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Designing Woman: "Crème de Coco," at St. Ambrose University PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 02:17

Kimberly Furness & Jack C. Kloppenborg in Creme de CocoBefore Friday night's presentation of Crème de Coco commenced, St. Ambrose University theatre professor Corinne Johnson briefly took the stage, and related how proud she was of the evening's entertainment - a world premiere by Broadway playwright William Luce, directed by Broadway veteran Philip William McKinley (both of whom were in attendance). As theatrical coups go, this one was way up there.

Yet as understandably proud as the school's staff was, it's inconceivable that they were any less proud of St. Ambrose alumna Kimberly Furness, who portrayed famed designer Coco Chanel in Luce's 80-minute one-act. For those in attendance for last weekend's shows, memories of Crème de Coco's grandeur will likely last several years. Memories of Furness' performance may last even longer.

 
Death Becomes Him: "Death Takes a Holiday," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through April 22 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 18 April 2007 02:21

Dave Rash, Jim Driscoll, & Molly McLaughlin in Actors frequently speak of performers who "raise the bar," whose personal performance standards are so high that they challenge - and inspire - their co-stars to match them. In Death Takes a Holiday, the comedy/drama/supernatural romance currently playing at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, James Driscoll raises the bar so high it's practically celestial.

 
A "Duckling" in Need of a Goose: "The Ugly Duckling," at the Moline Public Library, April 18 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 18 April 2007 02:19

At last Wednesday's preview performance of The Ugly Duckling at Black Hawk College, a most unusual - and most welcome - thing happened: In the one-act play's final 10 minutes, the show finally found the style it seemed to have been searching for during its previous 50.

 
Minnesota Nice: "Church Basement Ladies," at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse through May 26 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
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
Theatre - Reviews
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."

 
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