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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Santa?: "Miracle on 34th Street," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through December 30 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 12 November 2012 06:03

Grace Moore, Laila Haley, John Payonk, Katie Casel, and Krianna Walljasper in Miracle on 34th StreetThe Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse opened its presentation of Miracle on 34th Street on Friday, and if you’re familiar with the 1947 film classic this musical version is based on, you should know that Laila Haley, who portrays Susan Walker, isn’t on a par with the movie’s Natalie Wood. She’s actually so much better than Wood that it’s not even funny.

 
All Abo-o-o-oard!: "The Christmas Express," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through November 18 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 November 2012 06:02

Bill Peiffer, Liz Paxton, Nick Waldbusser, and Carli Talbott in The Christmas ExpressThe last time I watched Nancy Teerlinck perform, earlier this year, she offered a moving portrayal of a matriarch making tough, emotional decisions in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s Moving. Yet as much as I liked her in that role, I think she’s even better when she’s playing … well, a bitch … such as the one she portrays in Playcrafters’ current offering, The Christmas Express. Teerlinck’s Hilda, who runs the play's Holly Railway Station, is an acerbic, crotchety, sarcastic, bitchy delight, and I think I now love the performer, and want to see this side of her comicality a lot more often.

 
Moral Combat: "The Best Man," at the District Theatre through November 18 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 November 2012 06:01

Jonathan Grafft, Pat Flaherty, and Matt Mercer in The Best ManAfter 12 years in the television-news business, I spent my first Election Day in more than a decade not covering the elections, but rather seeing a play about a bid for the presidency and the decision of whether to use personal attacks on opponents. And while watching the District Theatre’s The Best Man, directed by Bryan Tank, I wondered if the point being made in this political morality play – that the business of politics is on a downward moral spiral – is one that needs to be made. Don’t we, as a nation, already know that dirty politics are wrong, and doesn't this make the message of playwright Gore Vidal’s 1960 work dated? A day later, though, I read an article about personal attacks and dishonesty continuing to be a part of political campaigns because these tactics work, and so Vidal’s play, for better or worse, appears relevant after all.

 
Trapped at Home for the Holidays: "A Nice Family Gathering," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through November 18 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 November 2012 06:00

Christopher Tracy, Liz Blackwell, Andy Davis (standing), Gregg Neuleib, Dianna McKune, Justin Raver, and Dana Skiles in A Nice Family GatheringThree days after seeing A Nice Family Gathering at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, I was still trying to understand the inclusion of the word “nice” in playwright Phil Olson’s title. This isn’t a feel-good, fuzzy-holiday-feelings sort of Thanksgiving play that would render the title appropriate, if clichéd. Nor is it an over-the-top, crass, outrageous comedy that makes the use of the word ironic. (Nor, for the record, is it a play about a family with the last name Nice.) I’m guessing, however, that an over-the-top, crass, outrageous comedy was Olson’s intent, given that the content of his play kind of approaches shocking, though barely.

 
Performance Anxiety: "The Actor's Nightmare," at Scott Community College through November 10 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 05 November 2012 06:00

Scott Community College presents The Actor's NightmareDuring Thursday's presentation, actor James Thames seemed out of place in Scott Community College's The Actor’s Nightmare, acting like he was acting, offering a limited range of emotions and inflections, and speaking with a note of desperation in his tone. However, his amateurish performance, whether by design or not, actually proved spot-on for this comedy in which a non-actor finds himself forced to perform roles in four plays with no prior rehearsals.

 
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