Monday, June 27, 2016

     Lynn Nottage’s play about Esther, an African American seamstress living in New York City in 1910, is writing that is full of fire. 
     Director Seth Rossman was able to elicit powerful performances from his cast.
      Lisa Young is luminous as Esther. 
      Simone St. John creates a portrayal of Mayme that gives us a vibrant sensual lady of the evening.

    L-R: Cris Davenport and Lisa Young

    Cris Davenport is a dramatic dynamo who simmers slowly at first and builds to create a frightening maelstrom of conflict. 

Left-Right: Lisa Young and Seth Maisel

     Seth Maisel is endearing as a Jewish tailor with whom Esther has an abiding friendship.
    Debbie Faber’s costume design is exceptional. The colorful corsets, bustiers, smoking jackets and robes she has created are stunning.
     There is not a weak link in the cast. 
     Alex Polzin’s well appointed scenic design and Rick Reid’s sound design conspire to place us directly into the world of 1910 New York City. 
     Vintage once again delivers a high quality theatre experience. 

Vintage Theatre presents
"Intimate Apparel"
June 3-July 10
A young African-American woman travels to New York to pursue her dreams.
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.
303-856-7830 or online at
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010


L-R:  John Ashton and Abby Boes

     John Ashton and Abby Boes succeed in giving us convincing portrayals of two delightfully contrasting characters in Stephen Sachs’ oddly amusing two-hander, “Bakersfield Mist.” Ashton portrays Lionel Percy, the representative of a formidable Art concern in New York City, who has come to Maude Gutman’s (Abby Boes’) trailer park home in Bakersfield, California to assess the possible “unknown work” by Jackson Pollock that she bought for three dollars at a thrift store.
     Director Peter J. Hughes does an admirable job directing this play that wishes to be the unknown masterpiece it’s not. This study of what is authentic in Art–and what is not – provides us as audience with a fascinating topic of discussion. However, one might wish for more focus in the writing on the issue at hand than upon the tangential issues of loss and greed that follow. (If one lives in squalor and is offered three million dollars for a possibly bogus painting would one hold out for a possible three hundred million dollars?) Reality therapy might dictate otherwise.
     The scenic design, which is also by director Hughes is masterful in giving us the illusion of the innards of Maude’s kitschy, chachka-filled trailer park digs... framed in Jackson Pollock-like abstraction. The costumes, also by the director, are spot on, creating the exact right look(s) for these vastly diverse types.
      As this stuffy, stodgy and intentionally stiff stuffed shirt of an art connoisseur, Ashton nails this character with his trademark tongue in cheek finesse. Abby Boes provides a delightfully exaggerated contrast with her head bobbing, knee-bouncing, Jack Daniels swilling Maude Gutman.
       Steven Tangedal’s lighting design is masterful and one wishes to linger a moment longer on the final image he generates and enhances at final curtain. It’s one of my favorite moments of a lighting design since that miraculous final moment in 1969 when I got to see the Declaration of Independence appear on the scrim as John Trumbull’s famous painting of its signing was seen posed behind it in the Broadway musical,"1776."

     Watching John Ashton and Abby Boes spar onstage is where the fun is in this production. For that alone you should run to get a ticket!Marlowe's Musings

Avenue Theater
417 E. 17th Street
Denver, Co, 80203
For tickets call 303-321-5925 or go online at

Monday, May 30, 2016


L-R: Ryan Bueller, Rachelle Wood and Dayle Extrell

“Legally Blonde, the Musical” is the screen to stage version of the 2001 movie that starred Reese Witherspoon. It’s fluffy, feather-weight escapism speaking to the 21st century version of young female empowerment. If there be any substance here it’s in a thinly veiled homage to that time honored truth that substance is more valuable than image.

     So at the top of the show all Elle Woods wants to do is to become the wife of the well-heeled, well-dressed, self absorbed Warner Huntington lll. The balance of the show is about Elle finding her way through the train wreck of her infatuation for this arrogant cad to the realization that a kind and supportive love would be LOTS better.
     It’s a pink, frothy (Did I say pink?) evening of musical theatre that’s a HUGE hit with younger audiences. One must be totally candid in saying that mature theatregoers may find the book for “Legally Blonde,the Musical”  to be about as interesting as time travel back to your high school pep rallies. Nevertheless, I’m told that this production of the show is practically sold out for the run.

      One reason to go is that the multi-talented Nick Sugar directed and choreographed this lightweight ball of fluff. Sugar, who can turn dross into gold, does it again with this show. Why do I say that? Because he knows how to cast!
     He’s cast Rachelle Wood as Elle Woods (Is there an echo in here?). Ms. Woods, who was an enchanting Mabel in the recent production of “Mack and Mabel,” is a musical theatre firecracker as Elle.

     As Paulette, Dayle Extrell, Elle’s (There is an echo in here!) supportive hair stylist friend, is outstanding!    
      Tim Oakes does a fine job creating arrogance and narcissism as Warner Huntington lll.
      Carter Edward Smith turns in an affectionately drawn and very well sung portrayal of Emmett Forrest.
       Zach Stailey (a brilliant Professor Callahan) does a remarkable job singing “Blood in the Water.” (This description of the realities of becoming a shark of a lawyer at least makes us think of a different color than pink momentarily!)
     Ryan Buehler is a stitch as Paulette’s hot UPS step-dancer boy friend. This actor had the audience in hysterics whenever he strutted onto the stage.
     The supporting cast is full of the names of superb musical theatre actors. Among them are: Taylor Nicole Young, Rebekah Ortiz, Gabriel Morales, Chelley Canales, Jenna Moll Reyes and Olivia Beyette.
     Other reasons to go are Donna Debreceni’s magical musical tracks and  Nicole Harrison’s very fine costume design. Tina Anderson’s scenic design is superb.

For tickets call:303-794-2787   townhallartscenter.orgMarlowe's Musings