Theater

Triangle’s new season

Triangle’s new season

“This season celebrates the past, the present and the future of LGBTQ theatre,” said RTP executive director Philip Crosby.  “We have plays that changed the way how our community has been represented onstage, looked at in a new fresh way, as well as just as many Virginia premieres that give us a look at ourselves onstage today.  Plus, we are embarking on a New Works development program that we hope will help define what LGBTQ theatre will look like in the years to come.”

 

THE SHOWS:

 

Falsettos by William Finn and James Lapine (9/4 – 10/5)

This Tony Award-winning musical revolves around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door.

 

The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O’Brien (10/17 – 26)

Brad and Janet confront the one and only Frank N. Furter in the greatest musical cult classic of our generation.

 

Times Square Angel by Charles Busch (11/13 – 12/21)

In the spirit of fantasies such as A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, an angel in the form of a sexy vaudeville magician named Albert comes down to show Irish that the path she’s been taking is leading her to disaster.

 

The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter  (2/12 – 3/7)

From one of the writers of the TV smash This Is Us. this is about a woman who makes cakes, but encounters problems when a same-sex couple needs a cake.

 

Sugar in Our Wounds by Donja Love (4/1- 25, 2020)

On a plantation somewhere down south, there’s a mystical tree where generations of slaves have been hanged. When a stranger arrives, a striking romance emerges.

 

A New Brain by William Finn and James Lapine (5/14 – 30)

An energetic, sardonic, often comical musical about a composer during a medical emergency.

 

Head Over Heels by James Macgruder and Jeff Whitty; songs by The Go-Gos.  (6/17 – 7/8)

This laugh-out-loud love story is set to the music of the iconic 1980’s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s”

 

The Cabaret Series

 

Charles Busch, singer, raconteur and gay theater legend, brings his new show to RTP for two performances only.

 

New Year’s Eve Celebration! Featuring local award-winning actor, singer and sell-out cabaret artist Scott Wichmann (December 31, 2018)

 

Bare: a pop opera: the reunion concert, April 14, 2020. RTP’s RTCC-winning Best Musical of 2013 returns in a one-night only reunion concert featuring members of its original cast!

 

Subscriptions will go on sale to renewing subscribers June 1, and will be available to the general public on June 15; individual tickets go on sale four weeks prior to each opening night.  For more information, please visit RTP’s website at or call 804-346-8113.

 

Wrong Chopped (review)

Wrong Chopped (review)

THE PLAY: What starts as a twisted spoof on the cable cooking show deteriorates into dada.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Starting with Levi Meerovich’s unorthodox “overture,” this world premiere takes a deep dive into Theatre of the Absurd…and then some. The enthusiastic cast is committed to the strange direction that this silly narrative takes them, with Chandler Matkins creating an amusingly glum fatalist and Dante Piro, who’s simply quirky AF. There’s also live and pre-taped video that even ends up in the audience, most of which was primed for the wackiness. As one character states, “This is a bad play.” The intentional sloppiness and willful weirdness feels somewhat like the last, often unexplainably bizarre sketch on SNL. It’s not traditional theatre in so many ways, but people ready for an irreverent and irrational experiment might find themselves challenged or entertained. Running time: 1:25

 

THE POINT: This crazy mess thwarts traditional theatre and doesn’t succeed by traditional standards, but it does subvert convention in abnormal and sometimes interesting ways (which is their objective).

 

(2 / 5)

 

At Firehouse Theatre thru 6/8

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Tara Makala, Payton Slaughter, Tyler Stevens, Doug Blackburn, Chandler Matkins, Dante Piro, Chelsea Matkins, John Mincks, Abbey Kincheloe (Photos by Bill Sigafoos)

Something Rotten! (review)

Something Rotten! (review)

THE PLAY: A theatre company can’t seem to best the plays being written by their chief competitor: Shakespeare. After visiting a soothsayer, the brother-owners decide to produce the world’s first musical.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Although this is set in the Renaissance, there’s a modern sensibility that allows for lots of satirical commentary and clever comedy. It’s also enjoyable trying to suss out the references to contemporary classics, especially in the show-stopping highlight “A Musical.” There are several big numbers and (in another contemporary take on tradition) the 5-piece orchestra sounds great! While there’s no standout in the cast, everyone is uniformly solid and full of boundless energy. The bounty of clever directorial touches adds lots of levity. I’m sure a lot of the lyrics are funny, but the bad sound curse of the Altria makes it hard to follow some of the songs. The Tudor themed set serves well and the embellished period costumes add a humorous touch. Running time: 2:30

 

THE POINT: This cleverly-written, delightfully-staged musical offers an original concept that’s fun and fresh.

 

(4.5 / 5)

 

A Broadway in Richmond production at the Altria Theatre thru 5/19

 

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Gloria (review)

Gloria (review)

THE PLAY: A lively look at the career frustrations and office politics at a publishing firm turns dark after a turning-point event.

 

THE PRODUCTION: The actors are given a chance to grow their characters and change their moods with each act, which they handle with skill. While the entire cast is excellent, Anne Michelle Forbes’ caffeinated millennial motormouth and Happy Mahaney’s idiosyncratic physicality add some manic moments. The play loses some of its impact after intermission by using the dialogue to draw conclusions and make social commentary. Still, it remains involving. As is one of her strengths, Anna Senechal Johnson’s quiet direction focuses on helping her ensemble create compelling characters, while keeping the staging simple (although I’m not sure how well the front row could see the actors behind their computers). Her handling of the first act climax was masterful. Rich Mason has crafted another impressive triple-duty set echoing a modern warehouse space with exposed wood and brick, plus translucent panels. Running time: 2 hours

 

THE POINT: This production’s creation of compelling characters and involving situations make this an interesting examination of the effects of trauma in the workplace.

 

(4 / 5)

 

A co-production of Cadence Theatre and Virginia Rep at the Theatre Gym thru 6/2

 

Matt Polson and Happy Mahaney (Photos by Jason Collins Photography)

Animal Control (review)

Animal Control (review)

THE PLAY: An unfortunate incident at a dog park results in a confrontation at the animal shelter.

 

THE PRODUCTION: In this world premiere, the dialogue is often compelling, although sometimes the repartee is a bit forced. The script could be streamlined (especially in several two-person scenes) to strengthen the show’s already dramatic impact. In Act 2, the dialogue becomes a debate on good dog vs. bad dog, which dilutes the human interest.  Act 3 delays the conflict with too much extraneous chatter. Still, Hubbard is a promisingly mature writer who’s created the best original play of the last few seasons.

As for the production, the solid cast handles the conflicts well with Arik Cullen creating an imposing presence, both physically and emotionally. Director Joel Bassin has confidently managed a dynamic flow to the pace that keeps it involving. The set by Phil Hayes is a perfectly grungy break room. Running time: 2:00 with 2 intermissions.

 

THE POINT: The production is affecting and well-staged. The play (while in need of tightening) creates a compelling situation.

 

(4 / 5)

 

At Firehouse Theatre thru 5/12

 

Donna Marie Miller, Lucretia Marie Anderson, Arik Cullen, Adam Turck (Photos by Tom Topinka)

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (review)

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (review)

THE PLAY: A college dean deals with the “extinction” of their natural history museum, while coping with her young girlfriend and her ailing ex.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Let’s tackle the play: From the opening scene, it was obvious that this is painfully over-written. Every scene could be at least half as long. At the core is a potentially effective romantic drama. The extraneous elements (the diorama and the newspaper-reading caretaker) are supposed to add social and satirical commentary, but instead they clutter the core of the play’s relationships.

As for the production: This solid cast is comfortable with their characters. They assuredly create warm interactions and even a few moments of comedy. Director Lucien Restivo has focused on their connections and extracted humor out of 3 characters’ millennial attitudes. Even so, the excessive dialogue drags the pace. By creating 5 areas, Chris Raintree’s set makes efficient use of the space, but doesn’t add any attractiveness to the humdrum surroundings. The other technical elements are fine. Running time: 2:40

 

THE POINT: Even if you sit thru all the surplus dialogue and commentary to uncover the affecting relationship story, the extended length makes it hard to handle.

 

(2.5 / 5) That’s and average of 4 stars for the production, but only 1 star for the play.

 

At Richmond Triangle Players thru 5/4

 

Maura Mazurowski & Ray Wrightstone in the diorama, Shaneeka Harrell at the table, Meg Carnahan and Annie Zanetti in the bed. (Photos by John MacLellan)

Atlantis (review)

Atlantis (review)

THE PLAY: Life is ideal in the mystical, magical lost kingdom, until a stranger washes up on their shores to challenge their basic beliefs.

 

THE PRODUCTION: While this is billed as “a new musical,” there’s nothing especially original in the staging or the story about a spunky young woman who yearns for what’s beyond her island. Even so, there’s little reason to care for her or most of the other rather nondescript characters (except maybe the sweet young girl played by Lucy Caudle). Even the comic duo’s repartee lacks spunk. After they open the second act, it’s pretty much one long dreary, dramatic song for the rest of the show. There’s no denying that the production is gifted with grand voices and earnest performances. The musical direction by Anthony Smith and team is solid, but the songs have a generic Broadway blandness. Director Kristin Hanggi has filled the stage with flash and movement, while the choreography by Kikau Alvaro feels stylistically unique. It’s always a challenge to create a new world. There should be exotic flourishes in the look and style. Some elements in Jason Sherwood’s beautifully dazzling set of trellises woven with leaves and lights feels original, while Amy Clark’s costumes are a jumbled mash-up of ancient civilizations (and not as eye-popping as their surroundings). BJ Wilkinson’s lights add to the flash. One thing that took me out of this world was the use of modern phrases like “ish” and “totally.” Then one of the major characters is named Alexa, which harkens back to my kitchen smart speaker. To top it off, 2 men (in what appeared to be modern dress) strolled across the stage to move a scenic element in Act 2. Running time:2:25

 

THE POINT: Despite the accomplished musical performances and the eye-popping tech, the muddled, rather bland story undermines the show’s appeal.

 

(3 / 5)

 

At Virginia Rep’s November Theatre thru 5/5.

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

Company of Atlantis (Photos by Aaron Sutten)

Bad Dates (review)

Bad Dates (review)

THE PRODUCTION: In almost every rom-com there’s a montage of unfortunate dates. This is an extended version of that, but sadly, this version isn’t especially interesting and certainly not as funny as hoped. Maggie Bavolack is undeniably competent with comedy, but she had little to work with here. Even so, she’s comfy having a casual conversation with the audience (with pretty much the same delivery she had in An Act of God). After a mildly entertaining first act, we finally get glimpses of vulnerability in Act 2. This gives Bavolack a chance to bring some touching emotion into the mix. Director Melissa Rayford effectively moves her around the stage, keeping her occupied with dressing, makeup and other date prep. Ruth Hedberg supplies some attractive dresses and fun shoes, but the wardrobe business is sometimes distracting. Running time: 1:30 (with intermission)

 

THE POINT: The titular events are recounted with chatty ease by Maggie Bavolack, but it only gets compelling in Act 2.

 

(3 / 5)

 

Part of the Women’s Theatre Festival sponsored by 5th Wall Theatre and TheatreLAB at The Basement thru 4/17

Pinocchio (review)

Pinocchio (review)

THE PLAY: This version of a puppet who dreams of being a real boy is a combination of the classic story and the Disney movie.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Even though there are some sparks of comedy, this tale is darker than most children’s plays. There are plot points that aren’t in the movie and some the film left out. The simple songs are pleasant and sung with likable voices. The able, versatile cast creates an involving experience with aplomb and charm. Director Bruce Miller (in his last show for Virginia Rep) has focused more on the interactions instead of a lot of staging embellishments (although there are some fantasy elements). The youngsters especially enjoyed the moments of audience interaction and most children managed to stay spellbound throughout. Terrie Powers has created an Italian village background with a few extra scenic elements in a simple, storybook style. The costumes by Marcia Miller Halley also echo the period, with the Blue Fairy’s dress getting the most attention. Running time: 1:00

 

THE POINT: This telling of the classic tale is more dramatic than expected, but the capable cast makes it appealing.

 

(3.5 / 5)

 

At Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn thru 5/5

 

Bridget Sindelar, Eve Marie Tuck, Tevin Davis and Landon Dufrene (Photos by Aaron Sutten)

Pretty Fire (review)

Pretty Fire (review)

THE PLAY: Accomplished theatre/TV actor Charlayne Woodard wrote this recollection of highlights from her first 11 years.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Haliya Roberts has been in 2 previous Richmond shows, but this role gives her a chance to display her considerable talent. She brings a bracing physicality and impressive versatility to every moment…jumping in and out of various personalities…as she recounts the highlights from her character’s youth. Roberts is a captivating storyteller brimming with life, joy and occasional pain. With only a bench, director Carol Piersol has let the staging focus on the stories, while nicely augmenting Roberts’ abundant skill. Erin Barclay’s simple lighting also adds depth. Running time: 1:20 (No intermission)

 

THE POINT: This breakthrough performance by Haliya Roberts firmly stakes her claim as one of our community’s exciting new talents

 

(4.5 / 5)

 

Part of the Women’s Theatre Festival sponsored by 5th Wall Theatre and TheatreLAB at The Basement thru 4/17

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

Golda’s Balcony (review)

Golda’s Balcony (review)

THE PLAY: Golda Meir, the famous Prime Minister of Israel, recounts her challenges with the Yom Kippur War with a few flashbacks to her personal life.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Jacqueline Jones is one of Richmond’s most accomplished actors and she does a commendable job in the one-woman show. The challenge is the script, which focuses heavily on the maneuvers of the war with scant details of her life outside politics. As a result, it’s basically a history lesson that leaves Jones to present the information, instead of getting the chance to flex her emotional range. Director Debra Clinton has kept her moving around the stage and added tech elements to make it feel less solitary, but it still needs an emotional core that’s in short supply. Running time: 1:30 (no intermission)

 

THE POINT: More informative than moving.

 

(3 / 5)

 

Part of the Women’s Theatre Festival produced by 5th Wall Theatre & TheatreLab at The Basement

 

Photos by Destiny Martinez

Bright Star (review)

Bright Star (review)

THE PLAY: This is a folk tale about an aspiring writer and the tragic results of a forbidden romance.

 

THE PRODUCTION: This play’s style and story are motivated by classic Southern writers, so it needs an evocative atmosphere to echo their distinctive approach. Tom Width’s direction doesn’t deliver on that front, which renders the bland characters and simple emotions less effective. Grey Garrett sounded lovely, but couldn’t manage the melodrama. Jim Morgan fared better on that front, but his voice was often strained. Rachel Marrs’ rousing “Pour Me Another Round” is the show’s highlight. The songs by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell have an easy folk quality with bluegrass elements and the 7-piece band under the direction of Paul Deiss sounded wonderful (kudos to Andrew Cravey & Jason “Blue” Herbert for an excellent sound mix). Joe Doran’s lighting added considerable drama to Width’s otherwise bland set. The costumes by Maura Lynch Cravey may have been period accurate, but the dresses were downright plain. Running time: 2:25

 

THE POINT: This simple folk tale is adequately presented, but the straightforward approach doesn’t take advantage of the genre’s nostalgic tone.

 

(3 / 5)

 

At Swift Creek Mill Theatre thru 5/11

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Photo by Robyn O’Neill

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