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Tri-State Theater
Let's discuss upcoming shows, secrets behind the scenes, things you never knew about the theater and why live theater is so darn entertaining.

Monday, March 31, 2008

More "Children of Eden" Photos

You can see more photos from recent rehearsals of Children of Eden in this photo gallery on the Herald-Dispatch web site.

Some of the masks and costumes that are part of the show are included in the photos (and look mighty impressive, I must say).

The show will be presented by First Stage Theatre Company in April at Marshall University's Experimental Theater.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Auditions Coming Up for "Sweeney Todd"

Auditions are also coming up for another well-known summer production: namely, Ashland Community and Technical College Theatre's presentation of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

The auditions will take place June 24 & 25, with performances on July 25, 26, 27 and August 1, 2, 3.

More info as it becomes available!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Cast List for "Forum"

ARTS has lined up its cast for its upcoming production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - a hilarious show that my family loved when we saw it on Broadway many years ago.

Here's the cast list:

Pseudolus - Bil Neal
Senex - James Lamp
Domina - Nancy Jackson
Hysterium - Clay McKnight
Lycus - David Day
Miles Gloriosus - Paul Neace
Erronius - Rick Fleenor
Philia - Brittany McKee
the Proteans - Elijah Boyles, Scott Burner, Nathan Mohebbi
the Courtesans - Michaele Craig, Candace Imperi, Jessica Saunders, Lexi Smith, Natasja van Dijk

Director - Beth McVey
Musical Director - Bruce Rous
Choreographer - Mary Petrany
Assistant Director - Terry Taangmeyer
Stage Manager - Ashleigh Bills
Producers - Josette Gibson and Beth Kilgore

The performances are June 20,21,22,27,28,29 with dinner or lunch before each show.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Auditions for HOT's Summer Shows

Huntington Outdoor Theatre recently announced the auditions for its summer shows - and at the same time revealed that it has replaced Annie in its lineup with a show that mixes the old and new. It's a production of Romeo and Juliet, with the twist of adding some modern music. It's a bold attempt, and kudos to HOT for trying something daring and different.

The show will alternate with the musical Anything Goes, and both shows will be preceded by a Children's Preshow.

The auditions for all those shows are coming up May 3, 4 and 10. You can find more info on the HOT website, which you can see right here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's Two Times 300?

Yet another milestone that only I care about - this post is number 600 for this humble blog, which got its start a year ago last October.

When the ol' odometer hits an increment of 100, you get to read a post just like this one, where I take a moment to say thanks, gentle reader, for taking the time to read our modest efforts here.

It's been great fun, and so far I see no signs of fatigue, so keep checking in here for the latest on theater news in the Tri-State area. Be sure to let me know of any news or shows you'd like to see mentioned here - you can send in a comment or send me an email at TheMinskers@aol.com.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let's Hear It For Beth!

The Marshall University Alumni Association sends along this information about a nice honor for one of Huntington's own stars:
The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Beth McVey, who has enjoyed a successful 28-year career performing and starring in numerous shows, both on Broadway and across the country. Her Broadway credits include the original company of 42nd Street, Annie, Nine, Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast.

She has had starring roles in four national tours and leading roles in about 20 productions at regional theaters across the country. The highlights include Mame in Mame, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Desiree in A Little Night Music, Evita in Evita, Julie in Showboat, and Kate in Kiss Me Kate. McVey attended Marshall from 1971-75 before transferring to Cincinnati Conservatory for her bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre.

In 2004 she moved back to Huntington, not to abandon her career in performing, but to allow herself to broaden her life to include teaching, directing and serving as executive director and on the board of ARTS. She is also on the executive board of the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center.

This award is given to Marshall alumni for outstanding national achievements in their particular fields of endeavor.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

'Children of Eden" Rehearsals Continue


Thanks to my pal Allen Louden for sending along some photos of rehearsals of Children of Eden.

The show will be presented at Marshall University's Experimental Theater next month. It's being put on by First Stage Theatre Company, and has a terrific cast! I was last at a rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, and they already sounded terrific, and the choreography was excellent, too - and I know it's even more incredible now!



I've never seen the show before, but I've heard lots of great things about it, so this one is on my "must-see" list. Tickets should be going on sale soon - I'll let you know as soon as they're available!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shrek - On Stage?

Yep, given the success of stage shows like Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid, is it any surprise to hear that there's a stage version of Shrek being prepared for Broadway? Not really, no. They've just announced the star for the show - here's the story from our pals with the Associated Press:
Shrek the Musical has found its Shrek.

Brian d'Arcy James will portray the green ogre in the stage adaptation of the popular Dreamworks film and the book by William Steig. The show opens Dec. 14 on Broadway.

The actor was most recently seen this season in the off-Broadway musical Next to Normal, playing a husband confronting his wife's mental illness. He was also on Broadway in such musicals as the 2006 revival of The Apple Tree, Sweet Smell of Success and Titanic.

The musical will also feature Chester Gregory II as the wisecracking Donkey and John Tartaglia as Pinocchio, it was announced Thursday.

Shrek
will begin preview performances Nov. 8 at the Broadway Theatre, following an out-of-town tryout at Seattle's Fifth Avenue Theatre in August and September.

Previously announced for the cast were Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as the evil Lord Farquaad and Kecia Lewis-Evans as the Dragon.

Shrek, which will be directed by Jason Moore, has book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori.

On the Net: http://www.shrekthemusical.com

Friday, March 21, 2008

One More Note About Governor's Academy

One more thing and then I'll move on to other topics - but I have to admit that I take pride in the fact that three of the young people from Cabell County who were selected for Governor's Academy - including Sarah Hayes for dance and Katy Pettit and Eric Newfeld for vocal music - have not only been active in First Stage Theatre for many years - but all three are students at Cabell-Midland High School, the alma mater of my sons!

Of course, I'm also proud of 'em because all three have been in shows I directed! But don't think I'm trying to take any credit - they're succeeding (and were cast in those shows and many others) because of their talent!

Congratulations again to one and all!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kudos to the 2008 Governor's Academy!

Thanks to my pal Mark who sent along the list of the Governor's Academy Class of 2008! As I've mentioned before, it's a terrific program that provides an invaluable experience to some of the state's most talented high school students. Congratulations to all these young people for being chosen! Here's the rundown (local students are in Bold Letters):

CREATIVE WRITING


Timothy Ryan (Mineral), Juliana Warner (Tucker), Amber Murphy (Raleigh), Bethany Dzielski (Harrison), Martin Lockman (Pocahontas), Rebecca Antley (Ohio), Jasmine Lewis (Wayne), David Byler (Wood), Sarah Abbot (Kanawha), Kayla Donnell (Fayette), Hayley Baxter (Pleasants) and Farah Famouri (Monongalia).

DANCE

Chelsea McGinnis (Raleigh), Kimberly Savarino (Monongalia), Kristen Belesky (Raleigh), MacKenzie Wardwell (Raleigh), Mary Kinkelaar (Harrison), Lindsay Scott (Kanawha), Sarah Hayes (Cabell), Cassie Worley (Raleigh), Lauren Dittebrand (Kanawha), Jordann Chesler (Harrison), Maura Fowler (Berkeley), Olivia Kinney (Harrison), Audrey Wright (Kanawha) and Elisabeth Offenberger (Wood).

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

Alexandra Atkinson (Kanawha), Merissa Dean (Berkeley), Bayan Misaghi (Kanawha), Eli Chambers (Putnam), Matthew Pitts (Raleigh), Rebecca McClure (Ohio), Brittany Chipps (Monongalia), Annick Odom (Monongalia), Brittany Bailey (Wyoming), Jarrett Hoffman (Monongalia), Taylor Giorgio (Kanawha), Jacob Sandridge (Barbour), Amna Khan (Raleigh), Andrew Bonasso (Marion), Allison Prescott (Monongalia), Sarah McKibben (Harrison) and Molly Thomas (Harrison).

DIGITAL MEDIA ART


Nathan Ward (Mingo), Krista Campione (Monongalia), Alexandra Neddo (Kanawha), Merideth Dushkoff (Wood), Nathan Mickinac (Hancock), Ryan Dormagen (Jackson), Christine Keplinger (Tyler) and Kellsi Dye (Wood).

THEATRE

Emily Kuhn (Mason), Natalie Spanner (Wood), Adam Rhodes (Preston), Anita Santilli (Ohio), Caitlyn Motes (Logan), Catherine Smith (Hardy), Julia Buhagiar (Berkeley), Hannah Stein (Hardy), Genevieve Yosco (Monongalia), Olivia Legg (Raleigh), Sharif Youssef (Ohio), Trenton Derryberry (Morgan) and Devon Cottle (Ohio).

VISUAL ART

Elisha Rush (Taylor), Sophia Kayfas (Ohio), Roman Butler (Ohio), Lisa Liang (Monongalia), Leah Ellyson (Lincoln), Shelby Hall (Roane), Joshua Carte (Fayette), Sarah Wilson (Cabell), Spencer Kinnard (Tyler), Courtney Conaway (Wetzel), Samuel Boehm (Berkeley), Johnna Manns (Jackson), Angela Titus (Tyler), Laura Gould (Kanawha), Corrine Martin (Morgan), Elizabeth Dohony (Mineral) and Chelsea Workman (Harrison).

VOCAL MUSIC

Cassandra Hackbart (Preston), Brandon Humphreys (Jackson), Kathryn Pettit (Cabell), Seth Stemple (Marion), Matthew Lilly (Mercer), Erin O’Neil (Kanawha), Graham Parks (Marion), Eric Newfeld (Cabell), Megan Hansberry (Harrison), Sarah Pauley (Kanawha), Brooke McCormick (Berkeley), Alyssa McKitrick (Ohio), Merica Crowley (Harrison), Madison Bowles (Raleigh), Riley Bonar (Ohio), Jessica Adkins (Nicholas), Janie Sinnett (Jackson) and Tyler Shaffer (Tucker).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Your Little Pony

I somehow neglected to mention the My Little Pony show tonight at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. I blame the fact that my kids are all grown up and no longer dragging me along to see such shows. (Oh, who am I kidding - I was always dragging them to those shows. My ears are still ringing from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe live stage show.)

For those who are more into Ponies and such, you can see some photos from the show right here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Farewell, Mr. Clarke

Sorry to note the passing of one of the giants of both science and science fiction. Sir Arthur C. Clarke, the author of the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey (and the short story it was based on, The Sentinel), along with dozens of books like Rendezvous with Rama, The Hammer of God and The Fountains of Paradise. All works of great imagination and insight.

What many people don't realize is that in 1945 he proposed the idea of using satellites for communications - and that would be enough for most people, but it's just one note on his resume.

He was the last member of "The Big Three" - the authors who were the pillars of science fiction for generations (the other two being Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, of course). At the age of 90 and in poor health, it's no surprise that he's gone - but it's still sad to see the end of an era.

It's not easy to name a favorite from that list, but for me, Arthur was the best - I read a collection of his earliest short stories recently, and was somewhat surprised to see how clever and funny he was even at an early age.

Asimov was incredibly prolific, and had written something like 300 books by his 60th birthday. Clarke always joked that he planned to write 60 books by the time he turned 300. I was beginning to think he was going to make it (to 300, I mean).

EDIT: It occurs to me that I should mention that Clarke ended up writing almost 100 books altogether.

I know, none of this has much to do with theater - but when a giant passes, it's only right to take off your hat and bow your head.

A Rare Video Treat

I heard some good news recently - my pal Allen emailed to tell me that the video of the First Stage Theatre Company production of High School Musical is finally finished!

If you're wondering why that's good news, it's because stage productions ordinarily don't allow theater groups to record video of their performances.

It's kind of frustrating, in that you spend months working on a show, and when it's over you have nothing to show for it but some still photos.

Disney is the exception to the rule - at least for this show. For a small fee, the producing company is allowed to take video of the show and make copies available to the cast members. We're not allowed to sell them to the public, but the cast will have a record of their efforts, so that's nice.

Of course, even the best video is only a pale shadow of what it was like to see the show live - but it's a great reminder of the fun times! Putting together a video of a show like that is a lot of work, too, so all this is my way of saying, "Thanks, Allen!"

Monday, March 17, 2008

HHS Goes to the State Thespian Competition

Congratulations to the Huntington High School Drama Team! Here's the news from my pal Stephen Vance:
Huntington High has qualified for the State Thespian competition with their one act play, I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Top performer awards were presented to HHS students Josefine Landgrave and Phil Cron.

They will compete in the state festival in April.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The More Things Change

It's not easy to plan ahead in the community theatre business. Well, actually, it's easy to plan ahead - but there's always the possibility that your plans will run into problems. That's the case this year with Huntington Outdoor Theatre.

The group had planned to stage Annie this summer, rotating that show with Anything Goes - but now those plans have changed. Apparently because of a touring show, no community theatre group in the Tri-State area will be able to stage Annie for a while.

When that kind of thing happens - and it happens to every theatre group at one time or another - the group has to scramble to replace the blank space in their schedule (apparently plans are going forward to stage Anything Goes). I don't think HOT has made an official announcement about its plans yet - but if the rumors I'm hearing are true, they're going to tackle an interesting project.

More on that as announcements are made.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Congratulations to "The Exonerated!"

This just in: the Charleston Stage Company cleans up in Tennessee! Here's the story:
The Charleston Stage Company production of The Exonerated won the top prize in the community theatre division at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn. Along with the best overall award, The Exonerated took the Community Theater Festival best directing award and four acting awards, one for outstanding acting by an ensemble and three for excellence in acting by individuals.

“I’m so proud I could just burst,” said director Susan Marrash-Minnerly. “This cast and crew have worked so hard and in a totally selfless way to created believable characters. I’m so happy the judges saw that in the production.”

The Southeastern Theatre Conference is the largest regional theatre conference in the country, drawing 4500 people from throughout the territory. The judges at the Community Theatre Festival part of the conference described the acting as so believable it could easily be confused with reality. They singled out performances by John Halstead, Joe Miller and Will Taylor, and described Marrash-Minnerly’s direction as effective but almost invisible.

More information on the production is available at www.wvexonerated.com.

The play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen tells the real stories of six people placed on death row, some for decades, before being absolved of the crimes and freed. Using a variety of letters, court transcripts, interviews and other materials, the play examines both the justice system and its effect on people’s lives.

It’s presented on an intentionally bare stage, set with a simple line of black chairs. The whole cast is on stage for the entire production, which is preformed in one act without interruption. The director says her intention was always to let the stories speak for themselves.

“Sometimes the most effective way to tell a story is just to get out of the way,” said Marrash-Minnerly.

The cast of ten includes three West Virginia State University students, three WVSU alums and one student at Marshall. Marrash-Minnerly said there are no weak performances in the group.
Congratulations to one and all!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Auditions Coming Up for "Forum"

One of the funniest shows to ever hit Broadway will be staged in Huntington in June - and auditions are coming up soon.

The show is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and it offers lots of roles for men (and several good ones for women, too). So if you've ever thought about being in a show, this is a great one to sign up for.

It's being staged by Arts Resources for the Tri-State, and auditions will be at 6:00 p.m. March 17 and 18 at The Renaissance Theatre located at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

The performance is scheduled for June 20-22 and 27-29.

For more information call (304) 733-2787.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Things Calm Down (Sorta)

After a hectic couple of weeks filled with more than a half-dozen shows lighting up local stages, things will be much more quiet this weekend.

There's only one show to see, as the Ashland Community & Technical College presents the final weekend of Footloose March 14, 15 and 16.

The musical is, of course, based on the popular Kevin Bacon movie about a young man who tries to bring some fun and excitement to a quiet country town. I haven't had a chance to see the show yet (I did see HOT's version a few years back), but if you like the movie, you're sure to enjoy the musical.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Classic Takes the Stage

If you're not into dancing, just move along... but those of you who are fans will want to be sure to be in the audience tomorrow night as Romeo and Juliet takes the stage at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center.

As the story in today's Herald-Dispatch says:
The 125 members of the Tchaikovsky Ballet and Orchestra bring to life the power, passion and sacrifice of forbidden love during a performance of Shakespeare's classic story, Romeo and Juliet.

The musical and visual feast takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Hailed by The New York Times as "wonderfully imposing" and possessing the "most powerful blend of acting and dancing," the performance will feature traditional ballet set to hauntingly beautiful music, as it portrays the story of two star-crossed lovers whose families are trapped in a vicious feud.

It explores the depths of human relationships, loyalty, passion, and sacrifice through the music composed by Sergei Prokofiev.

Considered as one of the greatest ballets of the 20th century, Romeo and Juliet is sure to touch the audience with its dramatic music, artistic sets and graceful ballet artists.
So there you go! If you miss it, you only have yourself to blame!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Apologies to All

Sorry to have fallen silent for a couple of days - I've been on the road and out of range of the interweb. But now I'm back in business, and that's good, because there are quite a few shows on the way.

Stay tuned, theatre fans!

Friday, March 07, 2008

On Stage This Weekend

Lots to choose from this weekend - including:

The Odd Couple (Female Version) - ARTS - March 7, 8, 9

Footloose - Ashland Community & Technical College - March 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16

Schoolhouse Rock Live - Backstage Players - March 7, 8

Thoroughly Modern Millie
- Ironton High School Drama Department - March 7, 8, 9

Add to that the Symphony concert on Saturday and much more on the way next week, and you realize: it's a great time to be a fan of the arts!

"The Odd Couple" - The Review

Thanks to an invite from my pal Amy Browning, I got to see a preview of the ARTS production of The Odd Couple, which takes the stage tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Renaissance Theater in Huntington.

But this is a different version of the show - the sexes of the cast have been flipped (wow, that was an interesting sentence). In other words, the male roles are played by females, and vice-versa. The story is otherwise very much the same and just as funny.

It tells the story of a slob, Olive Madison, who offers to share her apartment with her friend Florence Unger - Flo is left homeless when her husband announces he wants a divorce. Of course, the two are opposites in every way, and the conflict between the obsessive Flo and the messy Olive is at the heart of the show.

Director Bruce Rous has done a great job putting this show together, and the timing and pacing is perfect. He's also smart enough to cast some of the area's best comics in the show.

Playing the part of Olive is my pal Linda Reynolds, who is without a doubt one of the funniest and most skilled actors to ever take the local stage. She can get a howl out of the audience with nothing more than a look or a raised eyebrow, and she owns this part. It's a delight to watch her work.

Also terrific (heck, the whole cast is terrific) is Amy Knell as Florence. As the obsessive, neurotic and repressed Flo, she makes a great opponent for Olive and provides a lot of the show's funniest moments. She gets bonus points for being able to hold her own with Linda - it takes a great actress to manage that!

There are four female supporting roles, as the poker buddies in the original story become Trivial Pursuit-playing pals. Playing the part of police officer Mickey is Tara Hardwick (who has some fun moments as the "straight man"), Sylvie is played by Therese Kirby (another talented comic actress who gets the maximum mileage out of every joke), Vera is played by Jordan Bean (who gets laughs in the role of the dim-but-likeable friend), and Renee is played by Amy Browning (and I admit to being prejudiced because we're friends, but Amy is such a wonderful presence on stage - her expressions are priceless and she adds in some hilarious bits of business throughout - her obsession over the air scrubber had me on the floor. What a gifted comic actress!).

There are two males in the cast, and while they don't get a lot of stage time, they're hilarious every second they're on stage. As Manolo and Jesus Costazuela we have Dylan Clark and Stephen Vance - they started getting laughs on their entrance and didn't let up for the rest of the show. A hilarious turn from both guys!

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this show. I'm not a huge Neil Simon fan, but I do like the original Odd Couple, and I wasn't sure it would hold up after being "flipped." I'm happy to report that not only is it just as funny as the original - in many ways, I thought it was even funnier!

It's as simple as this: if you're looking for a show that will make you laugh, is irreverent and darned entertaining, look no further - check out The Odd Couple.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I Almost Missed "Chicago!"

My pal Mark Hayes reminds me that the touring show of the musical Chicago will hit the Paramount stage in Ashland next week - he even supplied this promo for it. What a guy!

(And I just realized - that makes six shows crowded into an eight-day stretch. Wow!)

Busy Times at Local Theaters


Last night the Marshall Artists Series wrapped up its latest presentation, Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major (the photos by Mark Webb are from the show), and it's just one of five plays being presented this week.

It's always hard to figure - there are less than 52 community theatre shows every year, yet they often show up on the same weekend - it's not unusual for two or three shows to be running in the same town on the same night in any given month.

Since there are only so many theatre-goers, you'd think the local groups would make more of an effort to avoid running on the same weekend - but there are lots of reasons why this sort of thing happens. Dealing with scheduling conflicts, avoiding things like holidays, major sporting events and other activities narrows down the choices. And perhaps it's wrong to complain about having too many shows to choose from. It sure beats the alternative!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Teddy and the Treasure


As I drove past the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center this morning I saw police officers getting ready to block Fourth Avenue - and that reminded me that there was a school show this morning of the latest touring show from the Marshall Artists Series.

But don't worry, you haven't missed anything - tonight the public can catch the new musical, Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major. Inspired by President Roosevelt and his family, the play is set in the summer of 1904, when Teddy gives his children Ethel, Kermit and Archie a copy of Treasure Island to read. When a real-life treasure map falls out, a full-blown mystery tour of the White House ensues.

Developed by The Kennedy Center in association with the White House Historical Association, the original new one-hour, family-friendly musical takes the stage at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $25, and youth tickets (17 and under) are $15.

You can read more about it right here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Coming up - "The Odd Couple"


The Odd Couple may be Neil Simon's most famous play - and it also may be one of his funniest. That show takes the stage this weekend at the Renaissance Theater - but with a twist (pardon the pun).

This is the "Female" version of the story, with the eternally-mismatched Felix and Oscar being played instead by Florence and Olive. It's a very funny show, and I'm looking forward to seeing this version.

The ARTS production is being directed by Bruce Rous, and features a terrific cast, including Linda Reynolds, Amy Knell, Amy Browning, Therese Kirby, Tara Hardwick, Jordan Bean, Dylan Clark and Stephen Vance (who also took the photo you see above). You can see more photos at the Herald-Dispatch photo gallery right here.

The shows run March 7 & 8 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.00, and you can also enjoy dinner at 6:30pm for an addional $15.00. There's also a show March 9 at 2:00 p.m. You can call for reservations at 304-733-2787.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"The Pillowman" - A Review

Community theatre tends to focus on the light and upbeat side of life (for proof, look at about 90% of the local offerings in the Tri-State).

Thank goodness there's room for more adult fare and thank goodness for theatre groups like the Charleston Stage Company for being willing and (more than) able to bring serious theatre to the community stage.

Their latest offering, which just wrapped last night, was The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh. It's the intense story of a writer who lives in a totalitarian state where the police have total power over his life. He's arrested after three children are killed in ways that seem to be based on stories he's written. Also under suspicion is his mentally-challenged brother.

The play focuses on the interrogation, and this is definitely not a show for youngsters. The language is harsh and the abuse is real and disturbing. But it's fascinating to watch the story unfold as we learn more about the lives and motives of all the characters.

I should caveat my comments by admitting that two of the actors in the show are good friends of mine - but even if they were strangers I'd tell you that they were both amazing in this show. Ryan Hardiman plays the author, Katurian, and you'd have a tough time finding a more challenging role. Ryan is on stage for virtually the entire play (the 30 seconds he's not on stage you can hear him screaming as he's being tortured). He manages to walk the thin line between being a sympathetic character, a victim and someone who must deal with tragic and heart-rending decisions. It's also a physical role, and he's got the bruises to prove it. If they gave out local awards for acting (and they should, shouldn't they?), this performance would put him at the top of the list of nominees.

The other actor who's a good friend is K.C. Bragg, who plays the "good cop" (though we use the term loosely), Tupolski. As one of the two policemen who interrogate Katurian, he presents a tough, no nonsense figure - calculating, cunning and sometimes cruel - but very good at his job. It's not easy to maintain that intensity through the length of the show, but K.C. manages it well, and even handles the bulk of the dark humor in the show (and there's a surprising amount of it).

I don't want to slight the other actors, who all did a tremendous job. Joe Wallace plays the other cop, Ariel, a brute who dishes out most of the punishment and directs the most intense anger at Katurian - but he's also the one with the biggest heart and presents possibly the show's most sympathetic character.

Dan Heyman tackled the difficult role of Katurian's brother. He is extremely convincing as the mentally challenged Michael, a very difficult role (and one that I can't say too much about without giving away too much of the plot).

Kudos also to Frieda Forsley and "Mommy" and Ronn Smith as "Daddy," and a special tip of the hat to Michelle Bowers for some outstanding puppetry work.

The production was spare but perfectly staged by director Tim Mace - an outstanding production in every way.

Congratulations to the company for an excellent production - it's wonderful to see an outstanding show that challenges the audience to think. More, please!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Theatre in March

March is shaping up as another busy month, with several great shows on the way. (That second weekend looks to be especially hectic.) Here's the lineup (feel free to let me know if I've missed any shows):

Charleston Stage Company
The Pillowman - March 1

Marshall Artists Series
Teddy Roosevelt & the Treasure of Ursa Major - March 4
Romeo & Juliet - March 11

ARTS
The Odd Couple (Female Version) - March 7, 8, 9

Ashland Community & Technical College
Footloose - March 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16

Backstage Players
Schoolhouse Rock Live - March 7, 8

Ironton High School Drama Department

Thoroughly Modern Millie - March 7, 8, 9

On Stage Tonight - Last Chance to See "Pillowman" - Next-to-Last Chance for "Footloose"

Tonight's your last chance to catch the intense play The Pillowman at the Capitol Center Theater in Charleston. It's been getting rave reviews (although it's not a show for chldren - it's quite intense). You can read more about it right here.

And it's your next-to-the-last chance to see Footloose, which is being staged this weekend at Fairland High School in Proctorville, Ohio. The show starts tonight at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday's show starts at 2:00 p.m. You can read more about it right here.