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The Bluegrass Is Always Greener ... : "Big Rock Candy Mountain," at the District Theatre through June 8 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 06:00

Kyle Jecklin, Tom Vaccaro, Doug Kutzli, Rocky Kampling, and Mark Ruebling in Big Rock Candy MountainA Depression-era band performs an impromptu concert at a small-town theatre, facing off against an overbearing, somewhat inept police officer who later, after getting plastered, takes a shine to them. The group’s biggest adversary is a mean-spirited rich woman who, after boo-worthy attacks on the group, gets her comeuppance when her power is pulled out from under her. The story serves as the bridge to performances of early-20th-Century songs performed by this jukebox musical's cast members, who play on string instruments and out-of-the-ordinary percussion sources.

It’s a description that fits both Southern Crossroads and the District Theatre’s latest debuting production, Big Rock Candy Mountain.

 
Brotherly Loathe: "True West," at the QC Theatre Workshop through June 1 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 19 May 2014 06:01

Jeremy Mahr and Mike Schulz in True WestThe approach that director Tyson Danner takes with the QC Theatre Workshop's True West frustrates me in that, with leading actors Jeremy Mahr and (Reader employee) Mike Schulz playing either Austin or Lee depending on the results of a flipped coin minutes before the metaphorical curtain rises, I want to see them in both roles. With the character assignments left to chance, however, it's possible to attend every performance of the play's run and not get an opportunity to see Schulz and Mahr ever swap characters. And in a way, that's too bad, as the performers were so remarkable in Friday's presentation that I imagine a switch would make a subsequent viewing all the more interesting.

 
Growing Pains: "Spring Awakening," at the Center for Living Arts through May 24 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 19 May 2014 06:00

Garrin Jost and Aaron Lord in Spring AwakeningDirector Dino Hayz sets the sexual tone for the Center for Living Arts' Spring Awakening right away, as each of the young female cast members appear, one by one, in spotlight, and run their hands along their pubescent characters' newfound curves as if admiring their blossoming womanhood in a mirror. This sensuality, which never crosses over into baser lewdness, carries throughout the production, highlighting the innuendo and double entendres present in playwright and lyricist Steven Sater’s and composer Duncan Sheik's musical tale of sexual discovery.

 
An Affair to Remember: "Dinner with Friends," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through May 18 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 May 2014 06:00

Pamela Crouch-Zayner, Chris Zayner, Lisa Kahn, and Don Faust in Dinner with FriendsThe Playcrafters Barn Theatre's latest production, Dinner with Friends, explores the impact of a marriage-ending extramarital affair on not only the couple involved, but also their best friends. And while what results can be correctly guessed before the finale, playwright Donald Margulies manages to incorporate some unexpected paths along the way, particularly in the evolving responses of the couple's pals. While I did find my mind wandering during Friday's performance due to a lack of interest in some of the longer-winded conversations, I still enjoyed the overall presentation for being thought-provoking regarding relationships, and for offering some great laughs, too.

 
Snap, Cackles, Pop: "Something's Afoot," at Augustana College through May 11 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 05 May 2014 06:00

Steven Mondloch, Elyssa LeMay, and Ellenelle Gilliam in Something's AfootI am not a fan of the murder-mystery-comedy genre – but make the show a musical, and I’m not only interested, but eager to see it. Such is the case with Augustana College’s Something’s Afoot, a song-filled, murder-mystery romp reminiscent of an Agatha Christie story. Though not bad, the songs by James McDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach, for the most part, aren’t great, nor particularly memorable. But happily, the production as a whole is still amusing from beginning to satisfying-and-unexpected end.

 
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