Wednesday, November 27, 2019

TUCK EVERLASTING
VINTAGE THEATRE: 11/22 – 1/5
                     

 
        Sophia Dotson as Winnie

Based upon Natalie Babbit’s 1975 American children’s novel, Clauria Shear’s and Tim Gederle’s “Tuck Everlasting, the Musical,” looks at the value of immortality. According to the author living forever may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
     Every child threatens to run away from home at one time or another. In this story Winnie Foster actually does it. When she sees a young man named Jesse Tuck drinking from a stream under a wondrous tree in the town of Treegap, her adventure really begins. Jesse makes sure that Winnie doesn’t drink from the spring and then introduces her to his family, all of whom have drunk the water.  ( I almost said,”kool aid.”)
     A man in a yellow suit pursues the Tucks for his own nefarious designs. (No spoilers here.)
     It’s a family friendly story with music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle.  It’s an intriguing musical with a melodious score about living your life to the fullest.
     Thanks to Director Michael O’Shea for casting some exceptional young stars. One must also thank music director Isabella Duran for making those stars shine vocally. 
     It is, however, choreographer Adrianne Hampton who must be lauded for turning many of those shining young stars into a constellation of sparkling luminosity.
     Ms. Hampton’s choreography is breathtaking.
      Sophia Dotson is outstanding as Winnie Foster. Both vocally, and in the acting, Ms. Dotson is a natural. “Top of the World,” her duet with Mr. Tanega, and “Everlasting,” her solo at final curtain, are both indelible.
     Brian Trampler and Nathanial Waite-Lutz as Constable Joe and Hugo, perform a thoroughly enjoyable vaudevillian song and dance duet called “You Can’t Trust a Man.”
     Elton Tanega (Jesse Tuck) is superb vocally. His singing of “Top of the World” and “Seventeen” make this actor’s name one to search out in every program.
     As Mae Tuck, Hannah Quinn delivers the poignant number, “My Most Beautiful Day,” with heartfelt gusto.
     Recalling such characters as that of Bob Fosse’s portrayal of the snake in the Lerner and Lowe film, “The Little Prince,” Todd Black delivers a vivid portrayal of the disturbing ‘man in the yellow suit.’ This actor’s singing of “Join the Parade” and “Everything’s Golden” at the top of Act Two is most memorable.
     There’s a nice set by Ryan Walkoviak, which features a towering tree, a county fair scene and the quaint and rustic homestead where the Tucks reside.
                        Marlowe's Musings
     

The cast includes Sophia Dotson (Winnie Foster), Hazel Kachline (Winnie Understudy), Elton Tanega (Jesse Tuck), Hannah Quinn (Mae Tuck), Carter Edward Smith (Miles Tuck), Nick Johnson (Angus Tuck) Todd Black (The Man in the Yellow Suit), Lee Ann Scherlong (Betsy Foster), Kate Bogdewiecz (Nana), Brian Trampler (Constable Joe), Nathaniel Waite-Lutz (Hugo) and Kyriana Kratter (Thomas). Rounding out the cast are ensemble members Kristine Bachicha, Tobi Compton, Elisha Horne, Lauren Kotre, Elijah Meader, Michael Rossitto, Dallas Slankard, Jessica Strong and Will Treat.

Vintage Theatre presents
“Tuck Everlasting” 
After befriending the Tucks, 11-year-old Winnie must decide if eternal life is a blessing or a curse.
Nov. 22 – Jan. 5
Fri., Sat. 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.
2 hrs. and 15 min.
Recommended for children ages 8 and up.


Sunday, November 24, 2019


CALENDAR GIRLS
FIREHOUSE THEATER COMPANY
(November 23 - December 22)


                                   The cast of CALENDAR GIRLS 

      
     Tim Firth’s stage adaptation of the 2003 British comedy film, “Calendar Girls,” penned by Juliet Towhidi and Mr.Firth, is currently warming the stage over at The John Hand Theater on Lowry.
     Light -hearted and uplifting, Calendar Girls is the perfect holiday show – unless you wish to see Scrooge and Tiny Tim for the godzillionth time!
     The playwrights use of the words “Calendar Girls” references a group of women of The Women’s Institute of Knapely, England who, after the loss of one of their husbands to Leukemia, decide to create a calendar for which they will model in the semi-nude. The profits for this calendar will all be donated to science for the stamping out of the disease. 
    Although “Calendar Girls” is not for the kids, adults will love it.  Maybe a little titillating, (Sorry.) it’s really not all that revealing. That said, one must admit that there’s a great deal of feminine pulchritude on display.
     Having cast the show with a delightful bevy of beauties ‘of a certain age’ Linda Suttle has directed the production with a deft touch.
     The costumes, and in some cases, the seeming lack thereof, have been created by Rachel Herring.
     The show features such Denver favorites as Suzanna Wellens (last seen as Maggie Thatcher in Vintage Theatre’s “The Audience,”) and Michelle Grimes, who is currently performing the part of Mrs. Claus in “Polar Express” in Golden. Ms. Wellens portrays Chris Harper, the role which Helen Mirren played in the Miramax film. Christine Kahane plays Annie, (Julie Walters in the film) Chris’s grieving best friend. The other lovely ladies who make up the various months of the titular calendar are played by: Linda Swanson Brown, Linda Davis-Button, Erin Trampler-Bell , Mary Campbell and Kristen Mair. Patricia Goodman plays Lady Cravenshire.
     Steve Tangedal’s lighting design and Rick Reid’s sound design enhance the production.
    Not your typical holiday show, this reviewer is pretty certain Calendar Girls will prove a delight to theatregoers searching out heart-opening entertainment this holiday season.

     For tickets call  303-562-3232   or go online at firehousetheatercompany.com

    

Saturday, November 9, 2019

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE
CHERRY CREEK THEATRE: Oct.31-Nov. 24
L-R: Antonio Amadeo and Chris Kendall (photo credit: Olga Lopez)


Cherry Creek Theatre’s current production of Mitch Albom’s  book, TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, adapted for the stage by Mr. Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher, is a gloriously heartfelt success.
     The show stars Chris Kendall as Morrie Schwartz and Antonio Amadeo as Mitch Albom in an acting duet that will remain in your heart and mind for a very long time.
      Directed by Denver favorite, Billie McBride, the show is cast impeccably.
     Chris Kendall’s stillness and slow measured speech contrasts with the vital nervous movements of Mr. Amadeo perfectly.
     On the surface Mr. Albom’s work seems to be dealing with death. And it is. However… it is perhaps more correct, since we’re all dying,to say that it’s talking about Life and the living thereof.
      It’s a slight, honest work that everyone should honor with his attendance. To say more – and I understand many of the other reviewers have - would give too many spoilers and ruin the experience.
      Mr. Kendall, Mr. Amadeo and Ms. McBride are all MARLOWE AWARD winners. Search for their names in every program.
    TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE continues the trajectory of Cherry Creek Theatre’s ascension following their crystalline production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC.  What once had hit and miss productions, Cherry Creek Theatre has become a  company whose productions demand to be seen.
Run to get tickets.


For tickets call the box office at 
303-800-6578


Sunday, November 3, 2019

LOOPED
Vintage Theatre Productions:  11/1 – 12/15
Christian Mast and Deborah Persoff   
(photo credit: RDG Photography)

     Eat your heart out Broadway! Deborah Persoff’s performance in the role of Tallulah Bankhead in Vintage Theatre’s production of the regional premier of Matthew Lombardo’s LOOPED is acting that’s better than anything you get in New York City. Craig Bond’s direction … Magnificent! 

     The casting is impeccable and the pacing has a great natural feel to it that makes us as audience feel as though we’re right there in the studio with her.
     What an entrance! Chameleon-like, La Persoff morphs into Tallulah
Bankhead with flawless ease. Dame Persoff is a Triumph as this diva with a pocketful of bawdy zingers and gut-busting punchlines.  I promise you that you will find yourself, as this reviewer did, over the moon with this dynamic, energizing performance. 
     Promiscuous, a drug addict and a lush, Tallulah was one of Hollywood’s adored ‘bad girls.’ Brilliant in “The Little Foxes” and “Lifeboat,” the aging diva finds it difficult in this play to remember the words to a single line that needs to be re-recorded or “looped” for “Die, Die, My Darling.”
     There is nothing subtle about LOOPED!  It’s off the charts hysterical in its deliciously ribald,  eye-opening unveiling of Tallulah’s final hurrah in show business. Amidst the laughter there is also a revelatory exposition – however brief – allowing us as audience to understand how her childhood development formed a basis for her adult behaviors. As an adult she was a free- spirited Hollywood actress with the reputation of a bad girl with a foul mouth, who unapologetically drank, smoked and did drugs. Her mother died after birthing her and she started smoking at the age of 9. Now she’s a sixty six-year-old woman, six months from death.   
      Who was it that said: “When she was good she was very good, but when she was bad she was Dahling!”
    Christian Mast is brilliant as Danny Miller, the harried film editor who has been pressed into service to get Ms. Bankhead’s garbled line re-recorded (Looped) for an absent director.
Conservatively dressed and anxiously waiting for Life to happen to him, the contrast of Mast’s character with that of Ms. Persoff is striking. Mast’s monologue about his grief over a lost love is truly heartrending.  
     David Bond-Trimble anchors the show as Steve, the studio’s sound engineer. What could have been a throw-away part in the hands of a lesser actor is a hilarious dead pan success in his.
     Luke Rahmsdorff-Terry’s sound design, echoing the diva’s words in a dramatic moment late in the play, creates an auditory embellishment, which in tandem with Steve Tangedal’s lighting, enhances the show immeasurably.
     Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s costume design is spot on. 
     LOOPED is a raucous evening of exuberant laughter and the funniest comedy this reviewer has seen all year!
    Not to be missed.Marlowe's Musings

Vintage Theatre presents
“Looped”
Previews on Nov. 1; Opens Nov. 2 – Dec. 15
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sat. Nov. 16 at 2:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$12 - $32 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.





Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mrs. Warren’s Profession
Germinal Stage Denver
At the John Hand Theater on Lowry: Oct 11 – Nov 9 



The cast of Mrs. Warren's Profession

George Bernard Shaw’s classic, ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession” is currently being produced by Germinal Stage Denver at The John Hand Theatre on Lowry. The Pulitzer Prize winner’s play was banned from production for nearly a decade due to its candid addressing of issues such as prostitution and incest during the Victorian era.
          Director Laura Cuetara’s no frills spare production design allows her to cut to the chase with ease. Her pacing comes in at a bright clip and her cast is brilliant to a woman/man. Hannah Lee Ford(Marlowe Award for her performance as Helen Keller in THE MIRACLE WORKER) is luminous as Mrs.Warren’s daughter, Vivie.
          Carol Bloom gives a nuanced performance that’s outstanding  in the role of Kitty Warren.        As Sir George Crofts, the man you love to hate, Stephen R. Kramer, turns in one of his most studied and grittiest performances to date.
         Reverend Samuel Gardner is played with gusto by longtime Denver favorite, Dan Hiester.  Greg Palmer gives Frank Gardner, the Rev's son,  just the right degree of scheming youthful malice to accompany that of Sir George Crofts’ verbal and physical abuse of Vivie. Gary Leigh Webster’s character, Praed (it's only missing the 'y') effectively shows us the harmless 'righteous' in society who go about their lives oblivious to, or in blind allowance of what they might otherwise be able to change…and don’t.
     Ms. Cuetera's production is aided in no small part by the costume design of Sallie Diamond, which is, as usual, spot on!
            One can’t help but think that Shaw would love this production.  What playwright wouldn’t when his polemic is put forth with such clarity and his words so clearly spoken.
          This is one of the greatest feminist plays ever written, and it deserves your attendance. With the current disrespect for women that this administration has fostered we could use a lot more playwrights, who, like Shaw, point out the inherent flaws in a society that limits women’s rights, and then degrades them as second class citizens.


Run to get tickets!

For tickets call 303-455-7108

Sunday, October 13, 2019

MAMMA MIA
BDT STAGE: October 5, 2019 - February 22, 2020
                               Christy Oberndorf
     
           BDT Stage’s production of MAMMA MIA is a Bona Fide Smash Hit! 

       It provides the kind of musical theatre magic that audiences of every age find irresistible.
     MAMMA MIA is the story of Sophie Sheridan, a young woman, who's about to get married to a young man named Sky (an amiable and animated Chas Lederer.) There's only one problem. Sophie's been raised on this Greek island by a single Mom, and doesn't know who her father is. In an attempt to discover the man who will walk her down the aisle, she and her girl friends peek into her mamma's diary from the time that she (Donna) was dating twenty years earlier. Since there were three men, and thus three possibilities, Sophie invites all three to the wedding. All of this is unknown to Donna, who is already on overwhelm due to the wedding preparations. 
     The cast is full of triple threat actors. 
     Tracy Warren plays Sophie's mamma,Donna, the role played by Meryl Streep in the movie. Nuanced and luminous, Ms. Warren's performance in the title role is to die for. Her triple threat musical theatre talents are such that one simply can't take his eyes off her. Her vocals soar!
     Christy Oberndorf is enchanting as Sophia. Ms. Oberndorf is a gifted actor with a gorgeous soprano. 
     Donna's friends,Rosie and Tanya are played by Joanie Brosseau-Rubald and Alicia K. Meyers respectfully. Ms. Brosseau-Rubald is deliciously funny singing "Take a Chance on Me" to Scott Beyette as Bill Austin five minutes before the bride comes down the aisle. The scene is hilariously acted and choreographed to be a deliriously funny and intentionally spastic flirtation.
      Ms. Meyers, who also co-directs and co-choreographs, is especially funny in the number, "Does Your Mother Know?" 
      Bob Hoppe, the paternal candidate who, once nicknamed Head Banger, and later wound up working for the Bank of England,delivers a great performance singing "Our Last Summer."  
     Scott Beyette delivers a solid, down-to earth Swedish sailor and travel writer in the role of Bill Anderson. Beyette's duet with Sophie, "The Name of the Game" is especially memorable.
     Scott Severtson plays the third paternal candidate, architect Sam Carmichael. Severtson has played everything from Gaston in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to the Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. This actor's singing of "S.O.S.", his duet with Ms. Warren, and "Knowing Me, Knowing You," are two of the most heart opening songs of the evening.
     Alejandro Roldan is a hilarious Pepper flirting with Tanya(Ms. Meyers) in "Does Your Mama Know?" 
      Linda Morken's costume design is of the eye-popping quality for which she is renowned. Those disco costumes from the seventies sparkle and shimmer to perfection.Amy Campion's scenic design gives us the exterior and interior of the taverna as well as a glorious Greek beach scene.
     The surround sound effect in Wayne Kennedy’s audio design at the top of Act Two adds a wonderful dimensionality to the sonic dreamscape in Sophie's nightmare,"Under Attack," in which she worries if all this will end well. 
     Brett Maughan’s lighting design in that same sequence gives us a dazzling display of swirling colors that enhances the surreal moment.
     You can expect to hear all of your favorite ABBA hits gloriously sung by all your BDT Stage favorites as well as played to perfection by the BDT Stage band. 
     Award-winning music director Neal Dunfee conducts. The show is co-directed and co-choreographed by Alicia K. Meyers and Matthew D. Peters. (They're the ones responsible for such hits as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LITTLE MERMAID.)Other faces you may recognize in this great ensemble are:McKayla Marso McDonough, Danielle Scheib, Lillian Buonocore, Sarah Huckabee, Jacob Villareal, Brian Cronan, Leo Battle, Cory Michael Klements, Melissa Morris and Tracey Dennig.

     
Music and Lyrics for Mamma Mia are by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (and some songs with Stig Anderson.) The book is by Catherine Johnson. (It was originally conceived by Judy Craymer.) Additional material and arrangements are by Martin Koch.

RUN TO GET TICKETS!

For tickets call 303-449-6000 or go online to BDTSTAGE.COMMarlowe's Musings

Sunday, October 6, 2019

UNIVERSE 92
BUNTPORT THEATRE:  9/17 -  10/19
                            Brian Colonna

In the Chinese Astrological Calendar next year is the Year of the Rat. We have Buntport Theatre to thank for giving us an early preview and a chance to see 2020 through the lens of their new and original play, UNIVERSE 92.
      In this work a rodent is observed by three animal behaviorists, who record the animal’s every twitch.
     Brian Colonna gives a luminous performance as Rat. In the paws of a less talented actor the role might have been cheesier.
     The three behavioral scientists are played by the other three comic geniuses over at Buntport: Erin Rollman (Dr. Lorelei MacGuire,) Erik Edborg, (Dr. Frank Calhan) and Hannah Duggan (Pamela Hamilton.)
     It’s a bit of a spin on 1984 as in this production Rat sorta kinda maybe has one Big Brother and two Big Sisters who watch over him from the lofty heights of their scientific perch in order to observe his movements and record them in their analytic research.
     The celery brought in to feed the rat at the performance at which this reviewer was present was just not enough nourishment for a rat that size.  You may, as this reviewer did, feel that the rat could have probably used a few more snacks. If one were to criticize the production at all, he might say that there was little realism in the aromatic sensing of the rat by us as audience. (Perhaps the crew cleans the rat cage between performances.) 
     There is a wonderfully creative use of cardboard for the set and for the bottom of the rat cage! (The newspaper used for sanitary purposes seemed to be especially absorbent and may explain the lack of rat odor. One can only imagine that they must be old reviews from the Denver Post and/or The Thrifty Nickel.) 
      Except for the fact that the rat is made to watch sitcoms on television while lying in his hammock, he/it is treated mostly humanely throughout.  Making a rat watch television and then critique it with however many stars makes one aware of the perils of critics writing reviews from the couch. But I digress.
      True, the rat is lazy, but it’s always being watched just as Orwell puts forth in 1984. It’s not being given any incentive to find work or even to exercise. 
     One feels sad for a rat being forced to lie in a hammock doing nothing for all its life except self-pleasuring and judging new contraptions – presumably from Amazon- that are introduced into its world by self-adulating scientists who misidentify and misapply the tried and true methodology of animal research.
     At one point in the production a robotic vacuum cleaner – “the sad Roomba” – is introduced into the scenario. Perhaps this may have been a bit ‘de trop’ since the random patterning of its (the roomba’s) search for debris seemed mostly unsuccessful.
           UNIVERSE 92 is silly and just plain fun. 
           Scamper to get tickets.

Buntport Theatre is located at 717 Lipan Street, Denver,CO.80204
Call 720-946-1388 or go online at Buntport.com