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Showing posts from October, 2013

At Home at the Zoo

Awkward social situations, touchy marital talks, and discussions about uncomfortable issues, you’d expect nothing less from the playwright who wrote, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Acting Up Productions’ current show “At Home at the Zoo” is a unique play to say the least. Originally presented as a one act production called “The Zoo Story,” the playwright added another act to the beginning of the show decades later. The result is a strange blend, but a fascinating one. The first act (the newer of the two) introduces us to Peter and Ann, a content married couple who somehow end up discussing some delicate issues.
The couple, played by Allison Reddick and Joshua C. Ramsey, are convincing as a pair who have grown accustomed to their monotonous lives. They’ve established a comfortable life, but like most couples, they long for a bit of excitement. Ann begins to wonder if they wouldn’t benefit from a little disorder in their world.
The second and more well-known act follows Peter (Ramsey) a…

An Iliad

A one-man show of The Iliad doesn’t sound too promising to most people. The epic story of the Trojan War simplified into a show with a single cast member sounds almost impossible. And yet the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s current Upperstage production blows audiences away.

An Iliad features Henry Woronicz in a tour-de-force performance. He is poet and player, warrior and widow all at the same time. He begins with the Greek language, naming cities and battles, but he quickly connects with the audience bringing the reality of war home to them. In modern day clothes he walks the littered alleyway in a big city reminiscing about the Greeks and Trojans. If the show was performed by a less talented actor it could easily have stalled-out, losing peoples’ attention in a sea of unfamiliar Greek words. Instead it’s mesmerizing in its complexity, maintaining a comedic edge despite the serious material.

The play is based on the Iliad, but it rises above being a retelling of the well-known story. Usin…

Les Misérables

When it comes to musicals they don't get much bigger or more complex than Les Misérables. The sheer size of the cast, the number of costumes and complicated sets make this production a huge endeavor for any theater to undertake. Beef & Boards decided to tackle that challenge head on for the first time in their 40 years of business. The powerful show is on stage now until November 24th.
The epic story covers decades of time and a huge cast of characters. At its heart is Jean Valjean (played by Broadway vet Gregg Goodbrod) a convict who breaks parole and starts a new life. He learns the hard way that a person can only depend on the mercy and generosity of others if they hope to survive. Goodbrod really hits his stride in the second act, nailing songs like “Bring Him Home.” Hot on his trail throughout the musical is Inspector Javert, a police officer who sees the world in black and white. Joe Tokarz plays Javert with such conviction it’s hard to look away. He’s a complex villain,…

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Last week if someone had asked me what Snow White, the Tony awards and Chekhov had in common I would have assumed it was the beginning of a bad joke. Instead, the answer is obviously the Phoenix Theatre’s season opener, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike. The title is a mouthful, but the play itself is a delight. The show won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play and audiences will have no trouble figuring out why. Witty dialogue, neurotic characters and a bit of absurdity thrown in for good measure make the show odd, but endearing.
Playwright Christopher Durang introduces us to a group of middle-aged siblings, two of whom still live in their childhood home after spending years caring for their now deceased parents. The third sibling, Masha, became a self-absorbed movie star. The play takes place over one weekend when Masha decides to visit her sedate siblings, Vanya and Sonia (their professor parents named them all after Chekhov characters). The whirlwind weekend includes a costume party…