Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dr. Dolittle - California Musical Theater, Sacramento

The classic tale of the animal-loving Dr. Dolittle done as only Tommy Tune could do it is brought to life for all to enjoy in this finale to the 2005-2006 Broadway Series Season. Song, dance and puppetry are brought together in a festive and exciting show in this production of Dr. Dolittle. Dr. Dolittle's search for innocence from the accusations of murder and the famous Great Pink Sea Snail lead the audience on a 90 minute, intermissionless adventure.

Dr. Dolittle is the show to see if you want to bring your children to the theater this season. The fast-paced nature of the show and short run-time are ideal for children. The plot is easy to follow and is rapidly pushed forward at the speed of a child's imagination. This can lead to some confusion for adults, but as has been proven time and again, when it comes to imaginative adventures children are clearly much more agile and fit for the challenge! The entire show is based on fun, love and open-heartedness. There is not a single moment that does not exude these qualities.

Patti Colombo's and Joel Blum's choreography is the shining star of this production. The exciting tap numbers keep the audience tapping their toes and are very clearly extremely fun for the actors. Kenneth Foy's sets and Ken Billington's lighting designs are elegant and impressive from start to finish. And of course, Tommy Tune's performance shines just as brightly now as it did when he started his career in 1965. Dee Hoty (Lady Emma Fairfax) is an able match for Tune's stage presence and the two compliment each other's styles very well. One of the more entertaining and endearing qualities of this show is the puppetry. All of the animals in their elegance and liveliness come to life by their talented puppeteers.

Though this show isn't any profound piece or incredible score, the show is fantastically fun and a wonderful hour and a half of enjoyment.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged - Absurd Reality Theater at the Northwest Actors Studio

Is is possible for three men to perform all thirty-seven of William Shakespear's plays in one hour and a half performance? Apparently it is! The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged combines modern rap, classical theatre, improvisation, all of Shakespeare's plays and Chuck Taylor All-Stars. This production, managed by Amanda Stoddard and created by the artistic team as a whole, takes the skeleton of a play that has been laid down by writers Adam Long, Daniel singer and Jess Winfield and gives it it's guts and skin. However, the guts and skin don't hold together too strongly. In this short play, timing and delivery are painfully important and difficult to control. Neither of these elements are as solid as they need to be. For the most part, the deliveries seemed a bit forced and inauthentic. Aside from the acting elements, the technical aspects also seemed a bit off kilter. The sound cues all seemed to be having volume difficulties, either too loud or much too quiet to fit with the action on stage.

Though there are some pitfalls to the production, it is extremely entertaining! Though the sound cues are somewhat troublesome, what they are are hilarious. The song choices and use are fantastic. Also, the simplicity of the set with the humorous and fun swirl design on the curtains add the aspect of whimsicalness to the set that exists in the play itself. Brandon Ryan, one of the three actors, does an outstanding job in his roles and Tracie Owens (Light Operator) is as precise as the lights themselves.

This is a fantastically fun production to see and experience and even participate in. Enjoy the couches and the wacky fun of the show!

Monday, June 05, 2006

King John - Upstart Crow Productions at Capitol Hill Arts Center

Though King John's soul may have elbow room, there is certainly no room for anything to be lacking in Upstart Crow's production of King John at the Capitol Hill Arts Center. The story of King John is a bloody and treacherous slippery slope of war and murder. From King to warrior to corpse, King John fights his way to the top then clamors down the other side of the mountain, taking everyone he can down with him - or should I say her? Rosa Joshi's (director) production of King John is comprised of a fully-female cast attired in the powerful suits of the Twenty-First Century mixed with the crests and skins of the Twelfth. This lends an interesting slant and interpretation to this ancient history. The succession implications that are readily apparent in our war-stained world today are dealt with through the writing of William Shakespeare in the telling of the story of this King John. With the costumes - by Melanie Taylor Burgess - transcending any specific time restraint, the set, too, has to go beyond any specifics. This is fantastically accomplished by the set team originally led by Jennifer Zeyl. The blood spattered metal-plated floors and walls give the audience a feeling of an abandoned meat locker in a butcher's shop with the crests of England and France on either end of the long refrigerator. The simplicity and subtleness of the set is wonderfully complimented by the lighting design of Pattie West. The fades and spots that match the action and sound cues by M. Elizabeth Eller keep the audience perpetually on seat's edge. Rosa Joshi's direction of this production is phenomenal. Her interpretation of modern implications an the ways in which the actors deliver these centuries-old lines and still make them part of our own time are very precise and meticulous which gives the audience the ability to sit up and enjoy the rollercoaster ride. The cast is, overall, extremely strong. Amy Thone's portrayal of King John is incredible and Peggy Gannon's work as Philip the Bastard is equally impressive. Their stage presence is undeniably captivating and their emotions are felt by each member of the audience.

This production is an incredible work of art and I regret not having a chance to see it until the closing performance. However, look for more from Upstart Crow productions in the future!