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Wage Rage: "Nickel & Dimed," at Augustana College through November 5 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 31 October 2006 22:35

Augustana ensemble members in "Nickel and Dimed" Most people - whether they've had theatrical experience or not - understand the concept of the Actor's Nightmare. You don't know your lines, you're not in costume, you don't even know what play you're in ... yet you somehow find yourself on stage, in front of an audience, and expected to perform. Now.

Nickel & Dimed, currently playing at Augustana College's Potter Hall, opens with the Server's Nightmare. In the span of five minutes, our protagonist, the newly employed Barbara (Christine Barnes), is briefly introduced to the eatery's wait staff, gets a quick tutorial on procedure, takes breakfast orders from her first (uncooperative) table, brings out their meals, and is immediately ordered to return them - the toast is wrong, the oatmeal is cold, and could I change my side dish to prunes?

At which point Barbara turns to the audience and says, with a frozen grin indicating barely concealed rage, "This is not my real life."

 
Naughty and Nice: "The Threepenny Opera," at St. Ambrose University PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 17 October 2006 22:32

Jaci Entwisle & Jack Kloppenborg in "The Threepenny Opera" During Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera - the German dramatist's revolutionary musical-comedy collaboration with composer Kurt Weill - we're meant to feel uneasy. With its cast of beggars and rogues, obliteration of the fourth wall, and refusal to cater to conventional audience expectation (the songs here, devoid of proper finales, don't so much finish as stop), The Threepenny Opera is a fascinating, deliberately alienating piece. Our enjoyment stems from how unconventional the show is, but in no traditional sense are we meant to simply like it.

So in regard to director Corinne Johnson's Depression-era Threepenny Opera that recently opened St. Ambrose University's 2006-7 theatre season at the Galvin Fine Arts Center (and closed on October 15), was it a failing or a blessing that so many of its performers were so damned likable?

 
This Kitten Has Claws: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through October 15 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 10 October 2006 22:48

Richmond Hill's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opened at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre last Thursday, and I may as well preface by admitting that, before the show started, I couldn't have been more excited, as this classic has long been one of my absolute favorite plays.

 
“Wyn” Women and Songs: "Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story at Circa ’21 thru November 4 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 22:54

Laura Hughes & Larry Tobias in "Stand by Your Man"It's easy to understand how, in a musical devoted to a famous recording artist, certain aspects of the performer's history will fall through the cracks. How do you comprehensively detail an artist's life - anyone's life - in the span of two hours? But until I saw the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse production of Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story, I never experienced a musical biography that delivered too much information. Marriages, divorces, children, addiction, electro-shock, tabloid romances, a kidnapping attempt - the show is so chockablock with facts and minutiae that it's like the stage adaptation of Wynette's Wikipedia listing.

That being said, what's wonderful about Circa '21's presentation - directed by Michael Licata - is that the performers don't get bogged down in Stand by Your Man's relentless exposition and, in fact, flourish in it.

 
Half Crazy: "The Nonconformists Double Bill," at ComedySportz through September 30 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 22:52

Jason Conner and Adam Lewis My Verona Productions' The Nonconformists Double Bill is composed of two comedic, one-man performance pieces; Jason Conner and Adam Lewis star, arranged the material, and serve as the show's directors. In the show's first half, Conner enacts a half-dozen vignettes from bohemian performance artist Eric Bogosian's Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll; in the second, It's Just a Ride: A Tribute to Bill Hicks, Lewis has fashioned a 40-minute monologue from the stand-up routines of the late comedian. And while the work is a local debut, I'm probably one of the few people in the area who initially caught the production when it opened out-of-town.

 
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