Non-Registered Critics: Elaine L. Mura

Aug

Andy Warhol’s Tomato

With a well-written script and two very capable actors breathing life into quirky Andy and stolid Bonesy, ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO has taken a cute and certainly untrue story from Andy Warhol’s early life and turned it into a play with a profound and timeless message for all. Kudos for director Dana Jackson’s tender handling of dynamics which, in lesser hands, might falter. Light and projection designer Andrew Schmedake has done a brilliant job of turning the dull and dim basement into a place of light and life. Rich Rose’s scenic design has just the right grimy feel, and the entire production staff functions with creative competence. ANDY WARHOL’S TOMATO is a not-to-be-missed study of what goes into achieving the goals of self-understanding and acceptance. And, besides, it’s an entertaining and often humorous evening out.

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Aug

Fefu and Her Friends

Director Blasor helms the piece with panache and a knowing smile as the uber-talented cast whisper – and sometimes shout – their innermost thoughts and feelings...

FEFU AND HER FRIENDS is clearly a team effort! The result is a refreshing journey back in time which should prove entertaining to audience members.

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Aug

TRUE WEST

TRUE WEST is truly an acting dream for leads Clark and Hawkes, and they take full advantage of the opportunity. With gripping intensity, they run the gamut of emotions – as well as the gamut of physicality – as the tale progresses. Cameo performances by Goldman and Starzyk are right on the money. Director Scott Cummins takes full advantage of the powerful play and talented cast as he leads the brothers from apathy and fear to full-out aggression with the able assistance of violence designer Ned Mochel.

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Jul

The Direction Home

Director Kiff Scholl does an excellent job of keeping the action moving with the able assistance of a talented group of ensemble actors.

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Jul

Renovations for Six

Directed by Howard Storm, RENOVATIONS FOR SIX is a very funny, very real comedy about people in crisis – even if they don’t know it yet. The talented cast keep the chuckles coming even as they delve into some poignant and perhaps painful parts of their personalities. Their timing is precise, and it had better be – since the one set serves as home for the three couples who move in and out of each other’s way as they troop through their personal territory.

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Jul

Dancing at Lughnasa

DANCING AT LUGHNASA brilliantly dissects each of these characters as they interact with each other and the world. Director Barbara Schofield helms the talented Open Fist Theater Company with compassion, humor, and pathos. Each of the actors settles comfortably within the skin of their Irish characters – and, on top of it, their brogue is really convincing.

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Jul

Twelfth Night

As always, the Theatricum Botanicum acting troupe offers the Bard unvarnished tribute as only this dedicated group can. Comic confusion is interspersed with some darker elements – but the audience can be assured of a happy ending. The production team does a highly competent job of conveying all the action on the side of a mountain. All in all, Shakespeare himself would likely be very pleased with the current Theatricum Botanicum production of TWELFTH NIGHT.

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Jul

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

Hilarious, hysterical, sidesplitting, uproarious, quirky, off-the-wall – these are all adjectives which could be applied to this witty and very funny farce. THE PLAY THAT WENT WRONG Is a tour-de-force for visual comedy, cleverly enacted by an energetic and enthusiastic crew of ensemble actors who seem to read each other’s minds. Directed by Matt DiCarlo (the real-life helmsman), THE PLAY THAT WENT WRONG doesn’t miss a beat in turning every trope and possible error into a laugh.

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Jul

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

A witty and warm play which has no problem spotlighting justice, corruption, and morality, THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE gives the contemporary audience a chance to again appreciate Brecht at his best.

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Jul

The Skin of Our Teeth

This is a powerful play with a strong message which will resonate in today’s climate. Director Ellen Geer and the ensemble cast do an excellent job of holding together the multiple offshoots of the tale – which could easily get out of control in lesser hands. At the end of it all, everyone must admire the intensity and insight of playwright Thornton Wilder, who seemed to break every law of writing in order to draw attention to his primary theme, a theme of hope. As always, the entire production team keeps pace with the often convoluted tale and provides appropriate backdrop at every turn, even when required to activate a woolly mammoth.

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Jul

Scraps

Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, SCRAPS is presented with compassion and empathy, a fascinating peek at a world of trauma and loss.

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Jul

The Wedding Singer

Musical director Daniel Koh and choreographer Niko Montelibano join forces to present an upbeat music score. The production team also does a competent job of rolling out the 2006 musical with gusto. Finally, the cast more than makes up for their lack of professional chops by their enthusiasm and joie de vivre. Although somewhat miscast and uneven, THE WEDDING SINGER still manages to present a light-hearted and lyrical evening which should keep your toes tapping. After all, it’s always fun to revive oldie-but-goodie song and dance.

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Jul

AVENUE Q

Like the pre-school tots, even adults may learn something from AVENUE Q. And have a great time doing it. AVENUE Q is definitely one of the best productions ever staged by the Group Rep, a not-to-miss, one-of-a-kind show that will entertain, educate, and amaze everybody in the audience.

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Jun

The Producers

THE PRODUCERS is an uproarious, utterly ridiculous look at the inner workings of Broadway. The play pokes fun at everything and anything with nonsensical accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis, physical humor coupled with clever lines. In a word, nothing is sacred in Brooks’ hilarious comedy. Kudos to everyone involved in the production, including director Michael Matthews, music director Anthony Zediker, live band members (Leigh Anne Gillespie, Chris Payne, and Phil Moore), choreographer Janet Roston, costume designer E. B. Brooks, the entire production team, and – last but not least – a terrific ensemble cast with the energy, joie de vivre, and enthusiasm to keep up the rollicking pace to the last note. Special congratulations to Richardson Jones and Christopher Jewell Valentin, who are onstage almost throughout. The Celebration Theatre’s latest production, THE PRODUCERS, is one of their best.

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Jun

An Enemy of the People

Ellen Geer freely adapted the moral dilemma presented – but placed the account in South Carolina. To further add to the problems faced by the more contemporary characters, Ellen Geer added issues of race in the American South in 1980 – and even threw in a Ku Klux Klan meeting of the time...

...I’m sure that Ibsen would have approved of the original play’s changes, which bring some contemporary and contentious issues to the fore.

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Jun

Moby Dick - Rehearsed

The ensemble cast does an excellent job of gradually morphing into seafarers of the nineteenth century using anything at hand to make the journey real. MOBY DICK – REHEARSED is a rarely produced piece, a gem which highlights the talents of two giants, Herman Melville and Orson Welles. They may have been from different centuries, but they certainly spoke the same language.

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Jun

Bestseller

Actors Julia Davis and Sam Spanjian breathe life into these writers’ random narratives. An old hand at directing Quilter productions, Jane Page helms the world premiere comedy with a deft hand. The talented cast do a brilliant (and sometimes acrobatic) job of conveying Quilter’s tale.

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Jun

Anne, A New Play

Skilled director Eve Brandstein does an excellent job of creating a parallel universe as the adult Anne deals with the child Anne just beginning to come into her own. The ensemble cast does a powerful job of portraying these ill-fated participants as they survive day-to-day. Kudos to Ava Lalezarzadeh, who breathes life into Anne, a child on the brink of life – who will never make it. The actors are at turns happy, sad, hopeful, poignant, fearful – a kaleidoscope of emotions – as they just try to exist for another day. ANNE, A NEW PLAY is definitely worth an evening. It is entertaining while being thought-provoking, intense, provocative, and inspiring.

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Jun

FEELING LUCKY

In professional theater for over 40 years as an actor, playwright, featured writer, director, producer, and literary manager, Fife has probably seen it all – and then some. His idiosyncratic view of love, loss, and everything in between will delight audiences looking for a well-written fringe view of the world.

And let’s not forget the actors who bring Fife’s vignettes alive with humor and warmth... Each offers an amusing, poignant, lonely, and lost individual trying his best to make it in the dating game. Artfully directed by Yuval Shrem, who knows his way around the stage, the cast breathe life into each of their characters.

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Jun

Mistakes Were Made coulda-woulda-shoulda

If you’re ready for some poignant chuckles about the foibles and fancies of three men who didn’t know better then – but maybe do now, then MISTAKES WERE MADE is tailor-crafted just for you. Get ready to laugh as some of their thoughts reach out and touch your heart.

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  • Fefu and her Friends at the Odyssey Theatre
  • DIRTY TRICKS w/ The New Bad Boys of Magic