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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
Do-Wop-ers with Cheese: "The Taffetas," at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre through June 15 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 09 June 2014 06:00

Carly Ann Berg, Sarah Randall, Heather Baisley, and Jenna Haimes in The Taffetas; photo by Jean BlackTight harmonies, effervescent smiles, and pastel-colored dresses are the highlights of the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s The Taffetas, a jukebox musical featuring songs from the 1950s. Yet it's barely a musical. The production plays out as the titular girls' group makes its national television debut on the Spotlight on Music show – with the Showboat crowd serving as the “live studio audience” for a televised concert – and as there isn’t much dialogue, or much plot, The Taffetas is really more of a revue.

 
"Tradition"-al Family: "Fiddler on the Roof," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 06:00

Marc Ciemiewicz and Rachelle Walljasper in Fiddler on the RoofI’m willing to admit that I had significant reservations when I heard Marc Ciemiewicz would be playing Tevye in the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s Fiddler on the Roof. While I’ve enjoyed every performance I’ve seen from the actor, I wasn’t sure he could pull off this particular part – and I confess this hoping that my praise is all the more significant: Ciemiewicz knocks the role out of the park. Sporting a beard and using a deep baritone voice to speak and sing, and significantly changing his physical demeanor, this person I normally adore for his cutesy charm and spunk completely disappears into the character of Tevye, all the while maintaining his adept comedic skill. I will never doubt Ciemiewicz's acting range again.

 
The Bluegrass Is Always Greener ... : "Big Rock Candy Mountain," at the District Theatre through June 8 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 06:00

Kyle Jecklin, Tom Vaccaro, Doug Kutzli, Rocky Kampling, and Mark Ruebling in Big Rock Candy MountainA Depression-era band performs an impromptu concert at a small-town theatre, facing off against an overbearing, somewhat inept police officer who later, after getting plastered, takes a shine to them. The group’s biggest adversary is a mean-spirited rich woman who, after boo-worthy attacks on the group, gets her comeuppance when her power is pulled out from under her. The story serves as the bridge to performances of early-20th-Century songs performed by this jukebox musical's cast members, who play on string instruments and out-of-the-ordinary percussion sources.

It’s a description that fits both Southern Crossroads and the District Theatre’s latest debuting production, Big Rock Candy Mountain.

 
Brotherly Loathe: "True West," at the QC Theatre Workshop through June 1 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 19 May 2014 06:01

Jeremy Mahr and Mike Schulz in True WestThe approach that director Tyson Danner takes with the QC Theatre Workshop's True West frustrates me in that, with leading actors Jeremy Mahr and (Reader employee) Mike Schulz playing either Austin or Lee depending on the results of a flipped coin minutes before the metaphorical curtain rises, I want to see them in both roles. With the character assignments left to chance, however, it's possible to attend every performance of the play's run and not get an opportunity to see Schulz and Mahr ever swap characters. And in a way, that's too bad, as the performers were so remarkable in Friday's presentation that I imagine a switch would make a subsequent viewing all the more interesting.

 
Growing Pains: "Spring Awakening," at the Center for Living Arts through May 24 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 19 May 2014 06:00

Garrin Jost and Aaron Lord in Spring AwakeningDirector Dino Hayz sets the sexual tone for the Center for Living Arts' Spring Awakening right away, as each of the young female cast members appear, one by one, in spotlight, and run their hands along their pubescent characters' newfound curves as if admiring their blossoming womanhood in a mirror. This sensuality, which never crosses over into baser lewdness, carries throughout the production, highlighting the innuendo and double entendres present in playwright and lyricist Steven Sater’s and composer Duncan Sheik's musical tale of sexual discovery.

 
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