Friday, August 29, 2014

Review of The Arsonists at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Arsonists. It was by Max Frisch and it was adapted by Alistair Beaton. It was directed by Matt Hawkins. It was about a man named Gottlieb Biedermann (Robert Kauzlaric), and a man named Schmitz (Scott Danielson) came into his house and he wanted to stay in the attic. But Biedermann's wife Babette (Sarah Goeden) thought Schmitz was an arsonist. Beidermann thought the same thing but Schmitz made him feel bad so then he didn't send him out and call the cops. But then Schmitz had invited his friend Eisenring (Ira Amyx) to come stay with him. Beidermann and Babette got really scared so they decided to invite them to dinner so they could discuss it and find out if they were really arsonists. It is about how you can pretend somebody is not something that they are so then you can make yourself less scared. The play doesn't think that that is a good idea. If somebody comes to your house and says, "Of course, I'm not an arsonist" but they do everything an arsonist would do, then you should get suspicious instead of thinking, "They are probably just storing petrol up here for…for business reasons." I thought it was funny because it was so unrealistic and the way Biedermann was acting was just so dumb. When I was watching this show, I felt very nerve-wracked but then the funny parts were kind of like comic relief. It was funny, then nerve-wracking, then funny, then nerve-wracking. I think that it is great to have a show that incorporates actual aspects of real life but also is not very realistic. The actual aspect is that people sometimes try to make up stories for themselves so then they will believe themselves even though they know the stories are not true.

I thought the scene where Schmitz was eating breakfast but then Babette had to tell it was time to leave was a funny scene. It was funny how instead of thinking she was telling him it was time to go, he thought she thought that he had no table manners. Well, he didn't, but she's not so mean that she would actually say that. He basically tore off things with his teeth and chewed with his mouth open. It was funny when he said, "You wouldn't leave me out in the rain, would you?" and it looks like Babette is thinking, "There's no rain out" and then there's thunder and lightning. Crack-boom, it is suddenly raining! And I saw surprise go over her face. I thought the sound (design by Sarah Espinoza) was great because it happened right exactly the second after he said "You wouldn't leave me out in the rain!" The sound was great in the entire play, especially with the big sound at the end! The lights (design by Sean Mallary) were good too; I liked how the entire city seemed to be on fire in the little house blocks.

The scene where Biedermann found the Petrol was funny because the arsonists--now there are two--just were like, "Oh. It's just petrol." That was funny because it is totally unrealistic that Eisenring just tells him that it is petrol. And Biedermann's face just went crazy: his mouth went open and his eyebrows went unlevel with each other. And he is also making the detonator out in the open and he gets Biedermann to put the wire all around the house. They basically make a game of putting the detonator wire all around. You know it is not a good idea, but it is just so ridiculous that it is funny. And basically for the entire next scene they are just dodging around wire. I think they did that to show that they are trying to pretend that the wire isn't there, but it is actually there and it could hurt them.

There was a scene that showed how Mr. Biedermann knew that they were arsonists because he decided to invite them over for dinner and let them go easily so they wouldn't feel super bad. But he also wanted them to feel like "oh he's just like us," so they wouldn't set the house on fire. He is afraid that they think he is too rich and fancy, so then he makes it seem like he's not very rich or fancy. And he tells Anna (Rebecca Wolfe) the maid to wear a sweater instead of an apron and not to put out silverware or serve the goose on a platter. But then at the dinner table Eisenring says, "I sure would like it if there was some silverware, or napkins, or finger bowls." And then Biedermann says, "Oh we have those! Oh, Anna, why were you so silly not to put out the finger bowls and napkins." And then she's like, "But you you told me…" and he interrupts and says, "But really, why did you not?" and she says "You told me not to!" and storms out of the room. I think that shows more about how servants are treated and how the bosses shouldn't blame everything on them.

People who would like this show are people who like petrol, bad table manners, and finger bowls. People should definitely go and see this show. I thought it was funny, suspenseful, and it made me think about what it would be like to be in that kind of situation and what you would do. I would send them out of the house even if it made them feel bad. If they said, "We are not arsonists," I would say, "What is that detonator in your hand and why are you flicking that lighter so creepily!"


Photos: Chris Ocken

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of Sideshow Theatre Company's Stupid F##king Bird

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Stupid F##cking Bird. It was written by Aaron Posner; it was sort of adapted from The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. Jonathan L. Green was the director. It was about a man named Con (Nate Whelden) who was in love with a woman named Nina (Nina O'Keefe) but then a famous writer named Trigorin (Cody Proctor) moves in with Con's mother Emma (Stacy Stoltz), who is a famous actress. Nina falls in love with Trig and then Con gets very angry with him and kind of wants to kill him and also himself. Chekhov I think is a very good writer and some of his plays are funny, but The Seagull (1975) movie that I saw never made me laugh out loud. But SFB was hilarious even though everyone really feels horrible about themselves, except maybe Trig who basically loves himself. I think it was a great idea to make it more humorous because of the title and you don't want people to be depressed out of their minds because then they wouldn't be very happy afterwards. I think that this is an amazing show and I was laughing a lot of the time. It wasn't just a laugh your face off play either because you realize that love doesn't always go right and even if you think that you love somebody you could not be right. I really really loved this show and I think it is funny and sad at the same time, and I love that in a show.

I thought that the set (by Joe Schermoly) was great because it showed you that you were in a theater but you still felt like you were in the place that they said you were. At first it looked like a lake. The second time it looked like a kitchen. And then it looked like a porch, but then you still felt like you were in the theater because you saw the curtain in the back and the porch looked like it was on a roof or that it was a slanted stage.

It was cool how they mixed recorded music and live music and how the live music was played by Mash (Katy Carolina Collins) and Dev (Matt Fletcher). In the final section, they use their music to show what had happened over the last few years. Earlier the music was played by Mash and used as a distraction while they were making a big set change because they had to put down the entire wall and use it as another stage. I thought it was funny when basically we were all looking where she didn't want us to look and she said, "Eyes on me!" Because she keeps looking back to see where there are and is basically breaking her own rules and everyone is laughing. At the beginning of the play the music just shows how miserable Mash is because she is in love with Con. I liked how they didn't just make all the music sad and depressing; sometimes it was funny because the way she sings about how depressed she is is kind of funny. The songs that she writes are so weirdly depressing--the lyrics don't make much sense together. It is funny because she expresses it so openly and in such a gruff way. I thought that is was great that Mash and Dev got together in the end because I think that Mash was just too upset about how Con would never love her and Dev was a very nice person.

I liked it how Nina was in love with Trig basically from the start. In the other Seagull I saw she just liked his books at first. But in this one she immediately fell in love with him the second that she saw him. She is basically a step away from being engaged to Con and then that makes me really angry because she never thinks about how much she used to love him and how this is just a famous guy who snuck into their lives. But you don't hate Nina because she is basically too sweet to hate. Once she goes away with Trig she has a good life for like 2 years but then he gets tired of her and leaves. They have a kid but the kid dies and I thought that that was really sad because she was very happy and she remembers the little girl she used to have and suddenly she was gone. Con still loves Nina even though she did something really horrible to him. But he has loved her since she was young so he still loves her. It tells you that Con is a very persistent but loving person. But also he wants to be able to love himself again because when he was with Nina he felt better about himself and when Nina left he didn't know how to live with himself.

I thought that the crazy scene was different from the movie that I saw because it was actually more funny because she said stuff like, "Seagulls can't act" and she says stuff like, "That should be on a t-shirt." When I saw the movie I didn't really understand very much why she thought she was a seagull, but in this I understand more. It was like she felt like she had been shot like the seagull Con shot. And she felt like she used to be graceful like the live seagull but once Trig took her away she didn't feel so graceful anymore because he didn't treat her like she thought he would. So then she was like the dead seagull.

Emma is a great character to have because you have mixed emotions about her all the time. Like in the scene in the kitchen in the middle of the night when Con comes in and starts eating cheese, and she comes in and starts having an argument with him, you don't like her. But then she starts comforting him like a good mother and then you start to like her again. I think that it runs in the family to still love someone even after they have been super mean to you because Emma and Con both are still in love with Trig and Nina when they run away with each other. Still!

It was cool how Sorn (Norm Woodel) was the brother character mixed with the doctor because the doctor is a great character and so is the brother. I think having both characters would have been too much for this adaptation because of the way that this adaptation is built. This adaptation is built by having the play and then finding a way to make it again but make it the adaptor's own by making it funny and making you realize what the characters are really feeling. I think that it is hard for Sorin and Dorn to be in the same play because they both do the same thing in The Seagull. They are both old and not very helpful and talk about death and age a lot. They both give Con advice and try to keep his optimism up. I thought it was funny how Sorn put vodka in his power-up drink. I liked how he seemed sneaky about it like, no one can tell I put vodka in my health drink.

I liked the direct address in Chekhov for once in SFB. I don't usually like it because I don't like it when they are supposed to be talking to a character in the scene with them but instead they talk to the audience. I think they choose in some Chekhov productions to have the character talk to the audience because they want to over-push that the audience is really there. But then if you are the person in the scene with them you don't get to react to what the person is saying because they are not saying it to you. In SFB it was different because they talk to you at the same time as they talk to the other people on stage because they are all talking to you. I felt like they were really talking to the audience because Con asked for advice from the audience which most plays don't do. The play ends with everybody talking to the audience about what usually happens in the show, but then they say that won't happen this time. It is very suspenseful.

People who would like this show are people who like good direct address, live depressing-ish and funny music, and putting vodka in your health drink. I think people should definitely go see this show. The only people who shouldn't go are people who are not ok with swearing or making out. It is funny, sad, and it makes you realize what the characters in The Seagull are actually feeling. I really loved this show and I hope that everyone gets a chance to see it.

Photos: Jonathan L. Green

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review of The Hypocrites' All Our Tragic


Once upon a time I went on an adventure and it was called All Our Tragic. It was adapted and directed by Sean Graney from all of the existing Greek tragedies. It was about these seven sisters (Emily Casey, Erin Barlow, Tien Doman, Lindsey Gavel, and Dana Omar) who were in all of the different stories and they all would die oldest to youngest. They all age half a year for every year. The first section is about Herakles (Walter Briggs); the second section is about Oedipus (John Taflan) and his daughter Antigone (Barlow) and a boy named Hæmon (Luce Metrius) and his turtle; the third section is about the Trojan War and Agamemnon (Briggs) and Klytaimnestra (Doman) and Iphigenia (Gavel) and about Achilles (Metrius) and his son Neoptolemus (Zeke Sulkes); the fourth section was about what happens after the Trojan War and how bad it is. I call it an adventure instead of a play because I was at the theater for twelve hours. The play is so long because they have to get in all those Greek tragedies. You also get to eat. And you also get to go outside and go for walks and stuff like that. You don't have to be in your seat for the entire time. It is just a great experience because the writer and actors make it so you are never bored and it is funny but also scary and also sad. I also liked the experience of being able to talk to the actors during the intermission; how they didn't keep them cooped up the entire time. I loved this show and if I had the time I would definitely go back again. I think people should definitely go and see this show and then you can continue reading my review because otherwise there will be a lot of spoilers.

I thought that the first section was very funny because of the way that they portrayed Herakles. Because instead of being the usual heroic from the start Herakles he was a very confused Herakles at first. He wanted to be heroic but he didn't know what was heroic. I really liked Herakles' yell "Ah-he-ey!" because it sounded like a teenage boy's call. Well, he basically was a teenage boy but they think of him as an adult in their time. I really liked how Eurystheus (Maximillian Lapine) had his little thing where he would just say "shadows…os…os…os." He would pretend to have his own echo and move his arms like he was doing the shimmy. That was really funny because he didn't get how it was supposed to work. He would yell "I am the necromancer!!!" and put his legs like in a grand plié and put his arms up and his head up to the sky and there would be lightning. I thought that was funny because he always wanted more, so since he didn't get an echo he decided to make his own.

But you also sometimes hate Eurystheus because he makes Herakles kill two of his sons (Metrius, Christine Stulik), frighten the other Patroklos (Taflan) and chop off the arm of the daughter (Casey). I think that Herakles's wife (Doman) seemed like a nice person, but she could never be the nicest person she wanted to be because of her husband basically, because of the way they met. They didn't meet naturally; they met because Herakles saved her. Herakles is sort of a jerk but she falls in love with him anyway. All her niceness goes to him and so she doesn't have enough to come save her children from him. And Asterope (Barlow) shouldn't have taken Herakles's offer to come home with him but I think she was scared that he would get angry if she didn't. And she also kind of thought he was handsome. Philoktetes' (Danny Goodman) job was supposed to be to make Herakles stay true, but he failed because he was also scared of Herakles. I thought it was really funny how he had a fur cap but everybody thought it was a wig and basically it did look like a wig because it covered all his hair.

I really thought that Ægeus's(Sulkes) goat legs (costumes by Alison Siple) were really cool. The way that he walked in them, kind of crouching the entire time looked very realistic. I thought he seemed like a very nice person, but he also had some faults because when something went wrong he immediately didn't want to live anymore. The way that he wanted to die was by pickle. I thought that was funny because what kind of Greek tragedy has one of the heroes die by eating a pickle?! Death by pickle is way weirder than death by robe.

Médée (Omar) is kind of a jerk but you kind of understand why she is a jerk, because her husband Jason (Metrius) doesn't give her enough love. I thought that her hair wasn't actually bad (I thought it was kind of cute) but Jason said, "Here's some money so you can get a comb for that messy hair of yours." I thought, why does everyone hate her hair so much? It is actually pretty! Having a bad husband is not a good reason to kill your baby because the baby doesn't have anything to do with it. The story that Phèdra (Stulik) told about her son was kind of gross. I thought that she and Theseus (Ryan Borque) could have had a great relationship if he hadn't gone away for so long to go and kill the minotaur. In this play, boys are usually going to kill somebody, kill somebody by accident, or are going off to go and be with another woman. The men usually make the tragedy by not loving or by leaving.

I liked how in the second section all the characters had a secret that was revealed to everyone, including the audience, at different points in the show. I liked this because sometimes the audience knows a secret that the characters don't know and then it is only a surprise to the characters on stage. One of my favorite characters in this entire play was Hæmon who basically acted like a child throughout the play even though he asks Antigone to marry him because he really did love her and he always had loved her. But you sort of wish he had waited for a different time to ask her because her father had just died. They tried to trick Oedipus into coming back because there was a museum. I thought it was awesome how he had the turtle Cadmus for the entire time and the turtle was basically one of the only survivors by the end of it.

I also really liked Tiresias (Gavel) who was Hæmon's nanny. My mom told me that that character is usually a man. I really liked that change because then there is more suspense because she might be Hæmon's mother and also Creon (Sulkes) could be the actual father because they used to be dating. She is homeless for some of the play and she plays the spoons. But she doesn't really play the spoons; she more gets worse at the spoons each time. She is also a fortune teller, so most of this section happens because she is a fortune teller.

I thought that it was funny how Polynikes (Lapine) was like addicted to an energy drink and he steals bikes from little girls. I didn't think either one of the brothers, Polynikes or Eteokles (Geoff Button), would have either of them been good rulers. I think Antigone should have done it because she seemed more calm and more kind-hearted. To have a democratic state like Athens had would have been even better than Antigone, but I still think Antigone should have been part of the democratic state because she seemed like the most calm and generous person in the entire play basically. And also kind of the least stupid person.

When Oedipus took out his eyes, it was very very very disgusting because literally you could see his eyes come out of his sockets. And then he would throw them on the floor and you would hear a splat. It was so disgusting, but I loved it! Oedipus seemed like a very nice man but he made a lot of bad decisions because everything was happening too quickly for him. He just found out his wife (Stulik) was his mother and he just became king, so he didn't want to see any more, so he decided he wanted to pull out his eyes, which is not the best decision in my opinion.

The third section started out very sad because Agamemnon lied to his wife Klytaimnestra, lied to his daughter Iphigenia, lied to his son Orestes (Button), lied to his entire family and then killed his daughter. But the way that he lied was just so horrible because he lied about a wedding, so that means they spent a lot of money and did a lot of things--bought a wedding dress and got everyone ready for this wedding--and then it turns out he just wanted to kill his daughter for the sake of the army. Seriously? But there is no real sake of the army because she doesn't have anything to do with the army except that she's his daughter. And what really makes me angry is that he says she is going to get married to one of the most famous people in the world, Achilles, but then she is very very happy about everything until she finds out she's probably going to die today. Not good parenting, people!!!

I thought that Kassandra (Stulik) was a very troubled character. Because what she always did and thought was a good idea to get attention was to stick her knitting needles into her arm and start screaming the future. She was right about the future all the time, but sometimes there were a few little flaws like when she thinks Agamemnon is going to die in the war but then it happens after. The hearts (designed by Maya Marshall) I thought were kind of creepy. She didn't knit valentine hearts, she knit like a diagram of the human heart. I thought that Red Berry / Polyxena (Barlow) seemed like she was scared of a lot of different things, but she comes to a very sad end. I liked how she was very clueless at first but by the end she had learned a lot during the war. I also really liked her berry pajamas because they were very adorable.

I liked how they really made it clear that Achilles and Patroklos were a couple because it made it when Patroklos died even more sad. I liked how they were very open with each other and I think Patroklos would have cooked a very good dinner if they had gotten home after the war. Achilles is very noble and all the girls liked him and wanted to marry him but that just made Patroklos angry. But he still wanted to help Iphigenia. I liked how Achilles' first armor kind of looked like a biker costume with the skull mask. But his second armor is a little bit less scary. It happens to be…a sweater. Which is not the most heroic thing ever.

I thought that the sheep (made by Kristine Herne) were hilarious. I loved it when Agamemnon said, "Maybe I just don't like YOU!" and all the sheep went "ooooh" a sheep voices. The crowd erupted in laughter. I also liked it how Ajax (Lapine) was having visions of all the sheep being like commanders and stuff.

The beginning of the fourth part was a little bit disgusting because of the way Klytaimnestra wanted to kill her husband. She wanted to kill him by stabbing him with his own giant stick basically through his back, which is not very nice in my opinion. She did have an excuse; her excuse is that he killed their daughter. He is a terrible person if he kills his daughter just because the gods said so to turn his boat around. Those gods suck!!! Also, Agamemnon brings back Kassandra, who is the knitting-needles-poke-yourself lady, as his spear bride. If you don't know what a spear bride is, you can learn it from me, Ada Grey! A spear bride is a souvenir from war which is a woman. I thought it was really funny how there was like a five-minute conversation between Klytaimnestra and Agamemnon: "Who am I?" "My wife?" "Who's she?" "My spear bride!" That goes on and on for so long that every time he says "My spear bride!" everyone bursts into laughter. You would be disturbed out of your mind if they didn't try to make it funny.

The island scene where there was the hoodoo witch, was the weirdest scene in this entire play. Because what kind of Greek Tragedy takes place on a hoodoo island? This one, I guess. So Menelaus (Borque) and his wife/spear bride Helen (Casey), who happened to be the youngest seven sister, are shipwrecked on this island and then they meet another Helen who was supposed to be trapped here all along by an evil hoodoo witch. It is really weird because then at the end he gets very confused that there are two Helens, so he goes and chops off one of their heads and hopes that he chopped off the head of the witch. Helen is basically like a character in a Katy Perry music video, a character who is a teenager who dresses up as a princess and paints little girls' faces as a summer job.

Hermione (Barlow) this entire time they are on the witch hoodoo island has been planning a surprise party with canons going off, and crazy party stuff, and wine spritzers. She has been planning this but then bandits--Orestes and Pylades (Taflan) trying to run away because Orestes has killed his mother--break in and eat the cake. Then her parents come in and to try to make up for the cake she lets out beautiful confetti which later they find out is made basically of glass. I thought that made Hermione seem pretty stupid.

Elektra is way more smart, but she is kind of crazy too. She likes to wear mud all over herself because her mother killed her father. She can't control herself and throws mud at everyone and cries and just is angry basically all the time. Then people want to take her away to a school of very depressed marms. And then Pylades pretends to be one of the evil people who work at the school. And then he punches this guy in the face and puts up his arms in victory but is still completely deadpan. I thought that Pylades one of the most hilarious characters because what he is is someone who is basically quiet all the time and is like a secret agent for Orestes, but he also tries to give people hugs, but no one wants a hug from him. You kind of feel sorry for him, but he doesn't seem all that sad.

People who would like this show are people who like turtles, spear brides, and death by pickle. I think that everyone should go and see this show and take all their friends. I loved it so much! It it not just sad and funny, it also makes you appreciate the relationships that you have with your family.

Photos: Evan Hanover

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review of Babes with Blades' Witch Slap!

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Witch Slap. It was by Jeff Goode and it was directed by Delia Ford. It was about a Crone (Kimberly Logan) who has an apprentice named Novella (Loren Jones) and she's trying to teach her, but then she finds out about the witch trials and then she really freaks out. Then she calls a meeting of all the witches and there is a fortune teller named Jezebella (Alison Dornheggen) and a vampire-esque witch named Minerva (Stefanie Johnsen). And then three people without magical powers show up named Sylvia (Patti Moore), Goody Blunt (Morgan Manasa), and Window Gumdrops (Jennifer L. Mickelson). I can't tell you what the Crone really wants because that would give away the entire plot. This play is about relationships, how you can love someone but then suddenly hate them, leadership, and power, but they still make it a funny show.

Jezebella was my favorite character. She was a really funny character because when you think of witch you don't exactly think of fortune-teller, but they made it work. I liked how she had a different relationship with each of the witches. She kind of didn't like the Crone and she thought Novella was a crybaby and she didn't like being bossed around by Minerva because they had been teacher and student and one night they kind of started to like each other. She is a big part of the story. I didn't understand all of her decisions, but most of them. She didn't really want to be there because she didn't like any of the people there. And she didn't want to be abducted by the Crone. She just wants to go back and not be killed and she wants her house to be safe.

The fighting (violence design by Maureen Yasko) was really cool and fun because it wasn't too cheesy. But it also still showed that they were witches having a fight because they mostly used magical powers. I liked the sword-fighting with the brooms and how they kind of tried to overpower each other with the other person's broom. I really liked it how they went up on the ceiling some of the time and used it like monkey bars. I did feel like the gun was overused because it was there all the time and you knew that was what Goody Gumdrops would use. I think that Babes with Blades always has great fighting!

I thought it was cool how they made it seem like magic was really happening, like when they got down the bottles and they would zap them down. I also liked it how the cat looked like it was jumping down even though it was obviously stuffed; that made it really funny. I also liked it how they toyed with the idea of the witch making a brew but then it was just minestrone or stew or stuff like that.

I liked it how one of the characters turns into a zombie and so she's just kind of talking nonsense a lot of the time. It was also how she moved. She moved exactly like a zombie. Before she was very serious and never seemed like she would have a good time, but then she is almost always smiling when she's a Zombie. Her eyes look very bloodshot and very wide. I thought that was really funny because she also has blood dripping from her mouth and she walks around like a zombie and is going really slow all the time, but she is always very enthusiastic about everything when she's a zombie. That's funny because when you think of the word enthusiastic you don't think of a zombie; you think of a four-year-old kid or something. She portrayed the role of the zombie perfectly.

People who would like this show are people who like magic, craziness, and zombies. I think people will have fun at this show. My whole family went and we all had a good time. I'm really looking forward to the next Babes with Blades show.

Photos: Steven Townshend

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review of Coraline by Black Button Eyes Productions at City Lit Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Coraline. It was by Stephin Merritt and David Greenspan and it was based on the book by Neil Gaiman. It was directed by Ed Rutherford and musical direction was by Nick Sula. It was about a girl named Coraline (Sheridan Singleton) who moved to a new place which was a big house that had been separated into flats and she finds a door where there's usually a brick wall, but one time, when she opens it, it is not a brick wall. I liked how the brick wall was just a picture of bricks on an easel (set design by Ryan Emens). Then she goes inside and sees her other mother (Ryan Lanning) and her other father (Justin Kimrey). They are basically her mother and father only they have buttons for eyes. And her parents (Jennifer T. Grubb and Kimrey) get stolen and she has to rescue them. It is about love, exploring, and lying. I loved this show. I thought it was a great adaptation and I want to go see it again with my friend and my dad.

Miss Spink (Caitlin Jackson) and Miss Forcible (Kevin Bishop) are awesome characters on both sides (the other side and the real world) which I really like. And I also think that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are kind of the heroes of the story with Coraline because they give her the stone. I really liked their song that they sang when they were the Other Miss Spink and the Other Miss Forcible. I remember the line about "burst out in sequined dresses" from the book, and that exact thing happened here. I really liked all the little scottie dogs and I liked how they all had Scottish accents. And I liked how Miss Spink and Miss Forcible just burst out in Shakespearean quotes and then would throw a knife at someone's head. And they had so many non-sequiters and it just made that scene fuh-larious. And the dogs are all sitting in the seats around you and they are talking to Coraline and they are talking about chocolate and Coraline doesn't like the coconut ones. I personally like the coconut ones, but I liked it that Coraline didn't like them because I remembered from the book that she didn't like them.

I thought the crazy man upstairs, Mr. Bobo (Jeff Bouthiette), was a great character. I really liked how his little mouse box that he had turned into a drum at the end (props by Rocky Kolecke). When Mr. Bobo finally got Coraline's name right he seemed completed unfazed by that, like he had known it all along. I liked his performance as the ghost child too. I was kind of surprised that he was good at it because Mr. Bobo was a crazy old man and the ghost child was a little girl. I loved the heads for the ghost children (Bishop, Bouthiette, and Grubb) because they were creepy but cool at the same time. They were baby-doll heads that glowed.

The Cat (Kevin Webb) and Coraline are two characters that are different from the rest because there is only one of them and everyone else, who is not a ghost, there are two of them. The other characters have an "other." I really liked the Cat's song where at certain moments he would just stomp his foot on the piano keys. So it would be kind of beautiful and then wooomph! I liked how the music was live because if it weren't, this scene wouldn't be possible, and it was one of my favorite scenes. I also liked how the Cat was one of the most hilarious characters because he is a cat and he is basically the smartest person. Coraline is also very smart, like the Cat, but she has more flaws than the Cat because she got angry at her parents all the time for not doing the right things even though they were trying. But Coraline is the hero because she saves her parents even though she is scared and she learned that she shouldn't be angry at her parents because they can't spend all their time with her because they have to work and make a living. They still love her even if they can't spend a full day with her. All heroes have to learn something, because if a hero was completely flawless, there would be no story. I think Sheridan portrayed the role beautifully and I want to see her in many other plays!

I thought that the Other Mother and Other Father were scary, but the Other Father was kind of lovable because he doesn't ever want to hurt Coraline. He tries his best, but in the end Coraline has to hurt him because he is a threat to her. I thought that the costume (by Beth Laske-Miller) that the Other Father wore was very scary. It was basically like a Creature from the Black Lagoon, except he was all white and he looked like wax melting. It was super creepy. But I loved it! But the Other Mother makes him melt, so you hate her. But you love hating her so you love that character. I thought it was cool how the Other Mother was played by a man. That is a really good choice because the character is supposed to make you think, "something is off here, but she seems nice enough." But then of course, she's not. Coraline liked the Other Mother at first until she finds out what she actually does. I thought that the Other Mother was a very creepy character and I'm super glad that they portrayed her right and I think she was perfectly scary.

People who would like this show are people who like creepy glowing baby-doll heads, chocolate, and cats. I think that people should definitely definitely definitely go see this show. I loved it so much! I think it is a great adaptation; it is even better than the movie. This show I think is good for younger kids that are very brave and that are with their parents. And this is also great for adults and tweens and teenagers too.

Photos: Cole Simon

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review of Urinetown: The Musical at Awkward Pause Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Urinetown. The book was by Greg Kotis and the music was by Mark Hollmann and both of them wrote the lyrics. It was directed by Elana Boulos. It was about a guy named Bobby Strong (Brandon Ruiter) who was in love with a girl name Hope Cladwell (Kelly Krauter). But Hope's dad (Joshua R. Bartlett) was a really rich man and Bobby was a poor man who worked with toilets. But they were still trying to find ways they could see each other. It is also about toilets: how the toilet system works and the philosophy of them. And it is also about how poor people can do big things, like start a revolution. And how always the rich people are better off and how the poor people have to struggle on no matter what. They must get their toilet rights even if one of their most loved people in the world dies. This is like some musicals because there are a lot of musicals about people and how they have to claim their rights, like Les Miz, but it doesn't usually involve toilets. It is different because it does't have a happy ending, not even the slightest bit of gleaming hope. But this is still a funny musical, even without a happy ending. I really loved this show and it closes in a day so you better go and see it now!

I thought that Little Sally (Hillary Horvath) and Officer Lockstock (Michael Hamilton) and Officer Barrel (Tanner Munson) were super funny. I thought that it was funny when Officer Barrel said to Officer Lockstock, "I love you" and they just kind of stared at each other for a minute and then Officer Lockstock nodded and walked away and officer Barrel said, "I think that went pretty well" with a happy smile on his face. I thought it was cool how Officer Lockstock was also the narrator. And Little Sally who lived in the town kind of helped narrate in a cute way. Like they kind of controlled the story. One of my favorite lines was along the lines of: "When a little girl has been given as many lines as I have, anything can happen" and she charges back into the rebellion scene. It is funny because she is like 7 years old and in a rebellion. I thought this woman did a good job of acting like a kid. This part is making fun of musical theater kids, but she doesn't overdo it, so that made me like her performance a lot.

Miss Pennywise (Neala Barron) was a great character because she was tough, smart, strong, sometimes evil and sometimes good. My favorite character elements are these things. I liked the scene where all the people are in line to use the bathroom but they have to pay money, but Bobby Strong's dad doesn't have enough money, but then Miss Pennywise sings this awesome scatological ballad about how you have to pay to pee. I thought that the scene where Miss Pennywise and Mr. Cladwell look each other in the eye and have this little minute dance sequence where they have this kind of romantic ball dance and then they snap back into the scene and they are still looking into each other's eyes and then the secretary Mr. McQueen (Luke Michael Grimes) interrupts and they are like, "Huh?" I thought Mr. McQueen was super funny in his role; I loved how he was standing in fifth position with his arms like he was about to recite a poem. He worked for the bad guy but he was actually one of the funniest characters.

The message about love was very hilariously dumb. I thought that they actually loved each other, but it was kind of unbelievable because of how it started. They listened…to…each others…hearts. (I was singing that.) I find this love totally unnatural. It is kind of like Cinderella. They meet each other, the boy thinks the girl is pretty, they sing, they kiss, and they want to get married. The writer is making fun of how all the musicals work, how the songs are made, and "that's romance for you!" but it's not. It is not at all like that. Well I don't know anything about romance. But I know what romance should be more like. You have to get to know each other first.

It was fun that a lot of musicals I've seen or heard of, like Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, and Anything Goes were referenced in it. I find that kind of pleasing because you are watching a new play and you think, "I recognize that dance move" or "That song sounds familiar." The Fiddler on the Roof was kind of like in "Tradition" when they put their hands up next to their ears and made their arms stiff. And then "Run, Freedom, Run" was kind of like "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" from Anything Goes. I'm not saying I don't like those musicals or those songs. (I just listened to "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and it is still in my head.) But I liked having them in there because you think, "I recognize what song that is based on. That's awesome."

People who would like this show are people who like referencing musicals, scatological humor, and peeing for free. I think that people should definitely go see this show but there is only one performance left. So go go go and see this show now!


Photos: Brian Jarreau

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review of Nothing Without a Company's Alice in Lincoln Park

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Alice. It was directed by Anna Rose Ii-Epstein and adapted by Michael Monteiro Wise from the book by Lewis Carroll. It was about a young woman named Alice (Taylor Dariarow) who had just moved to Chicago and was just getting to know the city. And then all the creatures in Wonderland are people who live in Chicago. I thought that this show was a blast to be at. It was just so engaging and everything worked so well with the setting in a park. You walk around throughout the park and I like how they are not trying to cover up that you are in Chicago; they want you to see this place as Chicago. You actually felt like you were moving through Wonderland in Chicago. Everything about it just made me happy.

I thought that the White Rabbit (Peter Ash) was a great character to have because he was not a rabbit, really, he was more of a, well, boy. And Alice liked that boy even though he was kind of a jerk. He was dating so many girls at the same time that he didn't even remember Alice's name. He called her Mary Ann. I liked how that happens in the book too when he thinks she's his servant. I also really thought it was funny how the white rabbit had a little tiny tiny pink house and then when Alice grew she just stuck her feet and her arms out the window. When she walks over, Alice is a barbie doll, but then when she grows she just sticks her hand and feet out of the little windows.

The Caterpillar (Alexandra Miller) was a big puppet (designed by Jimmy Jagos). She was a very very big puppet and she was made out of almost everyone in the cast. I thought that was a very funny scene because I really liked it when the Caterpillar said "Wait" in this really valley-girl-like tone and she says it when Alice is so far away that she can barely hear and then Alice turns around and has to slosh all the way back. There were other cool puppets too. I really liked when you are walking at the very beginning there are these birds going wai-an! wai-an! And as you are passing they have all these ridiculous birds, like a pink flamingo getting tossed about in a floppity way and a black and white fuzzy eaglet (Rayme Silverberg), a yellow duck (Miller), and an exotic dodo (Harris Cabrera). They also have speaking parts as they do the caucus race. I liked the caucus race because everybody including the audience got to play in the caucus race.

I liked how the Cheshire Cat (Ivori Skye) had her hair (by William James Reinke) in a way that made it look like cat ears. I thought it was cool how the Cheshire Cat made it through the bushes and you could find its head poking through the bushes while the Mock Turtle (Miller) was talking. I liked how they chose to make the Cheshire Cat female, because they never make it female. I liked how she was cheeky, but she's still nice and helps Alice along the way.

The Mad Hatter's tea party was set under a clump of trees and bushes with a highway running in the back. Good thing the highway wasn't noisy. I liked how the Mad Hatter (Derek Rienzi Van Tassel) and March Hare (Justin Vidovic) were in love but kind of drunk. They were drunk in love. They really seemed to like drinking tea--I think there might have been some alcohol in it! I liked their relationship even though they were kind of drunk because I have never seen a performance where they made the Mad Hatter and March Hare in love. I liked how the Mad Hatter was the boss and everything and everyone listened to him; that was really funny. And I liked how the March Hare called him "Hattie." It showed that the March Hare liked to be his loyal subject and even had a loving nickname for him. I liked the Dormouse (Elizabeth MacDonell) because it was such a funny character to see this puppet go to sleep and be woken up and asked to tell stories and stuff like that. And the Dormouse kind of hiccuped sometimes and that was funny.

The Queen of Hearts (Emily Duke) is a hilarious character. I also liked all the expressions that she did to make this character; she wasn't embarrassed to be acting so weird. The King of Hearts (Evan Sierminski) is always supposed to be afraid somewhat of his own wife and I think he did a great job. I liked his reaction to the queen interrupting him when he was too slow or too nice about something. His reaction was he kind of jumped back and his eyes got bigger. It was very funny. And then he went back to being very very calm. I really liked how the cards (Amy Gorelow) were all played by one person. I thought that was really funny, how they kept narrating spy-style for themselves.

I really liked the costumes (designed by Ryan Tang). Like I really liked the Red Queen's outfit. It was very poofy and very silly, but I really liked it. The poofy stuff reminded me of a Queen Elizabeth ruff. I also really liked the fish's (MacDonell) and frog's (Paige Reilly) outfits. I thought that they looked like prom outfits. I thought those two actresses moved very well in those costumes to make them look like a frog and a fish. They didn't really look like a frog and a fish, but they represented a frog and a fish.

People who would like this show are people who like little pink houses, mad love, and cute rabbit boys. People should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, stretches out your legs, and you'll have a blast. When people go and see this show bring a blanket and a water bottle. This is a really fun and funny show and I think everyone should go and see it!

Photos: Jennifer Sampson