Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Music Man
Town Hall Arts Center: 5/16 – 6/15
                                                Chris Boeckx as Harold Hill

     How does it get any better than this?

    Chris Willard’s “The Music Man” for Town Hall Arts in Littleton features an exhilarating performance by Chris Boeckx.  His version of Harold Hill as a weasel who’s surviving and thriving off the good will and naivete of old fashioned down-home widows and spinsters is full of stink eye expressions to which only we as audience are privy.
                                                 Maggie Sczekan as Marian

     Maggie Sczekan’s portrayal of Marian, the Librarian stuns. The term “auditory champagne" gets infused with a brand new effervescence as Sczekan’s soaring soprano delivers the likes of “Til there Was You” and “My White Knight … magnificently!
     The Shinn family is given sterling life by Brian Walker-Smith (Mayor Shinn,) LuAnn Buckstein (Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn) and Erica Lloyd(Zaneeta Shinn.)
     Damon Guerasio’s wide-eyed, high steppin’ Marcellus sounds and looks a lot like that of a skinny version of Buddy Hackett. (I mean a Hackett after a two-year success story with Weight Watchers!) Bravo!
     How often can a critic say that the children featured in a show are magnificent?
     Not very often.
     Here, however, we have two children who, if they continue to study in the field of musical theatre, will become stars.
     Sydney Fairbairn’s Amaryllis brings this nearly always overlooked character to startling vibrant clarity. Ms. Fairbairn was the star of Town Hall’s amazing “Annie” last holiday season.
                                          Carter Novinger as Winthrop

     Carter Novinger’s performance in the role of Winthrop is outstanding. It is to be hoped that Mr. Novinger will continue his work in the theatre as he shows tremendous promise.
     Donna Debreceni’s musical direction is as always, stunning. This time it is especially noticeable in the large choral numbers like "Iowa Stubborn” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon.”    Her work with the quartet singing the Barber Shop quartet numbers astounds! Kevin Hindley, Keegan Flaugh, John Mackey and Jacob Villareal are the outstanding harmonizers. And although La Debreceni’s musical tracks are great one so wishes for her presence leading her outstanding onstage band.
      Kelly Kates’ choreography is exciting and fresh and fills the stage to perfection. (This is the kind of correctly staged choreography that allows the audience to feel excited and comfortable at the same time. I remember one production of “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” at The Country Dinner Playhouse in which the athletic choreography was so expansive that it made a critic fear that one of those leaping brothers was gonna land in someone’s just offstage potato salad.)
     Jacob Welch’s lighting creates just the right mood in each scene. Especially in the ones that showcase Ms. Sczekan’s solos!
     Cindy Franke’s costumes –especially those for La Sczekan and La Buckstein- are eye-poppers. The outrageous hats Franke designed for Ms. Buckstein are hilarious.
     If there were one thing that this critic might wish to have been done differently it would be the number at the top of the show. Although the brass rectangle that served as the only physical illusion of the train in “Rock Island” was nicely polished, the production of this scene was not. In short… “Rock Island” does not rock! If anyone at Town Hall is still on staff from around fifteen seasons ago he will remember a much better scene in a somewhat less than good production.
2450 W. Main Street
Littleton, CO.
Call for tickets: 303-794-2787 or go online at townhallartscenter.comMarlowe's Musings

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Venus in Fur
Curious Theatre Company: 5/3 – 6/14
                            Left to right: Karen Slack and Brett Aune

     Go for the heightened awareness of malaise and imminent danger in this harsh unfriendly world full of shadows and smoke in which a playwright/director playing God to a seemingly innocuous late-coming auditioner gets the tables turned on him making him her worshipping footstool.
     Although I felt sure that Curious Theatre’s production of the successful off Broadway show about sado-masochism in the world of the theatre would be a favorite of mine I was at least partially wrong.
     Ms. Slack (Vanda) and Mr. Aune (Thomas) are both superb actors. However …  there is a lack of chemistry in their onstage relationship in this show. As a result this reviewer found himself more caught up in the enthralling technical virtuosity of the production.
     Ms. Slack is especially engaging in the lightning-quick transitions between her grasping, needy wannabe-cast actress and the 19th century character she reads in the audition.
     Aune’s nonchalance in the delivery of the playwright/director’s humorous phone monologue at the top of the play is hilariously delivered. His acquiescing to read the script opposite Vanda in her audition feels too quickly won.
   If you look closely you can literally see Chip Walton’s directorial choices as far as the beats in which he incrementally moves these characters in the downward spiral towards the inevitable dominance/submission and er climax. In these moments there is almost a nano-second suspended in time that could stop the action and instead propels it forward.
     The lighting, scenic and sound designs are in a word, formidable.
     Shannon McKinney’s lighting design with its external flashes of lightning accompanied by sound designer Jason Ducat’s crashing thunder creates an ominous ambience. McKinney’s lighting of the interior creates just the right amount of murkiness for an eerily shadowy foreboding. Michael Duran’s scenic design is just enough off-center to give us the creeps because of its intentional imbalance and claustrophobic feel.

 Marlowe's Musings

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Dixie Swim Club
Coal Creek Theatre of Louisville: 5/2 – 5/17

     “The Dixie Swim Club” is a hilarious and sometimes touching play that reminds us of the resilience of friendship. It presents us with five women that were teammates on their high school swim team who created such a strong bond that they stayed in touch all through their adult lives. They meet every summer to spend time, have fun and swim.
     Playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten delineate the characters beautifully. The expanded awareness we get of these women as they meet each summer includes all of their year’s trauma/drama seen through the lens of great good humor. There are some outrageously funny zingers that pepper the script and Director Nita Froelich has done a great job casting and pacing the piece.
     Led by Denver favorite Michelle Grimes in the role of Vernadette, the cast includes Lisa Lowrey(Dinah), Chris Pash(Sheree) and Jillian Price(Lexie) - three fine new (to this reviewer) actors who one hopes to see again soon.  Linda Button, who has been WAY too long absent from the stage, plays Jeri, an ex-nun who goes from celibacy to pregnancy in a very short time. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had the pleasure of seeing this artist onstage, and her performance is a complete delight.
     Costume designer Jackie Tisinai has outfitted these ladies in wonderfully character-defining outfits.  Some of the ones created for Ms. Button are outrageously funny!
    The space is comfortable and intimate and it’s just a short jaunt up to Louisville for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre.Marlowe's Musings

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Round-Heeled Woman
The Edge Theatre: 4/18 – 5/18
                               Jan Cleveland 

A woman named Jane feels she has been celibate way too long and puts an ad into the paper which says: “Before I turn 67 – next March- I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like.” As a result she receives dozens of replies. The play, written by Jane Prowse has been adapted from the book by Jane Juska. Eric Rohmer’s film “Autumn Tale” inspired the book.
     The sensibility and sensitivity of the sage and seasoned Rohmer, who is a renowned French director, is the key energy that is sadly missing from this production about reality therapy and sexy seniors.
     Director Scott Bellot has done well in the pacing of the piece. He’s even done well overseeing the technical aspects of the show. The scenic design by Justin Lane is full of images of clocks and the gears thereof that resonate with the script's awareness of the ticking of Jane’s biological clock. However …  as portrayed by Ms. Cleveland this lady is an attractive, well put-together woman who could find a man at any party or social gathering. Ms. Cleveland’s portrayal of the central character is charming, engaging and utterly delightful. So are the performances of Suzanna Wellens and Deb Hultgren who provide her with an on again off again support system throughout.
          The show is recommended for mature audiences because of strong sexual content and language.Marlowe's Musings

   The Edge Theater presents
“A Round Heeled Woman”
One woman's process of looking back and making up for lost time.
Apr. 18 - May 18
Fri./Sat. @ 8 p.m.; Sun. @ 6 p.m. Industry Night, Monday, May 5 @ 8 p.m.
No Show on Sunday, April 20
Tickets: Advance ticket sales price of $20 available through April 17
$22 advance $24 at the door
303-232-0363 or online at www.theedgetheater.com.
The Edge Theatre, 1560 Teller Street, Suite 200, Lakewood CO 80214. Free Parking.
For Mature Audiences.
Approximately 90 minutes, without an intermission.


Friday, May 2, 2014

The Ellie Caulkins Opera House 
MAY 3/6/9/11
Sandra Piques Eddy is Carmen

     Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” is one of the most beloved operas in the repertoire. It features a central character that is sexy, passionate, complex and well, just plain unforgettable.
     Sandra Piques Eddy’s portrayal of this fiery vixen is all this and more. This artist has a mezzo-soprano to die for and she clearly enjoys the flirtatious aspect of this character as well.  
     The highly acclaimed Ms. Piques Eddy is a singer who has performed upon the stage of the Metropolitan Opera as well as such regional halls as Boston Lyric Opera, Portland Opera and Opera Coeur d’Alene. Her acting is full of a seductive flair that will captivate the operagoer just as easily as it entices her Don Jose and Escamillo.

            Janai Brugger as Micaela

      Soprano Janai Brugger’s performance in the role of Micaela is thoroughly well acted and lusciously sung.

      Tenor Adam Klein’s singing and acting of Don Jose is powerful!  Excellent throughout, Klein is especially riveting in the climactic scene.

              Adam Klein as Don Jose

     Bass-baritone Ryan Kuster portrays the handsome, young bullfighter Escamillo delivering the “Toreador Song” with a lustrous brio that’s thrilling!
Ryan Kuster as Escamillo  

     This production features an oval playing space behind which Robert Wood conducts a magnificent orchestra playing Bizet’s rousing and tuneful score. The chorus is placed just behind and slightly above the orchestra.
    It is to be hoped that everyone who loves opera will get to experience Opera Colorado’s “Carmen.”
     Once the glorious composition that Bizet created gets into your head it will never leave you. This may be the only opera in the repertoire where you go in humming the tunes!

Opera Colorado’s production of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” is playing May 3/6/9 and 11 at:
The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1101 13th Street, Denver Colorado
303.468.2030 or go online at operacolorado.org
Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pmMarlowe's Musings