Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Book of Mormon

Buell Theatre: 10/23 – 11:24

     Dear reader, please be aware that this review is a rave that’s going to be one long list of kudos for a show that is outstanding in every way.
     Denver Center Attractions is to be lauded for bringing us this superb production of a show which has won: nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone) as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.
                                                                    Nic Rouleau
      From the moment one enters the auditorium of the Buell Theatre and sets eyes upon the magnificent frontispiece for “The Book of Mormon” he is aware that something on the order of a grand celestial event will occur when the curtain rises.  The crashing waves of what must by the Great Salt Lake seem to rise and blend with the luminous clouds of heaven as the golden image of the angel Moroni heralds good news from above the proscenium.
     Everything about this production is high, wide and handsome. Directors Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker have cast this show with triple threats. 
     The performance by Nic Rouleau in the role of Elder Price is outstanding both vocally and in the acting. A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham stuns

     The choreography and the dancing thereof is exhilarating!
        The humanity inherent in this seemingly blasphemous piece is so richly evident. Sometimes people forget to look below the surface of Great Art. Issues which are not topics of household discussion that are exposed include the circumcision of women and the annihilation of people in third world countries by the spread of AIDS.
       The lyrics of the musical number “Turn it Off” which skewer the idea that all one has to do to eliminate his sexual orientation is to “turn it off like a light switch,” are hilarious. The book and lyrics for “The Book of Mormon” continue in the vein of the “South Park" authors’ reputation for being geniuses at showing us society’s foibles and fallacies. This is superbly done laser-sharp Swiftian satire!
     Some of the musical numbers lampoon familiar songs from the canon of Broadway’s classics. “The Lion King” provides a zinger early in the show and the number near final curtain, in which the Africans perform their own personal misinterpretation of the history of Mormonism may remind those in attendance  of the “Small House of Uncle Thomas” in “The King and I.”
      I missed “The Book of Mormon” the first time around.
     This production truly is the second coming!
Single tickets for THE BOOK OF MORMON start at $35. To charge by phone, call Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.4100. TTY (for Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons): 303.893.9582. Additionally, tickets may be purchased at the Denver Center Ticket Office, located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vintage Theatre: 10/11 – 11/10
     Heartfelt and moving, Vintage Theatre’s production of “Shadowlands” deserves your patronage.
 Lorraine Scott and Craig A Bond have co-directed the show with a tender eye focused on that great inner debate we all have over when to let the head lead and when the heart.
     Here it centers on C.S. Lewis, the philosopher, theologian and author of the Narnia tales as he thinks through the great question of why God allows suffering. As he does he misses or nearly completely misses the gift that keeps knocking at the door to his own heart.
     Verl Hite lends a certain nobility to the role of the reserved writer and provides a strength that is shored up by the understated humor of the writing.
                                      Left to Right: Stephanie Schmidt and Verl Hite

     Stephanie Schmidt provides dynamic contrast to the over-thinking propriety of her English friend. Her ability to be out-spoken without ever appearing sharp or attacking – even when attacked by the philosopher’s friend – draws us in and makes the final scenes more touching than they might otherwise have been.
    Wade Livingston shines as “Warnie,” C.S. Lewis’ brother. The naturalness of his performance is quiet and assured. One only wishes there could have been a puff of smoke or two from his omnipresent pipe.
                                     Left to Right: Verl Hite and Wade Livingston
                                           Photo credits: DenverMind Media
     Frank Haas’ exquisite lighting design allows for the mundane and the sublime to intermingle.
     Tobias Harding’s scenic design is striking and innovative with its tilt of soaring bookcases flanking the playing space.
      Scott and Bond have provided us as audience with a supporting cast that is a good one and looks so authentic it could be used for any number of Dickens productions. This show touches us deeply.

Oct. 11 - Nov 10
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.
$25 ($20 advance)
303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.com
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010 Marlowe's Musings

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Full Monty
Boulder’s Dinner Theatre: 9/6 – 11/9
A musical with a lot of great thongs!
     “The Full Monty” is a big-hearted musical about a bunch of average Joe blue-collar steelworkers who are depressed because they’re out of work and because their wives are high on ogling a group of touring male strippers. You gotta know that this is real Honest To God great acting because there is nothing about the cast and crew at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre that’s “average” anything. What you get when you go to BDT is high wide and handsome in every way imaginable!
      The play centers on Jerry, a lovable guy who’s just found out he’s about to lose custody of his son. His response is to round up the guys in the neighborhood and talk them all into starring in a strip show to make some bucks and shore up their reputations for being gutsy guys who just happen to be down on their luck.
     Seth Caikowski turns in a stellar performance in the central role of Jerry Lukowski. The song: Breeze off the River” Jerry sings to his son Keno is truly heartfelt and moving.
     Joel Adam Chavez is touching and funny as David Bukatinski, Jerry’s pudgy buddy.     
     Scott Beyette, who also directs the show, is Harold Nichols, a former boss of this crew and who’s gonna teach the guys how to hoof it while they “Let it Go” onstage.
     The always-outstanding Joanie Brosseau portrays Nichols’ wife Vicki with a sparkle and flair that astounds.
     Shelly Cox-Robie plays Jeanette Burmeister, the tough and lovable showbiz accompanist with her own indelibly endearing musical theatre stamp.
      Brett Ambler’s Malcolm McGregor is introduced in ”Big-Ass Rock,” a darkly comic number about a botched suicide from which he’s saved by Jerry and Dave. Malcolm is saved again by Burke Walton’s Ethan (the Donald O’Connor wannabe) in another moment of grief later in the show.
     Robert Johnson’s Noah “Horse” T. Simmons gets to let it more or less all hang out figuratively speaking in his showstopper, “Big Black Man.”
     Even the supporting cast is full of stars: Jessica Hindsley, Alicia Dunfee, Amanda Earls, Bob Hoppe, Matthew Peters, Tracy Warren, Scott Severtson…The list goes on and on!
     Neal Dunfee’s conducting of the just offstage BDT stage orchestra is phenomenal.
     Although what goes on is less important in many scenes than what comes off Linda Morken’s costume design is spot on. Oh and don’t be surprised if you see a lot of ‘ladies night out’ ladies with their eyeballs pasted to the…er stage.
     It's awesome fare onstage and on your table! 
     Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!Marlowe's Musings

Tickets for The Full Monty are on sale now. Prices start at just $37, and include both the performance and dinner served by the stars of the show. All tickets for opening weekend (Friday, September 6 - Sunday, September 8, 2013) are just $37. Group rate tickets and season subscriptions are available for all performances throughout the year. Call (303) 449-6000 or log on to www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com for reservations and/or additional details about the show.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company: 9/27 – 10/20

     Theresa Rebeck’s “Seminar” is a play about four wannabe writers who have paid a well-known literary figure to take a look at their work and tell them what they need to know to succeed as well. The instructor they’ve chosen is honest beyond words and eviscerates their work with pleasure after reading a few pages of the opening of each of their texts.
     The work is provocative and features one superior performance by one of Colorado’s best.  John Ashton turns in a studied portrayal of the embittered instructor. To this reviewer’s not so humble eye and ear Ashton’s delivery of the  role of the scruffy Leonard may well be the best performance by this artist to date. The co-author of one of Denver’s longest running plays “Murder Most Fowl,” Ashton shines in the role.
                                Devon James, John C. Ashton and Matthew Blood-Smyth
     The four actors cast in the roles of his students are artists to watch for in every program. They are: Sean Scrutchins(Martin), Devon James(Kate), Matthew Blood Smyth(Douglas) and Mary Kay Riley(Izzy).
     Rebeck’s play is full of wit, wisdom and vitriol. However … although it’s true that some critics may be able to get the flavor of a work in just a few pages one wonders if it might not be helpful to read the entire work in order to critique structure, theme and character. I’m just sayin.’
     The publicity for this show describes the production as having “mature language and brief nudity.” Perhaps it is right about the language being somewhat “mature.” The “brief nudity” was however, quite simply out of place and just plain wrong given the time and place.
     That said, the production is a worthy one coming with high recommendations from this reviewer’s desk. Ron Mueller’s set design speaks volumes presenting as it does the exaggerated contrast of the habitat of the neophyte writer and that of the seasoned professional. Stephen Weitz directs.

Venue: The Dairy Center for the Arts - Carsen Theatre
2590 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80302
For tickets call 303-444-7328 or go online at www.thedairy.org