Review: 'Living Together' at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage Massachusetts Critic

Living Together, a play by Alan Ayckbourn, is the second in a trilogy of plays entitled The Norman Conquests. The first: Table Manners, was performed at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse last summer. It was wonderful to have all six actors reprieving their roles from last year and once again directed by Neil Pankhurst. Though a year has passed, it seemed as though they all easily found their way back in to these endearing characters. The play takes place in a country house in West Sussex, England, era 1974, where three grown-up siblings and their significant others unintentionally all end up under the same roof. From the start, we can tell this family’s drama is going to make for one amusing night at the theatre. 

The comfortable living room set was designed by Meredith Brown and featured a few chairs, a couch, a coffee table, side table and desk, as well as a cream colored rug in front of a fireplace that was placed downstage center, making it seem as though the audience was looking through the wall into this cozy room where the mood often juxtaposed the space. Upstage center, opposite the fireplace, was a picture window looking out into the garden of the home. There were also two doors to the room, one that led outside and the other to the rest of the house. 

 From Left to Right-Nicholas Wilder, Richard Brundage, Jason Plourde, Molly Parker Myers, & Rebecca Tucker. Photo courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

 From Left to Right-Nicholas Wilder, Richard Brundage, Jason Plourde, Molly Parker Myers, & Rebecca Tucker. Photo courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Overall, the play was well enjoyed by the audience, though to me, it didn’t feel like it stood on its own as a play, as much as Table Manners. My companion, who did not see Table Manners last year, mentioned a few times that she wasn’t entirely following the story and it felt like pieces were missing. Considering the trilogy takes place over one weekend with the same characters, but in different areas of the house, it makes sense that things seemed to be missing because they were. The conversations and conflicts that take place in the dining room and in the garden are presented in the other two plays. However, those missing pieces did not stop us or the rest of the audience from laughing at the comical conflicts that ensued throughout the production. 

Richard Brundage as Reg and Molly Parker Myers as his wife Sarah were superb in displaying the couple’s strained and realistic marriage. Brundage nailed the dry British humor and feelings of belittlement and neglect from his wife and sisters. Myers, as Sarah, was amusingly obsessive and controlling. She had great zingers throughout the show. I felt her character arched the most during this production, especially where Norman is concerned. Norman, played by Nicholas Wilder, was charming yet conniving in the way he manipulated his wife, Ruth (Suzanne Kimball) and sister-in-laws Sarah and Annie (Rebecca Tucker). Ruth was rather calm when dealing with her often child-like husband Norman and the drama he’s created with her younger sister Annie. Kimball keeps Ruth classy and composed, but still unable to resist her husbands’ charms. Annie, is working to find her voice, and stand up for herself: such as speaking her mind when she disagrees with sister-in-law Sarah over something trivial like who will make the coffee, or when she is frustrated with boyfriend Tom (Jason Plourde).  Yet even with her growing maturity and sense of self, she struggles to see past the charisma of Norman. Jason Plourde, as Tom, was sweet and caring even when others would pick on him. He clearly adores Annie, and his support of her is admirable as he often witnesses and endures the clashes between her and her family.    

Living Together plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until July 30th. For additional information and tickets to Living Together visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/

Review: 'Annapurna' at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage New England Critic

Peterborough, NH - In Annapurna, a play by Sharr White, Emma (Lisa Bostnar) shows up at her ex-husband Ulysses’ (Gus Kaikkonen) trailer in Paonia, Colorado after leaving him 20 years earlier and the two finally have a chance to discuss their complicated past, their son, and the uncertain future.  Ulysses insists he cannot remember why Emma took their son in the middle of the night and left him and he doesn’t understand why she has come back after all this time. During the 80 minutes that follow we learn how this pair grew together, then apart, all the while holding on to love. 

Lisa Bostnar and Gus Kaikkonen in ANNAPURNA. Courtesy Peterborough Players.

Lisa Bostnar and Gus Kaikkonen in ANNAPURNA. Courtesy Peterborough Players.

Annapurna is a portion of a mountain range in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal. Its peaks are known to be some of the most dangerous in the world to climb. Many lives have been lost or deeply changed by Annapurna. In the play, Ulysses refers to Emma as his Annapurna and it seems, though it was not directly stated, that Emma feels the same about Ulysses. They’ve impacted each other’s lives in such a way that they are forever changed. 

Directed by Keith Stevens the story unfolds in and around a small, confined trailer, (set designed by Charles Morgan). Cluttered with books and papers, it mirrors the muddled mind of its owner, poet and former professor Ulysses. Gus Kaikkonen as Ulysses delivers a raw and riveting performance. The connection between him and Lisa Bostnar as Emma was completely authentic and they intensely captivated the audience from start to finish. As Emma, Bostnar showed both strength and vulnerability. Throughout the play a myriad of emotions were experienced by both the actors and the audience. These incredibly well-rounded and engaging actors brought to life two well-written and complex characters to tell a story that was at times funny, while at other times gut-wrenching. In the small, intimate theatre neither actor lost focus nor allowed the reactions of the audience to break through their fourth wall. It was as if the audience was merely a fly on the wall of Ulysses’ trailer watching their interaction take place.  
 
This production is rated R due to strong language, adult themes and partial nudity. The New England premiere of Annapurna plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, until July 17th. 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/

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

  • OnStage New England Critic

Meredith, NH - A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies and now playing on the Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage, blends romance and magic with a twist of relevant social commentary on gender and sexuality. Director Timothy L’Ecuyer guided the cast into creating a production that breathed new life into scenes created a few hundred years ago. In doing so, it allowed the audience to more deeply connect to the characters and to further their understanding of how others in our lives can shape our identity and view of humanity. With material that can easily be misconstrued or turned satirical, this well-connected nine person cast delved down to the core of the story and their characters, to present with heartfelt honesty, a play about chance, the intensity of love, identity and humanity.   

While the cast overall, should be commended on their work in this production, there were a few that stood out among the rest. Firstly, is Will Champion’s portrayal of mischievous Puck. His red contacts, though devilish, did not add much to his embodiment of the character that was already exemplified by his physicality, facial expressions and devious chuckling. His portrayal of Puck was one of the best I have seen. Rebecca Tucker as Lysandra, love interest to Hermia played by Katrina Michaels, was both strong and caring. The connection and relationship between Lysandra and Hermia was believable and nicely portrayed by both Tucker and Michaels. John-Michael Breen delivered a beautifully truthful portrayal of Helena; whose love interest Demetrius is promised to Hermia. Encompassing a range of emotions, Breen’s Helena is relatable to anyone who has known love. As she is running across the stage in her high heels chasing love, we’re there rooting her on. Nicholas Wilder was undeniably comical as Bottom and was a clear audience favorite. Rounding out the cast are Richard Brundage, Versee Damien, Kevin Killavey and Molly Pietz Walsh.

The simple set, designed by Andrew Stuart, featured two towers with slides, steps and ladders allowing the performers to fully utilize the various levels available to them. The staging by Director L’ Ecuyer compelled the actors to use every bit of the intimate theatre space; both on stage and off.  The lighting design by Matthew Guminski included beautifully lit hanging circular plants and a swirling, colorful backdrop that added to the enchanted forest atmosphere. 

As with all opening nights there were a few technical difficulties and a few flubbed lines, but overall this production was highly enjoyable. One major highlight was during the mechanicals’ play towards the end of the production. The performers delivered the scene with spot on timing and physical comedy that left the audience unable to control their laughter. 

This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will make you laugh, but will also make you think. It plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until July 16th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Matinees at 2pm on July 7th & 11th. 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: 'Peter and the Starcatcher' at Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter 

  • OnStage New England Critic

Meredith, NH - Opening Winnipesaukee Playhouse’s Summer Season is Peter and the Starcatcher, a play by Rick Elice, with music by Wayne Barker and based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. It tells the story of a young starcatcher, Molly, her father, Lord Aster, their mission and the friends and enemies they make along the way. One of these friends is an orphaned boy who just wants “to be a boy for a while”; and who comes to be known as Peter Pan. 

Superbly directed by Neil Pankhurst, this imaginative and heartwarming production features both Playhouse veterans and first-timers. In the few musical numbers, (led by musical director and keyboardist Judy Hayward, with choreography by Lisa Travis), the cast excitedly sang and danced about the stage to the great amusement of the audience. One such highlight was the fantastically funny mermaid number at the top of act two. 

Photo Credit: Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse


Photo Credit: Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

As if a nod to Monty Python, the cast creatively performed as set pieces, such as walls and doors of the ship as well as generated their own sound and lighting effects.  The simplicity of the set (designed by David Towlun) provided the perfect backdrop for showcasing the strength of the cast’s physical comedy skills. The cast was fully committed to their characters and together they brought life and magic to the play.

Playing Molly is the only female in the cast: Katrina Michaels. Full of energetic spunk she dominated the stage. Pirate Black Stashe was played by Playhouse favorite, Nicolas Wilder, with impeccable comedic timing. The lost boys: Ted, adorably played by John-Michael Breen, Prentiss, well played by Kristian Sorensen and Will Champion, engaging as Boy, who, through the course of the play, discovers his capabilities, learns the meaning of family and becomes Peter Pan.  Each cast member provided memorable, playful moments and not a weak link was found among them. Rounding out the cast was Charles Baran, Versee Damien, Kevin Killavey, Mike Newman, Ty Pearsons, William Vaughn, and Mark Stephen Woods as Lord Aster.  

A well-deserved, rousing, standing ovation ended the evening after a quick two hours and a 15 minute intermission.  The Playhouse has added a symposium presentation on June 21st and a “Talk-Back Wednesday” on June 22nd for added enjoyment.

Peter and the Starcatcher is playing at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until July 2nd and is a fun family friendly production. For additional information and tickets visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

 

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

Review: National Premiere of ‘Tilting Ground’ at Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

OnStage Massachusetts Critic

~~~~~~

MEREDITH, NH - For one weekend only, The Winnipesaukee Playhouse presents the National Premiere of ‘Tilting Ground’ by Guy Hibbert. This powerful drama, directed by Neil Pankhurst and featuring a cast of three terrific actors, is a compelling story of happiness found and happiness lost. 

Picture Credit: Cast of 'Tilting Ground' photo courtesy Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Picture Credit: Cast of 'Tilting Ground' photo courtesy Winnipesaukee Playhouse

After not hearing from her son for over a year, Nancy, played by Pat Langille, is thrilled to have him back in her life.  Jack, played by William Vaughn, returns to his mother’s home in Escondido, Mexico to find that he is no longer the only man in her life. This is something he does not easily accept even when Charles, Nancy’s new husband, played by Richard Brundage, demonstrates kindness towards him. It is soon clear to Nancy that she cannot have both her husband and her son in her life and is forced to choose who stays and who goes. 

The set, designed by Dan Daly, is simple, featuring sand and seashells and is nicely complimented by soothing lighting, designed by Becky Marsh. The subtle sound of splashing waves upon a shore, designed by Neil Pankhurst, completes the idyllic scene. The three elements work nicely together to transport the audience to the beachfront property. 

Langille’s portrayal of Nancy was well done, though her interactions with Charles seemed more authentic than those with Jack. Both Langille and Vaughn jumped each other’s lines throughout the production; however, their commitment to their characters was unquestionable. Though Jack was my least favorite character, Vaughn’s captivating portrayal made me hope everything would work out for him in the end. Brundage grabbed the audience’s attention from the start and his heartfelt portrayal of the compassionate and sensitive Charles was outstanding.   

Overall, the actors did a great job with this very intense drama; however I do think this play is best appreciated by a mature audience. ‘Tilting Ground’ plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until April 24th. For additional information and tickets to visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

 

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

Review: 'Carrie - The Musical' by Mask & Dagger Dramatic Society

Angelica Potter

Carrie: The Musical is based on the Stephen King novel and classic horror movie. While both the novel and the movie highlighted the paranormal, this version produced by the Mask and Dagger Dramatic Society at University of New Hampshire was designed to focus more on the bullying facets while downplaying the paranormal. Subsequently, the technical aspects surrounding the paranormal events were weak and left the audience underwhelmed.  

This bare bones production featured a number of strong ensemble pieces including the opening number which had the cast coming out from the audience. Unfortunately, they later retreated to their seats in the audience where more than one broke character whilst they also used that space to change their clothes, as if the rest of the audience couldn’t see them, detracting from the scene occurring on stage. The special lighting on Sue during her interrogation scenes should have been placed more on her face rather than above/behind her especially considering, in one of her lines, she requests that the light be removed from her face because she couldn’t see. It is here that I look to the creative team and suggest that they pay more detailed attention to lines in the script that specify lighting or scenic aspects. 

The three piece band was located off stage behind the scenes yet many of the female singers were drowned out by the band on their solos unlike the male vocalists who were strong throughout. Projection in the small black box theatre space should not have been a problem. Nevertheless, several of the performers struggled with their pitch, projection and diction throughout the performance. 

Thankfully two of the lead characters were perfectly cast and acted as the glue that held the production together. Sue, played by Teghan Kelly, and Tommy, played by Taylor Morrow, were on point with their characters and vocals throughout the production. They had a believable and well developed connection that culminated in their duet in Act 2 that was heartfelt and beautifully sung. Marrow’s voice was also showcased in his short solo number in Act 1: “Dreamer in Disguise”.  Kelly, who almost never (if ever) left the stage in the two hour production, was in character and engaged with each scene as they played out; even those she was not directly in. Her voice was vibrant and commanding each time she sang and she clearly embodied her complex character.  

The director, Brooke Snow, explained in the production sheet that “Carrie: The Musical” is “really a story about the effects that bullying can have on someone’s life”.  While they did downplay the paranormal, they did not downplay the "religious fanaticism" of the mother.  The mother, played well by Rachel Noland, was a strong religious fanatic whose warped knowledge of Christianity offered her justification for abusing her daughter.  Carrie was played by Sam Trottier who effectively showed Carrie as a mousey, naïve girl but missed the mark when expressing an enraged, out of control victim getting her revenge in the prom scene. The caring and sympathetic gym teacher was played competently by Hadley Withington, though her costume and hair style did not differentiate her as older and more mature than the students she reprimanded.

In the book and the movie, Carrie’s demonic paranormal powers are a direct response to her mother’s controlling, irrational, extreme view of religion.  In my opinion, the two extremes go hand in hand.  To lessen the focus on Carrie’s paranormal abilities, which culminate in the terrifying and deadly prom scene, risks giving the musical an uneven feel.  The way the power was presented at the prom was underwhelming and anticlimactic.  The room went dark when the bucket of blood was to be spilt over Carrie and the lights returned to find her wet with a very light colored liquid that did not resemble blood at all.  It was then literally difficult to watch Carrie’s rage unfold with the addition of the strobe lighting which did not enhance the scene as was perhaps intended.  

Mask & Dagger’s goal as stated in their production sheet is “to use these works of theatre to provoke thought, test ideas, and broaden perspectives on the UNH campus”.  To that end, with this performance as a public service piece, they have met their goals.


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

Review: 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' at Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a fascinating play by David Edgar adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Set in Victorian London this play is filled with beautiful poetic language and is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally poignant. 

Walking into the intimate theatre for the opening night performance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde my eyes were immediately drawn to the substantially dark set. Designed by Andrew Stuart, the set was perfectly complimented by the lighting, designed by Graham Edmondon. The eeriness established by the set and the lights was exemplified even more through sound and musical additions. Neil Pankhurst expertly designed the sound in a way that kept the audience engaged and often times on the edge of their seats. It is clear that Nick Saldivar, who magnificently directed the show, worked very hard with everyone involved to ensure all elements of the show blended together seamlessly to create a beautiful and hauntingly intriguing production.

Nicholas Wilder brilliantly portrayed Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde. His characterizations were fantastically unique while also allowing a few similarities. His first transformation startled the audience, many of whom jumped in their seats. His Dr. Jekyll was polished and dignified while his Mr. Hyde was physically and vocally menacing. 

Helen McMillan, as Annie Loder, and Elizabeth Swan, as Katherine Urquart, were wonderful to watch. These two women heightened the emotional aspects of the show and allowed the audience the opportunity to see the man behind Dr. Jekyll - the scientist and before the madness of Mr. Hyde took over. Their kindness towards him near the end of the play opened a door for the audience to feel sympathy towards this dark and violent character.  

The cast also includes Winnipesaukee Playhouse veterans Richard Brundage (Gabriel John Utterson) and A.J. Ditty (Richard Enfield/Parson), Jason Plourde (Poole), Ray Dudley (Dr. Lanyon/Sir Danvers Carew), Sophie Pankhurst (Lucy Urquart/Matchgirl), and Tyler Browne (Charles Urquart). 

This production is thoroughly captivating from start to finish; and for anyone who is familiar with the classic story it is not to be missed. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until September 5th. For additional information and tickets to visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org


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

Review: 'Avenue Q' at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Angelica Potter

From Directors Brandon James and Ben Hart comes the fun and amusing musical comedy Avenue Q playing at Seacoast Repertory Theatre. With over fifty handmade puppets, a lively band and creatively designed set this unique show, with adult themes, keeps the audience chuckling from start to finish.   

The experience of live theatre is often exciting because you never know what might happen. In this production, as is the case with most productions, the first few performances have some hiccups until the show finds its rhythm. But it is certainly worth taking in as there are many highlights within this production to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Photo Credit: Seacoast Repertory Theatre

The first of which is the fantastic band led by Music Director Andrew Barret Cox. It was wonderful having a live band that featured not only a piano, but also drums and both electric and bass guitars among other instruments. They were high energy and kept the tempo of the show moving right along. As with most musicals, the show is driven by the music being played by the band and sung by the performers. The cast of fifteen delivered vocally strong performances throughout the production. I must applaud this production on having such wonderfully talented artists sharing their gifts with the audience; be it their voice or other instrument. 

The second highlight is one I was not expecting to see: tap dancing. Shaina Schwartz (Gary Coleman) performed a stellar tap solo during the first act. Her sounds and steps were a fantastic addition to the show. I am thrilled to see, as noted in the program, that she is not only sharing her incredible tapping talent with many audiences during the run of Avenue Q, but also young people throughout the Greater Boston and New Hampshire areas. With entertainers and educators like Shaina Schwartz, the art of tap dancing is certainly making its come back.

I would also like to commend the entire cast on their work in the complex art form of Puppetry. It is certainly something that needs many hours of training and practice and it is clear this group worked very hard to bring their puppet characters to life. Ben Hart and Noah Lefebvre did a great job working as one to bring to life Nicky, one of the puppet characters. Additionally, many performers brought to life more than one puppet character and overall I think it was a job well done. 

Interestingly, the creatively designed set of the rundown city street, Avenue Q, was made by recycled, tossed away and/or donated items. Like the saying goes “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” and that statement is certainly true for this cool and colorful set.

This musical, though many characters are puppets, is not appropriate for children and is geared more towards an adult audience. Avenue Q plays at Seacoast Repertory Theatre Thursdays- Sundays until September 13th. For more information and tickets visit www.seacoastrep.org

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

Review: 'Accidental Death of an Anarchist' at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

Accidental Death of an Anarchist is a full force farce taking place in Milan, Italy and based on the real-life story of the suspicious death of Giuseppe Pinelli, a railway employee and recognized anarchist. Written by Dario Fo in 1970, only one year after Pinelli’s death, the play centralizes around themes such as governmental power, corruption and cover-ups. This play exposes hypocrisy not only within the play’s world, but in the real life world around its audience members. 

The moment the audience walked into the theatre the detailed and intimate set drew them into the world they were about to see. Ingeniously designed by Dan Daly, the set effectively portrayed a simple office at police headquarters in Milan, Italy circa 1970. At the center of the stage were two French doors which opened to a small terrace to show a blue sky and leafless tree. Perfectly placed, the doors too, are characters within the play; with many parts of the story focused around them. During the prologue before the play began, the audience was slowly introduced to its characters and their morning routines as they silently entered the office and begrudgingly began their tasks. Though there were no lines and the play hadn’t officially started, the audience lowered their voices except for moments of chuckling when they made comments to those around them regarding the action on the stage. 

Fantastically directed by Matt Cahoon, the cast is comprised of six wonderfully talented actors, Richard Brundage (Inspector Bertozzo), A.J. Ditty (Maniac), John-Michael Breen (Constable), Nicholas Wilder (Sports Jacket), Jason Plourde (Superintendent), and Rebecca Tucker (Journalist). All six brought quirkiness and vigor to their diverse characters. While all had their strengths and made the show an overall success, there was one who stood out a little more from the very beginning. A. J. Ditty brilliantly portrayed his hysterical Maniac character. A master deceiver, the Maniac, constantly had one, if not more, of the other characters wrapped up in one of his schemes and either hanging on his every word or wanting to hang him with his every word. His intelligent and creative portrayal of this complex character is not to be missed. 

This thoughtful play was not only full of slap-stick comedy, but it also included modern day references which effectively kept the audience engaged and laughing throughout the play. Best appreciated by a mature audience, Accidental Death of an Anarchist plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until August 22nd. For additional information and tickets to Accidental Death of an Anarchist visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

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

Review: 'Sister Act' at Interlakes Theatre

Angelica Potter

Last night I curiously awaited the start of the opening night performance of the musical Sister Act at Interlakes Theatre. It is based on the film of the same name and features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner; with additional material by Douglas Carter Beane. 

Though the show is full of talent, it started off rather slow and took a while to build momentum. But I believe the issue there lies in the script and not the performers. As the first act progressed the cast really kicked the show into high gear and got the energy surging throughout the theatre. By the time Delores, wonderfully played by Miki Abraham, and her choir of nuns were singing “Raise Your Voice” and then “Take Me to Heaven (Reprise)” the energy was high and the excitement was jumping off the stage into the audience, which made a great end to the first act. This energetic momentum continued into the opening of the second act with “Sunday Morning Fever” and lasted all the way to the final piece “Spread the Love Around”. All of these numbers superbly showcased precise choreography from Director and Choreographer Brian Feehan. 

As with any show, there are hiccups along the way, but what allows the audience to forget all of that are the standout performances given throughout the production. The first I would like to mention is from veteran performer Nancy Barry and her portrayal of Mother Superior. She was not only commanding and witty throughout, but she also brought a good deal of heart to a turning point scene towards the end of the show. Secondly, was the hysterical performance of “Lady in the Long Black Dress” by Mikey LoBalsamo (Joey), Michael Jemison (TJ), and Peter Garza (Pablo). These three had the audience laughing aloud throughout their number. Thirdly, was the incredibly powerful vocal performance by Caitlin Thurnauer (Sister Mary Robert) who sent chills and thrills through the audience during “The Life I Never Led”. 

By the time finale rolled around it was clear that this cast had been working very hard to put on a show worthy of a standing ovation. And though difficulties popped up along the way; they pulled it together and nailed their opening night performance and clearly enjoyed their time on stage. No matter how hard the work was, they had the hope that it would all pay off. Luckily, it did, as noted with the boisterous standing ovation that they certainly deserved.     

Director and Choreographer Brian Feehan has brought yet another show to life on the Interlakes stage where it plays until August 9th, 2015. Tickets and additional information can be found at www.interlakestheatre.com 

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

Review: 'Table Manners' at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

Table Manners, by Alan Ayckbourn, is the first in a trilogy of plays entitled The Norman Conquests. The play takes place in a country house in West Sussex, England where three grown-up siblings and their significant others all end up under the same roof. This is no ordinary weekend holiday as strong personalities, long-time rivalries and romantic entanglements converge and quickly boil over. 

Directed by Neil Pankhurst, this fantastic six actor cast brings to life this witty and highly entertaining British comedy. The full play takes place in a comfortable dining room, designed by Meredith Brown. Once it began it didn’t take long before the audience was fully engrossed and laughing; which they continued to do for the next two hours.  

Rebecca Tucker (Annie) and Molly Parker Myers (Sarah) wonderfully portrayed their sister-in-law characters. Their opposing views, mannerisms, and the ways that they believe flowers and place settings should be arranged make for great first scene. It is clear within the first few minutes who prefers to always be in control and have things done her way regardless of whose house she is in. When the other characters arrive into the scene tensions escalate to the point where by intermission, more than one character has become unhinged. Tom (Jason Plourde) is the rather in-different friend of Annie, who is constantly trying to figure out if he has interest in her and if so why won’t he make a move. Jason Plourde is pleasantly charming as the only character who seems to stay relaxed during the play; with the exception of one momentary misunderstanding. Richard Brundage superbly portrays Annie’s brother & Sarah’s husband Reg. Reg is a very relatable character in that he is just trying to make it through the weekend without too much family drama. Norman, incredibly played by Nicholas Wilder, often finds himself in the middle of the dysfunctional drama and rightly so; though he does feign his innocence in the thick of it. Suzanne Kimball who splendidly plays his wife Ruth, sister to Annie and Reg, joins in the weekend of family disorder and like Annie, knocks heads with Sarah most of the time. 

As the chaos continues throughout the play the audience gets a clear understanding of why the trilogy is called The Norman Conquests. And if you want to know why you’ll just have to head over to the Winnipesaukee Playhouse sometime before July 25th to find out. It would be great to see this trilogy of amusing plays about family pandemonium produced at the Winnipesaukee playhouse in the coming years especially if this same group of talented actors reprised their roles. 

For additional information and tickets to Table Manners visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

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

Review: 'The Addams Family' at Interlakes Theatre

Angelica Potter

The Addams Family, the highly anticipated musical comedy, opened last night at Interlakes Theatre in Meredith, NH. Upon entering the theatre the eerily designed set by Katy Monthei drew the audience’s attention as anticipation grew. The audience eagerly listened for the oh-so- familiar theme and as soon as the orchestra began, the audience joined in with the snapping of their fingers. 

This deliciously dark musical comedy, with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, follows the famous characters created by Charles Addams in a brand new story that, for some in the audience, may hit a little too close to home. Wednesday Addams has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet young man, Lucas Beinekee, from a “normal family” and has planned a dinner for the two families to meet before she and Lucas tell them of their plans to get married. It has the makings for a very interesting evening that will change both families before the night is through.    

The opening number, “When You’re an Addams”, not only introduced us the living members of the Addams family, but also over two dozen of their dead or undecided ancestors. Uniquely designed costumes from the always amazing David Withrow made each character within the large cast stand apart from the others. For the next two hours the audience laughed, applauded and cheered for this extremely fun and funny musical. 

Photo Courtesy Interlakes Theatre/Dr. Robert Kozlow

Photo Courtesy Interlakes Theatre/Dr. Robert Kozlow

While the entire cast put on a great show there were a few standout performances that certainly deserved the standing ovation they received. Firstly, the magnificent pair that perfectly portrayed Gomez and Morticia Addams: Mikey LoBalsamo and Ashley Walley. They were born to play these characters. These two Interlakes Theatre veterans and audience favorites with their top notch vocals and comedic timing were devilishly charming. Hannah Zieser, who fiercely belted it out as the princess of darkness, Wednesday Addams, was another standout performer last night. She was engaging and exquisitely edgy. The mischievous Pugsley, played by Graham Campbell, delivered as Wednesday’s tossed aside, no longer tortured little brother in his rendition of “What If”. Fred Frabotta delivered a superb portrayal of Uncle Fester while Elise Watson (Alice) stole the scene in her version of “Waiting”.     

Fantastically directed and choreographed by David Beris, this family friendly show is sure to make you laugh. The Addams Family plays until July 26th, 2015 at Interlakes Theatre in Meredith, NH. Tickets and additional information can be found at www.interlakestheatre.com 

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

Review: South Pacific at Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Angelica Potter

South Pacific is a musical classic from composer Richard Rogers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II that first appeared on Broadway in 1949. Set in an island paradise in the South Pacific in 1943 during World War II, it follows the love story between Arkansas native and US Navy nurse Nellie and French planter Emile, who escaped to the island from France many years before and is now a widower raising his two children. Another love story develops between Liat, a local girl living on the island of Bali Ha′i, and Lieutenant Cable, who is conflicted with the duty he owes to his country and the love he feels for Liat. 

As the lights come up on stage and the dual pianos begin the overture, a nearly full house waits with bated breath. Suddenly, two adorable children playfully chase each other onto the stage and sing “Dites-Moi”. And in that moment the audience is transported to the South Pacific. As the show continues, the creative staging from Director Danielle Howard, the inventive set design by Szu-Feng Cheng, and the soothing lighting design by Kelly Gibson fully immerses the audience in the show. 
 
While overall the cast of about twenty was good, there were certainly a few standout performances. First, was the fantastically funny Linette Roungchun as Bloody Mary. Her rendition of “Bali Ha′i” was wonderfully performed and had the audience wishing we could all go to the beautiful island. Next was the charismatic and amusing performance given by Kevin Mahaney who played Luther Billis. From the moment he walked onto the stage through his hysterical dance number, “Honey Bun”, with Nellie, played by Allie Wing, his characterization and comedic timing were spot on. His vocals, as he demonstrated in “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame”, were some of the best in the show. 

Other notable moments include Connor McGrath’s (Lt. Cable) rendition of “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” which was poignant and yet a sad reminder of prejudices that still exist today.       

Paul Soper’s (Emile De Becque) well-trained opera voice was wonderfully showcased in “Some Enchanted Evening” and “This Nearly Was Mine”. Allie Wing (Ensign Nellie Forbush) was delightful throughout; though her voice was sometimes drowned out if others were also singing. However, her charming portrayal of Nellie and the joy she expressed during numbers such as “A Cockeyed Optimist”, “Wonderful Guy” and “Hunny Bun” had the audience hoping her love story would end happily.  

South Pacific at Seacoast Repertory Theatre is a well done version of a musical classic and plays Thursdays- Sundays until August 2nd. For more information and tickets visit www.seacoastrep.org

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

Review: 'Red' at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

Red is a Tony Award-winning play by John Logan. This intellectually stimulating drama, directed by Timothy L’Ecuyer, follows a two year period in the creative process of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, played by Peter Josephson, and his assistant Ken, played by John-Michael Breen. It begins in 1958 when Mark Rothko, at the height of his career, is commissioned to create a series of paintings for the new and very high-class Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. 

From start to finish this 90 minute play grabs the audience’s attention and never lets it go. It is captivating and offers a realistic glimpse into the world of an artist. The play shows the struggle, the sorrow, and the pain that an artist goes through to create. Red is an intimate look into the heart and soul of its two characters and their relationship with art, each other, and the world around them. 

John-Michael Breen and Peter Josephson in RED

John-Michael Breen and Peter Josephson in RED

The creative team involved with this production did an incredible job designing a realistic, functioning art studio. The detailed set, designed by Melissa Shakun, was filled with everything a real painter would need. The simple, yet complimentary, lighting, designed by Shawn Kaufman, gave the audience the feeling that we were not watching a play, but an artist in his studio creating his next masterpiece. My favorite element, however, was the background music (sound design by Neil Pankhurst) usually playing off a record player, it added realism and even more depth to the play.   

Peter Josephson, who portrayed Mark Rothko, and John-Michael Breen, who portrayed Ken, were dynamic, compelling and brought incredible life to the smart and witty script. Josephson gave a strong and passionate portrayal of the complex painter at work. Breen’s portrayal of Ken displayed expressive versatility and youthful exuberance while also showing Ken’s emotional depth and desire to learn and create beautiful and memorable art. Their contrasting yet complimenting characters were realistic and wonderfully portrayed.   

Red, playing at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until July 11th, is a terrific piece of theatre. Though it is best appreciated by a mature audience, I highly suggest if you are in New Hampshire this week to go check it out. It invites the audience to think, to feel, and to embark along with its characters on a journey of discovery and creation. 

For additional information and tickets visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org

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

Review: 'West Side Story' at Interlakes Theatre

Angelica Potter

West Side Story is a tragic love story based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents. Taking place in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York City in the 1950’s, this musical gives us two street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, whose rivalry focuses around their ethnic backgrounds. When a young couple falls in love and tries to break down the walls of hatred between the opposing gangs tragedy strikes multiple times.  It is then that the fists slowly come down as they realize what they’ve become and what their actions have caused. 

Interlakes Theatre proudly brings this classic to the stage under the direction and choreography of Brian Feehan. The large cast showed off their dancing chops during the many dance breaks. The gentlemen appeared to lack confidence in their steps at times especially during the “Prologue” which made for a shaky start to the opening night performance. However, things improved when the ladies kicked the dancing up a notch during “The Dance at the Gym” and “America”. 

Nonetheless, this show was carried by its leads Tony (Justin Luciano), Maria (Julia Suriano), Bernardo (Taylor Warren) and Anita (Cassidy Stoner). Luciano’s voice and connection with Suriano were wonderful and the two of them made the audience wish for a happy ending. Warren was dashingly authoritative as Bernardo and the dancing between him and Stoner during “The Dance at the Gym” was fierce (in the best way). Stoner brought strength, sass and of course incredible dancing to her portrayal of Anita.

As with most opening nights, this performance had its share of glitches. The most noticeable issue was the sound, or in some cases, the lack there of: from the mics being turned “on” backstage before the show to mics dying while leads were singing;  to the orchestra being louder than the singers even when their mics worked properly. It is my hope that it all gets sorted out and soon, because it was a shame to barely hear half the songs in the show and listening to the audience around me, many felt the same way. 

Photo Credit: Dr. Robert Kozlow (Interlakes Theatre) 

Photo Credit: Dr. Robert Kozlow (Interlakes Theatre) 

Thankfully, the shining light of this production (who I could always hear) is the incomparable Julia Suriano who, as mentioned earlier, portrays Maria. From the moment she came on stage she was delightful to watch and when she started singing her well trained, Soprano voice was chillingly beautiful. Her performance of “I feel pretty” put a smile on the face of everyone in the audience. The strength and emotion she brought to “A Boy Like That/ I Have a Love” was perfection. And not long after that, we watched with tear filled eyes, her devastating heartbreak in the “Finale” as she reprimanded both gangs for what their hatred had destroyed. Julia Suriano’s portrayal of Maria is not to be missed as she is hands down one of the best vocalists Interlakes Theatre has ever had.   

West Side Story plays until July 12th, 2015 at Interlakes Theatre in Meredith, NH. Tickets and additional information can be found at www.interlakestheatre.com 

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

Review: 'The Taffetas' at Interlakes Theatre Meredith, NH

Angelica Potter

The Taffetas pays tribute to the girl groups of the 1950’s as it gives us a singing sister group (The Taffetas) who are making their television debut on a show called “Spotlight on Music”. These four sisters, wonderfully played by Emily Nies (Kaye), Elise Watson (Peggy), Hannah Zieser (Donna), and Ari Raskin (Cheryl) bring smiles and comedy to their versions of some of the greatest 50’s hits. 

The opening night performance of The Taffetas was also the start of the summer season for Interlakes Theater in Meredith, NH (in the heart of the lakes region). And if what I saw last night is any indication of the upcoming season, I am looking forward to being back in the audience very soon.

Photo credit: Interlakes Theatre 

Photo credit: Interlakes Theatre 

The best part of this show is the impeccable harmonies that these four amazing vocalists presented. I cannot recall the last time that I was so amazed at how well a small group of singers were able to not only perform perfect harmonies, but also continue to wonderfully blend throughout the show. It was fantastic! I know those ladies must have been working very hard this past week to create a unified voice while also showing their unique character. With every song and every solo, big or small, these ladies demonstrated their training, dedication to the art and their sheer joy and love of music. Lastly, what made the show stand out and not become another tribute concert performance, were finely placed comedic moments, quirky facial expressions and simple, yet precise, choreography.  

The enthusiastic audience last night laughed and cheered the whole way through. A few comments overheard were, “We knew all the songs and could quietly sing along!”, “Those girls looked like they were having so much fun up there!” and “I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived tonight, but I’m glad we came. This is wonderful.” Now, I didn’t know all of songs like some people in the audience, but I certainly agree with all of their comments.

Unfortunately, The Taffetas only runs until this Sunday June 28th, 2015, but I highly suggest if you are in the Lakes Region to go check it out. It’s a wonderful night out with great music that may bring you on a trip down memory lane. Tickets and additional information can be found at www.interlakestheatre.com     

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

Review : 'Into the Woods' at Seacoast Repertory Theatre (Portsmouth, NH)

Angelica Potter

Last night was the opening night performance of Into the Woods at Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, NH. Into the Woods with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine is a musical comedy that intertwines a number of classic fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Jack and Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood, to name a few. We are taken along on a magical journey to learn what the true cost of a wish really is and who is willing to pay the price to make their wish come true.   

This ensemble production with a company of ten actors was creatively directed by Bob Vernon. In this production, props and costume pieces allowed for multiple characters to be played by the same actor. Initially, I was unsure how well this was going to work as there are many characters within the show and often times they are on stage at the same time. But by the end of the prologue, which, thanks to Sondheim, is a very long number, I, along with most of the audience, were able to follow who was who for the remainder of the show. 

Throughout the first act, the one-liners landed and had the audience chuckling in their seats. Unfortunately, many one-liners were then repeated by audience members to the people they were sitting next to. This makes me wonder if the actors were rushing and the audience couldn’t clearly understand them so things were being repeated or that audience members thought lines were so funny they needed to say them again for themselves. Either way it was a distraction and I found myself unable to hear the actors on multiple occasions because of the excess audience chatter. But I’ll sum it up to an overly excited opening night audience who were having a wonderful night at the theatre.

Seacoast Repertory Theatre

Seacoast Repertory Theatre

My favorite performance from the evening came well into act one when the two Princes gave fantastically, dramatic performances in their duet “Agony”. For the audience, this number was anything but agonizing to sit through and was happily welcomed again in act two during a reprise. These standout performances were given by Ben Bagley (Cinderella’s Prince) and Jeff Dalzell (Rapunzel’s Prince).  Though they made great Princes, they both played other roles within the show: Mr. Dalzell displayed his versatile acting chops in his other roles as Milky White (the cow) and Florinda (one of the Stepsisters); while Mr. Bagley gave an incredibly creepy performance as the Wolf.

Other notable performances included Jess Andra as the Baker’s Wife and Seraphina Caligiure as the Witch. Their renditions of “Moments in the Woods” and “Lament”, both in act two, were superb. Bill Humphreys (Mysterious Man & Lucinda) was an audience favorite offering many one liners and amusing physical comedy. Jamie Bradley, as the Baker, delivered clear and strong vocals; while Cathy McKay was energetic as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Jack’s Mother and Granny. Gabrielle Archambault was lovely as Cinderella which contrasted her performance as an angry Giant. Even the youngsters of the company Emma Joanis (Little Red Ridinghood & Rapunzel) and Liam Blanchard (Jack & Steward) earned their share of laughs and applause throughout.  

In closing, be prepared as it is a long show, closing in on almost three hours including intermission. But it is clear that this group of talented actors have worked hard to make this a good production. So why not take a chance and go Into the Woods, you’re sure to enjoy the journey! 

Into the Woods is playing through June 14th, 2015. For information and tickets visit www.seacoastrep.org