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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
The Sound and the Furry: "Cats," at the Prospect Park Auditorium through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:29

Dolores Sierra in CatsOne of the biggest stars of Quad City Music Guild’s take on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats never appears on stage, though her mark is rarely invisible the entire time, as designer Sara Wegener is responsible for the costumes, makeup, and wigs worn by the musical's cast of felines. Obviously drawing inspiration from the original West End and Broadway productions, it’s a bit of a shame that the intricacy in her makeup, in particular, isn’t fully discernible from the audience, because the detail in her work is exceptional. Adding her spiked-fur wigs with plush fabric ears, and her bodysuits and loose shirts and pants colored to look like various cat coats, Wegener's contributions are award-worthy.

 
Just Desserts: "The Red Velvet Cake War," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:25

Ashley Hoskins, Lisa Kahn, and Sarah Ade Wallace in The Red Velvet Cake WarTwo of the things I miss most about reviewing theatre with greater frequency are raving about area artists whose talents I’m quite familiar with, and raving about area artists whose talents are brand-spanking-new to me. Happily, regarding the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s The Red Velvet Cake War, I get to do both. And that’s especially gratifying because one of the things I absolutely do not miss is explaining why certain well-meaning, lighthearted endeavors designed solely to entertain simply don’t work for me, and it looks like I have to do that, too.

 
Tall Tails: "Big Fish," at North Scott High School through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:19

Big Fish ensemble members, photo courtesy of Avenue StudiosAdam Nardini deserves credit for making Countryside Community Theatre’s Big Fish so endearing. Playing the father at the center of composer Andrew Lippa’s and playwright John August’s story – one based on the novel and Tim Burton film of the same name, the latter of which found Albert Finney playing Nardini's Edward Bloom – the performer is in excellent voice and remarkably engaging as this teller of tall tales. While he doesn’t adjust his performance to accommodate age differences while traveling from high school to early fatherhood to late-life, Nardini is still one of the best things that Countryside's piece has going for it.

 
Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Old: "The Robin Hood Caper," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:04

Don Hazen, Robert Grueskin, and Jackie Patterson in The Robin Hood CaperThe opening scene in the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre’s The Robin Hood Caper is one you’ve likely sat through, in different iterations, in numerous stage comedies over the years. It introduces us to the young, flummoxed journalist Richard Collins, who, as his conversation reveals, is dealing with all manner of personal crises: shaky finances; an underhanded mayor with plans to shutter Richard’s newspaper; a fiancée demanding a wedding date. Richard’s Aunt Flora, meanwhile, takes this all in with a sympathetic ear and an occasional, dotty reminiscence of her own, and routinely shifts her focus back to her needlepoint.

It’s easy to watch this scene and think you know the score: Poor, put-upon Richard is our befuddled leading man, and Flora is the lovable supporting eccentric who’ll randomly pop in for warmhearted laughs, or for other characters to pelt with exposition, or both. Consequently, it’s a pleasant surprise – in a production boasting pleasant surprises galore – to see that author Fred Carmichael is one step ahead of us. It’s actually Richard (Ernest Toutant III) who vanishes for large portions of The Robin Hood Caper, and Flora, played by the delightful Jackie Patterson, who emerges as the show’s heroine.

 
Oh, the Places You'll Go!: "Seussical," at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 13 July 2015 09:59

Derrick Bertram, Joseph Brune, Kate Struble (center) and ensemble members in SeussicalIt is with no hesitation that I admit adoring Stephen Flaherty's and Lynn Ahrens' musical Seussical, for which Flaherty wrote the music and Ahren the lyrics, with both collaborating on the book. Though it seems a children's play, the lyrics, melodies, and harmonies are sophisticated and memorable, and knowing how much I like this piece – and remembering the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s excellent Cats from earlier this summer – I couldn’t set aside my expectations prior to Thursday’s Showboat performance, certain I was in for a theatrical treat. Director Matthew Teague Miller did not disappoint.

 
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