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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
Cut from Theatre Cloth: Broadway's Philip William McKinley Directs "Crème de Coco" at St. Ambrose PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 11 April 2007 02:17

Phil McKinley For St. Ambrose University's forthcoming production of Crème de Coco - being performed at the Galvin Fine Arts Center from April 20 through 22 - the school recruited guest director Philip William McKinley to helm what will be the world premiere of William Luce's one-act play. During his area tenure, McKinley is also teaching an advanced acting course at St. Ambrose, and in a recent interview, the director explained why honesty is essential in eliciting the best work from performers:

"I think a lot of times, people tell them what they think they want to hear, rather than tell them what they really do need to hear. And if they know that you're telling them something to make them better, or for their own good, they're totally receptive to it."

That seems like a perfectly logical method for directing student actors. But, at this point in our conversation, McKinley wasn't referring to student actors. He was referring to Hugh Jackman.

In Like Flynn: Tom Wopat Headlines "Chicago," at the Adler Theatre April 10 and 11 PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 04 April 2007 02:26

Tom Wopat So, how are you doing today?

"Eh ... I'm okay," replies Tom Wopat, calling from Manhattan. "I just got a parking ticket. Sixty-five bucks."

And hardly a deserved parking ticket. "I parked in a school zone but there's no school there anymore," Wopat says. "They don't know that, you know?"

He laughs. "But that's okay. It's like I told my girlfriend: It's New York City. That's just how it works."

Minnesota Nice: "Church Basement Ladies," at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse through May 26 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 04 April 2007 02:24

Being raised Lutheran, I easily recognized the Lutheranisms on display in director Curt Wollan's Church Basement Ladies, currently playing at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. (Growing Up Lutheran, in fact, is the title of the Janet Letnes Martin & Suzann Johnson Nelson book the show is based on.) And as written by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke, with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen, this comedy smartly dissects the customs of its Minnesotan characters, is filled with gently sly references, and is spot-on in revealing our sect's unique brand of hostility, in which insults are casually tossed off as conversation. (Handing the phone to her pastor, one of the title characters gets in a veiled, pointed jab with "It's your new wife.")

Tragi-comically Single: "Bad Dates," at the Nighswander Theatre through April 1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 28 March 2007 02:29

Lora Adams in There's a scene in Theresa Rebeck's one-woman comedy Bad Dates - currently being produced by New Ground Theatre - in which our protagonist, Haley, is seen trying on clothes. Actually, nearly every scene features Haley trying on clothes, but I'm referring to the opening sequence, in which she's preparing for the first date she's had since ditching her good-for-nothing husband in Texas and moving to New York. With the audience cast as Haley's confidantes, this single mom and restauranteur tells us of her divorce and her 13-year-old daughter and her recent experiences at a Tibetan Buddhist book benefit, and all the while she tries on skirts, blouses, and lots and lots of shoes; no ensemble, it seems, is working for her.

Finally, Haley finds an outfit to her liking - complete with a shoulder wrap that looks vaguely like a piñata - and steps in front of the (imaginary) full-length mirror to gauge the effect. "This," she states, "is a total disaster."

What’s the Buzz?: Quad City Music Guild Showcases Female Musicians of the ’60s in "Beehive" PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 21 March 2007 02:23

 "I was really nervous," recalls Jackie Madunic. "I love Tina Turner - she's, like, one of my idols - and I was terrified."

Madunic is describing the first time she rehearsed her role as Turner in the Quad City Music Guild's production of Beehive, and the actress' fears are understandable. The revue, running March 23 through 25, is a celebration of the 1960s' most prominent female musicians - among them Turner, Janis Joplin, Lesley Gore, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Connie Francis, and Annette Funicello - yet in addition to portraying one of our country's most identifiable rock icons, another factor is conceivably adding to the performer's nervousness: Madunic is white. (As, it should be noted, is actress Sarah Ulloa, who plays both Franklin and Ross.)

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