Despite its a cappella rendition of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and repeated employment of the clever, catchy Unknown Hinson song “I Cleaned Out a Room (in My Trailer for You)” during scene changes, no one could mistake the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's season-ending presentation for a musical. But in director John VanDeWoestyne's Doublewide, Texas, the character attire designed and gathered by costumer Suzanne DeReu is so eye-catching, and so abundant, that it's almost as though this lightweight Southern comedy were instead a lavish Broadway spectacle boasting a cast of 90 and special appearance by the Rockettes. And the Rockettes wouldn't have been funny.

I’m no Brainiac, but I do know this about musicals: When you put together a group of 13 adorable and talented little girls led by a plucky redhead who can sing her heart out, add a rags-to-riches tale enhanced with memorable tunes and dance numbers, and then throw in a scruffy dog that takes stage direction, you’ve got a crowd-pleaser on your hands!

I love going to the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse – not just for the great shows, but for the memories that the old theatre brings. And on the day after Thanksgiving, I had the good fortune to take my eight year-old grandson John to the opening matinée of Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas, Circa '21's current children’s musical under the direction of Andrea Moore.

Written by Thomas Meehan and based on the 2003 film comedy, Elf: The Musical is filled with lively music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and director/choreographer Ann Nieman made great use of an exceptionally talented cast that didn't have a weak link in the bunch.

As I sat in the audience for the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's opening-night performance of Miracle on 34th Street, I had to constantly remind myself that I was watching a Christmas show. Not because the production wasn’t festive, but because I couldn’t believe the holiday season is already here!

Each of the collective 11 scenes lasts mere minutes and usually employs no more than two actors on-stage at a time, with no more than three actors in any given scene. But the beauty of the script is its poignant, witty, heartbreaking, and hopeful look at the one thing that bonds these characters under the Northern Lights on a bitter Maine night: love.

It's been said that laughter is the best medicine, and during the Circa '21 Speakeasy’s Friday-night production of The Rocky Horror Show, I got a really good dose of it. Bret and Erin Churchill, who co-directed and choreographed the show, have put together a fast-paced, high-energy production full of terrific singing and hilarious fun.

When director Catherine Bodenbender took center stage at the show's precise curtain time, she reminded the audience to silence their phones and provided a few additional tidbits of information. And then – like a stage manager would typically do behind the scenes – she yelled, “Actors: Places!”, and the cast marched out from their backstage dressing area and took their seats behind the audience. I thought: “This is gonna be cool.”

As soon as the Countess speaks in Jeff Coussens' production, the play is elevated to a new and higher realm entirely. This is, in part, due to the character as written, for the Madwoman sees into the heart of humanity and into the soul of life with the depth and perception of no ordinary human being. This is such a wonderfully endearing and funny role and, not least of all, a very demanding one, and I initially wondered how someone so young would manage it. But from the moment she first spoke, MJ Mason was in complete mastery of her character, and I was smitten.

Not to alarm anyone, but I think there may be a typo in the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's program for The Diviners, because it credits Mike Skiles for the show's “Set Construction.” I'm pretty sure that's meant to say “No-Set Construction,” given that there's literally no set for director Jalayne Riewerts' production – just Richmond Hill's traditional theatre-in-the-round space decorated by occasional props. That's not at all meant as a put-down. This touching, graceful take on playwright Jim Leonard Jr.'s period drama succeeds primarily because of its bare-bones, Our Town-esque simplicity, and those qualities, happily, are mirrored in the engaged, heartfelt portrayals by Riewerts' cast.

Pages