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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
Overbooked: "The Learned Ladies," at Augustana College through February 8 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 02 February 2009 09:47

Eliza Bockstahler and Liz Stigler in The Learned LadiesSet in 17th Century France, Augustana College's production of the Molière comedy The Learned Ladies takes place in the salon of a Paris manor, and among the first things you notice about Adam Parboosingh's scenic design are the stacks of books standing five feet high from the floor. It's actually impossible not to notice them, as the (prop) books have been painted in a variety of bright colors that make them resemble oversize, rectangular Skittles, or perhaps the reading material for Belle's library in Disney's Beauty & the Beast. They're certainly eye-catching, but there's no way anyone could mistake them for, you know, real books, and The Learned Ladies itself turns out to be a lot like them - deliberately artificial, kind of amusing, and, unfortunately, pretty much divorced from real-world experience.

 
Cash Business: "Ring of Fire," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through March 21 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 19 January 2009 09:54

Justin Droegemueller, Amberly Rosen, and Buddy Olson in Ring of FireFriday's sensational opening-night presentation of Ring of Fire, the Johnny Cash tribute currently playing at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, was the beneficiary of an awful lot of goodwill before the production even started, and very little of it actually had to do with Johnny Cash.

 
Done Inn: "The Mousetrap," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through January 25 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 19 January 2009 09:50

Don Hazen and Dee Canfield in The MousetrapIf you haven't yet attended a production of the show, Agatha Christie's murder mystery The Mousetrap - which has been running in London's West End for more than 56 years now - is definitely worth a look-see. Boasting ripe British caricatures and the author's signature brand of mordant wit, this clever, funny play is one of Christie's most enjoyably constructed contraptions.

If, however, you have seen The Mousetrap before, you'll still find plenty to enjoy in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's current presentation of the piece ... even if the most enjoyable aspects of director Tristan Layne Tapscott's production are ones I can't get into here (at least not without plastering SPOILER ALERT at the top of every paragraph).

 
Green-ish Brown: "Songs for a New World," at the Harrison Hilltop Theatre through January 18 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 12 January 2009 09:51

Cara Crumbley, Tyson Danner, Sarah Ulloa, and Steve Quartell in Songs for a New WorldThe current production of the musical revue Songs for a New World features a winning, frequently exemplary quartet and some excellent design ... and, in all honesty, I doubt I'd have enjoyed this Green Room Theatre presentation nearly as much as I did had it actually been performed at the Green Room Theatre.

 
Ho, Ho, Ho!: "The Santaland Diaries," at the Harrison Hilltop Theatre through December 28 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 02:44

Mark L. Lingenfelter in The Santaland DiariesI love David Sedaris' writing, but on those rare occasions when I've heard the author read from his works on National Public Radio, I can only listen to him for a few minutes before feeling compelled to change the station. It's not that his high, reedy voice is unpleasant, exactly. But the caustic self-deprecation and derision that can make his stories so wickedly funny strike me as whiny and ungainly when Sedaris himself vocalizes them, and when he indulges in sentiment, his attempts at honest emotion ring hollow. (His "heartfelt" moments don't sound noticeably different from his sardonic diatribes.) This isn't a huge failing - Sedaris, after all, is a writer, not a performer - yet I still find that a little of him, vocally, goes a long way.

 
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