Review: Pure entertainment now plays on The Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage with their production of Mamma Mia!

Review: Pure entertainment now plays on The Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage with their production of Mamma Mia!

It was not a perfect performance, but live theatre is rarely all together perfect and that is one reason why people love it so much. It’s fresh, exciting and anything can happen; just like life. The audience couldn’t get enough and stood loudly applauding not only during curtain call, but again through and to the end of the encore. Direct quotes from the audience after the show: “Wow”, “Excellent”, “So much fun”, “I loved it” and many more positive comments. If you need a break from a reality of stress and strife, go see this immensely enjoyable production.

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Review: Boeing Boeing at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Review: Boeing Boeing at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

The outlandish farce Boeing Boeing now plays on The Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage in Meredith, New Hampshire. Originally written by Marc Camoletti and translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans, it is the story of Bernard, a Parisian bachelor played by William Wilder, who has, through meticulous calculations, gotten himself intertwined with three fiancés. There’s Gloria, an American air hostess played by Rebecca Tucker, Gabriella, an Italian air hostess played by Molly Parker Myers, and Gretchen, a German air hostess played by Suzanne Kimball. The essential factor that keeps all his fiancés from ending up in their Paris flat at one time is the fact that they all work for different airlines and have different routes around the world.

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Review: Miss Julie sets the bar high for the Summer Season at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Review: Miss Julie sets the bar high for the Summer Season at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Directed by Matt Cahoon, this US Premiere production of Howard Brenton’s new adaptation of August Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie invites the audience into the kitchen of a home in Sweden. It tells the story of Julie, lady of the house, Jean, her father’s valet, and Kristin, the house cook and Jean’s fiancé. It is a story of lust, ambition and a desire to break through the barriers of class. When Julie and Jean give in to the building sexual tension between them, the unforeseen consequences are catastrophic.

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Review: ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

The Winnipesaukee Playhouse ends their summer season with the classic western ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’. The play, written by Jethro Compton, is based on the short story by Dorothy M. Johnson. It has less in common with the popular western film of the same name that starred John Wayne, so don’t come to the theater expecting to see the film version play out on stage. This version is darker and grittier than many of the Hollywood Westerns audience members may be used to seeing. It is the tale of one educated man’s journey west and how he inadvertently becomes the hero of a small town called Twotrees. After surviving a difficult situation and facing impossible odds, he becomes the subject of a legend that changes his future and his life in ways he never expected.

Robert Vaughn, who recorded the narration for the English production of this script, is featured as the voice of the narrator in this production. His voice opens the show as the cast slowly makes their way onto the stage. The Prologue somberly began with the eight person cast singing in harmony, a bluesy feeling hymn accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, played by Nicholas Wilder. As they sang, they looked sadly towards the wooden box holding their friend and cowboy Bert Barricune. These first few minutes were some of the strongest in the show. What followed however, was a performance lacking in energy, urgency and at many times compelling believability.

Directed by Matt Cahoon, the play features many familiar faces as well as some new ones. Marshall Taylor Thurman takes on the role of New Yorker Ransome Foster, who, after a dangerous encounter with Liberty Valance (Nicholas Wilder), is rescued by Bert Barricune, played by Samuel Shurtleff. Foster is brought to Truetrees (circa 1890) where he meets saloon owner Hallie Jackson, played by Shanel Sparr, and her best friend Jim Mosten, played by Jabari Matthew. Rounding out the cast are Jason Plourde as Jake Dowitt/ Marshal Johnson and Andrew Burke as the Deputy.

The saloon set was designed by Andrew Stuart with assistance from Claire Beck. The costumes were designed by Lori McGinley with Hallie’s gown specially designed by Kat Middleton. Lighting was designed by Thom Beaulieu and sound was designed by Neil Pankhurst.

Running at just over two and a half hours including intermission makes this play one of the longest I have seen this summer season, and unfortunately it felt that long. The pace dragged at many points during the performance partially because of the writing and partially because of the multiple line flubs committed by the cast. However, these things did not keep most of the audience from laughing, applauding and overall enjoying the performance. ©

 

‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until September 9th. Performances are Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm with a matinee on September 4th at 2pm. Tickets range from $20-$34. For additional information and tickets visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org 

Special Events from the Education Department:

Wednesday, September 6th - Talk-back
Following the performance, you’re invited for an informal discussion with the cast and creative team.

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Review: ‘Round and Round the Garden’ at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

‘Round and Round the Garden’ is the final play in The Norman Conquests Trilogy written by Alan Ayckbourn. The first, ‘Table Manners’, was performed at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse during the summer of 2015, and the second play, ‘Living Together, was performed there in the summer of 2016. Artistic Director Neil Pankhurst, director of all three plays, set out to bring the trilogy to Playhouse audiences over the course of three consecutive summer seasons.

While each play stands on its own, they all take place at a country house in West Sussex, England, era 1974, and revolve around six characters and their feisty, flirty, and funny interactions one summer weekend. Each play takes place in a different area of the estate: one: the dining room, two: the living room and three: the garden. They even have overlapping scenes, where an exit in one play corresponds to an entrance in another. While the characters are the same and the plot of Norman conquering and confusing the females is same, each of the characters is showcased differently in each of the three plays. That being said, while I have seen each play and have enjoyed them all, there were a number of audience members who had not seen the previous two productions and they had no problem following the story and it was clear by their response they very much enjoyed this play.

As I mentioned, this play focuses on six characters, three of them grown-up siblings who bicker as if they were still children, and their significant others who contribute quite a bit to the squabbling and chaos. Annie, played by Shanel Sparr, lives in the family home and cares for her elderly mother. Sparr, who was new to the role this season, was likable and fit in nicely with the other cast members, all of whom were reprising their roles. Annie’s older brother is Reg, played by Richard Brundage, who is married to the uptight and harsh Sarah, played by Molly Parker Myers. This pair with all their snippiness and back and forth is very amusing and believably portray the married couple. Annie’s older sister is Ruth, played by Suzanne Kimball, who is married to Norman, a mischievous man who feigns his innocence, while manipulating everyone around him. Norman was outstandingly performed once again by Nicholas Wilder. Add in Annie’s sort-of boyfriend Tom, played by Jason Plourde, and these six personalities and temperaments clash and make for a very entertaining play. Kimball, was funny as Ruth and I enjoyed her scenes with the sweet but slow-to-catch-on Tom (Plourde). They played off each other wonderfully. Their dialogue was well timed with pauses for their characters’ awkwardness and confusion. I really enjoyed their interactions in this play; which added more to their characters and to the story overall than I what I had observed in the previous plays.  Wilder, as Norman, has gotten stronger and funnier every time he has stepped back into this role. In each part of the trilogy, he has displayed charisma, perfect comedic timing, and great chemistry with his fellow actors. He is absolutely outstanding and I think this is one of his best roles at the Playhouse in his many years performing there.

The detailed and very pretty garden set was designed by Meredith Brown, who also did the set design for the previous plays in the trilogy. The lighting design was by Becky Marsh, assisted by Beth Marsh. The costumes were by Daneé Rose Grillo and the sound was designed by Neil Pankhurst.

This is a delightful comedy full of family drama, witty dialogue, playful flirtations and a top notch cast. It is a great play in which to escape, to relax and laugh for a few hours at the zany dysfunction of a family that isn’t your own. ©

‘Round and Round the Garden’ plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until August 26th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and a 2pm Matinee on August 21st. There are no Sunday performances. Tickets range from $20-$34 and are selling quickly. For additional information and tickets visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

Special Events from the Education Department:

Tuesday, August Presented by Neil Pankhurst, Artistic Director
22nd 6-6:45pm - Symposium: “The English Garden: Techniques and Philosophies”.

Wednesday, August 23rd - Talk-back: Following the performance, you’re invited for an informal discussion with the cast and creative team.

Photo Credit: The cast of 'Round and Round the Garden', Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse.

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: ‘The Producers- A Mel Brooks Musical’ at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

Mel Brooks’ Tony award winning musical farce, ‘The Producers’, tells the story of long-time Broadway Producer Max Bialystock and accountant Leo Bloom who form a partnership to pull off, what they think, is a masterful scheme to make a few million dollars by producing the biggest musical flop Broadway has ever seen. With original direction and choreography recreated by Gus Kaikkonen and Bill Burns, the Peterborough Players’ production kept the audience laughing aloud despite the many technical nuisances that occurred.

Oy-vey with the sound issues! While this production was funny and featured talented performers, they were unfortunately over shadowed by the multiple sound problems that occurred throughout the production. The most notable being the muddled sound quality with a number of the individual microphones. There were many instances where I was unable to understand what the actors were singing because of a lack of clarity, crispness and, at times, balanced volume. In addition, there were multiple occasions when actors’ microphones were on while they were not on stage and their conversations could be clearly heard over the actors speaking on stage. You know things are not going well when the actors on stage are being distracted by hearing voices coming from the speakers that they shouldn’t be hearing and are trying to subtly motion to people off stage that their microphone is hot and to stop talking. Furthermore, while the orchestra, led by music director Michael Sebastian, adequately played the music, they often drowned out the actors.

However, even with the technical problems, the cast, led by Players favorites Kraig Swartz and Tom Frey as Max and Leo, kept the audience engaged in the story and laughing throughout almost every scene. Their voices blended nicely together and they had a fantastic, believable camaraderie. Elyse Collier, as Ulla, delivered a strong performance with consistent character choices and fantastic dancing skills. It was unfortunate that her microphone was one that continued to have problems making it difficult to hear and understand her consistently during the show. Strong and very funny performances were also given by Leon Axt, as Franz Liebkind, and Danny Vaccaro, as Roger DeBris. Both men had sharp comedic timing and powerful vocals that were nicely showcased in their solo numbers. Another highlight of this performance were the superbly danced production numbers including “I Wanna Be A Producer”, “Keep It Gay”, and “Springtime for Hitler”. The large cast shined in these numbers that allowed them to portray their unique characters and show off a few special tricks. The tap dancing sections were especially well done with crisp, clear and unified sounds.

 

‘The Producers’ runs about 2.5 hours including intermission and plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, through August 13th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org.

Photo Credit: From L to R- Tom Frey as "Leo", Elyse Collier as "Ulla", and Kraig Swartz as "Max". Photo Courtesy Peterborough Players. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

 

Review: ‘The Graduate’ at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

‘The Graduate’ is a play adapted by Terry Johnson based on the novel by Charles Webb and the motion picture screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Most people can recall the film version that launched Dustin Hoffman to super stardom fifty years ago and has since become a cinematic classic. This “coming of age” comedic drama is the story of Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate, who is struggling with what he wants to do next, where he wants to go and who he really wants to become. Though he comes from an affluent family, and may appear to have everything going for him, he feels lost with no direction and no connection. His encounter with a family friend, the older Mrs. Robinson, starts him on a path of rebellion; rebellion against everything he has ever known, and in search of himself. In the end he may not have a clearer understanding of his career path, but he has a better understanding of himself, of other people, and how he wants his future life to be different from his past.

Under the sharp eye of director Samantha Tella, this eight-person cast, delves into their characters and brings to life a story most audience members may have previously only seen on screen. The result is a funny, realistic, and touching production that audience members clearly enjoyed. The design elements of the production were simple, with clean, sharp lines in both the architecture of the set, as well as the costumes, thus allowing for the humorous language of the script and performances of the actors to shine.

Outshining all the rest were the two young actors playing Benjamin Braddock and Elaine Robinson: John-Michael Breen and Kelley Davies. Together they were delightful to watch, fully engaging with one another with their eye contact and authentic character connection. Their rocky relationship was at times amusing, at times fierce, but always completely heartfelt. Their journey from two young people being set up on a date by their parents and dreading it, through Benjamin falling crazy in love with Elaine and following her back to school so he can propose, to Elaine making a difficult decision moments before saying “I do”, was wonderfully performed.

Breen’s comedic timing was spot on throughout the production. Even in the midst of changing costumes (many times) on stage while carrying on a conversation, his character never dropped. He was entirely believable as a college graduate finding his way and rebelling against what he believed everyone else expected his life to become. His interactions with his parents, played by Richard Brundage and Pam Schnatterly, were familiarly amusing to many in the audience. Breen was strong in portraying Benjamin’s ever-changing feelings about his dramatic affair with the seductive Mrs. Robinson, played by Molly Parker Myers, and he aptly showed the complexity and confusion of his characters’ emotional and mental state during much of the play.

As Elaine, Davies was stunning and displaying a wide range of confusing emotions as her character dealt with her mother’s affair, falling in love, trying to please other people, being a college student, and finding her own voice and ultimately, her own path. There were many moments when Davies captured the audiences’ attention; completely charming them by her performance. One instance that stands out was when she was fighting with Benjamin and let out a bloodcurdling scream. In this moment, it was as if the audience didn’t exist and Elaine and Benjamin were alone in the room arguing about getting married. In this role, Davies delivers not only one of the best performances in this production, but of the Winnipesaukee Playhouse Summer Season overall.

Needless to say, Breen and Davies were absolutely perfectly cast in these roles and their performances are not to be missed!

The cast is rounded out with more admirable performances including Ray Dudley, as Mr. Robinson, passionate about business and seemingly less so about his wife, yet after learning of his wife’s affair, comes across as a very realistic, poignantly sad and pitiful man. Also in the cast is Playhouse favorite Nicholas Wilder, playing multiple roles including, in a very funny scene, a desk clerk who is overly attached to his bell. Shanel Sparr, and the previously mentioned Pam Schnatterly, Richard Brundage and Molly Parker Myers complete the cast. ©

‘The Graduate’ plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until August 12th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and a 2pm Matinee on August 7th. There are no Sunday performances. Tickets range from $20-$34 and are selling quickly. Please note this production contains brief nudity in addition to its mature content. For additional information and tickets visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

 

Special Events from the Education Department:

Tuesday, August 8th at
Join us for an enlightening conversation led by an expert in a field connected to the production.
6pm – Symposium

Wednesday, August 9th -
Following the performance, you’re invited for an informal discussion with the cast and creative team.
Talk-back

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: The Winnipesaukee Playhouse.

 

Review: A stunning production of ‘Constellations’ is on stage now at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

One of the most complex, yet well executed and entirely magnificent parts of Peterborough Players latest production is the combination of scenic, lighting and sound design. Director Gus Kaikkonen in working with lighting designer John Eckert came up with a distinctively beautiful set that incorporated dozens of light bulbs that hung at various heights above the stage and over the audience. Tying their use in with specific sound cues, designed by Kevin Frazier, brought the superior technical execution of this play to the next level of incredible. The combination of these three elements blended seamlessly and worked together perfectly.

One of the main messages in this play had to do with time and time itself was also an essential part of the technical aspects of this production. One wrong, late or early cue and the connection between the audience and the actors and their stories would have been disrupted. This trio certainly brought their A game when creating the set for this complex play to come to life in and it entirely paid off as its design and crisp execution was above and beyond one of the best I have seen so far this year.

Written by Nick Payne, this play premiered on Broadway in December of 2014 and ran through the early spring of 2015. This two-person drama shows us the journey and relationship of a beekeeper named Roland, and a theoretical physicist named Marianne. In this production, Roland is played by Sean Patrick Hopkins and Marianne is played by Bridget Beirne. The pair delivered strong performances and were clearly very comfortable with the material, their characters and their relationship to each other.

Considering the play is non-linear and jumps back and forth in time, the complexities of fully understanding and being able to portray these two people in a way that the audience can relate to, while also following the story, is no small feat. Their emotional rollercoaster was fast moving with a story that was constantly changing directions. As the play went on, the audience wasn’t merely laughing at the humorous moments, as they were at the start; rather they were becoming intrigued and invested in the lives and relationship of the two people being portrayed on stage. As scenes became heavier and the emotional stakes got higher, the audience was riveted, wondering how it was all going to turn out. One of the most moving scenes was when they communicated through sign language. It really made their situation and the struggles they were going through even more realistic and heart-wrenching. 

It is imperative to again emphasize that this is not a linear play! Therefore the audience cannot watch it like a regular play. It is not one where you can sit back, relax and be entertained. You have to take it in scene by scene and then piece the story together as you go along. It is very cerebral and unique. It is unlike anything I have seen on stage before, but it reminded me of the recent film ‘Arrival’ with Amy Adams. The theme of time and how it is not linear was prevalent in both pieces. If you were able to enjoy that film, I think you would also enjoy this play.

‘Constellations’ is a play without boundaries and in questioning what is choice vs. what is destiny, it sends the audiences’ heads spinning as we contemplate our own choices and how we have played a part in shaping our own destiny. This production was technically superb, wonderfully performed, and absolutely fascinating to watch! ©

‘Constellations’ runs about one hour and fifteen minutes without intermission and plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, through July 16th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org. Photo Credit: Sean Patrick Hopkins & Bridget Beirne in 'Constellations'. Photo courtesy Peterborough Players. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: ‘High Society’ at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

This musical farce with book by Arthur Kopit and music and lyrics by Cole Porter is full of romance, family drama and amusing situations. The musical is based on the movie musical of the same name, which starred Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly, as well as the play turned movie ‘The Philadelphia Story’. The film version starred Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn. With legends like those to live up to, the cast of The Winnipesaukee Playhouse production of ‘High Society’ took on the challenge and in some ways delivered.

For those of you not familiar with the aforementioned films or the musical, the story takes place over one weekend at the Oyster Bay estate of the Lord family in 1938. Tracy Lord, a wealthy socialite, is set to marry, for the second time, but her wedding weekend doesn’t turn out the way she expected it to. When unplanned guests arrive things begin to unravel and confusion and conflict ensue. Personalities clash, lies are told, truths are discovered and temptations have Tracy second-guessing her choice of second-husband.

Because the musical is a farce, it is meant to be light and fun with a sizeable dose of zaniness. Keeping that mind, the cast seemed to embrace those qualities and go all in on having a good time. While I did not care for some of the character choices made by some actors, there were a few admirable performances that stood out amongst the rest. First, the most consistent while also being the youngest actor in the cast was Sophie Pankhurst who played Dinah Lord, the precocious younger sister of Tracy. Her portrayal of the smart and conniving Dinah was superb. With a sweet demeanor and snappy comebacks, she quickly became an audience favorite.

The most believable and genuinely charismatic pair in the show was writer Mike Connor, played by TJ Lamando, and photographer Liz Imbrie, played by Rebecca Tucker. Their mannerisms, vocal inflections and facial expressions were balanced just right. Their attraction to one another, while at times a bit one sided, was sweet and sincere. Lamando made Mike such a likable guy and his performance of “You’re Sensational” was charming and strongly sung. Tucker’s heartfelt and emotional rendition of “He’s A Right Guy” was perfection and easily my favorite of the night. They were a true delight to watch.

C. K. Dexter Haven was portrayed by Jay Wilkinson, who was quite believable as the attractive and wealthy yacht designer. He seemed very comfortable in his character’s skin and his vocals were wonderfully showcased in numbers such as “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and “Just One Of Those Things”. The cast also includes Haley Jones as Tracy Samantha Lord, Sebastian Ryder as Mother Lord, Richard Brundage as Seth Lord, Mark Stephen Woods as Uncle Willie, Wayne Shuker as George Kittredge, John-Michael Breen, Thomas Doelger and Chris Hendricks as Butlers and Sandia Ahlers, Kelley Davies and Candice Shedd-Thompson as Maids.

This production is directed by Clayton Phillips, music directed by Judy Hayward, choreographed by Bryan Knowlton and features a seven-piece orchestra. Though the orchestra was often too loud during the first act, they balanced better with the vocalists during the second half. The set design by Melissa Shakun featured two rotating walls that transformed the estate from the spacious indoors to the vast grounds outdoors. Unfortunately, some overhead lights reflected off the glass panes in the four doors of the set which sent a bit of a glare into the eyes of some audience members. Despite a few strong performances, many others were mediocre and in the end fell flat. So while this production was enjoyed by the audience overall, it was not one of my favorites. ©

The show runs just about two and a half hours including intermission. It plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until July 15th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, 2pm Matinees on July 6th & July 10th. No Sunday performances or performances on Monday, July 3rd and Tuesday, July 4th.  Tickets range from $20-$34. For additional information and tickets visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org 

Special Events from the Education Department:
Wednesday, July 5th- Talk-back: Following the performance, you’re invited for an informal discussion with the cast and creative team.

Tuesday, July 11th at 6pm – Symposium: Pre-show presentation offering insight into the play.

Photo Credit: The Cast of 'High Society'. Photo Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

 

Review: ‘The Whipping Man’ opens Peterborough Players Summer Season

Angelica Potter

Written by Matthew Lopez, ‘The Whipping Man’ is set in Richmond, Virginia in April of 1865, just as the Civil War is coming to an end. It is the story of a Jewish Confederate officer named Caleb, who returns from war to find his family home in shambles. He arrives late one night having suffered severe injury, to find two former servants, Simon and John, to be the only ones at the home; with all the others having fled to safety elsewhere. The moments and conversations that take place between the three men, over the following few days, will forever change their lives and how they view one another.

With a detailed scenic design by Charles Morgan, the play takes place in the foyer of a once grand home. What the audience sees however, is a room with broken windows and exposed walls with little left to indicate its’ once vibrant interior. The lighting design by Kevin Frazier was pleasingly done and played off the set beautifully, casting shadows and allowing light to find its way into the home in a seemingly natural way. The music selections used before each act and during the scene changes were strong choices by sound designer Christopher Colucci and featured a mix of instrumental and sung spirituals.

While this dramatic play deals with some serious themes, there are many moments of light humor and genuine human interactions that keep the audience engaged. Directed by Howard Millman, the cast features Taurean Blacque as Simon, Robb Douglas as John, and Will Howell as Caleb. Though there were some line flubs, some points of mumbling and variations in the strength of their Southern accents, overall the trio gave compelling and often emotionally driven performances. The men had believable chemistry between them and displayed the wide range of intense emotions their characters had to deal with over the course of the play.

This play and its story are unlike any I’ve seen before, even though their themes of freedom and forgiveness have often been used. Watching this play was both an interesting and thought-provoking experience. “Powerful” and “Wow” were both words I overheard from multiple audience members opening night as they trickled out of the theatre. Having giving the production a standing ovation, it is clear they were moved by not only the incredible story but the strong performances. ©

This production is rated R due to adult language and intense images. ‘The Whipping Man’ runs two hours including intermission and plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, through July 2nd. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org. Photo Credit: From left to right: Taurean Blacque, Robb Douglas, Will Howell. Photo Credit Tyler Richardson.

~~~~~

Angelica has an A.S. in Theatre, earned a specialty degree in Shakespeare from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a minor in Psychology from SNHU. In addition to writing, she stays busy teaching dance and choreographing for a local studio. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: 'Steel Magnolias' at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Closing out their inaugural winter season, Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias, directed by Gus Kaikkonen, takes the stage at Peterborough Players. Set in Chinquapin Louisiana, the play features six strong female personalities who regularly “catch up” in Truvy’s beauty shop. It is clear from the start that they live in a small town and are a close-knit group of women who always have each other’s backs. Each of the four scenes portrays a significant day in the lives of these women.

The play is based on events in Harling’s personal life and was later adapted into a popular film of the same name. I, for one, have not seen the movie so my viewing of this play was with fresh eyes; something I think few others in the audience could say. While they may have seen the movie version, their consistent laughter during the production points to their enjoyment of the original staged version. 

The detailed set featured 1980’s décor, with a nice blue accent color on the salon chairs, pictures of big hair styles, and various hair color options. Scenic designer Charles Morgan included a working sink with running water in the beauty shop that added to the production’s authenticity. Additional technical aspects that added to the overall production quality include the props design by Jessica Ayala, sound design by Will Howell, lighting design by John Eckert and costume design by Anthony Paul-Cavaretta. 

Act one got off to a rocky start with a set mishap, a few dialog issues and a leisurely tempo. But once the second act began, the emotional stakes were elevated and the dialog moved more quickly. The cast seemed more secure in their lines in the second half which aided in their believability. Their southern accents were good, but went in and out during the show and varied by character. The cast had good chemistry and their one-liners were spoken with a good comedic punch. The mother daughter relationship between M’Lynn (Lisa Bostnar) and Shelby (Katelyn Manfre) was well played and believable. It was great that both Brenny Rabine and Alycia Kunkle, as Truvy and Annelle, were able to actually work on the other ladies hair throughout the scenes as if they were actually hair stylists. It really made the scenes more realistic. 

Alycia Kunkle was delightful as Annelle. She spoke with a high pitched voice, inflecting her lines up as she said them. Her characterizations, emotions and expressions were the strongest and most consistent throughout the production. Brenny Rabine, as Truvy, had great projection and her lower pitched voiced contrasted Kunkle’s nicely. “Laughter through the tears” was one of her best lines and one that I think many in the audience could relate to the moment she said it. Kathy Manfre portrayed Clairee, while her real-life daughter Katelyn Manfre portrayed Shelby.  

Pamela White’s portrayal of Ouiser was seemingly one dimensional with little variation, but having not seen the play or the film version before, I’m unsure if that was or was not an intentional character choice. Lisa Bostnar delivered an emotionally varied and strong performance as M’Lynn. Towards the end of the play the somber, quiet mood is broken when she emotionally loses it over her daughter’s fate. Bostnar was fervently and believably distraught. It was the most powerful and emotional part of the show. Sniffling could be heard around the theatre. The audience was clearly impacted by her performance and felt her pain. ©

The play runs just over 2 hours including a fifteen minute intermission and is rated PG.     
Steel Magnolias plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until February 26th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org Photo: The Cast of Steel Magnolias. From left to right: Pamela White, Brenny Rabine, Katelyn Manfre, Alycia Kunkle, Kathy Manfre and Lisa Bostnar.

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/
 

Review: 'Mass Appeal' at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Peterborough Players continues their inaugural winter season with Bill C. Davis’ play Mass Appeal directed by Keith Stevens. The play revolves around Father Tim Farley, the well-liked priest of a thriving Catholic Church, and Mark Dolson, a passionate young seminarian, who challenges Father Farley, his beliefs, his work style and the Catholic traditions he holds on to. The friendship they develop forces them to see things in a different light, ask some difficult questions, and renew their faith to better serve their parishioners and the world they live in.

The set featured Father Farley’s office space on one side and the St. Francis Church pulpit downstage on the other. It was simple, but detailed in its adornments and prop pieces. The scenic design was by Gus Kaikkonen, while props were designed by Jessica Ayala and lighting was designed by John Eckert. The sound design by Will Howell included hymns that played in-between scenes which helped to keep the audience fully engaged in the play. 

mass appeal promo photo lowres1.jpg

Gus Kaikkonen portrayed Father Tim Farley and Adam Sowers played priest-in-training Mark Dolson.  Both were intriguing, effective and mostly realistic in their portrayals. There were a few line blunders and a bit of mumbling through lines during the production, but nothing that was too detracting from the overall performance. The play itself is interesting to watch and holds the audience’s attention throughout. It is both a realistic and humorous look at timeless issues still relevant today within the Catholic Church and Religions worldwide. 

There were a number of moments within the show that received laughter from almost the entire audience. One was when Kaikkonen, as Father Farley, sarcastically retorted to Mark that he was like a Father “Bojangles” when Mark insinuated that Father Farley gave “song and dance” sermons to his congregation. Another was when Father Farley tells Mark that exuding confidence is the most antagonizing thing. When Mark was giving his first sermon about why people go to Mass he was not as well received as he would have hoped. The audio recording of congregation members coughing was perfectly timed and Sowers’ reactions were spot on. Mark’s next sermon goes a bit better as he explains why he wanted to become a priest. One poetic line that Sowers’ spoke so genuinely was when he described listening for the screams of angels as he sat in church as a child. Sower’s heartfelt and vigorous portrayal was apparent throughout the play and the ending leaves the audience wondering what will become of Mark. 

This play, while at many times comedic, will also get you thinking and possibly asking yourself a few questions such as: “Are you here to affect a positive change in the world or to just sit around and drink wine?”. © This engaging comedy is rated PG-13 and runs just under 2 hours including a 15 minute intermission.  Mass Appeal plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until February 11th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org

Left to Right - Gus Kaikkonen as Father Tim Farley, Adam Sowers as Mark Dolson. Photos by Will Howell

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: Cry ‘Havoc!’ at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Cry ‘Havoc!’ is a captivating and powerful one-man show written and performed by Stephan Wolfert and directed by Eric Tucker. Stephan Wolfert served as an Infantry Officer and Medic in the US Army from 1986 to 1993. It was then, after seeing a production of Richard III that he left his military career and went to graduate school to pursue acting and the theatre. In Shakespeare’s plays he saw veterans. He related to their speeches and could see himself, his comrades and his friends in those scenes. In performing these characters he has found catharsis. He is now working with other veterans and using Shakespeare to help them deal with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and start to recover from it. As noted by Wolfert, havoc is alive and well in every war around the world. Even when veterans come home the havoc they’ve endured does not end. 

Five bare, greyish white trees, on an otherwise empty stage, are lined up across upstage. This simple design choice by Gus Kaikkonen artistically represents our inner wiring. Until this production, Wolfert had been performing without a set; just him physically and emotionally taking the audience on a journey using an empty space. The brilliance of this design and how it connects to the core message of the play is absolutely incredible: the military is wired for war, but they are not unwired when war is over. Thus trauma haunts their lives and they often cannot escape it. 

Those that serve in the military are recruited and then wired for war. Their humanity is taken away. They are taught to respond to orders without thought and to respond to a threat with violence just like the Berzerkers centuries before them. Berzerkers were warriors and fighters from ancient Norway who used huge swords and battle axes to take out their enemy. These fighters, like soldiers today, distanced themselves from humanity. Wolfert goes on to share stories about trench warfare, the roll of camaraderie in PTSD and Henry Lincoln Johnson, an African-American infantryman from World War I who, after suffering twenty-three gunshot and stab wounds, saved his comrade from torture and execution by the German enemy.  When they had recovered from their injuries they went back to the front lines and fought together once again for their country. Unfortunately, Johnson ended his life penniless and homeless; drinking himself to death. 

Wolfert says when he was first leading his company of soldiers, he thought he would be the kind of leader that was part Rambo and part John Wayne, but when they got to the front lines and the bullets started flying he knew he had to be the kind of leader that did what he had to do to keep his men alive. Quoting Shakespeare’s Henry V he says, “Once more unto the breach dear friends” and “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; / For he today that sheds his blood with me / Shall be my brother…”. 

Henry V was not the only play of Shakespeare’s he gathered lines from to intersperse with his stories.  Wolfert disperses lines and monologues from many of Shakespeare’s plays including Julius Caesar, Richard III, Hamlet, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Henry IV, Henry V and more. The war stories he tells add astounding depth and more profound meaning when paired with these lines from Shakespeare.  He performs “Now is the winter of our discontent…” from Richard III, the play that inspired him to pursue theatre. From Macbeth he says, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” when describing the night his vehicle took on friendly fire and his best friend was shot in the face. He shares how he held his friend’s head as he lay there barely breathing as they waited for medical assistance and a helicopter to come and pick him up. He gut-wrenchingly recalls details of the day, a week later, when he had the task of handing a folded flag to his friends’ wife and daughters at his funeral. 

Wolfert shares how when soldiers leave the military they are not “decruited” and unwired from war. They are not given their humanity back and wired for life in civilian society. In using Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech, he describes the suicidal moments he has faced in his own life. Developing, rehearsing and performing this play has been therapy of sorts for Wolfert, who after years of alcoholism and PTSD, is using his talents as a writer and well-rounded performer to share not only his story, but the stories of other veterans spanning hundreds of years. 

While much of this play is heavy with turmoil, Wolfert does add humor to break up the emotional rollercoaster he is taking the audience on. These real-life stories of war and its aftereffects are vividly told, and with seemingly boundless energy, physically acted out by Wolfert in a way that no other actor could do with the same authenticity and passion. This play is unique, honest, compelling and poignantly relevant to today’s world.  

The production concluded with a robust, extensive, and very well deserved standing ovation. After every performance Stephan Wolfert does a talk-back with the audience to recognize the veterans there and give the audience a chance to share their thoughts on the production. 

Cry ‘Havoc!’ is a must see! Whether you see it in Peterborough, NH in the next few days, or the next location Stephan Wolfert performs it, this is a powerfully raw and riveting production that needs to be witnessed. © This production is rated PG-13 due to strong language and adult situations. Cry ‘Havoc!’ is only being performed on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until September 18th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org. 

For additional information about the play and the organizations Stephan Wolfert is involved with visit: www.ShakespeareAndVeterans.org , www.govcpa.org , www.decruit.org , and www.theatrebedlam.org. Photo: Stephan Wolfert in Cry 'Havoc!'. Courtesy Peterborough Players. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: The World Premiere of 'The Waltz' at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Critic

Director Neil Pankhurst has brought us the stunning World Premiere production of The Waltz, written by Broadway veteran Carolyn Kirsch. It is the untold story of a French sculptress named Camille Claudel, who spent her later years in a mental asylum near Avignon, France. This historically based, yet contemporarily relevant, memory play shows us Camille in three stages of her life: young, middle-age and old. Her oldest self begins the play as she talks to the audience and introduces them to her younger selves and a few other crucial characters who all live in her vibrant memory. She interacts with and talks to them as if they were really in the room with her at the asylum. 

The set, designed by Inseung Park, was minimalistic, sharp and angular, featuring white blocks as furniture pieces with only a sheer white curtain as a softer element. Each of the Camille costumes, designed by Lori McGinley, were monochromatic white, gray or black with long flowing skirts, which were a nice contrast to the set. The color choices accentuated the asylum location, while also allowing Camille to transport us in her mind to different times and places. Vivid colors came from the lighting, designed by Thom Beaulieu, which further exemplified the contrasts presented. The music that was played, both live on a piano on stage and from recordings played through the sound system, were all composed by Claude Debussy. Their flowing melodies and the dances they inspired from Camille, juxtaposed the fractured nature of Camille’s memory and the set in a beautiful way. 

At times, the play was a bit hard to follow, as it moved through time and space in a non-linear fashion, nonetheless, it was captivating to watch. Through the fourth wall, the audience was consistently engaged by the three Camilles and made to feel a part of the story. Carolyn Kirsch, the author, also portrayed Old Camille, Sebastian Ryder portrayed Middle Camille, and Kelley Davies portrayed Young Camille. These three, seamlessly, synchronized actors guided the audience through the story; moving from one moment, one event or one memory to another in a way that wonderfully exhibited the different parts of Camille’s personality and how, at each time in her life, she often remembered events slightly differently. For example, they all remember, a bit differently, the first meeting with Auguste Rodin, the French Sculptor, who became Camille’s mentor and lover. This scene exquisitely portrays humankind as a whole and realistically shows us how we ourselves remember events in our own lives differently, as time goes by. 

Young Camille, as portrayed by Davies, is full of life, passion, optimism and artistic joy. Middle Camille, as portrayed by Ryder, becomes disillusioned and jaded by the world around her. She is angry because her work is not as appreciated or accepted by others in the art world all because she is a woman. People see her work and think things like ‘Oh, well Rodin is her mentor, so his hand is in her art and she only has an exhibit because of him’. Old Camille, as portrayed by Carolyn Kirsch, is confused by her past, upset with her family at being unjustly institutionalized and still believes she has a chance to be a great artist that people will remember. She displays both the passion and the jadedness of her younger selves. All three actors deliver incredible performances of one person, over time, in a way I have never seen done before. The quality and authenticity to which they portray Camille is outstanding. 

The play also includes Rose Beuret, the wife of Auguste Rodin, portrayed by Debra Walsh, who comes in and out of Camille’s memory and often times antagonizes her younger selves. The conflicts that arise between the three Camille’s and Rose are fascinating to watch. What I find interesting is that Rose is a living character within Camille’s memory, but Rodin himself, though he is extensively discussed, is not physically present. This could be because of Camille’s diverse feelings for him over the course of the play. Rodin is remembered in many different ways both lovingly and not, while Rose is disliked by Camille in all three stages as an irritant and, at times, a harsh reality slap to Camille: in that Rodin will never leave Rose to marry her. Another character in this play is composer Claude Debussy, probably best known for his elegant musical movement “Clair de Lune”. Portrayed by John-Michael Breen, Debussy is a close companion to Camille, who is unable to get over her love for Rodin. In Debussy, she finds an artistic counterpart who deeply cares for and artistically challenges her.  Breen, who, at the last minute, took on the role of the composer, portrayed him admirably.  

Carolyn Kirsch says that in writing this play and sharing it with the world she hopes to shed light on the life and art of Camille Claudel, who many have not heard of before now. Though The Waltz only plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until September 10th, it is a powerful story that needs to be witnessed. © For additional information and tickets to The Waltz visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

From L to R: Carolyn Kirsch, Kelley Davies & Sebastian Ryder (all as Camille Claudel). Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse.

Review: God of Carnage at Peterborough Players

Angelic Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Critic

Peterborough NH - The lights come up and in literally less than 60 seconds; the audience is laughing and continues laughing for another eighty minutes. When that happens, you know you’re doing something right. Peterborough Players is doing it right with their production of the sharply written God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. The 2009 Tony Award Winner for Best Play focuses on an afternoon meeting of two sets of parents as they try to come to terms with an altercation between their eleven year old boys. One boy, for reasons yet to be discovered, hit the other with a stick causing him to lose two teeth. While this isn’t the only topic the foursome discusses, it is the one that they continue to come back to with growing insinuation, frustration and exasperation felt by all.  

Reza’s wonderful writing of this script is evident as she is so connected to each of the four characters that their lines fit seamlessly with their personalities, their changing moods, their core beliefs and the unique state of mind they are each in during the course of the play. Pleasantries and politeness don’t last long in this modern, relatable drama about relationships, parenting and social interaction. Insults are slung, lines are drawn and crossed, and sides are chosen and comically changed many times throughout. The couples are so different at the start, but end up realizing how similar they are and how not one of them is perfect. Not one knows how to be the perfect parent and as adults they are all still learning how to play nice and get along with others. They all know violence is frowned upon in polite society and with that, I wondered: If the parents can’t behave properly, how do they expect their children to? 

Photo from L to R: David Breitbarth, Kate Hampton, Tom Frey, Susie Stevens. Photo Courtesy Peterborough Players

Photo from L to R: David Breitbarth, Kate Hampton, Tom Frey, Susie Stevens. Photo Courtesy Peterborough Players

Director Gus Kaikkonen and actors Tom Frey, Susan Riley Stevens, David Breitbarth and Kate Hampton supremely paced the show, allowing for awkward pauses, spot-on facial expressions and character moments to keep the audience engaged and entertained. Especially in the beginning, the longer pauses and facial expressions were just long enough to establish the uncomfortable and tense feeling of the characters, yet still be funny to the audience without being so long that it would seem like someone dropped a line or made a mistake.

Tom Frey plays Alan Raleigh, Susan Riley Stevens plays his wife Annette Raleigh, David Breitbarth plays Michael Novak and Kate Hampton plays his wife Veronica Novak. The cast portrayed their characters with realism and all had superb comedic timing. They had great chemistry with each other and were so fully absorbed in their characters and story that the 4th wall was never broken. It was as if the audience didn’t exist. Our reactions to the hilarity and antics on stage didn’t faze them at all. Though all four actors were in the previous production at Peterborough Players, I much preferred their characterizations, character development, and performances that, in my opinion, felt more strongly delivered in this show. 

The creative team behind this production blended all the technical and design elements in a way that nothing seemed out of place. For example, the set featured clean, angled lines and unique artifacts that paired well with the smart and snappy script.  Director Gus Kaikkonen also served as set designer, while John Eckert designed lighting, Kevin Frazier designed perfectly timed sound, Jessica Ayala designed props and Stephanie Fisher designed costumes.©  

This production is rated PG-13 due to strong language and adult situations and runs about 80 minutes with no intermission. God of Carnage plays on the Peterborough Players’ stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until September 11th, 2016. For tickets and more information call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org


For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: Cabaret at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Critic

Meredith NH - Cabaret features music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Joe Masteroff. It is based on the play I am a Camera by John Van Druten and Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories. It opened on Broadway in 1966, and many may recall seeing the 1972 film version with Liza Minnelli and Joel Gray that was directed by the great Bob Fosse. This production, however, is quite different from the film according to director Clayton Phillips who was inspired by the 1998 revival production. It still tells the story of Sally Bowles, Clifford Bradshaw, The Kit Kat Klub, and the various people of Berlin in 1931, but with a fresh perspective that invites the audience to not just enjoy the performance, but really listen and think about the story being told. 

Michael Luongo as Master of Ceremonies (Emcee). Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Michael Luongo as Master of Ceremonies (Emcee). Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Sally Bowles is a nightclub singer who meets Clifford Bradshaw, an American writer from Pennsylvania, at The Kit Kat Klub on New Year’s Eve. Romance sparks between them and it’s not long until they are planning a future together. Another romance between the owner of the boarding house where Cliff and Sally live, Frӓulein Schneider, and another tenant Herr Schultz also begins. From beginning to end the Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) guides the audience along and gives them insight to stories unfolding. While there is plenty of dancing, singing and merriment in this musical, the historically based story, at its core, is much less joyous and reminds us of the tragic past. 

The musical takes place in The Kit Kat Klub that features two iron sets of stairs on either side of the thrust stage that lead to the upper level where the band is seated and a lit Cabaret sign is hung. Upstage, under the upper platform, there are three doors across a tracked wall. The set design by Melissa Shakun along with lighting design by Graham Edmondson, sound design by Thom Beaulieu and costume design by Daneé Rose Grillo all blended seamlessly together to create the world of the show. The creative team, that also included director Clayton Phillips, music director Judy Hayward, and choreographer Bryan Knowlton, did a fantastic job of bringing this entertaining and reflective show to life. 

A major highlight of this production was the choreography by Bryan Knowlton. It was fantastically danced by the cast; especially the Emcee (Michael Luongo) and Kit Kat girls and boys including: Rebecca Tucker, Kelsey Andrae, Monica Rodrigues, Irene Schultz, Kristin Guerin, Leigh Martha Klinger, John-Michael Breen, Sean Burns, Wayne Shuker, and Nicholas Berke. From the cast’s behavior in the pre-show stretching, the audience could tell this show was going to be very risqué. The movement was stylistically Jazz, with flourishes of Fosse. It was sharp, provocative and very well executed. “Willkommen” as performed by the Emcee and Kit Kat boys and girls was characteristically performed: in that each person danced as their character and not necessarily as a dancer in a musical. They each had their own personality in their movement and showed various emotions as if it was just another night at the club. Some were happy to be there making money, while others didn’t want to be there or were tired. It made the performance more interesting to watch. The classic “Money” song, later in act one, was superbly done. In the show it occurs right after Cliff has agreed to make a trip to Paris for Ernst for which he will be well paid. I loved that the briefcase he was to use for this trip was the focus of the Emcee and dancers, who were dressed in skirts, bows and bowties made of money. It tied the storyline and this number together in a way I’ve never seen done before. 

Mallory Newbrough as Sally Bowles. Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Mallory Newbrough as Sally Bowles. Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Michael Luongo delivered an outstanding performance as the Master of Ceremonies (Emcee). He was engaging, humorous and charismatic. He made solid and consistent character choices and sang strongly throughout. His rendition of “I Don’t Care Much” was heartfelt and beautifully done. He is easily one of the best Emcee’s I have seen. Sally Bowles was incredibly played by Mallory Newbrough. Her English accent was steady, she made great character choices, and had wonderful facial expressions. Her vocals were beautiful both in her rich lower range and light higher range. When she belted her heart out in “Cabaret” in act two the audience erupted in applause. It was emotionally raw as if she was saving some of her power for that number and it certainly paid off. Clifford Bradshaw was nicely played by Phil Sloves. His young face suited his character well, as Cliff was at times naïve. Cliff’s journey from a young man seeing the world, to a grown man with morals and firm beliefs was clear in Sloves’ portrayal. His chemistry with Newbrough was sweet and believable. Frӓulein Schneider, as played by Sebastian Ryder was soft and sweet, but also strong. She was not one to let her emotions show, especially in front of Herr Schultz, played by Fred Frabotta. The pair was lovingly affectionate towards each other. They played the relationship tenderly and playfully; particularly in “It Couldn’t Please Me More”. Playhouse favorite Rebecca Tucker, who also played Kit Kat girl Fritzie, portrayed the fierce and sometimes spiteful Frӓulein Kost, a tenant in Frӓulein Schneider’s home. She beautifully sang a section of “Married” in German that was clear and nicely accented. It made watching Schneider and Schultz dance together even more sweet. Ernst Ludwig, as played by Jason Plourde, was kind and seemingly a good friend to Clifford. That is until his political associations are made apparent and he tried to force his beliefs on others at the end of act one. Plourde’s acting was strong throughout. He even shared his commanding voice in “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”. 

The emotional mood and overall tone of the show changes quickly at the end of act one and the cast made this change clear as they moved through the darker act two. Tensions were heightened, emotions were heavier and lines were sharper. Everyone was more on edge as the realization of the Nazi’s power and reach sunk in and it became apparent that even at the Kit Kat Klub they were in danger. The final moments of the show were simplistic, yet powerful, leaving the audience in awe as they applauded this talented cast. ©

Due to the explicit and mature content of this musical, it is a show best appreciated by adults. So find yourself a babysitter, gather your friends and go see this exciting, emotional, and powerful production. Cabaret plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until September 3rd.  For additional information and tickets to Cabaret visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org. 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: The Ladies Man at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

Peterborough NH - Written and directed by Charles Morey this farce entitled: The Ladies Man, is based on the many plays written by French playwright Georges Feydeau in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It combines the classic elements of mistaken identities, misinformation, and misunderstandings with many slamming doors; actively inviting the audience to laugh at the misfortunes of the characters while relating to some of the relationships portrayed. Although the audience laughed aloud and seemed to enjoy this production, reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, for me it did not meet the higher quality of other shows performed this season.

Photo Credit: Karron Graves and Anderson Matthews. Courtesy Peterborough Players. 


Photo Credit: Karron Graves and Anderson Matthews. Courtesy Peterborough Players. 

The story revolves around the mature Dr. Hercule Molineaux (Anderson Matthews), the small lie he tells his young wife Yvonne (Karron Graves), after staying out all night and the chaos that ensues when the lie erupts out of control. The cast also features David Breitbarth as Dr. Molineaux’s long time valet Etienne, Susan Riley Stevens as the new house maid Marie, Kraig Swartz as Bassinet, a patient with a severe lisp and Dale Hodges as Yvonne’s domineering mother, Madame Aigreville. Kate Hampton played another patient, Suzanne Aubin, who has in mind an affair with the good doctor, and Tom Frey played her Prussian Soldier husband Gustav Aubin. This energetic cast embraced the over the top comedy within their dialogue and actions. The doctor is a sympathetic character who somehow seemed to continually find himself in a compromising position either physically or verbally. His situation was not helped by his patient Bassinet who was always around to add to the confusion. Both Matthews and Swartz excelled in these roles to the delight of the audience.

While the show was meant to be a farce there were a few confusing points:  the show takes place in Paris and therefore, with the exception of the Prussian Gustav Aubin, it would be assumed that the rest of the characters would all have French accents. However, this was not the case as only Etienne consistently had a French accent while the others sounded British with a few French flourishes. Secondly, Frey, as the Prussian Officer, had a German accent that was so thick; most of what he said could not be clearly understood. It is unsure to the viewer if this was purposefully done to increase the comedy of the play or if it just happened to occur. 

The set, designed by Harry Feiner, featured five doors that were excessively used throughout the production as characters entered, exited and slammed them in each other’s faces. The first act and end of the second act takes place in the home office of Dr. Molineaux, while the start of the second act takes place in a dress shop. The set transition in act two going from the dress shop to the office was jumbled and lengthy. The actors themselves, in addition to the stage hands, converted the space in what appeared to be a confusing bridge of one scene to the next. Overall, the show does contain many amusing, farcical elements and double entendres which the mature audience seemed to enjoy. ©

The Ladies Man plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until August 28th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: 'Pygmalion' at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Critic

 Peterborough, NH - George Bernard Shaw’s classic comedy Pygmalion tells the story of flower girl Eliza Doolittle whose life is transformed by Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering as they take on the challenge of turning the common, ordinary girl into a proper lady of British society. The cast and design team lead by director Gus Kaikkonen take the intimate theatre space and nicely create London circa 1911. The pleasing scenic design by Charles Morgan is the most complex and transformative design of the season and the transitions were, overall, well executed by the cast and crew. The lighting and sound design by Kevin Frazier, costume design by Jane Stein, props design by Jessica Ayala and wig design by Gerard Kelly were wonderful, each in their own right, in creating the world of the play. 

L-R: Greg Wood, Michael Page, Karron Graves. Photo courtesy Peterborough Players

L-R: Greg Wood, Michael Page, Karron Graves. Photo courtesy Peterborough Players

Eliza Doolittle played by Karron Graves was insufferable and obnoxious at the start, but that made her transition into a lady even more extreme and remarkable. Graves nicely captured the many emotional changes of Eliza’s development and her performance was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. Colonel Pickering was wonderfully played by Michael Page who portrayed the very proper gentleman with high class and a bit of humor. Greg Wood superbly played Professor Henry Higgins. His portrayal was sharp, as Higgins was boorish, unwavering and clearly set in his ways. Mrs. Higgins, mother to Henry, was fantastically played by Dale Hodges with dry and witty humor. The interactions between Hodges and Wood were wonderfully realistic and very amusing to watch. Kraig Swartz was terrific as Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s self-serving, scheming yet charming father. His mannerisms and characterizations of the English bloke were highly entertaining and he was a clear audience favorite throughout the production. 

Though the overall production was enjoyable, there were a few line mishaps on this night of the run, and at times, the set transitions were rough. As the audience watched act two come to a close, the end felt unfinished and seemed anticlimactic. Pygmalion plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until August 14th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: The World Premiere of The Almost True and Truly Remarkable Adventures of Israel Potter, American Patriot at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage New England Critic

Meredith NH - Now playing on The Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage is the world premiere of The Almost True and Truly Remarkable Adventures of Israel Potter, American Patriot. Written by Joe Bravaco and Larry Rosler it is based on the only historical novel by Herman Melville: Israel Potter: His Fifty Years in Exile. The play follows the fifty years of worldwide travel that took Israel Potter away from his home in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts and introduced him to a wide range of characters during the time of the American Revolution. His strongest desire was to return home to his love and his life. It is that desire that keeps him moving, working and fighting for his beliefs until he makes it home. 

Imaginatively directed by Matt Cahoon, assisted by John-Michael Breen, the dynamic six person cast delightfully brought to life dozens of characters, in multiple countries and with a variety of accents all with minimal time for costume and wig changes. While there were a few snafus with costumes and lines, overall they did a great job transitioning from one character to the next and keeping the audience connected to the story. 

The cast includes Mike Newman in the title role of Israel Potter. While he only played one character throughout the production he still had his work cut out for him as he almost never left the stage and if he did it was only for a moment or two. This gave the audience the opportunity to watch his character develop and change over the fifty year period. Newman fully embraced his character and clearly showed every nuance of Israel and how he changed during the course of the play. With Newman leading the way it didn’t take long before the audience became fully engrossed in Israel’s story and worldly adventures. Fully supported by fellow cast members Brent Alan Burington, James Hesse, Molly Parker Myers, Rebecca Tucker and Nicholas Wilder they worked together to create the vast world of the play and its many inhabitants. Two favorites were Rebecca Tucker as King George and James Hesse as John Paul Jones. Tucker’s portrayal was humorous and very well performed. Hesse was strong, commanding, and amusing as the pirate turned captain. 

The highlight of this production was the impeccably well designed set by Dan Daly. It was not only detailed, inventive and wildly creative, but also fully functional in its ability to create the many different scenes and locations within the play. The use of props and furniture as things other than what they were was incredible. For example, books were being used as birds, a spyglass, decanters, children, and gardens, among other things. This set is possibly one of the best I have seen at the Playhouse.  It and the play overall was further enhanced by lighting from designer Coby Chasman-Beck and costumes by Lori McGinley.

This production of …Israel Potter, American Patriot is a thought-provoking historical comedy and is best appreciated by an adult audience. It plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until August 13th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Matinee at 2pm on August 8th. Tickets range from $18-$31. For additional information and tickets visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at the Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage New Hampshire Critic

Peterborough, NH - Upon walking into the intimate theatre space to attend Christopher Durang’s Tony-award winning play: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, I immediately noticed the homey, rustic and comfortable set, designed in detail by James Morgan. The “morning room”, as it is referred to in the play, felt cozy and relaxing like a summer home in the mountains. However, that cozy, comfortable, relaxed feeling quickly departed when the play began as Vanya started his day with a cup of coffee and unknowingly set off his sister Sonia. 

This wonderfully, written play is about three middle aged siblings. Vanya and Sonia, who, after spending many years caring for their aging parents, have stayed on, living in the family home. Their selfish sister Masha, meanwhile, went off to become an actress and travel the world. On this particular weekend, however, Masha and her much younger boyfriend, Spike, have come to visit Vanya and Sonia and it doesn’t take long for tension to build and old resentments to surface amongst the group. This well-executed production features a cast of six talented actors under the direction of Gus Kaikkonen.  

L to R Dee Nelson, Eleanor Pearson, Lisa Bostnar, Bobby Mittelstadt, Megan Robinson, Kraig Swartz. Photo by Deb Porter-Hayes

L to R Dee Nelson, Eleanor Pearson, Lisa Bostnar, Bobby Mittelstadt, Megan Robinson, Kraig Swartz. Photo by Deb Porter-Hayes

Vanya, played by Kraig Swartz, had great comedic timing and spot-on line delivery throughout the play. His monologue (as a tirade) in act two about how times have changed was amusingly relatable for the audience who understood every pop culture and generational reference he made from Davey Crocket to licking postage stamps. While his monologue went on for quite a while, it never seemed like he was unsure of his place in it. Every reference and every line was delivered with precision in addition to emotional and vocal variation that kept the audience fully engaged with what he was saying. With a speech of that length I think it could have very easily been performed in one tone that would have quickly had the audience zoning out, but not with Swartz. His performance of Vanya, and in particular this speech, was exactly how it should be done. 

Sonia, nicely played by Dee Nelson, was very much a sympathetic character who was convinced that opportunities to live an adventurous life were over and who often felt invisible when Masha was around. Nelson portrayed Sonia superbly, especially when Sonia took on the personality of Dame Maggie Smith while the group attended a costume party. Masha, splendidly played by Lisa Bostnar, is a self-centered actress who wasn’t around much when her siblings were caring for their ailing parents, but thanks to the events of this trip home she realizes the importance of family and is able to reconnect with her siblings. Bostnar fully embodied this role and was a delight to watch. Masha’s younger boyfriend Spike, boisterously played by Bobby Mittelstadt, is outrageously eccentric and completely contrasts every other character. It is his young, immature disregard for others, especially his elders, that sends Vanya on his outburst about change and the past. Cassandra, the maid, is entertainingly played by Megan Robinson. Nina, the young niece of a neighbor, aspiring actress and big fan of Masha, is delightfully played by Eleanor Pearson. The cast as a whole brought humorous life to this fun production. 

The audience overwhelmingly loved this production as seen by how quickly they arose from their seats to give it a well-deserved standing ovation. This production is rated PG-13 for strong language and adult themes. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until July 31st. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org

 

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/