Monday, June 30, 2014

Review of Assassins by Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Assassins. It was directed by Rachel Edwards Harvith. The book was by John Weidman and the music and lyrics were by Stephen Sondheim. The music direction was by Kory Danielson. It was about all the assassins of presidents getting together and Booth (Eric Lindahl) was basically the leader of them all. There was a Proprietor (Jeff Meyer) who was at this booth (ba-dump shh, get it?) and was selling guns and telling people to come and shoot a president. And then they take his advice and go to shoot a president. I really liked this show. I thought that it was very sad but at the same time very scary but at the same time sort of funny. I think that this show is educational and it also makes you kind of realize what it was like to be those people. Some of them do it because they are crazy and some of them do it because no one pays attention to them and some of them do it for love which is not exactly love and some of them do it because they have a stomachache. Some of them do it because they don't feel like the president is doing enough for their people. It is okay to write a mean letter to the president saying I think you need to work more on these issues because you are making me angry, but you should not just go and decide to kill them.

I really liked the John Wilkes Booth song. I thought it was very very very catchy. I even want to download it on iTunes. I thought the Balladeer (Cole Doman) was a great singer because his voice was just perfect for this. It was kind of a country song. He seemed not sympathetic to any of the assassins at all because of the tone in his voice. I also liked how it told a lot about John Wilkes Booth. I know some about him and his life and this made me learn some new things about him as well as see the things I already knew reenacted. After you see the play, you don't like Booth even more because he is basically the leader of all this and he basically makes everyone come and shoot a president. I think the actor did an amazing job; he reminded me of Jafar from Aladdin. He was very evil but he seemed very honest and was good at tempting people to kill presidents. He was the first one to actually do it.

I had never heard of Guiteau (Greg Foster) before but he seems like a very scary person if I met him on the street because of the way he looks at you with this kind of broad smile like he's known you for ages. I think the actor did a great job with that. He wanted to be ambassador to France and he thought he was one of the most famous authors even though he wasn't a very famous author. I've never read his book. It could have been great, but he was too much of an optimist. He was a optioptimist. He thought everything was going to be great, but actually it is not great. He kills Garfield and is hanged.

I felt very sympathetic to Zangara (Alex Heika) because he always had this stomachache and he had tried everything to get rid of it, but nothing worked. I thought the actor did a great job with the accent. I think that Zangara felt like no one ever appreciated him and that he was alone. The song made that shown because all these people were like, "Thank goodness I was there to save Roosevelt." But he was like "I wasn't there to save Roosevelt, but I tried to kill him and then I didn't get any attention." But then he got attention from the police!

Byck (Jason Richards) is one of the characters that you feel the most sympathetic for. His hobby is basically to talk to people through tapes and tell them to write more love songs. Then he tells this guy on the the tape they will know about him soon. That made me realize that all he wants is to be famous. He just doesn't know what he's doing; he doesn't realize what he is getting into. Me and my mom looked on the internet and saw that he shot a pilot and copilot on the plane so then he could crash it into the White House and try to kill Nixon. They don't tell you that in the musical, though, so he just seems like a helpless guy.

There were three people who did the assassination for Love: Fromme (Allison Hendrix)., Czolgosz (Patrick Byrnes) who was in love with Emma Goldman (Neala Barron) and Hinckley (Michael Potsic) who was in love with a movie star. They each wanted to impress the people that they were in love with. You don't feel as sorry for the guy who actually kills the president (Czolgosz) because he seems like he is more evil because he is more smart. Hinckley just seems kind of mental. He doesn't know this woman but he knows he is in love with her, which is kind of like a Disney movie when they meet and fall in love as soon as they lay eyes on one another. Only this was even a badder way to start a relationship because they haven't even met but he knows he is in love with her because of her beauty.

I thought that both of the girls seemed not insane-asylum crazy. Not like they would just kill anyone. But they still seemed crazy but I understood why Fromme did it, sort of: because she missed her boyfriend and thought he would be proud of her when he got out of jail. I think that Allison seemed into her role in a good way. She made me believe she wanted to murder someone. Moore (Barron) was a mother, a pet owner, and an attempted assassin of Ford too. Three of my favorite things--except for the assassin part. I thought it was funny when Moore accidentally shot her dog. It was not a real dog; it was just such an unrealistic dog that it was hilarious. Then she seemed so unfazed that she just shot her dog; like it was an everyday experience. I think both of them have funniness to them because they are both so bad at trying to kill someone because they are so clueless. You couldn't actually laugh at them if they actually did kill Ford because that would make them worse people. They were amazing comic relief.

The last president assassination in the play is the assassination of President Kennedy. This is the only one that is not really realistic because Booth comes to his work and tells Oswald (Nathan Gardner) to go and shoot Kennedy. And then everyone who has ever assassinated or attempted to assassinate a president comes and is like, "Please assassinate the president…for us" because the other people who did the exact same thing were all connected and wanted the same thing: they wanted basically another friend. It is very farfetched, I have to say that, but it kind of makes you happy for some reason because they are people who wanted to have friends, who wanted to be noticed, who wanted to be a part of something. And then the assassinations of the presidents actually did something. It doesn't make them seem worthwhile, but they got what they wanted. They are not alone.

I thought that the live music was an awesome aspect of this. It really makes the experience more alive for you. I like the idea that it was basically a run-down carnival. I think the carnival kind of represented the assassins; they are run-down too. I liked the ladder part of the set (designed by Zachary Gipson) and how there was basically a little platform there so it was basically like the place people wanted to go. Some people made it and some people didn't. I also liked how there was this Ferris wheel with the presidents' faces on it. That was basically like the counting down of who had been assassinated. And then when people didn't assassinate there was a big AAANNN!

People who would like this show are people who like America, complicated relationships, and unrealistic pet deaths. People should definitely go see this show because it is educational, the singing is amazing, and it helps you understand what it would be like to be one of these people. This was different than any other musical I've seen. I felt very involved with the characters and like I was actually reliving these people's stories. You feel kind of scared at the end; if you were going to run for president, and you see this show, you would not want to be president. But it is still a great experience because it is like the best way to learn history.

Photos: Joshua Albanese Photography

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review of Monstrous Regiment at Lifeline Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Monstrous Regiment. It was directed by Kevin Theis and it was adapted by Chris Hainsworth based on the novel by Terry Pratchett. It was about a girl named Polly (Sarah Price) who dressed up like a boy to be in the army and changed her name to Oliver. She met many different people: a troll named Carborundum (Justine C. Turner), and a vampire named Maladict (Michaela Petro), and two best friends named Tonker (Kim Boler) and Lofty (Mandy Walsh), an Igor named Igor (Katie McLean Hainsworth) and a boy who loved the duchess very much named Wazzer (Melissa Engle), a very cruel corporal named Strappi (John Ferrick) and a very crazy Lieutenant named Blouse (Robert Kauzlaric) and the nicest Sergeant ever named Jackrum (Christopher M. Walsh). Those are the people in the monstrous regiment. It is called the monstrous regiment because there are monsters in it and there are girls in it. The men think it is monstrous that the girls have joined the army. It is about the rights of women and friendship and disguise. I l-o-v-e-d this show so very very much. I really like shows where the women have a very big part in it. And two shows ago at Lifeline there were no women in the show. That was called Killer Angels. I liked that show a lot, but there are a lot of shows where there are a lot of men and not so many women. This show just made me very happy. It just did.

I loved all the monsters. I liked it when Maladict was craving coffee and they put on that special make-up that had splotches and lines around his eyes to make him look very distressed. I loved how he always looked like he was hyperventilating. One of my favorite lines that he said was, "If I don't have coffee, my old craving will come back. And you don't want that to happen. Do you?" I think that Maladict was one of my favorite characters in the play. I think Michaela does a good job playing vampires because she makes vampires not seem like evil jerks. She makes them seem like if they don't get coffee they will get very angry, but otherwise they're sweethearts.

I think Justine C. Turner is great at the role of Carborundum because she just is hilarious. In real life she is not at all like the character, not even the slightest bit. The character is kind of clueless, very very tall, and very very rocky. And Justine is none of those things, but she just makes this character seem so great and amazing that I remember almost every single line she said. Like, "So, we fight for stupidity because of our stupidity because it is our stupidity!" She was very expressive. Whenever someone said something she would react to it as the character. When you look at her face you understand that she is not understanding, and I loved that.

Igor I think is just a great character and I think Katie Hainsworth made this character even more lovable. She had a very good lisp and she was very into her character. She was like Igor from Young Frankenstein only less weird, but also funny. Spoiler alert: I thought it was really funny when Igor dressed up as a goth girl when she needed to be a washerwoman. It didn't look like a washerwoman at all, but she sure did look like a girl!

I liked it when Polly dressed up as a girl (again) because there was an invasion. And troopers came in and started asking her questions like, "Why is your hair so short?" I thought it was really cool when then she started fighting with the Zlobenian captain (Matt Engle) and he was all like, "Oooh. You are a good fighter I see!" He was basically making fun of her. And then she kicked him in the meat and veg. I think that was awesome because that really showed him how a woman could fight and wasn't all like, "Oooo. I'm a beautiful maiden! Climb up my beautiful blond hair and rescue me!" Sometimes there are stories where girls dress as boys because they want to have the rights. I liked how this was a completely new kind of girl story because she didn't just join because she wanted to be a boy or a hero. She fights as a girl. She's proud to be a girl, she's not like, "I wish I wasn't a girl." She doesn't want to change who she is; she doesn't want to change who women are; she just wants to change what they can do.

Lofty and Tonker's relationship was very easy. There was nothing else. They loved each other and they were great friends. I liked how they were very different from each other, but they always stuck together. One of them was very quiet and very "innocent" (put that in quotes as Blouse would say) and the other was very hard core. They are trying to take revenge on people who weren't nice to them. I would like it better if they sent a rude note or stole their money instead of, well, destroying their things. It doesn't make as good a story to send a rude note, so I guess it was a good idea. But if it was real life, I wouldn't have chosen that path

There was this time when they needed to dress up as washerwomen to get into The Keep. Dun dun daaa! Jackrum and Polly were talking to Blouse and then Blouse had "his own" "idea" to dress up as washerwomen which was totally "not" Polly's idea. Then he decides that no one else has any "practice" especially not Polly, so he shall do it as an old woman or a young girl who has a very high voice. Like very screeching. Which is just. wrong. I thought it was fun-larious when Blouse came out and said, "Hello. I'm Daphne." I just wanted to burst out laughing for the next seven hours. But then I would have missed Assassins that night. (Look for my review. It will come out soon!) I thought it was really funny when Jackrum started basically snickering (in kind of a girly-like manner) about Daphne. Which just makes me laugh. Then Polly starts snickering, and basically the snickering just spreads. And soon everyone is snickering. Blouse does not notice. He is too into his "character." I am using all these quotation marks for the happiness of Blouse because he loves quotation marks.

I thought it was really funny but also really scary when Jackrum said, "These are not boys" because you thought that he knew that they were not boys indeed. The audience, everyone froze. And then he said, "These are my lads." And everyone was just going through relief because he hadn't said, "These are girls." I liked Jackrum a lot; he was the nicest sergeant because he was not just like "hup two three four!" He treated every single one of them like family. He is a mean nice guy. He likes to fight, but he doesn't like to fight people that he knows and he loves.

I think that Wazzer is a great character because she is not like any other character in this entire show. Like no one. She basically guides everyone. When she says that the Duchess says something there is no time where it does not help. There is the ghost of the Duchess watching over all them. Wazzer is very very religious and she believes everything and it turns out to be true. But the Nuggan thing is not true. The play doesn't like the idea that religion would tell people what they can't do. Nuggan has all these things that are abominations unto Nuggan, like theatre or girls dressing up as boys or painting anything other than the Duchess. But the play likes Wazzer because she is not that kind of religious. She believes in the Duchess but not as a god, as a friend.

People who would like this show are people who like trolls, women, and coffee. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show because you will have such a great time. It is funny, feminist, and exciting. I think this show should be for ages 7 and up. I loved this show so much; everyone should go and see this.

Photos: Kelsey Jorissen

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of Exit Strategy at Jackalope Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Exit Strategy. It was written by Ike Holter and it was directed by Gus Menary. It was about a school called Tumbledon which was shutting down and one of their teachers, Pam (Barbara Figgins), makes a tough decision to leave the school. (You will understand what I mean better when you see it.) And nothing has gone right after she has left. There are secrets that all the teachers have been keeping and they all come out. They are trying to make the school not have to shut down and most of them have the same idea to save it, but some of them--by that I mean one of them--has a different idea. It is about friendship, having to let go of someone you love, and protesting.

I thought that the first scene was a good way to start it because it really told the story from the beginning so they didn't have to have a flashback. I don't really like flashbacks in plays like this that are supposed to be very realistic. I thought it was sad how Pam basically made a new friend, Ricky (Patrick Whalen), right before she left. That made it feel even worse because you thought, "Now she's made a new friend! Yay!" because she is always very crabby. But then she goes and leaves the school forever. I thought it was funny in that scene how they were very angry at each other and near the end they were like, "Hi." "Hi." I liked it when Ricky bought a cake from Jewel and then brought a full big old cake. And she's yelling at him and she says, "I did have a piece of the cake. It was very good." It was just an immediate change in the character and then going back to the yelling. Then she started going crazy singing the theme song for their school. I thought the song was kind of hilarious because she just started bursting out in clapping and jumping up and down. I think the playwright uses humor in this scene so at the end it will be a big boom.

Arnold (HB Ward) I think is a very troubled person. Ever since Pam left he has just been a gloomy gus. He tells Donnie (Jerry MacKinnon) to give up because he feels like its already gone. There is nothing to do about it. He is basically a villain but not a villain. He is like in peril. He is so sad about Pam leaving that he doesn't know what to think about. He is the opposite of comic relief. He is sadness non-relief. He is the person you feel sorry for throughout the play and he basically knows what to do, he knows if the plan to save the school will work. He is almost never happy except when Pam is there and you don't ever see that.

I liked the relationship between Luce (Danny Martinez) and Ricky because these two people are so different from each other except them both working at a school. Now that I think it about it, they kind of reminded me of Ricky and Lucy on I Love Lucy. Because of their names and because of the relationship they have which is that Luce is very open and Ricky is very like "No! No! No! That's weird. I'm a business-like man!" I would have liked it if the relationship could have gone a little bit better because then I think they could have been very happy together.

Sadie (Lucy Sandy) seemed very nice because she wanted the kids to like her and she gave them juice boxes, pencils, and notebooks. Luce seemed to like the juice boxes very well! I liked how she was like the nicest of all the teachers. If I went to school, I would want her to be my teacher. She hates Donnie at first because he has been misbehaving so much in class, but then he turns out to be one of the new school employees. So now instead of him being the person who is being bad in her class, he is now her fellow worker. At first she doesn't like him being an employee like her, but when the protesting starts she starts to like him more.

Jania (Paloma Nozicka) reminded me of my aunt, only my aunt is nicer. My aunt works in sort of the same job, like she helps troubled students and Jania helps mentally disabled students. They both help students that are having problems or have problems. I thought her character at first seemed like the snotty teenager, but once you get to know her character, she starts to be nice. Like when she gets champagne for the teachers, even though before she would just glare at them. When they were drinking champagne, Donnie said "I'll go and get the camera crew" and they all said, "No!" And he said, "To film the screaming crowd not the teachers drinking on the job!"

I loved the character of Donnie. He is the funniest character in the entire play. He kind of reminds me of the characters in Monty Python who are schoolboys but also surgeons and poetry artists because he is a teenager and he works at a school already. I think he was an influence on Ricky and Ricky was and influence on him. Donnie helps Ricky learn how to be funny and be a rapper. And Ricky teaches Donnie to never give up until he has been defeated completely. It made me angry and sad when Donnie was talking about having to ask for toilet paper to go to the bathroom.

People who would like this show are people who like funniness, sadness, and juice boxes. People should definitely go and see this show. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and you learn that it is not always easy to save something that you are proud of. But if you might be able to save it, try because the people who tried had new friends. But there is also a downside to it. You might lose some friends in the process. I loved this show because all the actors are really great and the writing is amazing.

Photos: Ryan Bourque

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review of Haymaker at The Neo-Futurarium

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Haymaker. It was created by Trevor Dawkins, and it was directed by Kurt Chiang. It was about a man named Trevor who was making a movie with some of his friends, a movie he had written when he was 13. Then he cast everyone in different parts, but then they could sometimes get angry with him because they couldn't play some of the parts they wanted to play because the parts didn't "fit" them. This show is about friendship, perfectionism, and Nazis. I loved this show. I was laughing my face off. It was just hilarious and you are so up close to all the actors that you feel like you are part of the movie too. The stage combat is the coolest stage combat you'll ever see!

There was a man (Andrew Tham) who did all the sounds basically on stage who also played the role of the landlord. I liked the sounds in the show. I really liked them because they really sounded like the different things that were happening on stage. And they made it even funnier, like when someone was roaring or when someone had just broken a bone or something like that. The landlord would make all the different noises, like he made the noise of his own death, which I thought was kind of hilarious. Also it was kind of cool how he played a part, because usually in a show they need the sound all the time so that can't happen. But in this, this guy could still do the sound but also be a character.

I thought that the stage combat was amazing. All of it was awesome and they used their bodies so well--like when Russell Dakota gave Lukas Haas (Kevin Duvall) a haymaker in midair. I thought that Ran (Dallas Tolentino) was a great character to have in the movie and I wish that that character wasn't a villain. This character was supposed to be like the scariest assassin ever because if you were in a room with him you knew you were going to die. I thought it was super cool how when he was walking away after he had killed like five people, and then one of them was trying to get away, he threw a ninja star back and cut out that guy's throat. Even though he is not actually throwing a ninja star and cutting out someone's throat, Daiva Bhandari made it so convincing that she was actually dying. And when he threw the star, he wasn't even looking. It was crazy.

I thought that the Nazis were hilarious. Their accents were so bad that they were amazing. One of my favorite characters was Colonel Maximillian Sturm (Mike Hamilton) because he was so hilarious because he said things like "I think you may be right, Major. A storm is coming. Heh heh heh heh." He says it in a German accent and draws out the i in is. Trevor chose to make a film with Nazis because there was a girl that he liked and a boy came over and insulted him. And then he asked his dad if he would be mad if he punched someone. And his dad said "Of course I would be mad at you." But then Trevor thought, "Everyone hates Nazis, so what if I did the same thing to Nazis in this movie I am going to make."

I thought that it was hilarious how Sarah Fornace played the giant monster Samstag. And she is not super tall and she does not have bulging muscles and she is not a robot. And there's a sound which is like a big giant roar, like a Godzilla roar, and she is lip-syncing to that and it is just hilarious because that doesn't seem like the voice she would make. I think they did that because they wanted there to be a funniness to this part of it because after this Trevor was like, you are too short so you can't play it. And she says, "But that was my only named character, otherwise I am just dead Nazis." And then she decided she was going to be Rachel Dakota instead of Russell Dakota which was the main guy's part. Then you see how good she is at fighting and then he is like, "now the monster is dead" even though she did all the fighting. Then you felt kind of sorry for her because she had become the best Rachel Dakota ever but then her talent was ignored. Sometimes in movies the best people in the movie actually have the smallest parts.

Brenda Arellano played Elona who is basically Dakota' girlfriend. She is angry about her character throughout the entire show because she feels like she is just basically a prop. She plays other characters that she makes up, like Stabitha and The Privates of a Robot, to make up for the other character she is playing. She is a great fighter, but she is not appreciated. I think that Trevor and Brenda maybe were actually really dating because their relationship seemed very real. Their relationship goes through change because they get angry at each other but then at the end they love each other and they are not angry. They learn that the part they play in a movie doesn't change them. And she is more appreciated at the end because at the end of the movie she gets to save Dakota as Stabitha fused with Elona. I think that was cool how she did that because you wouldn't ever think she would do that.

People who would like this show are people who like hilarious Nazis, silent star-throwing ninjas, and unexpected roaring. People should definitely go and see this show because it has awesome butt-kicking moments and is funny. This can be okay for kids as long as their parents know there is swearing and talk of private parts. It teaches you what's wrong about movies and what is right about movies. And it is awesome.

Photos: Taylor Bailey

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ada Grey Interviews for You: Michael Urie of Buyer & Cellar

Video shot and edited by Liam Fitzgerald.