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Theatre
Blessings in Disguise: Playwright Salutes His Father – and Baseball – in "The Winning Streak" PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 31 October 2006 22:42

Pat Flaherty and Jason Platt in "The Winning Streak" In Lee Blessing's The Winning Streak, the locale is left unspecified; the only information the Tony Award-nominated playwright gives us is that the events transpire in "a city in the Midwest." But audiences can be forgiven for thinking there's nothing unspecified about it.

One of the play's seven scenes takes place "at the end of a dock." Another occurs at a sidewalk café within walking distance of a cathedral and an art museum. And, most tellingly, one takes place "in the stands of a major league stadium," where - to the delight of the show's protagonist - an eternally struggling baseball team is finally enjoying an unprecedented hot streak.

Could this, in fact, be Chicago, and could the beleaguered ballplayers be the Cubs?

 
Majesty: "King Richard the Second," at the Rock Island Masonic Temple through November 4 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 31 October 2006 22:37

The Prenzie Players in "King Richard the Second" Here's one for fellow fans of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy: You know how badly we wanted to see The Two Towers after The Fellowship of the Ring? That's how badly I want to see the Prenzie Players' King Henry the Fourth after Saturday night's production of King Richard the Second.

For those of you who aren't Lord of the Rings fans, I think you still get my meaning; King Richard the Second - the first installment in the Shakespeare troupe's three-part cycle of Henry plays, entitled The Henriad - is so thrillingly staged and sublimely well acted that the February continuation can't possibly come soon enough.

 
Wage Rage: "Nickel & Dimed," at Augustana College through November 5 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 31 October 2006 22:35

Augustana ensemble members in "Nickel and Dimed" Most people - whether they've had theatrical experience or not - understand the concept of the Actor's Nightmare. You don't know your lines, you're not in costume, you don't even know what play you're in ... yet you somehow find yourself on stage, in front of an audience, and expected to perform. Now.

Nickel & Dimed, currently playing at Augustana College's Potter Hall, opens with the Server's Nightmare. In the span of five minutes, our protagonist, the newly employed Barbara (Christine Barnes), is briefly introduced to the eatery's wait staff, gets a quick tutorial on procedure, takes breakfast orders from her first (uncooperative) table, brings out their meals, and is immediately ordered to return them - the toast is wrong, the oatmeal is cold, and could I change my side dish to prunes?

At which point Barbara turns to the audience and says, with a frozen grin indicating barely concealed rage, "This is not my real life."

 
Show Outta Nothin’: The Prenzie Players Embark on Shakespeare’s Henry Trilogy, Beginning October 27 PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 24 October 2006 22:36

Certainly, there was cause for concern.

Reader issue #604 When the Prenzie Players made their 2003 debut with Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, they did so at Rock Island's Peanut Gallery, which didn't have a proper stage and could only seat, at maximum, 40 people. The show had an inadequate budget (between $200 and $300), a run of only two performances, and no word-of-mouth; Prenzie's founders - Cait Bodenbender, John "J.C." Luxton, Aaron Sullivan, and Denise Yoder - had every reason to expect Measure for Measure to fail.

Yet Friday night's show played to a full house. And on Saturday ... .

 
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?

 
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