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

Saturday, September 28, 2019

EVERYBODY
The Catamounts: through October 16

EDITH WEISS as DEATH (Photo Credit: Michael Ensminger)
     Brandon Jacob-Jenkins' play,"Everybody,"now on view at The Dairy in Boulder, is based upon a 15th century morality play called "Every Man."  Each night, by lottery, a different member of the cast wins the chance to be the central character and deal with the hopes and fears of the mortal self in Time.
      As in the earlier version, God summons Everyman by means of his side kick, Death. 
      The action takes place in the center of a large circle of straight back chairs in which audience members may (or may not) find themselves seated next to one of the cast members.
      Karen Slack opens the evening by engaging the audience with her dramatic flair, first by reminding the audience of points of theatre etiquette such as silencing cell phones and unwrapping candy. In a very short while she has become an arrogant, commanding God in the midst of stunning flashes of light provided by lighting designer Jacob Welch and thunder thanks to Kenny Storms' sound design.
     As God, Ms. Slack summons her side kick,Death, played by the hilarious Edith Weiss, and commands her to do her grim duty. It is to be noted that these two women are two of Colorado's premier talents and when they're onstage the show is absolutely riveting. When they leave the stage we long for their return. And they do!
     Hanging above the playing space are numerous bolts of colored fabric and props by Amanda Berg Wilson.
     Tricia Music's costume design includes, among other things, a giant gold lame trophy in which Jason Maxwell delivers one of the provocative monologues.
      The delightful cast also includes a wonderfully animated Peter Trinh as well as Tresha Farris, Hossein Forouzandeh, Ilasiea Gray, Lily Gruber and Bernadette Sefic.
      Also...there is a scene near final curtain involving a dance that you simply must see - and that you will never forget! (No spoilers here.)
            Be sure to arrive early enough to find a parking space. The various plays and art installations at The Dairy are extremely popular!!!
      I got there an hour early and could not find parking for blocks. Luckily the very kind manager of Dominos Pizza on Canyon and 26th allowed me to park in one of her parking spaces. So grateful!
      Go support The Catamounts' production of EVERYBODY.



        For tickets call 720-468-0487 or go online at thecatamounts.org

Sunday, September 22, 2019

THE ADDAMS FAMILY
VINTAGE THEATRE: SEPT 13 – OCT 27

Eddie Schumacher as Uncle Fester with the Addams Family Ancestors

Vintage Theatre’s production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a Socco Boffo Smash!

     Let me state my case.

      Exhibit A: the director. Bernie Cardell has directed the proceedings with consummate skill with regard to casting Eddie Schumacher as Uncle Fester, Liz Brooks-Larsen as Morticia and William B. Kahn as Gomez. Come on!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this.  

                    
William B. Kahn and Liz Brooks-Larsen

And Cardell’s pacing is outrageously well done…something of a tango one might say.
     Exhibit B: the technical work is AMAZING! Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry’s costume design resurrects the Addams Family ancestors (the chorus) in glamorous garb that makes them all white as a ghost with a delightfully macabre make-over to die for. (Sorry.)
       Choreographer Heather Westenskow  gives these dancing dead (the corpse de ballet?) some routines that are filled with true joie de mourir. (Sorry again.)    
      The scenic design by Ryan Walkoviak entombs them all in a house haunted by the je ne sais quoi of a dungeon combined with that of a cemetery. 
     Exhibit C: The superb music direction by Brandon Bill, who keeps those boys and ghouls stepping out of the closet and onto the stage with awesome musical accompaniment by the just-off-mausoleum stage band that keeps them all spinning in – and out – of their graves. 
      Exhibit D: Lighting designers Steve Tangedal and Will Melendez give the cast just enough  shade to appear as death warmed over.
       As for the acting and singing of Mr. William B. Kahn and Liz Brooks-Larsen, you will adore both his and hearse! 
      The brilliant Ms. Alexa Marie Rodriguez (Wednesday) and Mr. Gabriel Waits (Pugsley) inflict their torturing performances with gleeful abandon.
     But it’s not all so grave!  Without giving out any spoilers let me just say that the actors who play the normal characters in the play are excellent as well. They are: Faith Siobahn Ford(Alice Beineke), Doug Herman(Mel Beinike) and Elisha Horne(Lucas Beineke).

     I rest my case… 

          Run to get tickets! (People are dying to get in.)Marlowe's Musings

Vintage Theatre presents
“The Addams Family” 
The ghoulish American family is delightful in this devilish musical comedy.
Sept. 13 – Oct. 27
Fri., Sat. and Monday, September23at 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.




Friday, September 20, 2019

PLAY ON
1245 CHAMPA STREET STUDIO:   Sept. 19-28
 
Laura Jo Trexler’s PLAY ON is  A MUSICAL ROMP WITH SHAKESPEARE’S WOMEN.  It’ s all that and so much more!
    Ms. Trexler, who wrote this enjoyable and totally accessible piece, accompanies herself on the piano all the while singing of the wonders and woes of Shakespeare’s female characters.
     Trexler's songs are as emblematic of women's struggle to free themselves from the chains of the past as those sculpted slaves Michelangelo created were to free themselves from the marble.
     Now on view at 1245 Champa Street Studio, you can expect an innovative and diverse evening of musical theatre, addressing both the comic and the tragic.
     Trexler will entrance you with her multi-faceted performance.  The stylistic differences she uses to evoke Shakespeare's women in  her lyrics, vocals and acting are legion. Although she leans into the Elizabethan text, her inclusion of modern English makes all this a rare treat not only for the fan of Shakespeare, but also for the theatergoer just looking for an evening to sit back, relax and enjoy.
     PLAY ON was a huge hit at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and is scheduled to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next. 
      Don’t miss this rare chance to learn the inner points of view of Shakespeare’s women.      From a Juliet, who wishes to make her own choices in love, instead of having an arranged marriage to the dark dream of Ophelia, from a smitten Rosalind to a frightening Lady MacBeth all sung and acted by this accomplished actor/singer/writer.  

For tickets go online at andtototoo.org or call 720-583-3975.Marlowe's Musings



Friday, September 13, 2019

MISS SAIGON
THE BUELL THEATRE: 9/11 – 9/22

L-R: Anthony Festa and Emily Bautista (photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

MISS SAIGON explodes across the stage of The Buell Theatre with soaring vocals, brilliant acting and astonishing technical effects!
   The book for MISS SAIGON by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, leans heavily upon the libretto for Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY. This time, however, the geisha and American lieutenant are replaced by a 17-year-old bar girl and an American G.I.
     The whirlwind romance and subsequent marriage of Kim and Chris is followed by a harrowing story in which we as audience are brought face to face with the horrors of the Viet Nam War and its devastating results – not just upon the adults of the time, but also upon the children born of this horrible time. 
     Just as in the Puccini opera, there are obstacles galore for these two lovers.
     The music for the show by Claude-Michel Schonberg, with lyrics by Alain Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr., is powerful and dramatic in its reflection of the sweep of history, as well as poignant and heartfelt describing the romance.
     Nominated for eleven Tony Awards, the show won three.
     Emily Bautista is luminous as Kim. Anthony Festa delivers a powerful portrayal of Chris. Festa’s singing of “Why, God?” as he tries to come to terms with the timing of his falling in love with Kim and his orders to return to the states, is superb. Ms. Bautista’s singing of “Little God of My Heart,” is unforgettable. Together Ms. Bautista and Mr. Festa give us magnificent duets such as “Sun and Moon” and “The Last Night of the World.” 
     Red Concepcion’s performance in the role of The Engineer is indelible. Briber, hawker and pimp, the Engineer is the consummate conniver and survivor. Concepcion’s performing of “The American Dream” is breathtaking!
     J. Daughtry gives a dynamic performance as Chris’s buddy, John. Mr. Daughtry’s singing of the heart-rending “Bui Doi,” revealing the plight of children born of the union of American soldiers and Vietnamese women, will tear you up.
     Jinwoo Jung’s acting of the role of Thuy is exceptional.
     It’s thrilling to see local actors Matthew Daley (ensemble) and Rae Leigh Case(swing) in this touring production.
     Mick Potter’s sound design is outstanding.
    Under the baton of conductor Will Curry, the orchestra in the pit finds perfect balance with the actors/singers onstage. 
     The impeccable casting and quick pacing of director Laurence Connor creates just the right urgency to drive this heart-wrenching story forward.
Run to get tickets!Marlowe's Musings



For tickets call 303-893-4100 or go online at denvercenter.org

Thursday, August 8, 2019



ANASTASIA
The Buell Theatre: August 7 -August 18


                  Lila Coogan and Stephen Brower (Photo credit:Evan Zimmerman)

             ANASTASIA is "a journey to the past" well worth the taking!"
     Terrence McNally, the playwright who just received a Life Achievement Award at the last Tony Awards celebration, is a master of the craft of writing the book for a musical. Anyone having seen RAGTIME knows that. However... although McNally's adaptation of the script for the 1997 animated film is a good one, it never quite rises to the brilliance of his work on the aforementioned Tony Award winning musical.  (It is to be noted that this critic did not see the animated film on which this musical is based.)
     Eschewing most of the disturbing events and individuals of the era (Rasputin isn't mentioned.) the book presents us with a mostly upbeat fairy tale about the myth that Anastasia survived the slaughter of the Tsar and his family.
     It's no surprise that the tuneful score and lyrics by the artistic team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens intoxicate us when one considers their other successes: "Ragtime,"" Seussical" and "Once on This Island."
     As Anya, Lila Coogan does a superb job in the acting and singing of the title role.
     Both Jason Michael Evans (Gleb) and Stephen Brower (Dimitry) present us with dynamic stage presence and powerful vocals.
     Edward Staudenmayer as Vlad leads the ensemble in "Paris Holds the Key (to your Heart)" at the top of Act Two. It's a rousing and uplifting number that leaves the audience cheering. Mr. Staudenmayer anchors the show with a commanding stage presence  of the triple threat variety. 
     Tari Kelly, whom you may remember for her brilliant work as Judy Garland in Arvada Center's "End of the Rainbow," is  hilarious as Countess Lily.  Her Carol Burnett-like schtick in the number "The Countess and the Common Man," is indelible.
     Just a couple of the successful offerings in Aaron Rhyne's breathtaking projection design  are: dizzying ascents through such Parisian landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and thrilling train rides through northern European landscapes. Rhyne has gossamer spirits of the dead Romanoffs haunt the proceedings like steam and smoke.
     The costumes are eye-popping indeed! From the magnificent white gowns of the Romanoff family to the frocks of Ms. Coogan as Anya, Linda Cho's costume design shimmers and sparkles in such a way as to delight.
        The orchestra sounds great under the baton of conductor Lawrence Goldberg.
     The flashes of vermillion in Donald Holder's lighting design accompanied by the approaching explosions in Peter Hylenski's sound design give us as audience all we need to know about the oncoming Bolshevik revolution.  Alexander Dodge's scenic design is flawless.
        Peggy Hickey's choreography charms. Nevertheless ... one might wish for a bit more realism in the execution of the stage combat in the scene in which Anya and her Dimitry fight off the street thieves.
        ANASTASIA is a crowd-pleaser that is not to be missed!Marlowe's Musings
      For tickets call: 303-893-4100 or go online at denvercenter.org

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

                    EMMA
                 VINTAGE THEATRE: 7/12 – 8/18
               
                Sara Risner and Stephen Krusoe

Sara Risner is luminous as EMMA in this romantic comedy by Rachel Atkins, which is based upon the novel by Jane Austen. Whether her character’s advising those around her on social manners or playing and singing at the piano, one can simply not take his eyes off her.
     One can always depend upon director Craig A. Bond’s eye for impeccable casting.
     Damon Guerrasio is as amusing as Mr. Elton as Victoria Pace is irritating as his wife. Ms. Pace leaves one and all breathless as she steals a number of scenes just by being the most off-putting character in memory.
     Stephen Krusoe anchors the piece with a solid portrayal of Mr. Knightly.
     Bethany Luhrs is a total delight as Emma's  naive young friend, Harriet Smith.
      It’s a joy to see Wade Livingston onstage once again as Mr. Woodhouse, Emma’s father.
      Chip Winn Wells adds much to the proceedings as the aged mother of Miss Bates, a winning Christine Kahane.
     Director Bond has also created an eye-pleasing set which manages to give us the illusion that the intimate Bond-Trimble theatre contains a sprawling playing space. Even though it's not. Bond’s design allows for a fluid progression of scenes that does not require the constant black-outs less talented directors might have chosen. As a result, the show moves at a steady clip and the audience remains engaged throughout. The set is beautifully appointed with antique furniture and art work of the era.
    Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry provides us with elegant costuming for the cast. The ladies’ frocks, especially those designed for Ms.Risner, dazzle.
     Rick Reid’s sound design embellishes the proceedings with the sounds of the horses and carriages arriving and departing.


Vintage Theatre presents
“Emma” 
Jane Austen’s determined matchmaker falls into her own entanglements!
July 12 – Aug. 18
Fri/Sat and Monday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$16 - $32 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.




BILLY BUDD
CENTRAL CITY OPERA: July 13 – August 2
 
         Joshua Hopkins as Billy Budd 
                          ( Amanda Tipton Photography)

Central City Opera’s current production of Benjamin Britten’s maritime masterpiece, BILLY BUDD, blows the roof off the opera house! It is in all ways exceptional!
     Director Ken Cazan must receive the highest praise possible from this reviewer’s desk. His impeccable casting and attention to detail, as well as his honoring of Britten’s stunning composition and E.M. Forester’s and Eric Crozier’s brilliant libretto, is simply the highest and best imaginable.
     The gorgeous Napoleonic period costumes by Jonathan Knipscher place us right in the middle of the maritime war with France.
     The surreal projections done by Sean Cawelti upon the sails of the ship enhance the exceptionally well- designed set created by Takeshi Kata and David Martin Jacques (also the lighting designer) in such a way as to give us as audience the illusion of being aboard a British man o’ war.
      It’s a memory piece in which the dying Captain “Starry” Vere, captain of the British war ship, Indomitable, struggles with his guilt about not having saved the indentured sailor, Billy Budd, from execution. The handsome young sailor, beloved by all except the master at arms, John Claggart, was brought up on charges of inciting mutiny that were cruel fabrication. Billy becomes agitated at his inquisition and his emotions cause him to stammer. In his unsuccessful struggle to speak and reject this false accusation, Billy strikes out at Claggart, accidentally killing him.
     Vere, a man of principle and philosophy, adheres to the letter of the law and allows Billy to be executed.
        Joshua Hopkins’ singing and acting of the part of Billy Budd is sublime.
      Daniel Norman's superb tenor delivers the part of Captain Vere from the haunting depths of a troubled conscience.
       Kevin Burdette's acting and singing of the heinous master-at-arms, John Claggart, is masterful indeed!
     The orchestra in the pit, conducted by Maestro John Baril, is the stuff of dreams.
   The choral work of this all-male cast is Powerful beyond words
     Sung in English with English supertitles, the work is easily accessible to one and all.
     I grieve for any lover of theatre or opera in Colorado who does not see and hear this wondrous work.

     There are only a few performances remaining. Do yourself a favor and run to see it.


For tickets call 303-292-6700 or go online at centralcityopera.orgMarlowe's Musings

Sunday, July 7, 2019

MADAMA BUTTERFLY
CENTRAL CITY OPERA: 7/6 – 8/4 (go online to see what dates have evening performances and/or matinees.)



    L-R  Cody Austin and Raquel Gonzales

     We in Colorado are truly blessed to have easy access to Central City Opera. It’s a consistently excellent opera company performing in the intimate jewel box of an opera house in historic Central City.
    Besides being up close and personal with the actors, audience members are regaled with outstanding acoustics. How does it get any better than that?
     You owe it to yourself to see and hear this dynamic production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly now on view at the historic Central City Opera house.

     Raquel Gonzalez portrays Cio-Cio San with a youthful ease and allure that’s accompanied by a voice that makes those well-known arias like “Un Bel Di” seem as if one is hearing them for the first time. Ms. Gonzalez’s voice is truly a silken ribbon of auditory champagne throughout. Brava!
     Cody Austin’s portrayal of Lieutenant Pinkerton blesses us with one of the more spectacular tenors to have been heard over the last several seasons. And there have been some superb ones!
     Troy Cook, whose great baritone we heard in his performances as Gaylord Ravenal in SHOWBOAT and Captain Von Trapp in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, delivers an outstanding Sharpless. 
     Mezzo Annie Rosen’s acting and singing as Suzuki is heart wrenching.
     Under the baton of conductor Adam Turner, the playing of Puccini’s glorious score by the Central City Opera orchestra in the pit is scrumptious to the ear.
      Once again maestro David Martin Jacques casts his magic spell enhancing the moods with the lighting design. 
     A stunning traditional reading of this emotionally moving work, the superfluous imaginings of the demise of Cio-Cio San’s father preceding the play in the 2010 production have been scrapped. This present director, Alison Moritz, focuses on the essence of the libretto with an eye to the influence of social change. She presents us with individuals caught up in the uncertainty of the moment in which Japan opened her doors to the West.In the previous decades only a few Dutch merchants had been allowed entrance into her ports. One of the ways in which Director Moritz summons this idea in visual terms is by having her scenic designer, Dany Lyne, present a number of scenes through a bamboo scrim or curtain. 
     This is Great Art that is unmissable for anyone loving Puccini. And who doesn’t?
So go and support the most consistently excellent opera company in Colorado. What could be better than driving up into the fresh mountain air and all that gorgeous Colorado scenery to listen to one of the greatest examples of Grand Opera in the repertoire?

p.s. and don’t forget… The regional premier of Benjamin Britten’s maritime masterpiece, BILLY BUDD, opens next week at the opera house in Central City. This is a once in a lifetime chance to see and hear this swashbuckling work based upon Herman Melville’s masterpiece. 


For tickets call the box office at 303-292-6700 or go online at centralcityopera.org

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

               CROWNS
                VINTAGE THEATRE: 6/28 -8/4
                     
  

                          Sonsharae Tull 

In Vintage Theatre’s production of Regina Taylor’s CROWNS, based upon the novel by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, a young black woman takes a trip to the South to spend time with her aunt. 
     CROWNS is a gospel musical in which hats become a metaphor for just about every conceivable occasion. There are special hats for baptisms, weddings and funerals. There are nods to hats recalling the days of African rituals and of the time of slavery as well. Hats even figure into the memories of Biblical times.  It’s a musical that celebrates black history and identity.
      Betty Hart, who directed last year’s musical hit, “Lady Day at the Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” provides deft direction for playwright Taylor’s insightful play.
     The music direction by Trent Hines is his usual professional work.
     Christopher Page Sanders’ choreography – and the dancing thereof – is a delight throughout.
      In Director Hart's casting of this ensemble  there is no weak link. The cast includes Michaela Murray(Yolanda),Mary Louise Lee(Velma),Rajdulari(Mother Shaw),Jasmine Jackson(Mabel),Sonsharae Tull(Wanda), Adrienne Martin-Fullwood(Jeanette) and Michael Peters(Man). The vocals performed by each and every one of these very talented actors are ear-pleasing indeed. 
     Phil Cope’s scenic design gives us the beautifully appointed interior of a southern Baptist church, complete with gorgeous stained glass windows illuminated by Kevin Taylor’s excellent lighting design.   
     The Sunday frocks created for these ladies by costume designer Erika Daun are eye-popping. Likewise, Milliner Sarah Havens has created a stage full of hats that are works of art all unto themselves. Truth be told, Ms. Daun and Ms. Havens give the show the eye-pleasing allure of a fashion show.
     
      Playwright Taylor has an impressive body of work that has garnered four Washington D.C. Helen Hayes awards as well as a Golden Globe, an NAACP Image Award and two Emmy nominations.Marlowe's Musings

Vintage Theatre presents
“Crowns” 
Hats to tell tales about family, love, and life!
June 28** – Aug. 4
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$19 - $38 
www.vintagetheatre.org or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.

Monday, May 27, 2019

QUEEN OF CONSPIRACY
MINERS ALLEY PLAYHOUSE: 5/17 - 6/23

Abby Apple Boes and Damon Guerrasio 
(photo credit: Rachel D. Graham)

     Playwright Josh Hartwell has done an admirable job with his intriguing new play, QUEEN OF CONSPIRACY.  More than just an homage to conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell, the play is an exhortation for us as individuals to pay attention to our politics and to take action when we begin to connect the dots. No matter which president or political official has been assassinated the government commissions never tell the people the truth. We never get a valid explanation of which individual or group of individuals committed the crime. So even if a conspiracy theorist makes a few errors, it’s heartening when one like Ms. Brussell strikes a bulls eye with something as important as Watergate.
      Denver favorite Abby Apple Boes turns in a brilliant performance as Mae Brussell. 
     Bill Hahn delivers a sober intellectual and a hilariously quirky airhead professor with consummate skill.
     With his curly black wig and rocker swag, Damon Guerrasio is a superb dead ringer for Frank Zappa.
    Heather Lacy plays Olivia, a devotee of Ms. Brussel, whose daughter,Rachel, played by Chloe Mcleod, gradually emulates. Ms. Lacy stepped in at the last minute to take the place of an injured actor, who was prevented from appearing due to her injury. Ms. McLeod played Joan in Miners Alley's critically aclaimed production of "FUN HOME."
    You will remember Sinjiin Jones, who portrays Carson, Chloe’s boy friend, for his fine performance in "DISTRICT MERCHANTS."
    Jonathan Scott McKean did his usual magic with the scenic design. He is aided in no small part by Elizabeth Scott-McKean’s scenic dressing, which places us solidly in the 1970s.     
     Scott McKean also did the dynamic sound design, which accompanied by Vance McKenzie’s dramatic lighting design, conspire (sorry) to create explosive snapshots that rivet.
     Director Len Matheo has cast the show impeccably.
    Conspiracy theory is all over the internet, yet this is the first this reviewer has heard of Ms. Brussell. Always interested in this phenomenon, one wishes to know more about her.
    This play will send you racing for your computer to learn more about Ms. Brussell. In the process you may run across Nancy Lieder, a contemporary conspiracy theorist who channels a race of aliens known as the Zeta Reticuli. Ms. Lieder discusses connections to everything from national elections to an upcoming planetary collision with an asteroid on zetatalk.net.            

                          Truth or fiction? You decide.
     
     QUEEN OF CONSPIRACY deserves your attendance. Don’t miss it.

Miners Alley Playhouse 
The World Premiere of
"Queen of Conspiracy" 
The compelling, untold, and true story of Mae Brussell, considered to be the one-time Queen of Conspiracy.
May 17 – June 23
Thurs./Fri. /Sat. at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m.
$17 - $32 
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401
303-935-3044 or online at minersalley.com.