Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Betsy Stage: Through November 22
                              Gina Walker (Gertrude) and Patti Murtha(Hamlet)
Since I had been to see one of the shows at The Betsy Stage earlier this year I had a semi sorta kinda maybe notion of what they were up to. The powers that be at this venue, whose productions are free to the public, like to use Shakespeare as a blueprint and then press their own matrix over it.

     In this case “Hamlet” is subsumed by the culture of the gypsies. The genders are often reversed in these productions such that Hamlet becomes a woman and Ophelio a man. And… one is mystified at seeing that Orsino’s words from the opening of Twelfth Night and those of that bloody Dude in the Scottish play rear their heads from time to time as well! However … there are enough creative strokes and flourishes that one is entertained and amused. And although I did not greatly appreciate their “adaptation” of “King Lear,” last spring, this one’s bizarre “Ham”-miness was ‘pork for the general’ as concerns this transmogrification of the Bard’s masterpiece.
 L-R: Gypsy Campfire (left to right) - Jaycee Sanchez (Marcellus); Dave Coumo (Francisco); Adwin Gallo (Taloche); Tim McGrath (Horatio); Shelby Latrop (Chavi); Christopher Wells (Osrick)

     The acting is all over the map. 
    It is, however, developed around a colorful stage design depicting a gypsy camp behind a circus tent. 

     Belly dancing women tossing scarves in the air - and then catching them - bridge the scenes.

     The overall effect of this show is that someone has been told the story of Hamlet and the story of the gypsies on the same day and got the two mixed up. Imagine a mash-up of these two produced by a group of aspiring thespians with a string of Christmas lights, some scarves and without the requisite funding for a show.

     There are several threads of silliness that run throughout the reinvented text allowing such moments as the actress playing Gertrude to sputter such lines as: “My husband killed my husband?”

     Among the other amusing oddities – and they are legion! –is one melodramatic moment in which Hamlet sends her mother to “a nunnery.”

     There are a few more things you may be surprised to discover about the Bard’s characters in this version of the story of the Great Dane! You’ll need to discover these for yourselves.      

     The onstage band made up of organ, guitar and some instruments not usually heard in the repertoire allow for a thoroughly enlivening acoustic experience.

     So as Desdemona says to Caliban…"

if music be the food of love, play on.” 
     Or was that Orsino????

     “All the rest is silence.”

The Betsy Stage presents
A gypsy camp, with its family of performers and musicians, is the perfect place to tell our Hamlet.
Oct. 3 - Nov. 22
Fri./ Sat. @ 8p.m.
*No Performance Oct 31
Cost:  FREE (donations accepted)
Seating is limited and this show has been selling out.
Reservations required by email or 720-328-5294
The Betsy Stage, 1133 S. Huron St. Denver, CO 80223 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Buell Theatre: 10/29 – 11/9

     The message of loving acceptance is not a new one. It is, however, one that still needs a lot of polishing on this spinning planet.

     “Kinky Boots” tells the story of two young men who come together in an odd set of circumstances in which one of them saves the other’s life.
     The saved one is a straight guy attempting to rescue his father’s floundering shoe factory. The savior is a drag queen with a backdrop in the boxing ring.
     With a penchant for fashion, Lola insists that Charlie should be making fabulous sexy red  “kinky boots” for a special “niche market.”
     “Kinky Boots” was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won 6…including Best Musical.
     Local Diva, Annaleigh Ashford received a Tony nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her stellar performance.
     There’s Cyndi Lauper’s Tony award winning score, Jerry Mitchell’s Tony Award winning choreography and the Tony Award winning book by four-time Tony Award winning Harvey Fierstein.
     It sounds like just another piece of flash and fluff but underneath it all there’s substance, baby.

      The show gives us a character whose unconditional love can let a macho bully win out of sheer compassion while she throws the game modestly masquerading as ignorant weakness. All that so the bully doesn't have to feel humiliated in the way that she has been all her life.
     Based upon the heartfelt movie script with the same title, this is a touring show that comes with high recommendations.
      Kyle Tyler Parker (Lola) and Steven Booth (Charlie) are both stellar.

     Go see it!

for tickets go online to or call  800-641-1222Marlowe's Musings

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Good Television
Ashton and Abster Productions: 10/10 – 11/1

    L-R: Ben Cowhick, Christine Sharpe and Miriam Tobin

     Rob McLachlan’s “Good Television,” now on view in the Studio Theatre at Aurora Fox Arts, is a provocative evening of theatre that asks lots of questions about Reality TV and manages to keep from presenting any facile solutions.
     At the top of the play a crew of ratings-hungry television folk creates a show that would allow the viewing audience to follow a meth head through his daily life in exchange for his family’s participation in the project.  They promise the family an all expense paid trip for the addict-unbeknownst to him- to the rehab clinic.
     The dysfunctional family that’s chosen is forced to weigh questions of the exploitation of the addict’s personal rights with the possibility of his freedom from meth hell.
     Ben Cowhick’s performance in the role of Clemmy, the meth addict, is so studied and powerfully executed it nearly dwarfs the material. When Mr. Cowhick is onstage you can’t take your eyes off him. When he’s not onstage one prays for his return. The visceral edge given the piece by his nuanced physiological behaviors, facial expressions and verbal anomalies is nothing short of phenomenal.
     Abby Apple Boes is great as Bernice, a hard as nails, take no prisoners television producer.  
     Miriam Tobin (Tara) does a fine job being the new kid on the block who fears the nepotism that got her the job will not be enough to create the success she desires.
     Sam Gilstrap provides a strong performance as Ethan Turner, the guy who steps in when Bernice finds a more lucrative job at another studio.
     Jack Wefso explodes in a visceral performance as Mackson, a previously absent and neglectful brother, who arrives just as the filming begins.
     Steef Sealy is amusing as a prodigal alcoholic father who has found the Lord at the 12-step meeting.  
     Lauren Bahlman is fine as a production assistant whose values come up against the almighty television rating and who winds up getting some heartfelt advice over the phone from Clemmy’s sister, Brittany, played by Christine Sharpe.
     John Ashton’s clear-eyed direction is at its best in the confrontational scene between the family and the film crew.

For tickets go online to 

or call 303-739-1970Marlowe's Musings

Monday, October 20, 2014

Buried Child
The Edge Theatre: 10/17 – 11/16

     On April 3, 1975 the War in Viet Nam ended.

     This was the first war that the nuclear family in America had been able to experience from a seat right in front of their television watching Vietnamese people be napalmed on the evening news and hearing Lyndon Johnson and then Richard Nixon talking about saving the world from Communism.  
      When our boys in uniform returned they returned to jeers of “Baby Killers!” They were not recognized as the good patriotic boys they had seemed marching off to war. They were not given parades as their fathers had upon returning from Europe and Japan. They were disinherited, disenfranchised, disowned. They were, like their fallen and dismembered brothers, our nation’s …buried children.
     In 1979 Sam Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for “Buried Child,” his play about the obliteration of the American Dream.

     L-R: Dan Mundell, Rob Kramer, Emma Messenger, Missy Moore, Royce Roeswood and Brian Landis-Folkins seated.

Shepard’s play, set in a “realistic” farm house in Illinois, holds the detached remnants of what may have once been a real American family with real American values. There are strokes of surrealism and of symbolism imbedded in Shepard’s script, which on a first glance may seem disconnected. However… they are not.
     Rick Bernstein does yeoman’s service to Shepard’s American nightmare with superlative direction that elicits engaging performances from a very good cast.
      Emma Messenger is powerful as Haley, a harridan of a matriarch who has emasculated her husband by committing incest with one of their sons and continues to humiliate him by openly having an affair with Father Dewis, their parish priest. Missy Moore portrays Shelly, the voice of reason in the play, who tries to find something beyond dysfunction in this family of lost souls. Ms Moore’s performance is nuanced in such a way as to understand why her work upon the stage is in constant demand.

      As Tilden, the son who had sexual relations with Haley, Rob Kramer is appropriately dim and mentally absent.
     Tim Fishbaugh gives us a mild-mannered, if somewhat deluded man of the cloth.
   Brian Landis Folkins turns in a fine portrayal of Bradley that starts as a threat and ends up a whimper. 
     Dan Mundell does an admirable job of portraying the impotent, gravel-voiced patriarch.
     Royce Roeswood is Vince, the son/grandson who, unrecognized, comes home from the war to the spiritual squalor of what once was home. Mr. Roeswood’s work in this production makes us feel the depth of rage with which playwright Shepard encoded his script.
      This is a heavy hitter in all aspects. It's recommended for all lovers of dark serious drama with multiple layers and meanings.

The Edge Theater presents
“Buried Child”
Shelly is charmed by Vince's farm house until she meets his crazy family.
Oct. 17 - Nov. 16
Fri./Sat. @ 8 p.m.; Sun. @ 6 p.m.
No Show on Sunday, November 2 / $15 Industry Night, Mon., Nov. 3 @ 8 p.m.
Tickets: $22 - $26/ $15 on Nov. 3
303-232-0363 or online at
The Edge Theatre, 1560 Teller Street, Suite 200, Lakewood CO 80214. Free Parking.Marlowe's Musings