Cyra-no: A review of bad wigs


Last night I saw Swift Creek Mill Playhouse’s production of Cyrano with two friends from Charlottesville and we were all mystified by the strange uneven-ness of the melodrama of comedia del arte and realism that ensued. We were all three simultaneously confused and amused at the attempt to overplay a beautiful tragedy with such silliness and felt that it, particularly cheapened the portrayal of Roxanne, the pivotal character of the play.

And then there were the wigs. Seemingly borrowed from various productions and plopped on the heads of the male actors, one looked like it was borrowed from the set of Gigit with bangs and Dippity Do flip in tact.

Things that were great about the play: Deborah Wagoner (Duenna/Nun), Jeff Clevenger (Ligniere/Cadet Vadim/Monk) and Dean Knight’s (multiple roles) performances, Joe Doran’s lighting design and Frank Foster’s set. Despite the problems with the production I was honestly entertained.

Gratitude to the Mill for dedicating the show to the late Andy Boothby who was slated to play the title role and died just before rehearsals were slated to begin.

Click here for more information.

Go because it is a classic (though I disliked this version of the translation).


I Saw a Beautiful Show: Once (a review)



Every now and again I am really impressed with the whole of a production. Virginia Rep’s production of Once is one of them.

The play is about a moment in time when a broken Irish musician has a chance meeting with a dynamic Czech woman who becomes the catalyst for resuscitating his life. The story is primarily told through a clever script and some rollicking folk rock music. What blew me away the most in this show is the level of proficiency required by the actors. They must be able to act, dance, sing and play a musical instrument very well and all at the same time – which they did beautifully.

Aside from moments when accents seemed to get a bit muddled, I spent an evening of pure bliss in the theatre.

Highlights: Ken Allen Neely as Guy, Katherine Fried as Girl and seeing a kid (Trevor Lindley Craft) whose performance cracked me up in a Live Arts version of Xanadu all grown up and being fabulous onstage with some heavy weight actors.

This show is a gem that shines brightly in the Virginia Rep crown. I put it in my Must See category of shows for this season. Good for ages 10 and up – especially hopeless romantics.

Warning: The title song will get stuck in your head.

For more information click here.


Praising the Greeks, Amen!: A review of Oedipus, a gospel myth

Complete with the passing of a collection plate, Oedipus: a gospel myth is an exploration in how classic Greek tragedy is like a service in a gospel church. Director and set designer, Vinnie Gonzales, has done a great job conceptualizing this intriguing take on the full text of Sophocles’ play about a man who fulfills a gruesome prophecy without his knowledge.

Easter eggs include: the Greek Isles, the number 3 and rhinestone broaches.

Gonzales puts great care into his work and pulls out good performances in his cast. Highlights are the chorus (Shalandis Wheeler Smitth, Shalimar Hickman Fields and Shantell Dunnaville), Jeremy V. Morris as the Preacher, Toney Q. Cobb as  Terresius and Messenger, and Keaton Hillman as Servant whose monolog at the end seals the deal on the show.

Favorite line from the show: “You’d make a rock angry”.

This play is appropriate for anyone who can stomach the content. If you don’t know what I mean, look up the Oedipus myth. But you should see it because it is a very good interpretation of a classic that is rarely staged. Basically, Sophocles kicks our ass with this play even though he tells us how it will end at the beginning. (All High School students should definitely go.)

6_Shalandis Wheeler Smith, Shantell Dunnaville, Shalimar Hickman Fields, Jeremy V Morrs (photo by Bill Sigafoos)

For information click here.

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