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An Affair to Remember: "Dinner with Friends," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through May 18 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 May 2014 06:00

Pamela Crouch-Zayner, Chris Zayner, Lisa Kahn, and Don Faust in Dinner with FriendsThe Playcrafters Barn Theatre's latest production, Dinner with Friends, explores the impact of a marriage-ending extramarital affair on not only the couple involved, but also their best friends. And while what results can be correctly guessed before the finale, playwright Donald Margulies manages to incorporate some unexpected paths along the way, particularly in the evolving responses of the couple's pals. While I did find my mind wandering during Friday's performance due to a lack of interest in some of the longer-winded conversations, I still enjoyed the overall presentation for being thought-provoking regarding relationships, and for offering some great laughs, too.

 
Snap, Cackles, Pop: "Something's Afoot," at Augustana College through May 11 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 05 May 2014 06:00

Steven Mondloch, Elyssa LeMay, and Ellenelle Gilliam in Something's AfootI am not a fan of the murder-mystery-comedy genre – but make the show a musical, and I’m not only interested, but eager to see it. Such is the case with Augustana College’s Something’s Afoot, a song-filled, murder-mystery romp reminiscent of an Agatha Christie story. Though not bad, the songs by James McDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach, for the most part, aren’t great, nor particularly memorable. But happily, the production as a whole is still amusing from beginning to satisfying-and-unexpected end.

 
Stirring Quartet: 2014 Playwrights Festival, at the Village Theatre through May 11 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 05 May 2014 06:00

I've noticed a common thread among amateur playwrights, in general, that gets me cringing a bit at the thought of seeing a locally-written play – or, in the case of the one-acts for New Ground Theatre’s 2014 Playwrights Festival, several locally-written plays, which I viewed on Saturday evening. All too often, I've found these writers struggle with dialogue, particularly in regard to writing phrases and conversations in a manner in which people actually speak. I’m happy to say, however, that this is not the case with New Ground's presentation, as all four of its playwrights manage to provide believable dialogue and discussions, removing from the equation the distraction of annoyingly obvious and unrealistic speech.

 
New Leash on Life: "The Last Romance," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through May 4 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 28 April 2014 06:00

Tom Naab, Jackie Skiles, and Stephanie Naab in The Last RomanceThe Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's The Last Romance is, for the most part, a refreshingly lighthearted romantic comedy. Watching Friday’s performance, I was delighted not only with much of playwright Joe DiPietro’s script, but also with the tempo of director Tom Morrow’s production. The characters' conversations are quickly paced, though not unnaturally so, and maintain the piece's joyful energy, but Morrow also gives his cast moments to breathe when appropriate, allowing the play's emotions and humor to sink in before the fast-talking exchanges continue.

 
When a Hot Dog Is a Brat: "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through May 10 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 14 April 2014 06:01

Tamarin Lawler, Stacy Phipps, Brad Hauskins, and Morgan Griffin in Tales of a Fourth Grade NothingI'm not personally familiar with author Judy Blume’s children's book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, but judging by the almost-packed house for Saturday’s opening-day performance, I’m pretty sure many elementary-school students are. And based on the kids' relative silence and lack of fidgeting while observing the production, I’m guessing the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s stage production is, for them, just as much of a hit as the book.

 
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