Monday, January 28, 2013

The Foreigner
Phamaly: 1/18 – 2/2

     At the start of Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner” Froggy LeSeur (Michael Leopard) and Charlie Baker (Jeremy Palmer) arrive at a Georgia fishing lodge. Since Charlie is scared to death of interacting socially with other people Froggy tells everyone at the lodge that Charlie is a foreigner who doesn’t understand English. In this way Froggy’s bashful buddy is able to be privy to what’s really going on in this little Georgia resort.

                 L to R: Daniel Traylor, Kathi Wood and Jeremy Palmer (Photo credit: Michael Ensminger)
     The show is mostly just frothy fun that had this reviewer doubled over with laughter. However… that doesn’t keep it from having a social conscience about the existence of hate groups in our country!
     Director Edith Weiss has cast this show impeccably and elicited performances from her fine cast that are golden.
     The crisp clear sounds of folk fiddlin’ and pickin’ came through the superb acoustic perfection of El Armstrong’s sound design right up until the soundboard crashed backstage with three loud pops that sounded like gunshots. The cast didn’t even miss a beat and kept right on cracking the audience’s funny bones as if nothing had happened. These actors are true professionals.
     Although the cast is endearing to a man/woman Jeremy Palmer steals the show in the role of Charlie Baker.
    This is a wonderfully wacky evening of theatre you won’t want to miss. Marlowe's Musings

Through Feb. 2. at the Aurora Fox, 9900 East Colfax Ave. 7:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays and Jan. 28, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $22-$29, at or 303-739-1970.

Also showing Feb. 24-26 at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets, $29, or 720-898-7200.

Blithe Spirit
Arvada Center for the Arts: 1/22 – 2/17

     There are so many things that are spot on in director Rod A. Lansberry’s production of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” one almost hates to mention its few flaws.
     Heather Lacy enchants as few can these days. She is ghostly perfection as the apparition of Charles Condomine’s first wife, Elvira. We’re talking "Glam" here in the sense of those gorgeous female superstars of the silver screen in the 1940’s and 50’s. Actually I was flipping back and forth from Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy.  Ms. Lacy’s work is breathtaking. This lady needs to be a permanent fixture on the Denver stage!
                                                                Heather Lacy
     Steven Cole Hughes is outstanding in his portrayal of Charles Condomine, a gentleman who is a sort of blasé nonchalant fly caught in the exasperating web spun by wives past and present - astral and earthly. Cole Hughes reading of the part is exceptionally wry and every speck of Coward’s wit is deliciously delivered. 
     Kate Berry’s acting is flawless! However … she is way too pretty to be cast as Condomine’s second wife, Ruth. Such a lovely woman could never fulfill the horsey aspect of Ruth that would satisfy the disparagingly equine references to her in the text.
     Boni McIntyre is hilarious as Edith the maid. Whether racing like a thoroughbred just out of the gate to answer a doorbell or attempting to decelerate this perceived inappropriate hyperactivity to a slow clip-clop McIntyre is a hoot.
Steven Cole Hughes and Heather Lacy 

     Although Leslie O’Carroll is one of this reviewer’s favorite female actors in town one regrets that she had so little time to create a more internalized portrayal. Ms. O’Carroll stepped in at the last minute when the previously cast actress had to step out due to illness. One admits that her character, Madame Arcati falls into the realm of the eccentric. However… this loud over-the-top portrayal grates more than it amuses.

     Chris Campbell is a master of the art of costume design. The entire cast is decked out just as Mr. Coward would have liked. Ms. Lacy’s ghostly gown is of the ethereal quality that could have graced the covers of the era’s leading fashion magazines.
     The scenic design is the usual eye-popper created by Brian Mallgrave. With it this fine artist manages two things. First he provides us as audience with the perfect milieu for these rich upper crust Brits in which everything fits perfectly and nothing’s out of place. Secondly as we’re driving home after the play he makes us awfully happy we’re on our way back to homey rooms with a certain degree of chaos in which books about the theatre are literally crawling out of the bookcase and in which there are at least accents of colors of the primary variety.
     Jon Olson’s lighting design is celestial. The sound design by Morgan McCauley is divine.
     I think you will agree with Mr. Coward and Mr. Lansberry that you can have heaven and hell on earth simultaneously.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ed, Downloaded
The Ricketson Theatre: 1/11 – 2/17

     “Ed Downloaded” is an intriguing comedy about a terminally ill man and the women who loved him. When Ed dies he is offered the chance of immortality by having his brain downloaded along with ten of his favorite memories to take into eternity. Once his widow becomes aware of the memories he chose, she takes cyber-action to reboot.
           J.D. Taylor and Grace Rex

      Playwright Michael Mitnick’s play is refreshingly innovative and unpredictable.
     Act One is engrossing and although there are a couple of concerns with the clarity of Act Two, this is a show that will fascinate.
     Sam Buntrock directs. You know. The artist who snagged a Tony and an Olivier nomination for directing “Sunday in the Park With George?”
      Buntrock’s direction of Act One is paced at a good clip. Act Two however, still needs a little tweaking.
     It’s just a tad unclear as to what this post mortem cyber battle of the deceased man’s love interests really accomplishes. One major reason for this is a heavy reliance upon Charlie I. Miller’s eye-popping projections to carry the story line as opposed to letting the characters fight it out in the dialogue.
     The lighting (Brian Tovar) and scenic designs(James Kronzer) serve up a visual banquet that dazzles. The very fine sound design is by Tyler Nelson.

        J.D. Taylor and Annie Purcell

        Director Buntrock has cast the show with three debuting artists. JD Taylor is Edward. Annie Purcell is Ed’s wife, Selene. Grace Rex is Marionette/Ruby, Ed’s girl friend.

     Taylor stands out as the terminally ill Ed. This young artist has a strong stage presence and one hopes to see him again soon upon the Denver stage.

Single tickets for ED, DOWNLOADED, on sale now, start at $35 (non-SCFD) and also are available for $10 (SCFD 10 for $10 program) and are on sale now.  To purchase, call Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.4100.  For groups of 10 or more, please call 303.446.4829.  TTY (for Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons): 303.893.9582.  Tickets also may be purchased at the Denver Center Ticket Office, located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby.  Buy and print online at  Student rush $10 tickets are available one hour prior to curtain with a valid student ID subject to availability.  Senior and military rush tickets are available one hour prior to curtain, subject to availability. No children under four will be admitted to any theatre.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

                               Mrs. Mannerly
                                 Miners Alley Playhouse: 1/11 – 2/17
                Left to right: Chris Bleau, Erica Lee Johnson and Deborah Curtis

       “Mrs. Mannerly” is a memory play about an etiquette class in which ten-year-old (playwright)  Jeffrey Hatcher was enrolled. In it we get to experience the hilarious autobiographical glimpses of an artist’s early life unlike anything since Federico Fellini’s screenplay for “Amarcord.”

     Deborah Curtis is smashing as the lady who runs the etiquette class. Whether commandeering a crew of youthful misfits, drunkenly revealing her past or fading into the older Jeffrey Hatch’s scrapbook, this lady shines.

     Chris Bleau is an ideal casting choice for the boyish Hatcher. His fresh faced good looks bespeak perennial youth. Bleau’s instincts are refreshingly on target in this role and his comic timing spot on.

     Erica Lee Johnson plays all the rest of the young Hatcher’s classmates with a chameleon-like virtuosity that is astounding to behold. Each and all of these characters come to vibrant life with just the addition of a pair of glasses or a hat.

     Richard H. Pegg is at the top of his directorial game with his work on this production.
His overseeing of all aspects thereof includes  an especially well executed lighting design by Karalyn ‘Star’ Pytel .

Chris Bleau and Deborah Curtis

     Bright humor abounds throughout.  The only thing missing on opening night was a true sense of pathos when the memory of Miss Mannerly fades out at final curtain.  Mr. Hatcher's writing is centered more on his journey of being the class good boy than  the relationship between the teacher and the boy. 

Miners Alley Playhouse presents

"Mrs. Mannerly"
A comic tale reveals truths about the face we present and our real selves.
Jan 11 – Feb 17
Fri. and Sat. @ 7:30 p.m. and Sun @ 6 p.m. (2 p.m. on Feb. 17)
$19.00 - $29.50; senior, student and group rates available.
303-935-3044 or online at
Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue (13th and Washington 2nd floor entrance on 13th) in Golden, CO.

Friday, January 11, 2013

War Horse
The Buell Theatre: 1/8 – 1/20
One hates to be a neigh-sayer but in everything save the outstanding puppetry and technical prowess “War Horse” disappoints.

    The story begins at the start of World War I when Albert’s horse Joey is auctioned off to the cavalry. After being shipped to France Joey is sent directly to the front lines. Albert is too young to enlist but sets out despite his age to find his beloved horse.
     Knowing that this show was received with critical acclaim both in London and New York this reviewer has waited excitedly for “War Horse” to appear upon the Denver stage.

     The Tony Award winning play was worth waiting for due to its equine stage machinery and technical virtuosity. Three exquisite actors breathed life into Joey and each of the other magnificent horses created by Handspring Puppet Company.

     However… due to a directorial pacing that only canters when it should gallop and some actors who found it difficult to speak the words of the script clearly the show became tedious rather quickly.
     This was exacerbated when the show was stopped part way through Act II due to a problem backstage which has thus far remained secret. Most of the audience stayed, but a few did leave during this second approximately ten minute long enforced intermission.
     If powerful acting and direction could have accompanied the outstanding technical work and superbly created equine puppets this show would be a thoroughbred. Perhaps the producers felt that Joey’s triumphant run for the roses in London and New York have earned him a more sedate life going out to pasture in Denver.
    See it for the puppets. Marlowe's Musings

Single tickets for WAR HORSE start at just $25. To charge by phone, call Denver Center Ticket Services at 303.893.4100. TTY (for Deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons): 303.893.9582. Groups of 10 or more, please call 303.446.4829. Additionally, tickets may be purchased at the Denver Center Ticket Office, located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at

Monday, January 7, 2013

       RFK – A Portrait of Robert Kennedy
                Vintage Theatre: 1/4 - 1/27

                       James O'Hagan-Murphy
                              Photo credit: Christine Fisk

     Dear reader, please be aware that the following review is going to be one superlative after another. If I rave – and I will! – know that this is one of the most outstanding productions onstage in recent memory.

      James O’Hagan-Murphy is electrifying as Robert Kennedy! The son of a mother and father who are both Irish Catholics, this actor merges our memories of Robert Kennedy with his own remarkably similar physiology and temperament. His portrayal of this great man is indelibly powerful and richly human.

     Director Terry Dodd’s choice to cast O’Hagan-Murphy in this one-man show is impeccable. Since his forte is Americana, Dodd is really in his element and brings a deft directorial touch to the proceedings.

     This is a production that needs to be seen by everyone.   Superbly crafted, this evening of theatre is inspired and inspiring!

     The play is full of tidbits that fill in the back story of the Kennedy dynasty's tumultuous reign in this country with moments only a well researched play can provide.

                                          James O'Hagan Murphy
                                        Photo credit: Christine Fisk

      It's lucky for the patrons who get to be swept back into the  events of the 1960s in our country. 

     Luke Slotwinski’s sensitive lighting design illuminates David Lafont's and Terry Dodd’s well appointed set design superbly without ever calling attention to itself. Luke Terry’s sound design is the professional work Denver audiences have come to expect from him.

     For those of us who remember where we were when the tragic events of the 60s took place this play is richly moving. 

     For those students of American History and Political Science  who are being introduced to RFK and such names as Hoffa, McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, the show will fascinate.
                                             James O'Hagan Murphy
                                           Photo credit: Christine Fisk

   Riveting, absorbing and memorable, Vintage Theatre starts our year out with a luminous piece.  Marlowe's Musings

RFK – A Portrait of Robert Kennedy 
This one-man show focuses on the last four years of Robert Kennedy's life.
Jan 4 – 27
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m.
$25 ($20 advance)
303-856-7830 or online at
NEW Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

                         Newark Violenta
                               The Edge Theatre: Jan 4 –Jan 26

                             Left to right above: Brock Benson, Robert Kramer, Verl Hite
                   Left to right in foreground: Ryan Goold, Christian Mast and Rick Yaconis
                                                      Photo credit to Rachael Graham

     I have to preface this review with the honest confession that after the tragedies in the news in late 2012 the last thing I wanted to do was to start the New Year off with anything violent. So I came to the theatre with a very negative mind set. It was going to be hard for this unknown (to me) playwright and very fine cast and director to win me over.
     And win me over they did! The Edge Theatre commissioned “Newark Violenta” and I am told that Jonson Kuhn “knocked this play out in a week.” Of course it would be tweaked in rehearsal. All plays are. But I have to say that this playwright has a gift for structure, dialogue and creating a sense of place that is undeniable. It’s possible that the viewer may compare this non-linear homage to the Poliziotteschi film genre (Italian stories of crime and mafia) to the screenplays of Quentin Tarrantino.
     So perhaps it goes without saying that those who get queasy stomachs at the sight of stage blood or who are offended by the activities of low life scumbags such as Jonson so accurately creates here should wait for a production that is less vulgar.
     The cast includes Denver favorites Robert Kramer, Christian Mast and Rick Yaconis.
     Verl Hite turns in a fine performance as Mafia Boss Frank Giallo. It’s perhaps this reviewer’s personal favorite of all of Hite’s work thus far.
     Ryan Goold is a hoot as an overweight mafia stooge with a penchant for saying just the wrong thing at just the right time in an incredibly hilarious manner.
     It is, however, Brock Benson who steals the show as a cocaine snorting pig, whose every word and action is riveting and yes, disgusting. Benson’s performance as Dick Callus is nevertheless hilarious and well, just plain brilliant! For his performance alone those who like this genre should rush to get a ticket.
     The shoe-shining set-up in scene one was a little slow getting the show started but hold on to your hats! After that it’s a roller coaster ride.
     Once we get past the first scene Richard Cowden does a nice job pacing this show. Lighting and Scenic Designer Kelly Hasbrouck manages to do wonders shifting our attention from a seedy motel room to a sleazy (Can you spell filth?) sex club.

The show is for Mature Audiences only!

Fri. / Sat. @ 8 p.m.; Sun. @ 6 p.m.
Tickets are $20 adult / $16 student & senior ($15 advance purchase)
303-232-0363 or online at
The Edge Theater, 9797 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood, CO 80215.  Free Parking. Marlowe's Musings