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Showing posts from February, 2013

Sister Act

Nuns have always had a successful run in musical theater. From The Sound of Music to Nunsense, people have proven they love to see sisters belt out songs on stage. Sister Act is the latest in a long line of Broadway productions to bank on this fact. The movie musical, based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, is on stage now at the Old National (Murat) with Broadway Across America.

The story is about a struggling singer, the girlfriend of a night club owner, who witnesses a murder and must go into hiding. The police decide to hide Deloris in the last place anyone would look, a nunnery. She’s forced to reign in her wild behavior and abide by their rules. She finally finds an outlet for her passion to sing by directing the church’s choir. The story is really secondary to the string of big musical numbers that carry the show. Hollis Resnik plays Mother Superior and provides a constant stream of acid quips, keeping the audience in stitches. Fans of the movie will recognize all of the…

Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper is a mind-bending look at one woman’s struggle with mental illness. The play, a NoExit Performance project produced in association with Q Artistry, was adapted and directed by Ryan Mullins. The world premier of this adaptation is on stage until March 9th.
The ├╝ber creepy story was originally published in 1892 and tells the story of Charlotte, a woman who is staying in the country with her husband in order to quiet the symptoms of her nervous depression (possibly post-partum depression). Her husband’s solution is a forced isolation and avoidance of all intellectual stimulation. He has set her up in a strange room where the walls are covered with ugly yellow wallpaper. As the story progresses she becomes obsessed with it and believe she can see a woman lurking behind the designs in the wallpaper. The longer she remains confined to the room the deeper she descends into her madness, taking the audience along for the ride.
The set is genius. The play requires the audienc…

The Fox on the Fairway

The Fox on the Fairway, a fun farcical romp, is on stage now at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre. The play is about a heated golfing competition between two rival country clubs. The stakes are raised when side bets are made and everything depends on the outcome.

I think farces often work a bit better as period pieces. There is more room for misunderstandings and scandalous situations when there are more taboos. Setting one in present day leaves little room for any true shocks. That doesn’t take away from the humor; it just feels a bit more like a TV sitcom with over-the-top humor and confusion that’s all ironed out by the end of the episode.
Jean Childers-Arnold plays Pamela, a jilted ex-wife and a board member at the country club. Her comedic timing was one of the highlights of the show. She slipped in quick-witted barbs at all the right moments. Dickie Bell (Paul Ellis) and Louise (Melissa Mellinger) battle it out for the role of the loudest one on the stage. I think Bell’s sweate…

Next to Normal

A musical about mental illness sounds like a tough sell, but the Pulitzer-Prize and Tony-Award-winning show Next to Normal makes the subject matter enthralling. The show is about one woman’s struggle with mental health and her fight to find a balance between spinning out of control and complete numbness.
It’s a story so raw and intimate you almost feel like a voyeur watching another person’s personal hell unfold in front of you. The impact of Diana’s breakdowns on her family is startling; every aspect of their life is shaped by her disease. Their loneliness is visceral and you can’t help but feel their pain. The set is unique and jarring; angled screens hang from the ceiling and stark shades of black and white cover ever surface. The world created is a representation of Diana’s life, off-kilter and lacking in all color.

The six-person cast is led by Emily Ristine. She stars as Diana, a woman with bi-polar disorder stemming from a tragedy that happened years before. Her internal struggle…