I want to see Thomas Alan Taylor bomb on stage, and actually fail to portray a role well. This isn't said out of disdain or schadenfreude, but because, to date, I've seen no evidence that he can do any wrong as an actor.
Playcrafters Barn Theatre's romantic comedy The 13th of Paris leans more toward the romantic than the comedy, yet remains charming. Director Dana Moss-Peterson handles playwright Mat Smart's examination of imperfect love held up against idealized standards with respect for its eventual moral, and while the production could undoubtedly be funnier, it's not ruined by the more serious approach taken here.
Agatha Christie's whodunit The Mousetrapis among my favorites in the genre, mostly due to the humor the author wrote into it, as well as the clues she included that make it possible to actually discern who did do it. Although the murderer's identity still comes as something of a shock, the game of figuring out the killer remains fun. I just wish the District Theatre's current production of the piece were as enjoyable.
New Ground Theatre's 2015 Playwrights Festival: One-Acts was, for me, a mixture of "Ha ha ha!" and "What the hell?!" I either laughed heartily during the five debuting works or sat confused as to the points their playwrights tried to make.
Choreographer Courtney Lyon outdid herself for Ballet Quad Cities' Love Stories featuring Romeo & Juliet. This piece, presented in two acts, enraptured me during Friday's performance, and it was beautifully bizarre - and I mean "bizarre" as a positive, as the moves, lines, and compositions Lyon created for each scene were often stunning and always interesting, eliciting from me multiple gasps of appreciation.
[For Thom White's review of part one of the District Theatre's Angels in America, visit "Darkness and Plight."]
Something clicked for the cast and crew of the District Theatre's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches since November, and now Angels' second half, Perestroika, is notably better for it. Director Deb Shippy and her cast have embraced the humor of playwright Tony Kushner's magnum opus, and the result is an emotionally layered staging that's superior to last fall's production.
The beauty of New Ground Theatre's comedy Things Being What They Are lies in how our hearts gradually soften for Michael Carron's crotchety, imposing Jack, a rudely forward character who pushes his presence onto his neighbor Bill (Matt Moody), and whom playwright Wendy MacLeod uses to explore themes of marriage and mortality.
The Prenzie Players' Caesar, the company's truncated title for William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, has a playfulness about it, as director Tracy Skaggs reduces the Roman leader, played here by John Turner, to the role of celebrity. This consequently provides moments of humor and fun where there might otherwise be none, the highlight of which is J.C. Luxton's Antony grabbing patrons from out of the audience and stating "Caesar grants your wish - rise," before using his cell phone to snap pictures of the attendees with Caesar.
I'm on record stating that I was "Les Mis-ed out" after seeing three local productions of Les Misérables, and facing a fourth, over a year-and-a-half span. Yet after attending the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse's version on Friday, my love for the material is renewed, as director Jerry Jay Cranford's staging adds intimacy while still possessing the grandeur of composers Alain Boublil's and Claude-Michel Schönberg's musical masterpiece.
The Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Barely Heirs is a bit of an enigma, because even though it's problematic in plot and presentation, this farce delivers some big laughs. Despite taking issue with several elements of Friday's performance, I must also admit that I, along with the rest of the audience, not only laughed but guffawed, repeatedly, throughout the comedy. This play is deeply flawed, but also exceedingly funny.