man’s struggle with mental illness becomes an indelible evening of theatre.Marlowe's Musings

Vintage Theatre presents 
“Every Brilliant Thing”
by Duncan MacMillan and Jonny Donahoe
A Regional Premiere, Directed by Peter J. Hughes
Starring John Ashton
March 8 – April 14, 2019
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
(No performance Sunday, March 17)
$16 - $32 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.
1 hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
THE BUELL THEATRE: March 5 -17

L-R: Ned Noyes and Jamie Ann Romero (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

Having received the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in London, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG got the 2017 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design.  When you see Nigel Hook's ingenious set - actually the antagonist of the piece - you will understand why!
      A fictitious theatre company known as The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society has received a sizeable donation and decided to do a production of an equally fictitious 1920s murder mystery entitled “The Murder at Haversham Manor.”
   It’s opening night for their show, and the play is plagued with non-stop, all night disaster.
    Missed entrances, forgotten lines and technical mishaps are just a few of the countless occurrences that make up this merry and manic mayhem.
     Jamie Ann Romero, star of countless Colorado productions, dazzles us with her comedic brilliance as Sandra Wilkinson, who plays Florence Colleymoore in the play within the play. 
      The show is so funny that one can hardly recover from one episode of gasping for breath before he/she’s doubled over with laughter again.
    Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, the show is an Absolute Riot! It  would be unfair to give any spoilers.
     Just go and be dazzled by Jamie Ann Romero, Brandon J. Ellis, Evan Alexander Smith, Yaegel T. Welch, Peyton Crim, Scott Cote, Ned Noyes and Angela Grovey. 
      Each and all proved capable of turning a sold out opening night audience at The Buell Theatre into a pack of laughing hyenas.

     Not to be missed.Marlowe's Musings

FOR TICKETS CALL 303-893-4100  

or go ONLINE at DENVERCENTER.ORG

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO 
       LOVE AND MURDER
VINTAGE THEATRE PRODUCTIONS: 2/1 – 3/24

L-R: Brandon Bill and Andy Seracuse

With music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, and book and lyrics by Robert Freedman, Vintage Theatre’s production of A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER is a Denver premiere to die for.
    This show got four Tony Awards in 2014, including Best Musical.
     Based upon the novel, “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal,” it was later adapted into a British film called “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”  It’s the tale of a young man’s rise from rags to riches in a murderously funny fashion.
     The deft direction by Bernie Cardell in combination with Music Direction by Lee Ann Scherlong assures the theatre patron of a rollicking evening of visual and auditory delight. 
     Cardell has taken clear aim at the theatre patron’s funny bone with his stage direction, and strikes the bull’s eye more often than not.
      Ms. Scherlong sees to it that not only solos and duets shine. Her music direction gives us choral work that’s exceptional and a backstage orchestra that’s superb.
     The combination of Cardell’s stage direction and Scherlong’s music direction proved to be musical theatre Magic on the snowiest day of the year! 
     In a masterful coup de theatre Brandon Bill takes on the daunting challenge of playing a number of the members of the D’Ysquith family of various age and gender with style, panache and over the top comic skill.
         Director Cardell here introduces us to several new faces in his cast. 
    Andy Seracuse plays the central character, Monty Navarro. Mr. Seracuse is an excellent musical theatre actor. His sterling vocals, hilarious facial expressions and charming stage presence make us hope to see him again soon upon the Colorado stage.
     Anna Jennes plays Sibella Holland. As she giggles her way into your heart you will notice that this beautiful young woman has a voice that’s a ribbon of pure gold.
     Kate Jackson is the third in this constellation of new stars. In the role of Phoebe D’Ysquith the fetching Ms. Jackson proves to have a gorgeous voice and wonderful stage presence.
     The   exuberant ensemble includes the likes of Kerri Emswiller, Todd Black (Both past Marlowe Award winners) and the always watchable Michelle Jeffres. Kristine Kahane is hilarious as Miss Shingle.
   Set designer Ryan Walkoviak has transformed the stage in the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium into three stages, each one adorned with an eye-catching cherry red waterfall curtain, made luminous by Kevin Taylor’s excellent lighting design. 
     Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s costume design is scrumptious.
    Stephanie Hesse has done some wondrous choreography which makes the tongue-in- cheek nature of the show’s propensity to poke fun at British propriety and manners, really pop! GO!GO!GO!GO!Marlowe's Musings

Vintage Theatre presents“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” 
In order for Monty to become Earl, people have to die.
Feb. 8 – Mar. 24 
Fri., Sat. and Monday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. 
Tickets are $19 - $38 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

WAKEY, WAKEY
BENCHMARK THEATRE: 1/18 – 2/16
               L-R: Augustus Truhn and Arlene Rapal

As Guy, the dying man in Benchmark Theatre’s production of Will Eno’s “WAKEY,WAKEY,” Augustus Truhn delivers one of the most authentic performances to have been seen by this reviewer. Very few actors know the craft well enough to devastate an audience so well.
     He’s all alone in a room that has a wheelchair stashed in the corner and a number of boxes packed and stacked along one wall.
      Guy knows we’re present and decides to engage us. His low-key recollections and remembrances are interrupted by momentary lapses of awareness.
      A remote-control device allows him to show slides, games and mesmerizing spirals on the back wall. Even as the character's life force wanes, he instructs us in a technique for gratitude for Life.
       Enter Arlene Rapal in the role of a care-giver named Lisa, who cools his forehead and performs a kind of Reiki on the dying man.
        Thanks to the deft direction of Rachel Rogers a number of surprising moments occur, which momentarily create sensorial disorientation to relieve the emotional tension. 
     Will Eno’s “WAKEY,WAKEY” is a heartfelt and profoundly heart-opening evening of theatre.
      Don’t miss it!Marlowe's Musings

For tickets call 303-519-9059 or go online at benchmarktheatre.com

Saturday, February 2, 2019

LOST IN YONKERS
MINERS ALLEY PLAYHOUSE: 1/25 – 3/3

Neil Simon’s play, LOST IN YONKERS, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the 1991 Tony Award for Best Play.
 The cast of LOST IN YONKERS

     Set in Yonkers in 1942, Eddie (Rory Pierce) is forced to go on the road due to bills incurred during his late wife’s battle with cancer. Consequently his two teenage boys, Jay (Dee Jimenez) and Arty (Ben Feldman), have to go live with their Grandma Kurnitz and Bella, their mentally challenged aunt.  (One hopes to see both Mr. Jimenez and Mr. Feldman again soon upon the Colorado stage.)
     Directed by Warren Sherrill, this show is cast to perfection!  
     Haley Johnson’s portrayal of the boys’ developmentally disabled Aunt Bella is indelible genius. Characterized by a continuous state of agitation that fluctuates between joy and anxiety, this is yet another brilliant performance by this multi-talented actor.
     Grandma Kurnitz is portrayed by Deborah Persoff with a set jaw and a demeanor that's hard as steel. It’s a compelling performance that feels as though it were  forged out of submerged anger and pain. As the play unfolds we learn that the reason this character walks with a cane and this deliberate, stiff, angular gait, is because of physical injuries she incurred as a child in Nazi Germany.
   Damon Guerrasio is especially strong as Uncle Louie, who’s temporarily using the Kurnitz household as a hideout from the mob.
    Although the wheezing Aunt Gert is a small role, it got big laughs due to MacKenzie Beyer’s sterling performance. 
    Peggy Stenmark’s realistic scenic design, enhanced by Elizabeth Scott-McKean’s ‘scenic dressing’ easily places us in 1942 Yonkers. Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s spot-on costumes enhance the proceedings.Marlowe's Musings




Miners Alley Playhouse
"Broadway Bound"
Arty and his brother Jay learn lessons about love, responsibility and the importance of family.
Jan. 25 – Mar. 3
Thurs./Fri. /Sat. at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m.
$17 - $32 
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401
303-935-3044 or online at 
minersalley.com.