I Saw a Beautiful Show: Once (a review)

 

Once

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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Uneven Talk: Talk Radio Review (a love poem to John Minks)

064 talk radio dr [pc-tom topinka] 01-09-19

If you have ever listened to the rants of Rush Limbaugh and the like, you will recognize the switchblade narcissism of Barry Champlain, the host of a night time talk radio show deftly played by Scott Whichmann.

The plot is about Barry and the way he manipulates his audience, sponsors and co-workers with a twisted punishment and rewards system that makes him a radio star.

The shining stars in this production are Roger Price, the sound designer and technician who nails the critical sound cues making the show believable; our beloved, Scotty, who brings Barry to irritating life; and John Minks, who plays a drugged out teenager who gets to meet Barry in person and do a little air time.

Morrie Piersol directed, and I love you, Morrie but this was a little messy. The cast is drastically uneven in ability which would be more distracting if it weren’t for the powerhouses of Wichmann and Minks. In fact, Minks was such a breath of fresh air when he arrived onstage in the second act (both as his character who proves a gentle, balancing foil to Barry’s harshness and a beaming talent among a less nuanced group of supporting actors) that my perspective may have been skewed. At any rate I wanted to get on stage and hug him but waited until after the show like a good little theatre goer.

As an aside: My escort and I agreed that Minks is such a good actor at this point that he could have easily delivered a stellar performance as Barry. Hopefully, he will soon be pulled out of the “teenager” roles he is so often given and promoted to leading man.

This play is for people who can tolerate in your face cigarette smoke and foul language while enjoying some thought provoking theatre. AND for those who want to witness two brilliant performances of the season.

For more information, click here.

Competent Crimes

 

show_crimes_of_setup1_sb

I would like to see a play about Southerners that I liked and Crimes of the Heart is not it.

Presented for one more weekend at Hanover Tavern, this dated play revolves around the relationship of three sisters and how they deal with the brainless, violent act committed by the youngest. Most of the characters are contemporary Southern stereotypes (the helmet haired social climbing cousin, the silky smooth lawyer, the sacrificial spinster, etc) and there is a reference to white-Southern pride that made my stomach turn.

It could be my disdain for the script but I was not so impressed by this show. The cast was good and consistent across the board with only one stand-out performance put in by Tyler Stevens as Barnette Lloyd, the aforementioned lawyer. His perfect drawl floated over the ears like warm honey to hypnotic effect.

All production elements and Steve Perigard‘s direction were also good, and executed with professionalism.

In summary: It is a solid production and worth the trip for the sake of seeing such. But as a person who wishes to raise the level of racial consciousness in our society,  plays like this must go by the wayside. It seems innocent enough but the white privilege underlying it is just what needs to be obliterated in order for the ethnicities of our society, particularly African-Americans, to gain real equality. If you want to better understand why I feel this way about Crimes of the Heart feel free to ask.

Big Hand to Hand to God

36555981_1910788562274660_4432541150099800064_o

I adore provocative, in your face theatre and the collaborative production of HAND TO GOD by 5th Wall and TheatreLab is ALL that and more!

The plot revolves around Jason and his mother, Margery and how they are coping with the loss of their respective father/husband through a puppet ministry at their church. Sounds innocent enough but when Adam’s puppet turns demonic and Margery lets down her guard things get WILD!

The cast is amazing! Adam Turck (Jason/Tyrone, the puppet) has mastered the art of the rapid fire character switch. Adam Valentine (Timmy) is sublime as the teenager with a MILF crush. Anne Michell Forbes (Jessica/Jolene) milks the most out of her short stage time and also does the incredible puppet character switch thing. Kimberly Jones Clark (Margery) is a badass at playing these naughty girl types. Fred Iacovo (Pastor Greg) Um, a little over the top for my taste. (Ouch. Sorry, Fred, I love you as a person.)

Gary Hopper’s direction is so flawless in this show that one might wonder if he was possessed by a mysterious power himself.

This is a play for people who like dark comedy and serious social satire. No weenies allowed.

If you haven’t seen this show – lucky for you it has been extended.

For more info click here.

 

White Devils and all

Rene Thornton, Jr. in The White Devil at ASC

Rene Thornton, Jr. in The White Devil at ASC

Tonight, hopefully, I will achieve a goal by seeing the fifth play in the American Shakespeare Center’s Renaissance Season, Daniel Webster’s The White Devil.  And if this play is as good as the season’s other offerings, it should prove to be a good time to be had by all.  By “all” I mean the audience AND the actors.  This particular troupe seems to have gelled quite well (on stage at least as I am incapable of guessing what the behind the scenes situation is) bringing a wonderful sense of fun to The Taming of the Shrew (big shout out to Allison Glenzer for being such a fabulous Kate), Aphra Behn’s The Rover (love, love, love the play and particularly Lauren Ballard and John Harrell’s performances in this show xoxoxoxo), Every Man in His Humor (Patrick Midgley- you are soooo funny when you want to be), and Mother Bombie (not my favorite of the season but they do a good job with it).  Michael Amendola who plays a bunch of parts throughout the season (as does everyone in the troupe), turns every part he “touches” into gold.  His sense of humor is impeccable and I think he is perhaps the best comedic actor I have yet to see tread the Blackfriars recreated boards. And Nathan Crocker goes down smooth as an aged Scotch in every role he depicts.

I was tardy in my report on this season and I apologize but you can still catch all the Ren Season over the next couple of weeks. Plus you will have your chance to catch the cable ASC Touring Company when they return home to roost on April 8th with Hamlet (taking a group of Tibetans with me to see that with me- should prove to be interesting), Doctor Faustus, Much Ado About Nothing and Wittenberg.

See you at the theatre!

The Culture Maven

WNRN Culture Connection for February 23rd – March 1

February wraps up with a theatrical world premier in Richmond, a collection of Chekhov shorts (not to be confused with a collection for shorts for Chekhov – spring IS coming after all) in Charlottesville and an art show in Staunton.

To learn more about these events you can click the links provided or play a podcast of this week’s WNRN Culture Connection by going to wnrn.org> features>culture connection.

The World We Know:

http://www.firehousetheatre.org/this-world-we-know-world-premiere/

Vodka Variations: An Evening of Chekhov Shorts:

http://tickets.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=4042

Mixed media art show:

http://saartcenter.org/

THIS WORLD WE KNOW

THIS WORLD WE KNOW

Have a cultured week!

Best,

Mary

The Culture Maven

WNRN Culture Connection for Feb 16 – 22

One play, on ballet and some art on display.  Thus is this week’s WNRN Culture Connection- A musical version of Jane Austin’s Mansfield Park, the ballet version of Don Quixote and portraits by Lucian Freud.

To learn more about these featured events, click on the link below.

Don Quixote:

http://www.richmondballet.com/event/don-quixote-feb-20-2015-7pm/

Lucien Freud:

http://www.virginia.edu/artmuseum/exhibition/lucian-freud

Mansfield Park:

http://svu.edu/news/2015/professor-writes-directs-original-musical-mansfield-park-feb-13-14-19-21/

imgres

Enjoy the week and… get out there and get cultured.

Mary

The Culture Maven

WNRN Culture Connection for Jan 19 – 25

Its January and loosing weight is on many people’s minds so now is a great time to learn about GMO’s via a film at the Central Branch of the Library, work off some calories biting your nails at Arena Racing or give it up altogether and have a great meal and watch a funny play.

For more information on the featured events, click on the links provided.

Arena Racing:

http://richmondcoliseum.net/events/

The Drowsy Chaperon Dinner Theater:

http://roberteleehotel.com/

GMO-OMG: Film at the Library:

http://www.jmrl.org/cgi-bin/calendar.pl?view=Event&event_id=4860&datestring=20150122

 

Arena Racing Champion

Arena Racing Champion

If you know of a cool event coming up, shoot me an email at culturemaven@wnrn.org.

Also, on Saturday you can witness the production of seven, ten-minute plays created less than 24 hours earlier when Live Arts presents: 24/7.  More at livearts.org.

Have a culturally fabulous week!

Mary

The Culture Maven

WNRN Culture Connection December 8 – 14

Tiz the season of a hundred parties but if you can squeeze some other fun in I suggest :An interactive game of clue, Monticello after dark and We Three Lizas (an Oh, So FABULOUS spin on A Christmas Carol where the three ghosts are three versions of Liza Minnelli) – my picks for things to do in the WNRN listening area this week.

To learn more about these events click on the links provided below.  To hear a podcast of this week’s WNRN Culture Connection, click on the “play” button at the bottom of the page at http://www.wnrn.org/2014/12/culture-connec…-december-8-14/.

Interactive Clue Game:

http://threenotchdbrewing.com/events/

Monticello after dark tour:

http://www.monticello.org/site/visit/tours/holiday-evening-tours

We Three Lizas:

http://www.rtriangle.org/

A scene from We Three Lizas at Richmond Triangle Players

A scene from We Three Lizas at Richmond Triangle Players

Have a fantastic week!

Mary

The Culture Maven

WNRN logo

Blog at WordPress.com.