Thursday, November 27, 2014

“Songs For a New World”
Miners Alley Playhouse: 11/14 – 12/21

     It’s ‘a New World’ at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. 
The addition of new projectors has allowed for spectacular visuals of everything from celestial vistas to urban landscapes.
      Jonathan Scott-McKean is the genius wielding the technical wizardry requisite for this breathtaking step into the future. McKean also designed the cookie cutter set design that allows Mitch Samu and his glorious band to be installed onstage.
     Karalyn “Star” Pytel provides the very fine lighting design.
     The four person cast is superb.

     Jacquie Jo Billings soars through the solos of Woman 1 with soulful tenderness and heart felt passion.
          L-R: Kristen Samu and Jacquie Jo Billings

Kristen Samu gets both of the humorous entries as Woman 2. The dark humor in  “Just One Step” involves a woman kvetching about her husband as she contemplates jumping off a skyscraper. The tempo of the patter may remind you of “Another Hundred People” from Sondheim’s “Company.” In her hilarious “Surabaya Santa” a disenchanted Mrs. Claus, leaves the Jolly Old Elf because she is always left alone at Christmas.
     Rory Pierce delivers strong vocals as Man 2. His passionate rendition of “The World was Dancing” showcases this artist’s talent and brings back memories of his sensational work as El Gallo in “The Fantasticks.”
     In his Miners Alley debut, Matt Kok (Man 1) unleashes a distinctive voice that sometimes puts one in mind of that of Mandy Patinkin. It is to be hoped that this artist will be seen again soon upon the Colorado stage.
     The songs and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (“The Last Five Years” and “Parade”) run the gamut from tender to passionate to downright hilarious. They give us musical glimpses of what people do when Life starts to feel like you just hit the wall.
     Brenda Billings directs the proceedings with a transparent, sensitive touch.Marlowe's Musings

Miners Alley Playhouse presents
“Songs For A New World”
Nov. 14* - Dec. 21
(*Note date change from Nov. 7)
Fri./ Sat. @ 7:30.p.m.; Thurs., Dec 4, 11 &18 at 7:30 p.m.;
Sun., Nov. 16 & Dec 7 @ 6 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 30, Dec. 14 & 21@ 2:00 p.m.
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401
303-935-3044 or online at

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