Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Tuna Christmas
Miners Alley: 11/13 – 12/20
      L-R: Seth Maisel and Christian Mast
      Above-Below: Christian Mast and Seth Maisel
       Photo credit JR Cody Schuyler

     By now every lover of comic theatre must have seen  “Greater Tuna” at least once. This reviewer has seen it many times. The comic send-up of red neck southern “culture” penned by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams is hilarious.  “A Tuna Christmas” is the second installment, which is followed by “Red White and Tuna” and “Tuna Does Vegas.”   Unfortunately as we have discovered in nearly every medium sequels seldom deliver the goods as well as the original.
     “Greater Tuna” set the bar pretty high. In all its incarnations two men portray a fantasia of over twenty characters of both sexes and multiple ages. All your favorite characters are there: Dee Dee Snavely, Vera Carp, Petey Fisk and Bertha Buemiller head the list.
     Christian Mast and Seth Maisel, the two men who portray this town-full of redneck eccentrics are gifted comic actors. One does however, wish for a bit of modulation in the vocal amperage, as well as a slower suhthuhn drawl in certain vignettes.
     If you’re looking for a non-traditional play for the holiday season this may be the ticket.Marlowe's Musings

Miners Alley Playhouse
Nov. 13 - Dec 20
"A Tuna Christmas"
It is 24 hours before Christmas, and all comic hell is about to break loose.
Fri/Sat @ 7:30.p.m. Sun. @ 2 p.m.; Thurs., Dec. 3, 10, 17 @7:30 p.m.
$23 Adult
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401
303-935-3044 or online at minersalley.com

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ellie Caulkins Opera House: 11/7, 11/10, 11/13 & 11/15

Aida is one of the most satisfying evenings of opera produced by Opera Colorado in the last several years.
     Giuseppe Verdi’s “AIDA” shows an Opera Colorado that’s on the rise.  Over the past few years there have been more misses than hits for this company and hopefully this production is the harbinger for great times to come.
     Conductor Ari Pelto led the Opera Colorado Orchestra through Verdi’s grand composition with style and flair. The Opera Colorado Chorus sounded great. 
     Stage Director David Gately used the Ellie’s stage to superb effect for the grand scenes. His pacing was the kind that makes the evening fly by. 
     Lighting Design by Lucas Krech gave us bright sunny primary colors in this gilded Egyptian setting once the sun had been ominously – and wisely - eclipsed at the top of the opera.
     Alexandra Lobianco’s Aida provided us with a soprano that was heartbreaking. Tenor Carl Tanner was in fine voice as Aida’s paramour, Radames. Catherine Martin’s Amneris was beautifully sung. Marco Nistico’s Amonasro and Harold Wilson’s Ramfis were also memorable.
     The scenic design by Erhard Rom and Costume Design by Martha Hally provided courtesy of Virginia Opera gave the production a classy look. Rom’s scenic design gave us a visually spectacular mash-up of classical pyramidal lines reinforced by contemporary industrial metal.
    It appears that the company is receiving more funding from its underwriters. Its choice to share costumes and scenic design from Virginia Opera was a wise decision indeed.
    In the days when James Robinson was the artistic director there was generally a sharing of sets and costumes with opera companies on the east coast and in Texas. Those operas were spectacular. It is to be hoped that the choices being made in this vein again will be a harbinger for a future of fantastic opera productions by Opera Colorado.

For tickets call: 303-468-2030 or go online at operacolorado.org Marlowe's Musings

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In 1975 EQUUS received the Tony Award for Best Play as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Foreign Play. The 1977 film starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth was followed in 2009 by a Broadway revival, which starred Daniel Radcliffe.
     On the surface Equus appears to be about the coming of age of Alan Strang, a 17-year-old boy, whose neurotic and confused obsession with horses and religion has led to his committing a violent crime.
     The story that unfolds involving his treatment is however, as much that of Dr. Martin Dysart, an impotent child psychiatrist who while wishing to experience a life filled with passion spends all his time ‘curing’ passionately driven mental patients like Alan of their ‘pain’ and leading them to the bland worship of "the god of the Normal.”

L-R: Paul Borrillo and Spencer Althoff

     Paul Borrillo, who stunned Denver with his portrayal of Uncle Peck in Curious Theatre’s “How I Learned to Drive,” portrays Dysart, a man who is burned out both personally and professionally.
     Dysart dreams of the vibrant life of mythological ancient Greece, but finds his own life barren and empty. Borrillo invests this character with a hunger to revive his love for life that’s palpable. Aided in no small part by Peter Shaffer’s excellent writing, Borrillo stuns as he sleuths out the underlying wounds, which are the source of Alan’s vibrant and worshipful mythology.
     Spencer Althoff portrays Alan Strang with a visceral zeal. The onstage relationship Borrillo and Althoff create as doctor and patient builds steadily from a fearful uncommunicative first meeting to one of trust that allows for the unleashing of the fiery intensity of Alan’s rage as he comes to terms with his hideous crime.

                      L-R: Tait Peterson and Spencer Althoff
     Margie Lamb and Clint Heyn portray Alan’s mother and father respectively.
     The scenic design by Michael Duran is created out of unadorned plywood boards. All the locations are merely suggested within the set’s rough-hewn circumference.
     The lighting by Jen Orf, sound by Brian Freeland and costumes by Brenda King are mostly all spot on. King’s choice of drab beiges and tans complement the rustic look of the wooden benches and stable fence quite well. One does, however wonder if Alan’s innocent girl friend Jill, (Victoria Copeland) would really wear sheer black lingerie under her street clothing.
     Plagued with many misfortunes including a change of directors prior to opening one must applaud the success of the production team at the Avenue Theatre.
     A tip of the hat to director Warren Sherrill for taking the reins and providing his considerable directorial expertise to the proceedings.
     Exhilarating and disturbing, EQUUS is a must see for all who like serious dramatic theatre.

                (The play includes adult situations and nudity.)

Equus runs through November 21, at the Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Avenue (between Logan and Pennsylvania).  Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p m. and one performance on Sunday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are $26.50; $15 on Thursday, Oct 29 and $12 on Sunday, November 15.  Go to avenuetheater.com or call 303-321-5925.passionMarlowe's Musings

Monday, October 26, 2015

Denver Center Theatre Company:10/9 – 11/15

Nina Raine’s “TRIBES” is a powerful play, and The Denver Center Theatre Company’s production thereof is one of the best of the season.
     Playwright Raine has peppered the dining room set-up for this play with a machine gun spray of hilarious if often abusive epithets and bon mots. Everyone shoots off his/her mouth without ever listening to what anyone else has to say.
     In Raine’s play a dysfunctional family has raised a deaf son as if he were able to hear. No one listens to anyone in this tribe. There is a brother who has emotional problems of his own and a sister who’s lying to herself about her virtuosity as a singer. Tad Cooley plays Billy, the son who was born deaf, with strong stage presence. Andrew Pastides portrays Billy’s brother, Daniel with a wide range of emotion. Isabel Ellison is their sister, Ruth.
     When Billy meets Sylvia (Kate Finch), a young woman who is going deaf, at an event sponsored by the deaf community he begins to find his “tribe” by coming in contact with people who are just like him.
     Kathleen McCall is brilliant as Beth, a harried mother and wife who does all she can to fend off the barbs of her chauvinist husband while dealing, however poorly, with the sibling rivalry of her offspring. McCall is at her hilarious best trying to find a ringing cell phone under the billowing kimono her husband has required her to wear prior to meeting Billy’s new girl friend.
     Stephen Paul Johnson plays Christopher, the abrasive and LOUD patriarch of the clan.
     Director Stephen Weitz’ casting is impeccable and his pacing the kind that keeps an audience constantly engaged.
     Shannon McKinney’s lighting design illuminates the proceedings with her usual professional brilliance. Craig Breitenbach’s sound design enhances the directorial concept exponentially. The Projection Design by Charlie I. Miller provides surtitles, which clarify the sign language used in certain scenes.
         “TRIBES” comes with high recommendations from this critic’s desk. 

Marlowe's Musings

For tickets call:  303-893-4100 or go online at denvercenter.org

Sunday, October 25, 2015

As You Like It
Denver Center Theatre Company: through November 1
Since I be late and ‘brevity the soul of wit,’ I will be brief.
     Carolyn Holding is that rare commodity - a Rosalind both confident and beautiful who has the ability to mesmerize with a multi-faceted gem of a performance. Maren Bush is fetching as Celia, Rosalind’s partner in exile in the Forest of Arden.
     The performances of Matt Zambrano (Touchstone), Phillip Pleasants ( Adam and Hymen), Drew Horwitz (William) and Adrian Egolf (Audrey) are exactly As We Like Them.  Nick Amedica and Emily Kron provide an amusing-and endearing-acting duet as shepherd Silvius and shepherdess Phoebe respectively. One wishes to see Geoff Kent featured in a larger role. However… when one becomes aware of the fact(s) that he’s not only one of the Lords but also the assistant director as well as the fight choreographer, director Kent Thompson’s casting wisdom is understood.
     The costume design by Denitsa Bliznakova is eye-popping. Of special note is her creation of the exquisite purple gown in which we first see Ms. Holding as Rosalind.
     The Lighting design by Charles R. MacLeod and the Projection Design by Charlie I. Miller conspire to give us delicious visuals.
     If you would like an interesting point of view regarding this play pick up a copy of the book “Marlowe’s Ghost” prior to seeing it and read the chapter pertaining to ' its possible encodement.'  It will make the mystery that is “As You Like It” immeasurably richer and more provocative. Just sayin’!Marlowe's Musings

For tickets call: 303-893-4100  or go online at denvercenter.org