Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Wizard of OZ
Candlelight Dinner Playhouse: Through September 11

                           Annie Dwyer 

     Kent Sugg has directed this “Royal Shakespeare Company” version of Frank Baum’s classic with an eye to the simplicity and whimsy of the piece. As a result, it comes off beautifully.
      Christy Oberndorf performs the iconic role of Dorothy Gale.  A sophomore at UNC, this artist is a little taller than our usual Dorothy. Nevertheless… she has an endearing presence and a great set of pipes for her singing of “Over the Rainbow.”
       Deylan Dean, also a student at UNC, is a lithe and limber Scarecrow.
L-R: Christy Oberndorf and Markus Warren

     Hilariously bashful as the Cowardly Lion, Markus Warren turns in another stellar performance. He’s the guy you’ll remember for his stunning portrayal of Cinderella’s Prince in Candlelight Playhouse’s smashing “Into the Woods.”
     Stephen Bertles not only choreographed the show, but also does a great job tapping his tin (ten?) toes as The Tin Man.
     Annie Dwyer’s characterization of that nasty old dog-hating Miss Almira Gulch segues seamlessly into the Wicked Witch of the West in a performance that makes one see and hear why she is such a favorite in the musical theatre productions in Colorado. Brava!
     Melissa Swift Sawyer (the star of Denver’s longest running production, “Always Patsy Cline,”) is a scintillating, silver-throated Glynda.
      Patrick Sawyer does a great job with his take on the psychic professor in Kansas and appears later as the at first terrifying, and then humbled, Wizard in Oz.
       TJ Mullen is hilarious as the Munchkin Mayor! Matt LaFontaine and Sara Grover are just two of the super talents posing behind green glasses and long green bangs in the Emerald City.
       Judith Ernst and Linda Morken’s costume design is a delight.
       The live orchestra conducted by Wendy Wheaton brings those old familiar tunes to life dynamically.
Scenic Designers Ranae Selmeyer and DJ Selmeyer have created a charming set that gives us as audience the illusion that Frank Baum’s classic tale is being played out in a pop-up story book. Great lighting (Shannon Johnson) and Music Direction (Nicholas Gilmore) enhance the experience.
          You’re never too old to fall in love again with “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s amazing how this show is able to turn adult viewers who are young at heart into kids again. And that’s just what Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s excursion from Kansas to OZ and back again does. If there were one small criticism it would be that one wishes for more of the visual with regard to the twister. Although Dorothy’s house is given a couple of spins before she finds herself in Oz, the tornado is never visualized.
     It’s the wonderful auditory tornado described by the sensational instrumentation of the live orchestra that takes us there.
     One has to mention the kitchen since this venue is a dinner playhouse. The dinner – in my case their signature Candlelight Grilled Prime Rib Au Jus- was scrum diddly! 
     So in a nutshell…when you go to Candlelight Dinner Playhouse you can expect superb theatre and an awesome meal served by a great wait staff in a magnificent venue.
     And it’s true that upon entering the theatre you’ll feel just like Dorothy coming in off the plains and entering OZ.

Spoiler Alert: Your experience at Candlelight could be so enjoyable you don't wish to go home.
 Just sayin.’  Marlowe's Musings 

Sunday, August 14, 2016


BDT Stage’s exhilarating production of “Footloose” is the perfect antidote to the election year blues!

Based upon the movie that starred Kevin Bacon, this musical tells the story of Ren and his mother ‘s  move from the big city to a small town in which dancing is forbidden. And as in any small town “Somebody’s Eyes are Watching You” at all times.
So it seems that a few years prior to our story the local pastor’s son and three other youths were killed in an auto crash after a party. The result? A law was enacted to keep kids from dancing and therefore safe from alcohol, drugs and …death. So it’s up to Ren to overturn this crazy law and lead his fellow classmates to the return of freedom and fun. Ultimately it’s all about bridging the generation gap and healing the emotional wounds of the past.

Jean-Luc Cavner (Photo Credit: Glenn Ross)

      Jean Luc-Cavner is an adorably amped up version of Ren. Seles VanHuss is an eye-popping Ariel. The chemistry between these two reaches its zenith in their ear-pleasing duet, “Almost Paradise.”
      Framed in a cadre of veteran stars, director Matthew D. Peters introduces us to an ensemble of youthful actors that I predict will soon be the new stars of the BDT Stage family as well as the mainstays of the musical theatre acting community in the region. Are they there yet? No. Not quite. All it takes is persistence though.
     Brian Burron’s performance in the role of the pastor is of special note. In most productions the scenes involving this character’s interaction with the young people of the story are the ones that make a critic want to tear his hair out. Burron changes that energy completely and actually manages to communicate a thoughtful humanity in this rather slimly written, almost cardboard character. His final speech, which usually leaves playgoers feeling empty, brought tears. That he can bring us to catharsis with the final speech/sermon is testament to Burron’s incredible acting prowess.

       Seles VanHuss ( Photo credit: Glenn Ross)
Alicia King’s studied portrayal of the pastor’s wife is a pleasure. “Learning to Be Silent,” Ms. King’s duet with Joannie Brosseau (Ren’s mother), is breathtaking.
     As Cowboy Bob, Scott Severtson give us a lively shit-kickin’ country western number that sets the stage for Act Two. ( You will remember Severtson for his outstanding performance as Lord Farquahr in BDT Stage’s “Shrek, the Musical.”)
Transitioning from bashful farmboy to Rusty’s super confident boyfriend, Alejandro Roldan’s performance as Willard is exceptional.
     You will remember Mr. Roldan for his outstanding portrayal of Ritchie Valens in BDT Stage’s production of “Buddy, the Buddy Holly Story.” Here his performance of the hit, “Mama Says You Can’t Back Down” is a knockout!

     Satya Jnani Chavez plays Rusty, the girl in love with Willard. Keep your eyes on this actor! An unstoppable whirlwind of talent, Chavez cuts loose with “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” giving us one of the most memorable highlights of the evening. It is to be hoped that we see LOTS more of Ms. Chavez in future productions.

     Rae Leigh Case flies through her exhilarating performance of the aerial choreography with astounding ease. Elsewhere Ms. Case provides an injection of adrenalin into the already high voltage dance scene choreographed by Director Peters.
       Amy Campion’s expert creation of scenic design for Footloose allows a railway trestle to frame the stage allowing for the arrival of a church, country western bar, minister’s kitchen, a malt shop and a school gymnasium in the space below.
     Wayne Kennedy does his usual professional work giving us speeding trains and skidding cars in his very fine sound design.
     Besides transitioning the play’s moods with subtle shifts of lighting, Brett Maughan creates terrific atmospheric fx with bursts of light illuminating stage fog at key moments. 
     Neal Dunfee and his outstanding BDT Stage orchestra rocks out dynamically!
     And in case you haven’t heard there’s a great new chef at BDT Stage dinner theatre. So remember you can also treat your taste buds to the sensational- now better than ever!- prime rib topped by garlic butter! The new take on the salad with its in-house dressing was a palate pleaser, too. How does it get any better than that?Marlowe's Musings

Boulder’s Dinner Theater is located at 5501 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder, Colorado.

For tickets call 303-449-6000 or go online at bdtstage.com

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Little Shop of Horrors
Miners Alley Playhouse: through August 23

                     Carter Edward Smith as Seymour

 Miners Alley Playhouse’s production of this hilarious rock musical will have you in stitches from curtain to curtain.
     Carter Edward Smith is sensational as Seymour Krelborn, the down-on-his-luck street kid who finds an alien plant that demands feeding. Under the astute direction of Jamie Billings, Smith creates an adorable Seymour by avoiding the traditional depiction of Seymour as the quintessential freakish nerdy loser.

 L-R: Carter Edward Smith and Jacquie Jo Billings

Jacquie Jo Billings is heartbreakingly vulnerable as Audrey One, the girl for whom Seymour longs. Unfortunately, Audrey’s going out with a sadistic dentist played by Jake Mendes, who’s a stitch in a scene of dastardly dental demise near the end of Act One.
L-R: Carter Edward Smith and Tim Fishbaugh

Tim Fishbaugh is a wonderfully animated Mushnik. Rory Pierce is hilarious as the voice of the blood thirsty plant, Audrey II.
     Alaina Beth Reel,Sonsharae Tull and Joelle Montoya provide a chorus of skid row babes who are visually and vocally entrancing!
     Thanks to director Jamie Billings we as audience are treated to a wonderfully “80s” slant on the proceedings.
     Mitch Samu - music director/conductor/piano - and his all-star band are worth the price of admission all by themselves. The superb just offstage band features: Tag Worley on drums, Ken Goodwin on Keys 2 and  Steve Klein on Bass.
     The Puppet Design by Jonathan Scott-McKean and Andy Claus is stellar.
 Whether it’s Smith and Fishbaugh hoofin’ it through “Mushnik and Son” or the glorious female chorus bumpin’ and grindin’ its way through the alleys of skid row, the inimitably exciting choreography created by Alann Worley enhances the proceedings exponentially.

     It is to be noted that the intimacy of this venue delights with the in-your-face proximity provided by very few venues in the area. The warmth and open heartedness of each and all at Miners Alley Playhouse make attending a play there a total delight.Marlowe's Musings

Miners Alley Playhouse
July 15 – Aug. 21
"Little Shop of Horrors"
A comedy, horror, rock musical, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. 
Fri/Sat @ 7:30.p.m. Sun. @ 6 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 21 @ 2 p.m.
$30 Adult/$27 Senior/$19 Child 12/Under

Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, CO 80401303-935-3044 or online at minersalley.com