Tuesday, October 12, 2021

 ELEPHANT

BENCHMARK THEATRE: 10/8-10/30

A world premiere Devised Work, Developed by Abner Genece, Candace Joice and Neil Truglio

         L-R: Dan O'Neill and Nnamdi K. Nwankwo



Let me just say at the get-go that Benchmark Theatre’s ELEPHANT is the most important new work to have been seen by this reviewer in memory. 

     Using a timely truism, Benchmark builds a metaphor for racial bigotry upon the current expression: “elephant in the room.”      

     Hanging loosely upon the armature of your memories of the play/movie, “The Elephant Man,” the contrasts in this production outweigh the comparisons by far.

       The Merrick of this play is not misshapen or disfigured in any way. Indeed, he is a tall, handsome, muscular black man. Articulate and dignified in his speech and demeanor, he is seen to have more knowledge of Shakespeare and the Bible than either the self-aggrandizing Frederick Treves or the publicity-seeking Madge Kendal. 

     Nnamdi K. Nwankwo’s performance as John Merrick is utterly and brilliantly natural. 

     New to this reviewer, Courtney Esser is luminous as the hypocritical socialite Madge Kendal. 

     Dan O’Neill exhibits the onstage excellence we have come to expect of him as know-it-all Frederick Treves, doctor and intellectual a la side show hawker.

     Both Mr. O’Neill and Ms. Esser perform their characters in such a way as to hold up the mirror to the appalling, nightmarish nature of white supremacy regarding the abuse, negligence and exploitation of black people. Their performances illuminate the ignorant ‘unnaturalness’ of those who have sometimes been referred to as “the deplorables.”

     You don’t have to be a student of neuro linguistic programming to recall what a shock to the nervous system it is to see the swirl of red and blue lights in the rear-view mirror accompanied by a wailing siren. The nervous system goes on high alert accompanied by a clenched stomach. Why? No one likes to get a speeding ticket. And what if you had a glass of wine with dinner? Additional stress.

     Now imagine the exponentialized stress a black man or woman experiences with the lights and siren, when the possibility of death hangs in the balance.

     It is this degree of awareness that ELEPHANT drives home in multiple ways; not the least of which is the excellence of its sound (Marc Stith) and lighting designs.

      Elephant asks us not only to observe these atrocities, but to feel them, and to engage in creating change.

    This is a rich work that makes a reviewer hold back from unleashing spoilers and describing this new work in too great of detail. You deserve the freedom to experience it for yourself.

   ELEPHANT is powerful social commentary and what this reviewer regards as Great Art. It was an honor to see it.

 

Benchmark Theatre is located at 1560 Teller Street in Lakewood. For tickets call 303-519-9059 or go online at www.benchmarktheatre.com

 

     

Saturday, October 9, 2021

 GISELLE

COLORADO BALLET: OCTOBER 8 – 17

 

L-R: Dana Benton and Yosvani Ramos (photo credit: Mike Watson)


Colorado Ballet’s production of Giselle brings world class ballet back to the stage at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House. 

      The electricity on opening night was palpable. The audience was ecstatic simply to be back at the Ellie for the first time in eighteen months.

      In short order we were treated to the exquisite dancing of this beloved company as well as to Adolphe Adam’s melodious score, brought to glorious life by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra under the baton of conductor Adam Flatt.

     First night principal roles played by Dana Benton, Yosvani Ramos and Christopher Moulton were all superb. A tip of the hat to Gregory Gonzales, who plays the Duke of Courtland. 

          Ms. Benton’s dancing of the title character showed her to be a ballerina of grace and beauty as well as an artist of meticulous technique. Mr. Ramos exhibited a vital and elegant athleticism in the role of Count Albrecht. Christopher Moulton brought a strong, bold passion to his performance as Hilarion.

     As Myrta, Queen of the Willis, Jennifer Grace
stunned with her virtuosic elegance and expressiveness.

     The corps de ballet danced with a synchronous precision which was mesmerizing.  

      The eye-popping costumes and scenic design by Peter Farmer and lighting design by Todd Elmer, greatly enhanced the evening.

     The choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, as revised by Marius Petipa is wondrous, complex, and some of the most demanding in the repertoire.

    Go and support this outstanding world class ballet company!

 

For tickets call: 303-8378888 or go online at Coloradoballet.org

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

 CROSS WORDS

Vintage Theatre: 10/1 – 11/7



L-R: Jan Cleveland, Luke 
Rahmsdorff-Terry and Molly Turner (Photo Credit: RDG PHOTOGRAPHY)

 

 The winner of the 2019 Mystery Suspense Thriller New Play Showcase, Scott Gibson’s CROSS WORDS, is currently on view at Vintage Theatre in Aurora.

      The set-up is that married couple Tim and Flora have agreed to take on certain domestic duties for their aging Aunt Rosamunde. In return, the couple stands to inherit not only the house, but a huge sum of money that the old girl has squirreled away in savings.   

       Beyond that there will be no spoilers.

       Gibson’s play is tightly plotted and exceptionally well written.  Filled with dark secrets and unexpected revelations, the playwright has included more twists and turns than you can possibly imagine.  

     The show features the excellent sound design by Luke Rahmsdorff-Terry and the very fine lighting design by Emily Maddox. Bernie Cardell’s set design is outstanding.

      Director Andy Anderson has cast the show impeccably.

     The cast includes the likes of: Molly Turner (Flora) and Luke Rahmsdorff-Terry (Tim), who portray the couple at the center of this maze.  Jan Cleveland plays Clarissa, Aunt Roseamunde’s legal advisor.  Elton Tanega is Emory, a delivery boy.

     Go and treat yourself to an evening filled with suspense and great good humor.

 

Vintage Theatre presents 

“Cross Words”

The World Premiere of a suspenseful new thriller.

Oct 1 – Nov 7

$20 - $38

303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

 

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


 

 YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

VINTAGE THEATRE COMPANY: 9/17 – 10/31

 


              Jeff Betsch as The Monster


Vintage Theatre’s production of “Young Frankenstein” is ALIVE with all the hilarious hijinx and madcap mayhem of the classic 1974 movie. With music and lyrics by Mel Brooks and book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, “Young Frankenstein” is a Broadway musical that’ll have you rolling in the aisles.

     It’s the kind of screen to stage musical that has everyone in the audience lying in wait for those iconic lines spoken by their adored Mel Brooks characters … and then falling apart laughing at their hysterical vaudevillian delivery.

    Thanks to director Linda Suttle’s impeccable casting, those characters are Super Duper.

Cooper Kaminsky is Dr. Frankenstein(That’s Fronkensteen), Christine Carter Kahane is Frau Blucher(horse whinny), Colby Reisinger is Inga, and Jefffrey Betsch is the monster, tapping his way into our hearts all spruced up and Puttin’ on the Ritz. His performance is frighteningly well done. 

       Christine Kahane has the exact right sour disposition for Victor’s housekeeper, Frau Blucher. With a stink eye that can peel paint, and a knock-out comic timing, Kahane is magnificent!

     The masterful choreography by Adrianne Hampton is utter precision when needed and a delightfully ordered chaos when that’s required.

     The Music Direction by Brandon Bill is superb!!! Although all the musicians in the orchestra are excellent, special kudos go out to the evocative and haunting violin of Adelaide Pappas Naughton. 

    Ryan Walkoviak’s set design gives us a creepy dungeon/laboratory flanked by enormous cylindrical test tubes, housing copper spirals. 

     The flickering candles and lightning flashes of uneasy paranormal atmosphere are the very fine work of co-lighting designers Emily Maddox and Kevin Taylor. 

     With her Heidi-like blonde hair Colby Reisinger’s ultra-sexy lab assistant, Inga, is a hoot in the lab or in the hay! 

     Miranda Byers’ sweet seemingly pure vixen, of the diminutive stature and the lilting pure soprano, is at her best singing the ultra-self-absorbed, “Surprise! It’s Me.”  

     The shimmering, sparkling frocks of the two leading ladies are courtesy of costume designer, Deborah Faber.  

     As Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Cooper Kaminsky becomes more and more frenzied as he is sucked into the milieu and profession of his grandfather.

     From the moment he slumps onto the stage  Bryan Plummer’s zany Igor becomes the ideal super-animated counterpoint to Dr. Frankenstein in song and dance. 

    As Inspector Kemp, Scotty Shaffer keeps the proceedings rolling along with loud proclamations and semaphore style gestures.


Have a laugh-filled evening at the theatre!!!

 

Vintage Theatre presents 

Young Frankenstein”

The hilarious musical based on the Mel Brooks classic film masterpiece. 

Sept 17 – Oct 31

$20 - $38

303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

Running time 2 hours 40 minutes with intermission.

Recommended for all ages.

 

 

 


Sunday, September 12, 2021

 THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

Co-produced by The PERFORMANCE NOW THEATRE COMPANY and THE LAKEWOOD CULTURAL CENTER: 9/10-9/26

 

Bernie Cardell and Nancy Evans Begley 
(Photo credit: RDG Photography)


Bernie Cardell is a National Treasure!!!

 

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a musical parody of the American musical comedy of the 1920s. With book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, it won five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards in 2006.

     The show brims over with excellent musical theater performances from its outstanding triple-threat cast.  

     The show opens with the musings of a musical theatre super fan - Man in Chair- who’s trying to lift his spirits and decides on playing the original Broadway cast recording of a show called The Drowsy Chaperone. As he describes the show and plays the record – “yes, record”- the show explodes across the stage of The Lakewood Cultural Center with eye-popping, ear-pleasing panache!

     Bernie Cardell portrays the Man in Chair, and his portrayal is one of those truly exceptional performances that are SO rare, it will be talked about in theatre circles for decades. Cardell’s incarnation of ‘man in chair’ is tenderly vulnerable and wondrously open as he informs the audience of all his interesting points of view about “The Drowsy Chaperone’s” characters as well as the actors who played them. Cardell’s character walks in and out of the scenes in such a way as to let us as audience realize he’s more at home in his musical theatre fantasies than he is in real life. Kelly Van Oosbree’s direction of Cardell in “An Accident Waiting to Happen,” will have you in stitches. (Sorry. No spoilers.)

In a nutshell, the plot has to do with whether Janet Van de Graaff and Robert Martin will get married or not. As the bride to be, Emma Rebecca Maxfield’s unforgettable performance of “Show Off” is breathtaking!! Andy Sievers’ performance of the groom’s “Cold Feets” is jaw-dropping!!! As Drowsy, Nancy Evans Begley’s “As We Stumble Along,” rattles the rafters.

     Everything is adorably over the top in this show, from Jeffery Parker’s Latin Lothario, Aldolpho, to the pair of gangsters posing as pastry chefs played by Timothy Campbell and Kris Graves, to Adrianne Hampton’s squeaky wannabe star, Kitty.

Directed and Choreographed by award-winning Kelly Van Oosbree, this exhilarating  show features music direction by Denver favorite, Eric Weinstein. Nicole M. Harrison’s costume design is to die for. So is Brett Maughan’s outstanding lighting design and the wonderful wrap around scenic design by Andrew S. Bates. 

The numbers are all, of the show-stopping variety, and you may find it hard to decide which one is your favorite.


For tickets call the box office at 303-987-7845,Lakewood Cultural Center(Just south of the Belmar Shopping Center at Alameda and Wadsworth)470 South Alison Parkway, Lakewood, CO,80226

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

  CHASING RADIANCE: MEMOIRS AND MUSINGS


           by ERICA SARZIN-BORRILLO

 

Erica Sarzin Borrillo’s new book, “Chasing Radiance: Memoirs and Musings,” is a beautifully written work that’s as poignant as it is intimate in illuminating the artist’s life. More than that, it’s an invitation to step inside the author’s heart and mind as she describes her mythic journey.

      The artist’s ancestral history unfolds through letters and an interview that provides a portal into the artist’s remembrances of past experiences from the exhilarating to the traumatic.

    Weaving the spiritual and the creative into a wondrous tapestry of memories and visions, Borrillo paints a picture of the author’s mystic awareness of the convergence of the creative life and the spiritual path.

Concluding with journal entries from the time of the pandemic as well as personal musings on the socio-political turmoil surrounding it, this is an insightful book that will endear itself to anyone seeking shamanic guidance in finding her/his way in the realms of creativity and spirituality.

It's available on Amazon.


David Marlowe

Marlowe’s Musings

Friday, August 20, 2021

 Five Guys Named Moe

Vintage Theatre: August 13-29

 

The cast of Five Guys Named Moe (Photo credit: RDG Photography)


RUN TO GET TICKETS FOR “FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE,” AND  LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!!

 

Vintage Theatre’s exhilarating production of “Five Guys Named Moe,” is the perfect antidote for the depression brought on by the five o’clock news, the pandemic and the political state of the world. 

    This revue showcases the work of American jazz saxophonist, band leader and composer, Louis Jordan.  In the 1940s and early 50s, Jordan’s Rhythm and Blues classics paved the way for what would soon be known as rock n’ roll.

      Known as “the King of the Jukebox,” just a few of the twenty some Louis Jordan songs you'll fall in love with in this astonishing ‘juke box musical’ are: “Let the Good Times Roll,” “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,”  “Caldonia,” and “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.” By the time this talented ensemble gets to “Is You Is, Or is You Ain’t My Baby?,” your bones will be movin’ around in your seat so much, you may just be tempted to get up and start boogeyin’ in the aisles.

 

AS the story goes our hero Nomax (Micah Lawrence), is up drinking and trying unsuccessfully to reach his paramour by phone in the wee hours of the morning. Nomax falls deeper into depression until suddenly out of his radio appear: Big Moe (Michael Batemen), Eat Moe(Josiah Peters), Little Moe(Ronald McQueen), Four-Eyed Moe(Jalen Gregory) and No Moe(Kenyan James Bernard.) They all have ideas for what will make him succeed better with his girlfriend…and with life in general. Every one of these actors is a brilliant singer/dancer!!! 

    Christopher Page-Sanders unleashes a dazzling display of choreography the likes of which we have not seen in ages! Page-Sanders also co-directs the show with Denver favorite Lee Ann Scherlong! How does it get any better than that?

      A tip of the hat to Dr. Michael Williams, who is not only responsible for the excellent music direction but produces some virtuosic tickling of the keys as well. 

     Five Guys Named Moe won Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment and Best Choreographer in 1991 and was nominated for Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical the following year.

 

Vintage Theatre presents 

“Five Guys Named Moe”

A musical featuring the works of jazz legend Louis Jordan.

August 13 – Aug 29

$20 - $38

303-856-7830 or online at www.vintagetheatre.org

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

Running time 2 hours with intermission.

Recommended for all ages.