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Palpable Pain: "Antigone," through March 30 at the Quad City Theatre Workshop PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 09:33

Gini Atwell and Jake Walker. Photo by Tracy Skaggs.Before the production officially begins and without uttering a single word, Gini Atwell effectively sets the tone for the Prenzie Players’ Antigone. On Friday evening, during the ad-libbed pre-show that’s a staple of Prenzie productions, Atwell sat at the front of the stage, half-cradling her knees while wearing a far-off look in her eyes and a deep sadness on her face, as though lost in thought on woeful memories or circumstances.

Not long after the play begins, it’s made clear that Atwell’s expression is due to her character’s resignation to her own death. She is passionate during the course of the play – particularly as she attempts to garner her sister’s help in burying their brother (who lost his life in battle with their other brother for the throne of Thebes), and as she embraces her fiancé as if it’s the last time they’ll ever hold each other. But her ability to maintain the cheerlessness at the core of her Antigone is remarkable, creating a palpable pain that’s punctuated by her inevitable death.

 
Midwestern Union: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through June 1 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 18 March 2013 06:00

 Kimberly Steffen, Kay Francis, Tom Walljasper, Nikki Savitt, and Carrie SaLoutos in A Mighty Fortress Is Our BasementBilled as “the funniest and most tuneful Church Basement Ladies yet,” A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement had me laughing more than I expected to during Friday night’s performance. Having had a too-hearty helping of the first two Lutheran-themed kitchen musicals, I couldn’t help but have low expectations for the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s production of this fourth show in the series. Yet while this sequel still falls into some of the expected traps, it also had enough humor – and one especially entertaining song – to keep me amused.

 
Q2: "Avenue Q," at the District Theatre through March 30 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 18 March 2013 06:00

Erin Churchill in Avenue QFive months after its first staging of the bawdy Broadway musical Avenue Q, the District Theatre has brought back its prurient puppets for another round, and with the replacements of just two cast members and minor reworkings made by director Marc Ciemiewicz, this return performance is still enough improved (from an already laudable production) to make the show worth seeing again, if not for the first time.

 
Rhapsody in "Blues": "Blues for an Alabama Sky," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through March 17 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 11 March 2013 06:01

Matt Madison, Rita Jett, and Vincent Briley in Blues for an Alabama SkyPlaycrafters Barn Theatre’s Blues for an Alabama Sky manages to be an adjective I’ve come to love regarding theatrical productions: surprising. Playwright Pearl Cleage takes her story in directions I did not expect from the outset of Saturday’s performance, as her play moves from the plight of a recently out-of-work singer in Harlem to a study of societal views on homosexuality and abortion in 1930. I had no idea that was the direction the plot would take, but I was grateful for it, as the proceedings kept me on my mental toes, and continually interested in what was going to happen next.

 
Glasnost Half Full: "A Walk in the Woods," at the Village Theatre through March 17 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 11 March 2013 06:00

Matt Moody and John VanDeWoestyne in A Walk in the WoodsPlaywright Lee Blessing’s A Walk in the Woods successfully re-creates a sense of the Reagan-era Cold War conflict between the United States and the then-Soviet Union ... at least according to an older friend of mine who also attended Friday’s performance of New Ground Theatre’s production. However, my theatre-going companion also agreed with me that the play is reminiscent of the film My Dinner with Andre, famed for simply being a conversation between two people in one setting. And Blessing’s story is just that – a series of discussions between a U.S. and Russian diplomat sitting, or sometimes standing near, a park bench. For two hours.

 
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