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The Mellow Roads of Texas: "The Trip to Bountiful," at Playcrafters Barn Theatre through January 20 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 16 January 2008 02:26

Sandy Stoltenberg & Jean Lupoli in The Trip to Bountiful Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful - which is opening the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's 2008 season on an awfully sweet note - is a lovely piece of theatre, but it's such an earnest, delicate little play that it requires all the effrontery and sass it can get.

Let's hear it, then, for Jean Lupoli, who takes what could've been a shrill, one-note caricature and fills it with such winning good humor and welcome meanness that she's utterly irresistible; despite much fine work by her co-stars, the production is practically unimaginable without her. The actress, so fresh and funny, gives Foote's small-scale, big-hearted elegy a true shot in the arm, and in all honesty, it frequently needs one.

 
They’ll Never Walk Alone: "Carousel," at the Green Room through December 9 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 02:43

Nicole Freitag and Eddie Staver III in Carousel When you attend the Green Room's re-imagining of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel - and I'm trusting that you will attend this altogether glorious production - the first thing likely to catch your eye is the playing area's bucolic backdrop, its pastoral simplicity only tarnished by an off-center, crudely drawn Nazi swastika. A flip to the back page of Carousel's program finds director Derek Bertelsen devoting three paragraphs to the World War II ghetto of Theresienstadt. And when the show's actors dolefully enter the stage, they're wearing muted grays offset only by yellow Stars of David. Yes, you realize, this Carousel is set in a German concentration camp.

 
Sets Appeal: St. Ambrose University’s "Charlotte’s Web" and Music Guild’s "Miracle on 34th Street" PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007 02:40

Ryan Westwood and Emily Christiansen in Charlotte's Web If I counted correctly, St. Ambrose University's Charlotte's Web and Quad City Music Guild's Miracle on 34th Street featured a grand total of five dozen actors between them. Yet the true stars of both musicals weren't among those individuals; despite boasting an excellent Wilbur the Pig in Ryan Westwood, Charlotte's Web was primarily a triumph for set designer Kristofer Eitrheim, and Miracle belonged to no one so much as scenic artist Bob Williams. Eitrheim's and Williams' contributions were dazzling, and my only regret in raving about their work now is that it's too late for new audiences to admire it. (Both presentations ran only one weekend and closed on December 2.)

 
Spirited Away: "A Christmas Carol," at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse through December 23 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 02:46

Brad Hauskins, Jordan Schmidt, and Adam Michael Lewis in A Christmas Carol When the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse last produced A Christmas Carol in 1998, the family musical's daytime performances ran concurrently with evening performances of Miracle on 34th Street. I was a member of Carol's cast at the time, and as I recall, we kind of thought the shows should have swapped positions; the chipper, candy-colored Miracle seemed ideal for kids, while the frequently dark Charles Dickens tale, with its themes of regret and mortality, appeared better-suited to a more mature crowd.

 
A Play in a Manger: "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," at Richmond Hill through November 24 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 03:01

Lauren Plumley in The Best Christmas Pageant EverI'd be tempted to call the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's latest offering the best Christmas pageant ever even if that wasn't its title. Yet that description wouldn't come close to suggesting just how successful it is as a play.

 
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