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If It Only Had a Heart: "The Wizard of Oz," at the Timber Lake Playhouse through August 6 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 01 August 2006 23:08

I am prepared to ignore and/or forgive the technical glitches that accompanied the opening-night performance of The Wizard of Oz at the Timber Lake Playhouse, and this is no small task, as the glitches in question caused the production, at times, to be borderline embarrassing.

Yes, the monkeys flew, as did the Wicked Witch of the West and a bizarre creature called the Jitterbug, and when the flying effects worked, they were magical. Our first airborne sight, in fact - that of Miss Gulch pedaling her bicycle across the stage - earned a rousing ovation from the audience and deserved it, and the twirling, chirping winged monkeys were sensational; at sporadic moments, this Wizard of Oz was as fanciful and enchanting as you wanted it to be.

 
Genesius’ Guilt: "The Comedian," at Lincoln Park through July 30 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 25 July 2006 22:49

James J. Loula and Candice GreggA leading actor tortured by the inability to play a role he can't feel. A narcissistic starlet unashamedly flaunting her sexuality. A group of second bananas complaining about the sizes of their roles. A sweet-faced ingénue enduring the advances of an older sponsor. A clueless playwright convinced that his pedestrian dialogue is marvelous.

No, Genesius Guild isn't tackling Terrence McNally or Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, but rather Henri Gheon, whose play The Comedian opened at Lincoln Park this past Saturday.

 
No, You’re the Top!: "Anything Goes," at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre through July 23 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 18 July 2006 22:32

"Anything Goes" ensemble Despite a fairly comprehensive exposure to American musical-theatre classics, it wasn't until last Wednesday that I finally saw a stage production of Anything Goes, currently playing at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre (CAST). Afterwards, I stopped to say hello to CAST producer, and Anything Goes director, Jay Berkow, and he asked if I'd ever seen the show before. I admitted that I hadn't, and he threw me a sideways grin and said, "This one's a little different. It's not usually done this way."

And I'll tell you what I told him: After this version, why would you want to see it done any other way?

 
By the Might of the Slithery Loon: "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" at Playcrafters through July 23 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 18 July 2006 22:30

cuckoosnest_thumb The production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest that opened at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre this past weekend is well-designed and entertaining, and features a bunch of really fine individual performances - nearly a dozen, in fact.

Yet the show, directed by Jeri Benson, is a strange one, because everything that's off in it is off by just a few degrees - not enough to ruin the piece, but enough to make it play less successfully that it might have, and to make several key elements of Dale Wasserman's work no longer make sense. It's not a bad production of Cuckoo's Nest, but it's not quite Cuckoo's Nest, either.

 
Abra Cadaver: "Tom, Dick, & Harry," at the Timber Lake Playhouse through July 22 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 18 July 2006 22:29

tomdickharry_thumb Most theatregoers have at least one genre that they simply can't get on board with. Some can't abide tragic plays - "I get enough drama in life" is their common refrain - and some don't like musicals, and there's an untitled genre that many people, sadly, seem to be petrified of: Shows I've Never Heard of Before.

The latest presentation at the Timber Lake Playhouse is entitled Tom, Dick, & Harry, which is a play that I'd never heard of before, but which also falls under the category of my least favorite genre: the slapstick farce. More often than not, shows of this ilk all seem the same to me: 20 minutes of protracted exposition and character introduction, an hour-plus of forced wackiness resulting from a series of misunderstandings, a few moments of maudlin sentimentality - to make us care about these people? - and a tidy wrap-up, with "naughty" double entendres and obvious, ba-dum-ching! punchlines sprinkled throughout. Many audiences love this stuff; I generally find the relentless bonhomie of it all depressing.

So it's no small praise to say that I really enjoyed Timber Lake's Tom, Dick, & Harry, even though my reasons for enjoying it don't have much to do with Tom, Dick, & Harry.

 
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