Theater

Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign (review)

Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign (review)

THE PLAY: This is based on the titular starlet who committed suicide by jumping off the (also) titular sign. It’s not really a narrative, but a string of songs featuring seminal people in her life.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Songwriter Dory Previn was known for her cleverly ironic and wonderfully witty lyrics. Since there’s no dialogue and no discernible plot, each actor gets “character moments” that are filled with quiet insights and uniformly outstanding singing. To make it more endearing, there are no microphones, so you can appreciate the voices and the words on a personal level. Although the entire cast is strong, Matt Polson turns every one of his moments into a delight of subtle timing and impish fun. Director George Boyd has kept the staging minimal (they mostly just stand or sit on stools) but Nicole Foret Oh has added a touch of simple, enjoyable choreography. Starlet Knight and Steve Belvin provide able accompaniment. While there’s no set, the lights are in pools that sometimes slight full illumination of the performers. Running time: 1:15

 

THE POINT: Although more a collection of clever songs than a narrative musical, this wonderful cast performs them beautifully, while inhabiting their characters, sometimes with touching depth.

 

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

At Firehouse Theatre thru 12/16

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Dan Cimo_Rachel Rose Gilmour_Kelsey Cordrey, Jessi Johnson, Matt Polson, Stevie Rice

Miracle on South Division Street (review)

Miracle on South Division Street (review)

To read this review visit RichmondMagazine.com.

 

or

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

The Dream Seller and the Forest Dwellers (review)

The Dream Seller and the Forest Dwellers (review)

To read this review visit RichmondMagazine.com.

or

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

To read this review visit RichmondMagazine.com.

 

or

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

 

 

Ripcord (review)

Ripcord (review)

THE PLAY: Two roommates in a senior living facility have very different personalities, which leads to escalating attempts at provoking each other.

 

THE PRODUCTION: This simplistic script by David Lindsay-Abaire that lacks much character development or narrative prowess. This leaden production does little to help. Ann Davis is all spunk and smiles as the happy roomie, while Jean Roberts played her role sour and dour. Both one-note performances lacked depth. The actors playing family members managed to add some energy with their brief appearances. This is the professional directing debut for Jimmy Mello and it shows: the staging if often static, the performances flat and the pacing deadly. These were the longest scene changes I’ve ever suffered through and they could have been ameliorated by taking advantage of the large space to create smaller areas of action. The bland set was equally lacking in personality. Running time: 2:05

 

THE POINT: The cast might have had the potential to create some memorable moments, but the director got in the way.

 

1 Stars (1 / 5)

 

A CAT Theatre production (closed)

 

Bartley Mullin, Brandy Samberg, Jon Piper, Ann Davis, Jean Roberts

The Santaland Diaries and Season’s Greetings (review)

The Santaland Diaries and Season’s Greetings (review)

THE PLAY: Two one-acts taken from a David Sedaris book about the Christmas holidays.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Act One features Jacqueline Jones as a demure housewife dictating her annual Christmas letter. It starts out sweet, but takes a dark turn. Jones comfortably chats with the audience, making even the character’s offhand racism seem almost harmless. She mines every opportunity for the (mostly genteel) laffs, but the piece seems to be trying too hard. The second act has Robert Throckmorton playing a Sedaris surrogate, who recounts his experiences as an Elf at Macy’s Santaland. Throckmorton’s offhand delivery and perfect timing land every line for maximum comic effect. Although I can’t quite put my finger on it, the humor seems somewhat dated and the play less hilarious that I remembered. Director T. Ross Aiken has nimbly staged the show to make the most of  the space and keep the pace brisk. David Ballas turns an almost 2-D kitchen set into a full-depth Santaland, both provide attractive backgrounds. Running time: 2:00

 

THE POINT: If you enjoy your Holiday entertainment with a sassy twist, this delightful duo will get you in the (mean) spirit.

 

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

At Richmond Triangle Players thru 12/16

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Jacqueline Jones (Photos by John MacLellan)

 

Hillary and Clinton (review)

Hillary and Clinton (review)

THE PLAY: This extended conversation is set in some sort of alternate universe in 2008, when Hillary Clinton is conducting her primary race for President.

 

THE PRODUCTION: This peculiar show presents the personal discourse behind the political conversation that might have occurred between key figures. With something this cerebral, it’s vital that the actors carry the wealth of the sometimes clever dialogue. Jeff Clevenger and Billy Christopher Maupin are downright brilliant in their development of magnetic personalities and their mastery of the sharp repartee. As Hillary, Patricia Alli can usually handle it, but doesn’t rise to the level of commanding presence that the pivotal character should embody. Waleed Sami’s newcomer status is obvious. Director Deejay Gray has managed the show’s challenges with assured, simple direction, while his set makes beautiful use of the small space with an all-white hotel room to suggest otherworldliness.  The abrupt switches in lighting don’t work. Running time: 1:10

 

THE POINT: An interesting think piece.

 

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

A HATTheatre production (closed)

 

The Andrews Brothers

The Andrews Brothers

To read this review visit RichmondMagazine.com.

Murder Ballad (review)

Murder Ballad (review)

THE PLAY: A love triangle that ends in death.

 

THE PRODUCTION: The audience is surrounded by this show because the actors move through the nightclub space as they play out the passion. Director Lucien Restivo’s consummate creativity and swirling staging immerses the audience in the conflict. As a result, viewers sitting on the floor experience the close-up visceral impact of powerful emotions and extraordinary voices. The show is entirely sung and the quartet of powerhouse singers elevates the catchy rock score. Rachel Rose Gilmour narrates the show with sassy, sultry style. Chris Hester’s underplayed delivery is a welcome development. Durron Tyre’s emotional and vocal intensity is simply gripping. Katrinah Carol Lewis is at the center of the story and as such, gives one of the most nuanced and powerful performances of her exceptional career. The band under the direction of Kim Fox provides a perfect musical backdrop. Michael Jarrett’s lights dynamically direct focus on the action, while boosting the drama. Joey Luck’s sound mix was flawless for those sitting in line with the speakers, although I was told that it’s less successful for people on the sidelines. Running time: 1:10 (There may be a late starting time due to food service before the show.)

 

THE POINT: The dynamic staging, intense performances and magnificent vocals turn this “Ballad” into a killer theatrical experience.

 

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

A 5th Wall Theatre production at Club Infuzion thru 11/18

Click here to see my video interview with the director.

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Desire under the Elms (Review)

Desire under the Elms (Review)

To read this review visit RichmondMagazine.com.

Death with Drinks! (Video 2:33)

Death with Drinks! (Video 2:33)

The first production of the season from 5th Wall Theatre is MURDER BALLAD. It’s a musical about a love triangle, but the interesting part is that it’s an immersive experience taking place in an actual bar. I went to a rehearsal to interview director Lucian Restivo and get an early glimpse at the production.

 

The show runs 10/ 26 – 11/18 at Club Infuzion (1401 Roseneath Rd)
Doors open at 6:30 for food & drink service
Show begins at 7:30

 

 

Watch Video

Artsies 2017 recap

Artsies 2017 recap

The Richmond Theatre Critics Circle presented the Artsies on 10/9 at Virginia Rep’s November Theatre (click here for a list of the awards). It was a salute to “10 Years Celebrating Excellence” and featured most of the hosts from the previous decade: Melissa Chase, Debra Clinton, Georgia Rogers Farmer, Michael Hawke, Melissa Johnston Price, Desiree Roots, Jill Bari Steinberg, Heather Sullivan, plus a surprise appearance from Anne Holton who presented the final awards of the night. Holly Timberline and Rich Griset were understudies for Juan Conde, who had to cancel at the last minute.

 

The celebration after-party held at was Quirk Hotel.

 

Here’s my recap video (Click on the + to watch):

Watch Video

 

 

Three videos were shown during the event (all produced by TVJerry). Click below to watch them without the noisy audience.

 

10 YEARS!

 

Watch Video

 

 

Richmond Theatre LEGACY Awards

 

Watch Video

 

In Memoriam

This video was accompanied by a live performance of “Never Grow Old” from cast members of past “Quilters” productions, one of which was directed by John Glenn. (Special thanks to Jacquie O’Connor)

 

Watch Video

 

 

Page 1 of 37123»