Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Spotlight Theatre Company: 5/16 – 6/13

    Finally a thriller that thrills!
Left to Right: Brandon Palmer and Drew Hirschboeck

     Patrick Hamilton’s play, “Rope” is the one on which the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film was based. You know the one that’s hyped as being completed in one continuous camera shot. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. But only after you see this play!
     It's this reviewer's interesting point of view that the stage version works better for a number of reasons. Not only are the characters in the play in close proximity to a certain item causing suspense to escalate, but we as audience are, too. What’s more the playwright has given us information that the play’s characters must struggle to discover.
     The play is inspired by the real life 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder case.
     Cardell’s direction expertly maneuvers our growing awarenesses of the characters’ suspicions in such a way as to create huge tension.
     Led by Drew Hirschboeck, Brandon Palmer and Todd Black, the cast is a good one.
     Mr. Hirschboeck is exceptional in his ability to express the covert deviltry of Brandon Shaw; this devious character who believes a high IQ makes one immune to the dictates of morality. Brandon Palmer’s paranoia as Phillip Morgan is palpable. Todd Black takes on the part of Rupert Cadell, played by James Stewart in the film, in good form. Having seen the film and not read the play one wonders whether the cane is really necessary for his character.
     The supporting cast includes such fine talents as Sheri Wright and Claude Diener as well as Gina Walker, Jaclyn Walsh (a recent transplant from the jolly old theatre garden across the pond) and Michael Martinkus.
     Director Cardell, who also created the excellent scenic design, is assisted by the very fine sound design of Luke A Terry and costumes by Rosemary Smith. Vance McKenzie does the lighting of the opening scene- so crucial to the set-up – with true expertise. Marlowe's Musings

Spotlight Theatre Company presents
May 16 - June 13
Fri/Sat and Mon., June 1 at 7:30 p.m. /Sun at 2:00 p.m.; Saturday, June 13 at 2p.m.
Tickets are $21 Adult/ $19 for Students/Seniors
Group rates available.
720-880-8727 or online at www.thisisspotlight.com
The John Hand Theater, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver, CO 80230
Free parking.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Young Frankenstein
Town Hall Arts: 5/16 -6/14

                                       Left to right: TJ Hogle and Cory Wendling

     Cory Wendling is a talented musical theatre actor. I enjoyed his performance very much as Rooster in Town Hall Arts’ production of “Annie” last season. What was missing in this production was the requisite crescendo of hysteria. 
                                                     Annie Dwyer as Frau Blucher

     Elsewhere director Nick Sugar’s casting and pacing is of the outrageously impeccable variety. 
Annie Dwyer is a formidable stitch as Frau Blucher (horse whinny.)  May the theatre gods provide us with much more of her phenomenal talents! 

Mark Shonsey reprises the Igor he created for the Vintage Theatre production (Marlowe Award) with polish and flair. 

Eric Mather is very funny as Inspector Hans Kemp. 

TJ Hogle is outstanding as the monster. Made up all blue in the face thanks to Todd Debreceni’s monster makeup magic -and with shoes that make him even taller than he is in real life- Hogle stuns.  

Cashelle Butler‘s performance as Elizabeth, the part played by Madeleine Kahn in the Mel Brooks movie, is passable in Act One and magnificent once the monster has his way with her. Surprised? 

Rob Janzen is hilarious as the ghost of Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

     Tina Anderson’s scenic design with its creepy laboratory and forest of cut-out trees is her usual professional work.

 The tracks laid down by Music Director Donna Kolpan Debreceni are exceptional. 

The lighting design by Seth Alison is spot on.Marlowe's Musings

For tickets go online to townhallartscenter.org/young Frankenstein/ or call 303-794-2787.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

 "'Night, Mother”
Vintage Theater: May 15 – June 14

                                L-R: Emma Messenger and Haley Johnson
                                Photo credit to DenverMind Media

     Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Night Mother” is being given a soul-shattering reading by two of Denver’s finest in the intimacy of the Bond-Trimble Theatre at Vintage Theatre in Aurora.
   Imbued with profound sadness, this tale of a young woman’s last hour is sensitively directed by Billie McBride.
     Emma Messenger delivers a nuanced portrayal of a mother brought face to face with a situation she never could have imagined to be possible. Haley Johnson gives us a heart-rending portrayal of a lost soul who has shut every door in her life…except one.
    What a perfectly matched pair. As portrayed by these two actresses the mother-daughter relationship is riveting.
     The play is written in such a way as to fascinate with its craftsmanship. Anyone studying the art of playwriting will find it used as an example for everything from developing subtext to creating profound catharsis. Every aspiring playwright should see this exemplary production of Martha Norman’s play.
     The naturalistic scenic design by Douglas Clarke creates the exact right milieu for these characters.  Even before the show begins one realizes the hours these two women have spent in this richly detailed kitchen.
     It is to be hoped that the show will attract a great many theatregoers.  Suicide is the 13th greatest cause of death in our country.
     The reason this play is so important is that it makes us question what we can do to alleviate the pain of those who suffer.

Vintage Theatre presents
"'Night, Mother"
The exploration of the final hour in the life of a young woman who has decided that life is no longer worth living.

May 15 - June 14
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.; Thurs., June 11 at 7:30 p.m.; Sat., June 13 at 2:30 p.m.
$28 ($24 advance) 
303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010Marlowe's Musings

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UNMarried in America
Vintage Theatre: 5/8 – 6/21
     “UNMarried in America” is a deeply moving play.
     K.D. Carlson’s play deals with a reporter for the courts who is doing the transcription work for the 2010 Trial for California’s Prop 8 that ruled that same-sex marriages were unconstitutional.

                          Left to right: Kelly Uhlenhopp and Missy Moore

     Three stories are intertwined in the play that involve a gay male couple, a lesbian couple and a high school student coming to terms with his sexual orientation. Juxtaposing the narratives of these couples with the backdrop of the straight relationship of the court reporter and her boy friend makes for a thought-provoking evening.
      Wendy S. Moore’s sensitive direction has paced the play in such a way that the evening flies by. She elicits fine performances from this very versatile cast. Moore has also designed the set for the show in such a way as to create the feeling that we as audience are judge and jury to the proceedings.
     Christian Munck infuses his character with a light-hearted charm and confidence.  Missy Moore is powerful as a wife who discovers that her life is not what she expected it to be. Jeff Jesmer and Kelly Uhlenhopp deliver top-notch portrayals as well. Zack Nick plays the young gay student with a quiet naturalness.

                                      Left to right: Christian Munck and Zack Nick

    The story of what happened with Prop 8 is not presented from the point of view of the authorities but through that of the same sex couples who crave the right to marry: a privilege so taken for granted in mainstream America.
    Madison Kuebler’s sound design and Alexis K. Bond’s lighting add immeasurably to the proceedings.
    Timely and provocative, Carlson’s play does not disappoint.

Vintage Theatre presents
“UNMarried in America”
The case for love is now in session.
May 8 - June 21
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.; Thurs., June 18 at 7:30 p.m.; Sat., June 20 at 2:30 p.m.
$28 ($24 advance) 
303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010Marlowe's Musings

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Edge Theatre: 4/24 – 5/24
                 Augustus Truhn as Johnny "Rooster" Byron

Set in a dump of an English trailer park on St. George’s Day, Jez Butterworth’s “Jerusalem” is a richly imagined, provocative work of art.
     It’s an allegorical wake-up call bellowed from a bull horn and hammered on a copper drum that cries out for the change a bit of civil disobedience… or some spiritual giants … can create.
     The play opens and closes with visits from the local authorities who, threaten to evict Johnny “Rooster” Byron from his squalid trailer park digs.
     Augustus Truhn’s performance in the central role of Rooster is cause for celebration. Truhn is one of Colorado’s finest actors and it’s thrilling to see him in a role that really showcases his talents. Local favorites Mark Collins, Emily Paton Davies and Mark Stith turn in very fine performances in supporting roles. New to this reviewer were John Brown (Ginger) and Rick Williams (Professor.) Both are actors one hopes to see again soon in future cast lists.
     Some may find Rooster a Christ figure while others may confine themselves to the idea that he is rather a slacker/ne’er do well in the vein of a pied piper such as the Fagin of Charles Dickens’ “Oliver.” Is it possible that he’s an amalgam of the two? You decide.
     And although the mostly young misfits and outcasts attracted to Rooster’s shabby sylvan oasis find it full of Dionysian perversion including drugs and alcohol they also find a certain camaraderie and sense of belonging that’s missing in the homes of their uncaring dysfunctional families. So one might ask ‘what is the great perversion?’ Could it be simply refusing to accept the rules of a reality that don’t work for its citizens in a society spinning out of control filled with thug-driven machines intent on destruction?
     The sound of the language that wordsmith Butterworth puts in the mouths of his characters is delicious to the ear, and although there are multiple profanities within it, the unfamiliar slang terms make one feel as if he were hearing our mother tongue for the first time.
      Christopher Waller’s outstanding set design describing the squalor in which ‘the dude abides’ (sorry!) is enhanced by the lighting and sound designs of Kevin Taylor and Ren Manley respectively.
          Director Warren Sherrill has done a great job casting the show. His pacing works most of the time even when doing battle with Butterworth’s rather lengthy play.
      “Jerusalem” comes with high recommendations from this reviewer’s desk.
The Edge Theater presents
Apr. 24 - May 24*
Fri./Sat. @ 8 p.m.; Sun. @ 6 p.m.
No Show on Sunday, May 10 / Industry Night, Mon., May 11 @ 8 p.m.
Tickets: $26/ $16 on May 11
303-232-0363 or online at www.theedgetheater.com.
The Edge Theatre, 1560 Teller Street, Suite 200, Lakewood CO 80214. Free Parking.
For mature audiences
* note date changeMarlowe's Musings