Monday, November 26, 2012

Review of The Hypocrites' The Mikado

Once upon a time I went to a show, and it was called The Mikado. All the actors were dressed in circus clothes, and the set also looked like a circus and smelled like a circus, and it was a circus. Literally, it was as fun as a circus. And there was literally a balloon pit. I am not lying. The same people that did Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert & Sullivan, wrote The Mikado. Sean Graney and Kevin O'Donnell made it much shorter and they also made the songs more funny. It was funny to begin with, but they made it even more funny, which is the best of all things you can do with a play.

The show was about a young man named Nanki-Poo (Shawn Pfautsch)and he was in love with a maiden named Yum-Yum (Emily Casey). But Yum-Yum is engaged to a man named Ko-Ko(Robert McLean) who is the Lord High Executioner, which is an executioner that is lord high--that means he's very powerful. So Nanki-Poo is trying to hang himself because he was in love with Yum-Yum and she was the only girl he ever loved. But then the Lord High Executioner, who will have his place taken away if he doesn't execute someone, he finds him trying to hang himself and says "Why don't you come and have me execute you because if you don't then you'll miss all this fun stuff like fireworks--oh no you'll miss that because you'll be dead--but crying and Yum-Yum's attention will totally be taken away." And Nanki-Poo says, "Her attention will totally be taken away?" like it is the best thing ever. Nanki-Poo is a "second mandolinist" which is "too low" for a maiden. But he is actually The Mikado's son and that is the perfect thing for a maiden. He will agree to be executed only if he can marry Yum-Yum for the time that he is alive. But the problem is if women's husbands are executed then they'll have to be buried alive. At the end they do get married, but I don't want to spoil too much.

One of my favorite parts was when Ko-ko kept saying "Let's go over where the Chancellor can't hear us" and "Let's go here where the chief justice can't hear us." It's funny because he's saying all of these different kinds of people but the funny thing is is that the Pooh-Bah (Matt Kahler) is actually all those different positions and Ko-ko is talking to the Pooh-Bah. And the Pooh-Bah doesn't even seem to notice that Ko-ko is saying "Let's go over where you can't hear us. Let's go over where you can't hear us." But the Pooh-Bah keeps saying "good idea" because he doesn't want to lose his positions. It was hilarious because of how it was said and how the actors acted, and the lines are also funny.

I thought it was interesting that Shawn Pfautsch played both Nanki-Poo and Katisha because Katisha is a girl who wants to marry Nanki-Poo. They can not get married if the same person is playing the person that the person is getting married to. I thought, "Oh, good" when Katisha got married to Ko-ko because then Nanki-Poo was not dead and Shawn didn't have to do a quick change back and forth every two seconds to marry himself. I wanted Katisha to find love, but I didn't want her to marry the main character who was in love with someone else. I don't think they would have been happy together. They had very different interests. She came in playing a weird saxophone song. He played very nice and soft music, but she played weird nightclub music.

There was this song called "Three Little Maids from School" which was about Yum-Yum and her two sisters Pitti-Sing (Christine Stulik) and Peep-Bo (Dana Omar). Pitti-Sing had a really funny voice--it was very high. I thought it was the best hysterical voice ever. One of my favorite moments was when Peep-Bo showed off how smart she was when Nanki-Poo said to Yum Yum, "We'll make minutes hours, hours days, and days years and then we will have been together for 25 years." And then Peep-Bo (Hey! Bo Peep! But Peep-Bo!) says, "Then this conversation has lasted 4 hours and 18 minutes." That shows that she is very smart. The three little maids, none of them are exactly smart, but she just showed that that day she was the smartest of the little maids.

One of my favorite parts was when they used this little song that sounded like a vocal warmup. The Pooh-Bah, Ko-ko and Pish-Tush (Ryan Bourque) performed it like it actually was a vocal warm up. It went like this: "To sit in solemn silence on a dull dark dock, in a presidential prison with a lifelong lock, awaiting the sensation of a short sharp shock by a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block." I think I have actually heard that before, and it was nice to have a part of the play that I knew because I have never actually seen this operetta until now. I liked the tongue-twister element of it. The performers seemed like they were having fun but also doing a difficult task because it is actually a difficult element to a play to add a tongue twister in. People could laugh kindly at you--like it is a funny thing--or they could laugh mockingly at you if you mess up or they could laugh funnily at you. But it didn't seem like they messed up at all which I thought was amazing.

I thought it was funny in the scene where Nanki-Poo was singing with Yum-Yum about how they would never kiss again. But instead of saying "kiss' they would pucker up their lips and make a smooching noise. It told me that they really wanted to be together but they thought they could never do it. It was more funny than tragic. There is like a tiny sliver of tragic in there. And when they are singing "We'll never do this again," they almost kiss but it is illegal to flirt. Speaking of flirt--every time that somebody said "flirting" the rest of the cast would say "flirting" in a whisper as if it were a horrible thing to even say the word flirting. Actually it is not such a horrible thing to say the word flirting, but they make it sound like it is, which I think is fuhlarious.

People that would like this show are people that like balloons, comedy, and Pooh-Bahs that have many jobs. This show is perfect for kids because it is very humorous. Kids would not have very much trouble following the story because it has a very easy plot. Don't think if you are going to an opera house that the show there will be the same. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a balloon pit in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta! If people don't want to see a balloon pit or people riding tiny tricycles, they should not see this play. But what I really want them to do is take a chance. If they do, I think they will completely change their minds.

Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review of The Neo-Futurists' 44 Plays for 44 Presidents

Three questions to ask yourself before you read this review. (The answers will be at the end of this review.) 1.) Did Grover Cleveland discover Cleveland? 2.) Did John Wilkes Booth actually say "Sic semper tyrannis"? 3.) Was Millard Fillmore actually a loaf of bread?

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called 44 Plays for 44 Presidents. It was about presidents and what happened during their existence in being president in different funny ways and in different scary ways. I think the writers (Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg) wanted to write it because they must really like history. It was history that went all the way back to 1789. It was not like reading a history book; it was much better because it was more fun and what I mean by fun is that you weren't just looking at a page that told you when he was born, when he got elected, when he got married and a picture of his wife. You are looking at people, actual people, that you are actually present with and you can actually interact with. People should see this show because it is educational but also the funnest play ever.

There was this really cool sketch about Barack Obama (played by Rani Waterman) where he came on stage and he came over to two boys and started jump-roping crazily with a long one and a shorter one. And then she got two jump ropes and jumped them. It seemed hard to do it and at the end she says "Can't you guys help me?" because Barack Obama is doing a lot of hard work but not enough people are helping him.

And if the president got elected twice a little bit apart from each other, like Grover Cleveland (Joe Dempsey), the actors would do kind of the same piece again only they would leave some of the parts out of it so they wouldn't waste your time. The first Grover Cleveland piece was all of the guests, which was everybody in the play, clinking their glasses together and dancing. But the next time they clinked their glasses together and started dancing and then were like, "Oh, come on!" and then they leave. Grover Cleveland and Grover Cleveland's wife (Rani Waterman) were the same both times.

In the Chester Arthur sketch I played Chester Arthur. I am not always going to play Chester Arthur. A different person will get to play him each time. You have to recite the oath of office and after you recite to oath of office then they put the coat on you and you have to try to get on to the desk. I could not, because I am too short, so they had to lift me up. And after that, they asked me a quiz. I think they wanted to say that Chester Arthur was made president very very quickly because the president before him was assassinated. He used to just be vice-president but then he was president. I felt like I was just an audience member at first, and then suddenly I was president! Do you know that I was actually elected president when I was 4 years old in 2008. Look it up in a history book. I will be there. No, I actually won't. The 2008 president was actually Barack Obama.

My favorite scene was about Millard Fillmore who was played by a loaf of bread. (This is also in your quiz at the beginning of the review.) And when Dina Marie Walters was eating bread when she started speaking her mouth was still full and so it sounded like this:"ummmmmmmmmummmmmummmm."See nobody could understand you if you were talking like that. It was hilarious because she was saying something historical but at the same time you could not understand what she was saying. Everybody else also had their mouths full when they were speaking, so they were also sounding like "mmmummmummmu," but I mentioned Dina first because I laughed the most at her because she had her mouth very very full so she sounded the most ridiculous. I thought it was fuh-larious.

One of my favorite scenes was the scene when Joe Dempsey as Tilden was reaching for the coat and Ryan Walters as Rutherford B. Hayes stepped in and it was a tug-of-war and then it turned into a wrestling match. They were trying to show us that they both really wanted the coat but they couldn't get the coat. They really wanted to be president and the coat meant you were president. And the coat would poke out from the door, and then a happy face with the coat would poke out. I liked it because I thought it was funny because I like slapstick comedy sometimes--but just some slapstick comedy; some slapstick comedy can be too violent.

One of the creepiest scenes was about William McKinley (Dina Marie Walters). He was shaking hands and they were getting pictures taken. Then this assassin (Bilal Dardai) shoots at him. McKinley held out his hand after he'd been shot once by the assassin, but he held out his hand and kept smiling in this creepy way. It made me think about Coraline, because Coraline has these creepy parents who are always smiling even though they are being hurt or something because they are made out of clay.

There was this scene where William Howard Taft (Rawson Vint) was a baby because he was such a baby when he was president. He didn't know if he wanted to be president or he didn't want to be president. He is dressed in this big fat costume. It was basically a beanbag with armholes and a place to put your legs. And it had a way to see where you were going. And when he was in the fat suit there was a woman (Dina Marie Walters) and Teddy Roosevelt (Ryan Walters) and they were trying to feed him applesauce but he wouldn't eat. They both say "Be my president, Billy" and try to put the coat on him, but he won't put it on, so then they have to force it on him. And then Roosevelt says if you don't want it, give it back, and Taft says, "now I want it." And they have a fight. It indicated that Teddy Roosevelt would not be a very good father.

People that would like this show are people who like Presidents, history, and bread. I think this is a good show to take kids to because it is about presidents. There were also some sad scenes and there are also mentions of children dying, but other than that it is fine for kids. Grownups will also enjoy watching it. I really liked this play because it had a lot of substance to the story, meaning that it had something going on and it wasn't just a bunch of hoo-ha that wasted your time. It taught me about the 44 presidents because I haven't learned about every single president yet. I liked that everybody was having a good time doing the show and that they knew what they were doing in how they could express the different presidents even if they hadn't been alive during their time.

Answers: 1.) No. Grover Cleveland did not actually discover Cleveland. They are spelled the same way though. 2.) Yes. John Wilkes Booth did actually say "Sic simper tyrannis" when he shot Abraham Lincoln. It means "Thus always to tyrants." A tyrant is somebody who wants to control the world but he actually can't. Abraham Lincoln was also not a tyrant. If it was anybody who was a tyrant it was Mr. Booth. 3.) No white breads have been elected for presidents. Not one. Ok. There was one: Bill Clinton. Wait. Let me look that up. Yep.

Photos: Maggie Fullilove Nugent