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Naughty and Nice: "The Threepenny Opera," at St. Ambrose University PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 17 October 2006 22:32

Jaci Entwisle & Jack Kloppenborg in "The Threepenny Opera" During Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera - the German dramatist's revolutionary musical-comedy collaboration with composer Kurt Weill - we're meant to feel uneasy. With its cast of beggars and rogues, obliteration of the fourth wall, and refusal to cater to conventional audience expectation (the songs here, devoid of proper finales, don't so much finish as stop), The Threepenny Opera is a fascinating, deliberately alienating piece. Our enjoyment stems from how unconventional the show is, but in no traditional sense are we meant to simply like it.

So in regard to director Corinne Johnson's Depression-era Threepenny Opera that recently opened St. Ambrose University's 2006-7 theatre season at the Galvin Fine Arts Center (and closed on October 15), was it a failing or a blessing that so many of its performers were so damned likable?

 
This Kitten Has Claws: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through October 15 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 10 October 2006 22:48

Richmond Hill's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opened at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre last Thursday, and I may as well preface by admitting that, before the show started, I couldn't have been more excited, as this classic has long been one of my absolute favorite plays.

 
“Wyn” Women and Songs: "Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story at Circa ’21 thru November 4 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 22:54

Laura Hughes & Larry Tobias in "Stand by Your Man"It's easy to understand how, in a musical devoted to a famous recording artist, certain aspects of the performer's history will fall through the cracks. How do you comprehensively detail an artist's life - anyone's life - in the span of two hours? But until I saw the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse production of Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story, I never experienced a musical biography that delivered too much information. Marriages, divorces, children, addiction, electro-shock, tabloid romances, a kidnapping attempt - the show is so chockablock with facts and minutiae that it's like the stage adaptation of Wynette's Wikipedia listing.

That being said, what's wonderful about Circa '21's presentation - directed by Michael Licata - is that the performers don't get bogged down in Stand by Your Man's relentless exposition and, in fact, flourish in it.

 
Half Crazy: "The Nonconformists Double Bill," at ComedySportz through September 30 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 22:52

Jason Conner and Adam Lewis My Verona Productions' The Nonconformists Double Bill is composed of two comedic, one-man performance pieces; Jason Conner and Adam Lewis star, arranged the material, and serve as the show's directors. In the show's first half, Conner enacts a half-dozen vignettes from bohemian performance artist Eric Bogosian's Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll; in the second, It's Just a Ride: A Tribute to Bill Hicks, Lewis has fashioned a 40-minute monologue from the stand-up routines of the late comedian. And while the work is a local debut, I'm probably one of the few people in the area who initially caught the production when it opened out-of-town.

 
The Playwright Did It:"Out of Sight, Out of Murder," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre Thru September PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 19 September 2006 22:47

"Out of Sight, Out of Murder" Offhand, I can think of no type of play more annoying than one that won't stop insisting on how clever it is.

The latest production at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre is the comedic mystery Out of Sight, Out of Murder, and it should have made for a happily lightweight diversion; beginning with the title, nothing about the show takes itself too seriously, and the cast is filled with game performers looking to provide, and have, a good time.

But, in all honesty, I found the production hard to sit through, and for reasons that go well beyond its bloated two-and-three-quarter-hour running length. With playwright Fred Carmichael thwacking us in the head with his every "clever" comic observation, Out of Sight ... proved the opposite of lightweight - I found myself depressed by the heavy-handedness of it all.

 
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