Friday, July 3, 2020

     DISENCHANTED

     BDT STAGE: July 2020

Due to the social distancing caused by this pandemic, live theatre has been sadly missing from our lives.

      Now, however, BDT Stage producer Michael J. Duran is reimagining it, so that we can all access it right in our own living rooms.

     Starting on July 1, and running at least through the end of the month-we hope it will extend!- Duran has created a wonderful online streaming event with his production of DISENCHANTED, the hilarious send-up of the Disney princesses’ lives after their princes have come.

     The royal honeymoons are over and this reality therapy look at life in the aftermath is not looking very much like “happily ever after.”

     The bevy of beauties portraying these famous and very funny animated Disney princesses are Jessica Hindsley (Snow White), Tracy Warren (Cinderella), Annie Dwyer (Sleeping Beauty) and Maryjune Scott as Pocahontas/Mulan/Jasmine. Anna High plays the Princess who Kissed the Frog and Alicia K. Meyers is Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Ariel(The Little Mermaid.) Meyers also co-directs and co-choreographs the proceedings with Denver/Boulder favorite Matthew Peters.

     Linda Morken delivers the eye-popping costumes and Amy Campion’s scenic design is one for the (story)books. (sorry.)

     Neal Dunfee’s music direction and conducting of the just off and above stage, BDT Stage band (he also plays keys) with Jon Stubbs on bass and Nick Gnojek on drums, is Amazing!

     The book,music and lyrics penned by Dennis J. Giacino, made the show a big hit off Broadway. DISENCHANTED was nominated for the 2015 Outer Critics Award for Outstanding Off Broadway Musical as well as receiving the 2015 Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical.

    

Put the kids to bed early, because this is a more adult type of look at Disney's princesses.


 Go to the BDT Stage website and get your tickets now. Who knew that you could have the Hottest Ticket in Town playing right in your own living room this summer?

 

 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

       THE GRASSHOPPERS
       BUNTPORT THEATER: through Sunday, June 27

                    

Roughly twenty four centuries ago Aristophanes gave us Greek classic plays such as "The Birds," "The Frogs," and "The Wasps." 
Lucky for us, Buntport Theatre has given us "THE GRASSHOPPERS."
Just as Aristophanes showed us the Greeks with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Buntport holds up the mirror to those of us straddling the blades of grass in our contemporary world of pandemic.
The four comic geniuses of Buntport theatre: Hannah Duggan, Brian Collona, Erin Rollman and Erik Edborg produce theatre magic in the open air now. This indomitable troupe has created a production, which is not only socially distanced for the safety of the actors, but also accessible to the socially distanced audience observing from the safe space of their cars. A sanitized speaker is provided the theatergoers in each car so that we can hear the superb narrative being delivered by Erin Rollman (sometimes like that great narrator, Richard Attenborough.)

Although it is certain that swarms of theatregoers would love to see this production, the show's sold out so far. Nevertheless, once in a while a space opens up. That said, this reviewer recommends that you call and put your name on a waiting list. The space over at 8th and Lipan is centrally located, and well worth the trip.
It's a short 35 minute long piece that is wondrously entertaining. I will not "bug" you with all the ways in which these geniuses of the thespian variety amuse us! Let me just say that it's a theatrical treat that proves how invincible live theatre can be...even in a time of pandemic.
According to many, Shakespeare penned "King Lear" during the Black Plague.  

Not wishing to "bug" you with possible spoilers, I hope you will all get on the horn or the "web" and ask to be put on the waiting list...and that the show will be extended.

Thanks again to each and all at Buntport Theatre, for showing us all how invincible live theatre is, and that the possibilities are endless.


 




Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Marvin’s Room
Vintage Theatre: 2/28 – 4/5


The cast of MARVIN'S ROOM (photo credit: RDG Photograpy)


     Marvin’s Room, Scott McPherson’s touching play about a family brought together under traumatic circumstances, is currently on view at Vintage Theatre.
     Marvin’s been dying for twenty years. Bessie’s been taking care of him for that long. Bessie’s estranged sister, Lee, who lives in another town, can’t seem to deal with her teenage boys. When Bessie gets a dire diagnosis that requires her to call Lee, memories of the past collide with current events and old wounds cause family dynamics to erupt.
      Bernie Cardell’s direction brings out just the right blend of humor and heartache to make this one of the most emotionally rewarding shows onstage this month. In his Director’s notes, Cardell asks ‘who helps the caregiver when the caregiver gets sick?’
     Diane Wziontka gives a poignantly nuanced portrayal of Bessie.
     As the play opens, Dr. Wally, played with delightful good humor and disturbing amnesia by local favorite Andy Anderson, takes a second look at Bessie’s blood work.
     Adding comic relief where we need it most, Linda Suttle is hilarious as Bessie’s Aunt Ruth.
     Jacqueline Garcia gives us a lively portrait of Bessie’s feisty sister, Lee. We first get a glimpse of Lee as she visits her son Hank, portrayed by Braidy Kirkegaard.
   Kirkegaard shows a great deal of promise, and one hopes to see him again soon upon the Denver stage.
     In the intimacy of Vintage Theatre’s Bond-Trimble auditorium, we as audience get to know these characters in an up close and personal manner. The set by M. Curtis Grittner exudes a no-frills realism. Will Melendez’s lighting design is effective and unobtrusive. Luke Rahmsdorff -Terry’s sound design does a good job of bridging the scenes, without calling attention to itself.
     Even the smaller roles are cast well. They include: Gabriel Waits, OD Duhu, Allistair Basse and Bruce Smith. 

Worth a peek.Marlowe's Musings


Vintage Theatre presents
“Marvin’s Room”
A human, hopeful, and hilarious play about being there for each other.
Feb. 28 – Apr. 5*
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$20-$32
303-856-7830 or online at 
www.vintagetheatre.org
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE and other songs
Aurora Fox Arts Center: 2/21 – 3/15


     Jordan Leigh and Mary Louise Lee

As written by Marc Acito, Secrets of the Universe and other songs is awash with provocative and humorous dialogue and glorious song that invite us as audience to sit back and revel in the beauty of the mysterious Universe in which we live.
    This play about the lifelong friendship between Albert Einstein and opera singer Marian Anderson is not to be missed. 
After one of her operatic successes in 1937 Ms. Anderson was unable to get a room in a hotel because of racial discrimination. Hearing this news, Einstein gave her an invitation to stay at his home. Out of this brief moment, a friendship grew that would last a lifetime.
     Walking the tightrope of sly intellect and wry humor, Jordan Leigh nails the role of Albert Einstein with a performance that’s indelible! 
       Mary Louise Lee is luminous as Marian Anderson. Adorned by Linda Morken’s costumes, Denver’s first lady’s acting shines and her vocals soar. 
     The acting of Sharon Kay White as Einstein’s housekeeper, and of Marc Rubald as Ms. Anderson’s gay accompanist are as brilliant as always. And although they also play other famous people, one can’t help wishing that the playwright had given their characters more to do, so that their roles allowed for them to be onstage more. In numerous roles, Andrew Fischer slips with chameleon-like ease from one character to the next by the flip of a scarf or the donning of a hat.
      The stunning technical work is a character all unto itself. 
     Brandon Phillip Case’s scenic design rises up above the usual level of the stage giving us Einstein’s cozy intellectual living space with mahogany furnishings backed up by a grand piano one level up and behind it. 
      Seth Alison’s lighting design, including delicate projections of stellar sparks in outer space and fluid ribbons of Physics formulas and equations, enhance the show immeasurably.  
     CeCe Smith’s sound design delivers the sonic equivalents of the shifting tides of time and space superbly. 
     Helen R. Murray’s direction is superb. Her casting is impeccable!  Ms. Murray creates the illusion of a vastly multidimensional universe in which time and space are truly “relative” and utterly simultaneous. If one might offer one suggestion it would be that there be no intermission, allowing the illusion of the cosmic flow to continue to expand right up until final curtain.
     Ms Murray’s direction of this production reminded me of the excitement I used to feel at the Denver Center Theatre Company back in 1995 when there were such experimental productions as “Beethoven and Pierrot” and “The Stories of Eva Luna,” directed by such Czech directors as Pavel Dobrusky and his Norwegian counterpart, Per-Olav Sorensen. Shows in which the elements of wonderment and surprise were so great they would lift you right out of your seat!
     Don’t miss this show!

For tickets call 303-739-1970 or go online at AuroraFox.orgMarlowe's Musings

Sunday, February 23, 2020

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS
VINTAGE THEATRE: 2/7 -3/15
       
The cast of The Scottsboro Boys (photo credit RDG Photography)

The rich and thrilling season at Vintage Theatre continues with the regional premiere of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS. 
      Under the astute direction of Betty Hart, this show is as harrowing as it is entertaining. 
     With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by David Thompson, this musical has an edge reminiscent of Kander and Ebb’s other musicals, such as Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
     This reminder of the horrifying event that sparked the Civil Rights Act, describes the fate of nine African American lads who hop a train looking for adventure in 1931, and instead find themselves confronted by two lying southern girls who accuse them of rape.
    It’s a hard watch that’s infused with vaudevillian humor that’s both vulgar and garish. You know, the kind that makes you laugh and wince simultaneously? Much of this is delivered with brilliant panache by Denver favorites Dwayne Carrington (Bones) and Michael Peters (Tambo.)
     With his powerful acting and singing,    
Christopher Razor delivers a tour de force as Haywood Patterson. From “Starting in Chatanooga” to “Make Friends with the Truth,” to “You Can’t Do Me,” Mr. Razor’s performance shines!
     The two ignorant and malefic white girls, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, are played to hilarious eye-rolling perfection by Jayvon Rollerson and Randy Chalmers respectfully.  
     From the exhilarating first number to those describing a macabre nightmare and a longing for home, the score is exceptional.    
     Musical director Lee Ann Scherlong rises to the challenge once again, providing us as audience with sensational choral work as well as dynamic orchestral work from the offstage band.
      Phil Cope’s minimal set design and Kevin Taylor’s intense lighting design -it even includes footlights- allow the actors to really pop.
     Christopher Page-Sanders' choreography is inventively creative and precise.
     This reviewer had wondered if the director might have included mirrors to reflect us as audience in the proceedings. This was not needed however.  Director Hart has instructed Timothy Kennedy as the Judge and Governor  to run out into the audience periodically soliciting validation from audience members. “Are you having fun? Enjoying the show?” 
     Generally performed without an intermission, the decision to include a break is a brilliant one, allowing the audience a brief respite from the harsh subject matter.
     Adults looking for an evening of powerful musical theatre should run to get tickets!


Marlowe's Musings


Vintage Theatre presents
“The Scottsboro Boys”
A powerful musical based the landmark case that gave rise to the civil rights movement.
Feb. 7 – Mar. 15
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$20-$40
303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

Monday, February 17, 2020

WHEN WE WERE YOUNG AND UNAFRAID
THE JOHN HAND THEATER: FEB 15 – MARCH 14


L-R: Suzanne Nepi and Kelly Uhlenhopp

Firehouse Theater Company's production of When We Were Young and Unafraid is a powerful one. 
      Set on an island off the coast of Washington, Sarah Treem’s play focuses on a bed and breakfast that doubles as a safe house for battered women.  It’s 1972 and The Violence Against Women Act has not yet become law. The Equal Rights Amendment had just been passed.
     Agnes, the bed and breakfast’s owner/manager, has her hands full counseling and protecting the abused women who find their way to her ‘underground’ shelter. 
     Abby Apple Boes’ debut in the director’s chair is a stunner. Having cast the show to perfection, Boes elicits performances from her cast that are filled with raw emotion that’s real and credible.
     Mariel Goffredi portrays Mary Anne, a woman escaping an abusive relationship. Ms Goffredi, who stunned with her performance as Agnes in Vintage Theatre’s “Agnes of God,” will have you in tears with her superb work in this production.
     Suzanne Nepi’s grounded portrayal of the compassionate Agnes, serves as an anchor in this harbor full of angst and despair.
     Kelly Uhlenhopp turns in a powerful performance as Hannah, a militant feminist, who spices up the proceedings brilliantly.
     New to this reviewer were Sarai Brown as Agnes’s ‘daughter,’ Penny, and John Wittbrodt as Paul, one of Agnes’s boarders. (Mr. Wittbrodt is the only male actor in this otherwise female-driven play.)
     Jeff Jesmer’s realistic set design is the professional artistry that the Denver audience has come to expect from him.
      Rick Reid’s sound design stitches the scenes together flawlessly.
        Steve Tangedal does his usual magic with the lighting design. 
      Rachel Finley’s costume design is spot on.
     Not for the kiddos, this show takes a hard look at these women’s pain and terror. 

     It will make adults wince more than once
     Adult situations and language.
                              Marlowe's Musings

For tickets call 303-562-3232

Monday, February 3, 2020

Murder on the Orient Express
Arvada Center: 1/31 – 5/17
The cast of Murder on the Orient Express


Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS was published in 1934.      
     Adapted for the screen, this murder mystery was directed by Sidney Lumet in 1974, and by Kenneth Branaugh in 2017. Subsequently Ken Ludwig has adapted it for the stage.
     Brimming with delicious characters and overflowing with suspense, Mr. Ludwig’s adaptation has now been directed by Geoffrey Kent for Arvada Center.
     This production is a triumph in every respect. Director Kent has cast the show impeccably and paced it like a runaway locomotive. His ingenious choice to choreograph the scene changes by having the actors remove and/or replace stage furniture is carried out with the precision of a military drill. 
     Upon entering the Arvada Center’s black box theatre which has been reconfigured for in-the-round viewing, one finds himself within the illusion of an international train station in 1934. 
     Thanks to Brian Mallgrave’s inventive scenic design and Shannon McKinney’s superb lighting design one is transported visually.  
     It is, however, Jason Ducat’s sound design which gives us our auditory ticket. His is perhaps the most evocative sound design this reviewer has experienced in several years. 
     Mr. Ducat’s sonic choices took this reviewer back half a century to European travel by train – primarily in France. Ducat’s choices for sound effects and musical bridges between the scenes enhance the production immeasurably.
     The technical work for the set-up creates a sense of exhilarating anticipation in the theatregoer that gives one goosebumps even before we meet the actors. 
     Once the actors have entered, we are regaled with dazzling costumes that are the work of master costume designer Kevin Copenhaver. Although the entire cast is outfitted in wardrobe that is striking, the exquisite frocks for Ms. Weiss as Princess Dragamiroff and Annie Barbour as Countess Andrenyi, are truly eye-popping. The sensible chic costuming for Ms. Austgen as Mary Debenham is also extremely easy on the eye.
     The director has cast a very fine actor named Kevin Rich in the role of Hercule Poirot.  Rich does a fine job creating his own debonair take on Agatha Christie’s famous detective, without relying on the work of previous actors or our memories of the stereotypical Poirot.      
     Kevin Hart (Marlowe Award for his Willy Loman in The Edge Theatre’s “DEATH OF A SALESMAN”) is outstanding as Monsieur Bouc, the owner of the railway line. From his back-slapping bonhomie upon first meeting Poirot, to his character’s hysterical alarm about a possible scandal, Hart nails it.
     Edith Weiss, (Marlowe Award for her performance as Death in the Catamounts’ “EVERYBODY”), portrays Princess Dragomiroff. Ms. Weiss’s spectacular Russian accent, regal presence, and eye-rolling disdain for Greta Ohlsson, make it impossible to take one’s eyes off her.
      Emily Van Fleet gets to show off her acting skills as Greta Ohlsson, a missionary who’s an emotional basket case, by whining and dropping to the floor in hysteria at the slightest drop of the proverbial hat. 
    Annie Barbour plays Countess Andrenyi with an aloof - and alluring - demeanor that is spot on.
     Jessica Austgen, (Marlowe Award for her indelible Doreen in Arvada Center’s TARTUFFE), is luminous as Mary Debenham, the secret lover of Colonel Arbuthot. 
     Kate Gleason is appropriately loud and abrasive as Helen Hubbard, the character played by Lauren Bacall in the 1974 film. 
     Jake Mendes is well cast as Mr. Ratchet’s nervous secretary, Hector McQueen. 
     Zachary Andrews plays Colonel Arbuthnot, Mary Debanham’s paramour, with dashing presence and an excellent Scottish accent that leans into one’s memories of Sean Connery.    
     Josh Robinson plays the know-it-all Head Waiter and Michel, the Conductor, with his usual professional aplomb. 

For tickets call the Box Office at 720-898-7200 or go online at arvadacenter.orgMarlowe's Musings

Sunday, January 19, 2020

THE SQUIRRELS
Aurora Fox Arts Black Box Theater
January 17 – February 9,2020
L-R: Andrew Uhlenhopp and Rachel Turner
(Photo credit: Gail Marie Bransteitter)

Upon entering the auditorium of the Black Box Theater over at Aurora Fox Arts Center one is regaled with a breathtaking tree that sprawls out, reaches above and even wraps around part of the playing space. This magnificent tree (quasi forest) has been created by Technical Director and Scenic Designer Brandon Philip Case. For this reason alone one might suggest you hurry to get a ticket. 
       Jen Orf’s superb lighting design in tandem with Jason Ducat’s amazing sound design create a magic all on their own. Nicole M. Harrison’s furry costume design is delightfully spot on.
          Director Missy Moore has assembled a fine cast to create her vision of Robert Askins’ THE SQUIRRELS. 
     Stitched together by the amazing acting talents of Andrew Uhlenhopp as a goofy scientist who narrates the show, while also playing a squirrel named Sciuridae, this dark comic allegory touches on numerous topics. Among these are: sexism, classism and bigotry of every hue. And, yes, it also comments upon disregard for the animals and environment.
      There are some lovely performances in this apocalyptic comedy. Glamorous Kelly Uhlenhopp is most memorable as matriarch Mammalia. Her biomimetic stage movements and squirrel chittering astound.  Rachel Turner turns in a thoroughly enjoyable performance as Rodentia. This actor’s ability to transform herself into a squirrel physiologically squeaking, is amazing.  Leinie Rigg(Chordata), Joshua Levy(Scurius) and Hossein Forouzandeh(Carolinensis) round out this cast of tail swishing tree rodents.
       It’s the Grey squirrels vs. the Fox Squirrels in an only slightly veiled comparison to the human race.  
                    There are a lot of nuts in this show so please take this reviewer’s opinion with a grain of salt.

WHERE: The Aurora Fox Arts Center | 9900 East Colfax Avenue | Aurora, CO 80040
 FOR TIX: Box office – 303.739.1970 | Website ‐ AuroraFox.org

Sunday, January 5, 2020

FROST / NIXON
VINTAGE THEATRE PRODUCTIONS
JANUARY 3 – FEBRUARY 9

     L-R  Denis Berkfeldt, Scott Gaines, Natalie Kilkenny and John W.B. Greene (photo credit RDG Photography)

     On May 4, 1977,  millions of Americans watched an interview in which ex-president Nixon hoped to exonerate himself from the stigma of Watergate.  Mr. Nixon hoped that British television personality, David Frost would be the perfect interviewer to allow him to be forgiven by the American people.
     Politically speaking, could there be a more timely theatre production? I don't think so.
Remembering watching the news over our tv trays in the seventies and stressing about Watergate is not so very different from our distress at seeing the news of Trumpgate now.
     Director Craig Bond is to be lauded for his awareness of what it is that his audience needs.
     Catharsis.
     In other words we’re all so bound up by the horrors of this presidential administration that we have a need to release the pressure cooker of anxiety.
     In this case I would call Mr. Bond’s production of Peter Morgan’s drama FROST/NIXON as much psychological therapy as theatre. Those of us old enough to remember the overwhelm of the Watergate scandal, find ourselves once again depressed and mentally, emotionally and spiritually drained due to the constant flow of lies, bigotry and disregard of our constitution and our laws. Those of us who are too young to remember are learning how devastating this can be for the first time. 
     It’s a daunting task to put such a large cast and all the various locations against which these historical events transpired upon the intimacy of the Bond-Trimble Theatre. Nevertheless…director Bond’s skill in moving these actors – most of whom were new to this reviewer – both swiftly and gracefully into their various vignettes - is striking.
      The scenic design by Brian Miller never lets us forget that we are watching politics in the age of the television. With Miller's backdrop peppered with images of the small screen one can almost hear Marshall McLuhan, the media prophet of the time, saying: “The medium is the message.” Miller gives us media meeting rooms, presidential offices and a television studio, not to mention the interior of an airplane in flight. Rick Reid’s sound design puts us right up there with remarkable sonic atmosphere. Bond’s direction of a flight attendant thanking passengers for flying with his company has just the right low-level drone.
     Scott Gaines gives a portrayal of British talk show host, David Frost that alternates from cool celebrity arrogance to a barely subdued wire-taut tension. Both Frost's job and fortune were on the line with this adventure.
     It is, however, Dennis Berkfeldt, who steals the show.  The mannerisms of Nixon are all there. From the jowl-shaking to the finger wagging to the perfectly mimicked speech to the wiping of sweat from brow and upper lip.  Being an expert at all the memorable behavioral patterns of Tricky Dicky - Mr. Berkfeldt shines. 
     When I awoke the morning after the show, I felt as though all the steam had gone out of my political pressure cooker. However... I know that as soon as I open News on the internet or watch it on tee vee, it will start to build again. We may all need to see the show multiple times.
   

Vintage Theatre presents
“Frost/Nixon”
Jan. 3 – Feb. 9
In 1977 David Frost interviewed Richard Nixon. Millions waited to hear the truth.
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
$20-$32303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.com
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010