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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."

 
"Bee" Queens: Notes from Quad City Music Guild's "Beehive" Dress Rehearsal PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 20 March 2007 08:04

Amy Malmstead, Sarah Larrabee, and Heather McGonigle in As it was a technical dress rehearsal with four days to go before opening night, it was understandable that the March 19 presentation of Quad City Music Guild's Beehive encountered a few glitches. The scene transitions were on the poky side; it was often unclear, during the frequent medleys, whether musical numbers were supposed to end with applause or not (there were a few too many uncomfortable pauses); and the sound, during Act I especially, obviously needed polish - the over-amplification on the opening number, in particular, was painful.

But when all was said and done, there was only one thing sorely missing from this presentation: An audience. Because when Beehive's performers finally get one, this thing is gonna go through the roof.

 
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