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Tall Tails: "Big Fish," at North Scott High School through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:19

Big Fish ensemble members, photo courtesy of Avenue StudiosAdam Nardini deserves credit for making Countryside Community Theatre’s Big Fish so endearing. Playing the father at the center of composer Andrew Lippa’s and playwright John August’s story – one based on the novel and Tim Burton film of the same name, the latter of which found Albert Finney playing Nardini's Edward Bloom – the performer is in excellent voice and remarkably engaging as this teller of tall tales. While he doesn’t adjust his performance to accommodate age differences while traveling from high school to early fatherhood to late-life, Nardini is still one of the best things that Countryside's piece has going for it.

 
Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Old: "The Robin Hood Caper," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:04

Don Hazen, Robert Grueskin, and Jackie Patterson in The Robin Hood CaperThe opening scene in the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre’s The Robin Hood Caper is one you’ve likely sat through, in different iterations, in numerous stage comedies over the years. It introduces us to the young, flummoxed journalist Richard Collins, who, as his conversation reveals, is dealing with all manner of personal crises: shaky finances; an underhanded mayor with plans to shutter Richard’s newspaper; a fiancée demanding a wedding date. Richard’s Aunt Flora, meanwhile, takes this all in with a sympathetic ear and an occasional, dotty reminiscence of her own, and routinely shifts her focus back to her needlepoint.

It’s easy to watch this scene and think you know the score: Poor, put-upon Richard is our befuddled leading man, and Flora is the lovable supporting eccentric who’ll randomly pop in for warmhearted laughs, or for other characters to pelt with exposition, or both. Consequently, it’s a pleasant surprise – in a production boasting pleasant surprises galore – to see that author Fred Carmichael is one step ahead of us. It’s actually Richard (Ernest Toutant III) who vanishes for large portions of The Robin Hood Caper, and Flora, played by the delightful Jackie Patterson, who emerges as the show’s heroine.

 
Oh, the Places You'll Go!: "Seussical," at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre through July 19 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 13 July 2015 09:59

Derrick Bertram, Joseph Brune, Kate Struble (center) and ensemble members in SeussicalIt is with no hesitation that I admit adoring Stephen Flaherty's and Lynn Ahrens' musical Seussical, for which Flaherty wrote the music and Ahren the lyrics, with both collaborating on the book. Though it seems a children's play, the lyrics, melodies, and harmonies are sophisticated and memorable, and knowing how much I like this piece – and remembering the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s excellent Cats from earlier this summer – I couldn’t set aside my expectations prior to Thursday’s Showboat performance, certain I was in for a theatrical treat. Director Matthew Teague Miller did not disappoint.

 
Courting Danger: "A Few Good Men," at the District Theatre through July 12 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 06 July 2015 06:00

Tristan Tapscott, Sara Tubbs, and Jacob Kendall in A Few Good MenWith its ornate ceiling and fascinating, borderline-gaudy hanging light fixtures in the District Theatre's new home in the former Rock Island Argus building, A Few Good Men seems an appropriate inaugural production, in that the space looks like a courtroom – at least while you're looking up. Following the company's sometimes uncomfortable (for patrons) stint in its previous, rather cramped venue, this open area with the ceiling rising two stories above the floor is a much welcome relief, allowing director Lora Adams’ staging of Aaron Sorkin‘s courtroom drama to breathe in ways that, for the District Theatre, it otherwise couldn’t have.

 
Barrie, Barrie Good: "Peter Pan," at the Timber Lake Playhouse through July 12 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 06 July 2015 06:00

Holly Moss and Rosie Upton in Peter PanThere’s magic in the Timber Lake Playhouse’s Peter Pan that reached my inner child and set him dancing. Even knowing that Rosie Upton’s title character would fly, I still got chills when scenic designer Benjamin Lipinski’s grand windows were flung open and the forever-young boy floated through them. And that thrill only took a break during the production's intermission, otherwise staying with me during its entire two hours.

 
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