Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review of Treasure Island at Lookingglass Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Treasure Island. It was adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman from the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was about a boy named Jim Hawkins (John Babbo) who works in a pub with his mother (Kasey Foster) and one day a man named Billy Bones (Christopher Donahue) came in and was drinking a lot at the pub. And then a man named Black Dog (Steve Pickering) came around and wanted to kill Billy Bones to get to the treasure map to find Captain Flint's Treasure. But Jim ends up with the map, and he is going to find treasure with Squire Trelawny (Matt DeCaro), his butler Redruth (Donahue), and Dr. Livesey (Andrew White) and their captain, Captain Smollett (Philip R. Smith). But then there are these pirates who board the ship as crew members and they plan to sabotage everyone. There is one pirate named Long John Silver (Lawrence E. DiStasi), who is their cook, but sadly he doesn't turn out very well even though he seemed like a really nice guy. It is about bravery, pirates, and doing the right thing. This was a really fun show. There were so many great elements to it--like the music, set and costumes, the acting, and all the memorable moments. I loved it!

The vibe of the show was very very fun and exciting. I felt like they stayed very true to the book and didn't add in a lot of things that weren't needed. I really liked the music (composed by Andrew Pluess, played by Greg Hirte, Foster, L.J. Slavin, and Matthew C. Yee). It was very pirate-y and very catchy and I am still singing the songs. The set (designed by Todd Rosenthal) looked like a huge boat and it could rock back and forth, which was very cool. And it worked just as well for all the different places because they would decorate the set with vines when it was the jungle and bring down a sign and set up some tables when it was the pub. And I thought it was cool how they made it work for all the different places and I loved the set. The costumes (by Ana Kuzmanic) were so authentic and real-life looking. They really drew me into the story. Class was very important because some people had holes in their stockings, like Black Dog, and some people were wearing sails, like Ben Gunn (Pickering), and some people had frilly pink outfits, like the Squire. But even the Squire didn't maintain his fancy clothes the entire time because they were looking for treasure in the jungle. You probably shouldn't wear that fancy outfit out there anyway, but it showed you that he thought it wasn't going to be that bad.

Redruth was maybe my favorite character because he had a very refined air about him, but then he was going on a pirate journey. He always has his nose in the air and he has one of the most refined British accents. He is doing such a ridiculous thing (going to sea) because his master told him to. That is what a butler is supposed to do: take care of his master no matter what. And that also shows that he is very courageous. I liked that he still maintains his dignity throughout the trip. Captain Smollett was a really fun character. He was very serious about everything he did, even when it was completely ridiculous. And a lot of his scenes were hilarious. I also liked how at the beginning he had the right idea about the crew (Travis Delgado, Foster, Anthony Irons, Ariel Shafir, and Yee) the entire time. And the Squire and the Doctor were like, "Oh how can you think that?" The Squire and the Doctor were also hilarious. Long John Silver was a very serious and scary character. He was scary because even though he only had one leg, he was very threatening and it seemed like if he wanted you dead you could be dead in a few minutes. He seemed to only care about himself, which is basically true. But he did have some redeeming by the end because he didn't want to hurt Jim. Another one of my favorite characters was Ben Gunn who was stranded on an island by his pirate buddies and when Jim's ship comes, he finally gets to see humanity again. And one of my favorite parts of the show is when he is reunited with his one true love: cheese. He is just so happy to see cheese again and it is just so funny and I love it so much. I would definitely go see this show again just for that moment. But luckily there were other great moments as well.

One of my favorite funny moments was when they were running away from the pirates but it was all in slow motion and so hilarious. That is one of the reasons I love the Captain so much because this scene showcases how dramatic and still-doing-his-job he is and it made me laugh so hard. I loved it. My favorite touching moment was when Jim was about to set out on his journey and his mom was so sad because she wasn't going to see him for a while and she didn't want him to be in danger. It was touching because his mom seemed kind of mad at him that he was going but you could tell that she was just sad. Another thing I really liked was when the pirates would attack the other sailors they would climb down from the top of the stage like from the crow's nest, but really the catwalk above the stage. I also really liked it when there were supposedly canon balls coming onto the stage but they were really heavy black bean bags. And that was super funny and creative.

People who would like this show are people who like treasure maps, slo-mo running, and cheese. I think people should definitely go see this show. I love all the shows I've seen at Lookingglass and this was no exception. I loved it!
Photos: Liz Lauren

Friday, October 23, 2015

Review of Black Button Eyes Production's Goblin Market

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Goblin Market. It was by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon, adapted from the poem by Christina Rossetti. The music was by Polly Pen. It was directed by Ed Rutherford. The musical director was Jeff Bouthiette and the movement director was Derek Van Barham. It was about these two sisters named Lizzie (Jennifer T. Grubb) and Laura (Stephanie Stockstill). Laura found a goblin market and ate these fruits and became addicted to them. And when she came back she was turning all grey and all old because she had eaten the forbidden fruits. So Lizzie tends to her and is going to go back and get her the fruit. But things don't go exactly as planned. It is about sisterhood, protection, and enjoyment. This was a really really fun show with amazing singing and music. I really loved it. I loved learning more about the poem afterwards too; it is so much fun to research the poem and talk about what it was about.

The vibe was very cool and kind of creepy, like a Victorian girl's room should be. When you enter the theater, everything is covered in dolls and vines (set by Kailee Tomasic and props by Rachelle "Rocky" Kolecke). And there is one big bed and they seem like they live in a quaint little house without a mom or a dad. You expect it to be like a fairy tale, which it sort of is. It has a lot of the same ideas as a fairy tale. The set is also very creepy like a lot of fairy tales. I thought the goblin face masks (costumes by Beth Laske-Miller) were really cool and creepy. They were grey and when Laura started turning grey it was the exact same grey, so I thought she might be turning into a goblin, which was pretty cool. The live music adds to the entire vibe which was cool and creepy. They had a violin (Simeon Tsanev), cello (Alexander Ellsworth), piano (Bouthiette) and percussion (Cali Kasten). They even had sound effects like on a radio show, like they had wind noises which were pretty cool.

At the beginning of the show Laura and Lizzie were playing this memory game and they were reciting the list of all the different kind of fruits that were at the goblin market, which was super catchy and I still kind of remember some of the words. And it is all part of the poem, which is really cool. The descriptions of the fruit at this point were childish and fun. And each of them had a motion that went with it that were childish and fun too. Like they would give each other the raspberry whenever they said raspberries, which I thought was very adorable. The game brought the sisters closer together. Then when Laura actually gets to the goblin market it is not fun like she thought it would be like it was playing with her sister. It is fun because she gets to eat those delicious fruits, but it is not the same kind of fun that she has with her sister. This fun is more adult and it is more fun like in a sexy way. You could bring little kids to this play and say, "They are just eating fruit." But they are not actually just eating fruit, but like a 6-year-old's mind won't get that completely. I do think Christina Rossetti did mean it in a sexy way, because it wasn't aimed at children (and she clearly stated that), but she didn't want to talk about sex directly because that would have been shocking in the Victorian period.

After Laura visits the goblin market, she turns into this very lethargic person, and she is not her usual energetic self. But her sister is not mad at her. She just tends to her and tried to help her. Laura seems kind of in shock and I like how they make it open so you can decide what happened to her at the goblin market. It could be that she sees something she knows she shouldn't have, or that she is just so addicted to the fruit that she can't get enough of it, or it could just be that that is what happens when you eat the fruit--you become very lethargic. And at the very end there is another theory that I have. At the end, Lizzie tries to give Laura a very proper Victorian dress, but Laura doesn't take it. I think it is that she feels like she missed out on her childhood after the goblin market because they took her innocence and she wants to stay innocent forever to show the goblins that she can. I feel like this show was very feminist because there was a sister who helped her sister and didn't judge and tried to help her feel better again. She doesn't make her do anything she doesn't want to do, like put on the dress.

People who would like this show are people who like goblin fairy tales, feminism, and fruit. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It had so many good elements to it, like the singing and the acting and the story. I loved their production of Coraline last year and I hope to see more of their productions in the future.

Photos: Cole Simon

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review of Eclectic Full Contact Theatre's The Seagull

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Seagull. It was by Anton Chekhov and this new version was by Christopher Hampton based on a literal translation by Vera Liber. It was directed by Jaclynn Jutting. It was about this young writer named Konstantin (Nick Hyland) and he was in love with a woman named Nina (Brookelyn HĂ©bert) and Nina wants to be free and happy, but her father won't let her. Konstatin wants people to like his show and for them to see this new idea of theater. His mom Arkadina (Kelly Lynn Hogan) is an actress and thinks theater is just fine the way it is. And Trigorin (Michael Woods) is Arkadina's boyfriend and Nina really likes his novels and falls in love with him. And Masha (Jessica Kingsdale) was a very depressed woman because she was in love with Konstantin but he was in love with Nina. And she gets kind of won over by Medvedenko (David Weiss) who loves her, but she is not completely won over because she is still in love with Konstantin. It is about love, not being able to get what you want, and mistakes. The acting was so great--expressive and realistic--and that made me feel so close to all the characters. I thought is was funny a lot of the time, but not all the time. Sometimes it was super super sad. That's the way it is with Chekhov. In my 11 years of life I have seen a lot of Chekhov: The Cherry Orchard (twice) Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters (twice) and a movie of The Seagull and Stupid F##king Bird. Just like all kids, you know.

Nina had a lot of problems because her father didn't want her to be free and happy and she is in a love triangle with Konstantin and Trigorin and also with Trigorin and Arkadina. She was in love with Konstantin first, but she has fallen in love with Trigorin instead because he probably seems more exciting and he is famous and she thinks that he would never hurt her. She thinks Konstantin might hurt her because he has killed a seagull to show how mad he is at her. Which I can understand is pretty scary, but I don't think he would have hurt her the way that Trigorin did. Trigorin doesn't just take Nina from Konstatin, he also takes Konstantin's mom and his ideas for using the seagull as a symbol for a broken person. But you don't hate him completely because you think that he just might be a not very healthy person. He feels like all he needs is power over somebody and Nina is better for that than Arkadina because she is younger and doesn't have a whole huge acting career. And Nina looks up to him because he is such a famous writer. He has doubts about his writing it seems, and having power over someone makes him feel better about himself.

Everyone in the show makes pretty bad decisions a lot of the time and jumps to conclusions, and that is why at the end, no one is really happy. Sorin (David Elliot) is not happy at the end because he is sick but he seems happier at the beginning. He regrets not having a family or becoming a writer. At the beginning he regrets that too but he is healthier so he is slightly more happy. Masha is not happy because the person that she loves doesn't love her in return and the person she doesn't like, Medvedenko, likes her. She has beginning-of-life regrets. You know that she is unhappy because she says that she is unhappy. She says that a lot, that she is unhappy. She is very deadpan, though, and not crying and pathetic, so that makes you feel more sorry for her because she is not annoying. The doctor (Andrew J. Pond) seemed pretty happy all the time, not super depressed like everyone else in the show. I think that was because he had had a pretty good life. All the women, including Masha's mom (Denise Tamburino) were drawn to him. Masha's mom is not super happy, but Masha's dad, Shamrayev (David Cady, Jr.), though he doesn't seem to like his job, is pretty happy. Both Masha's dad and the doctor have just basically done what they wanted in life. In the doctor's case, he makes Masha's mom not very happy. Sometimes if you want full happiness in your life you will have to hurt some people, which I don't really want to do. And I don't think Chekhov thinks you should either because a lot of characters (like Trigorin and Nina) who do things for their own happiness, it doesn't really work out very well for anyone.

A lot of the show is pretty sad, but there are also some really funny moments. Like when Shamrayev keeps saying "Bravo, Silva" because he is so full of himself and loves his jokes so much that he keeps saying them until they aren't funny any more. And that was just really ridiculous and funny. Arkadina was also very terrible at croquet which was also very funny. She kept hitting the ball so far away from the place she wanted it, which was hilarious. It was also kind of funny how different Masha and Medvedenko were from each other and how much he loved her even though they were so different. At one point, Masha gets up and starts stamping her foot a bunch. And you think she is super mad or something. But then Masha says "my foot is asleep" in a super i-don't-even-care voice, and it was super funny.

People who would like this show are people who like Chekhov, love triangles, and bad croquet. I thought this was a really great show and I loved it. I felt bad that there weren't many people in the house the night I saw this show. It is really good, so I feel like people should go see it and that this theater deserves more audience.

Photos: Julie Mack

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review of Step Up Productions' Barefoot in the Park

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Barefoot in the Park. It was by Neil Simon and it was directed by Michael Driscoll. It was about these two newlyweds, Corie (Alex Fisher) and Paul (Colin Sphar). They just moved into a new apartment which is on the top floor of a building in New York. And Corie's mother Ethel (Sarah Minton) comes over and doesn't like the place. They have a new neighbor named Victor Velasco (Michael Pacas) who is a kind-of-Russian, kind-of-French person and causes everyone to make very bad choices with alcohol when they all go out. This show is about love, differences in personality, and changes. This was a really really fun show. It was hilarious, touching, and so much fun to be at. The acting was great and the story was so clever.

Everyone when they walk into the apartment has a different opinion. And at the very beginning something very funny happens. The couple notices there is a hole in the window and when the mother walks in, they want to keep her from noticing the window. Corie and Mr. Velasco both thought it had a lot of potential. But Paul and Ethel think it is very ugly. Even the telephone repairman Harry Pepper (Randolph Johnson) had an opinion about the apartment. He was nice about it, but I don't think he liked it much. But he did seem to like Corie, just not the apartment. But by the end I think the apartment doesn't look very bad at all because Corie and Mr. Velasco put in some very nice furniture and things the mother buys them. Mr. Velasco seems like a best friend for Corie. The people who like the house have very carefree personalities. And the people who don't like the house are very sharp and uptight and determined to do what they think is right. Nobody has to change completely; they just have to change their beliefs slightly so they can get along with the people they are spending a lot of their time with.

Corie and Paul had realistic arguments that were also funny When you think back on the arguments you have you sometimes think, "Oh that is how ridiculous we sounded." I loved how Corie and Paul's voices went into this quiet screaming voice, which is totally what I do. Everything they did was something humans do when they are exasperated. They didn't go too over the top, so it was believable that they were actually arguing and it made it much more like a real argument. I was slightly scared they were going to break up. But they get to know each other better throughout the show so they love each other more. There was a lot of door slamming and mad faces which were pretty funny. I felt sorry for their downstairs neighbors! And there is also a part where she sets up dinner for him, but at a separate table. And I thought that was very funny. But it is also touching because you can see they still love each other even though they are really mad.

In the second act, Ethel, Corie, Paul and Mr. Velasco all went out drinking at a restaurant and came back drunk as five sailors. Paul was only half-drunk, Ethel was a full drunk. And Corie and Mr. Velasco were 1 3/4 sailors drunk. I think this was a very very funny scene. It was so funny to see the mother drunk and everyone else acting like crazies, except for Paul who was acting like a complete normal person. I also loved the pre-drunkeness knichi which is supposed to be terrible. Or was it good? No one will ever know. I think I would like it, because I love eel. It shows the personality of each character. Ethel shows her personality of not liking new things with a disgusted face. But over time, she acquires new tastes and that opens up a whole new world for her and opens her to so many new things.

People who would like this show are people who like adorable couples, funny arguments, and knichi. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It was fantastically funny, and I loved it!

Photos: Emily Schwartz

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Review of Shattered Globe Theatre's Marvin's Room

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Marvin's Room. It was by Scott McPherson and it was directed by Sandy Shinner. It was about this woman named Bessie (Linda Reiter) and she was taking care of her Aunt Ruth (Deanna Dunagan) and her father Marvin (Larry Bundschu), and her sister Lee (Rebecca Jordan) has not been helping very much. Lee has two kids. One of them, Charlie (Kyle Klein II), is not doing well in school and one of them, Hank (Nate Santana), is in a mental asylum. So you can see some of the reasons she isn't helping her. Then Bessie gets cancer and she needs help taking care of her father and aunt and she needs someone's bone marrow. So she asks Lee and her sons to get tested to see if they can give her bone marrow and they come to visit her. I thought this was a great show. I found it super interesting and funny and sad. The actors were amazing and it made me think and I really loved it.

The doctors, Dr. Charlotte (Deanna Reed-Foster) and Dr. Wally (Don Tieri), were so funny but they also had to bring a lot of bad news, which was very sad. I feel like this is the perfect example of the funny and the sad being put together. Dr. Charlotte is so funny. One of my favorite moments is when Lee is talking to her because she is Hank's therapist. And Dr. Charlotte says to Lee, "You can't smoke in here" and is very skeptical of her the entire time. Lee never comes to visit Hank, so she is a pretty bad parent. Dr. Charlotte is really really exasperated with her. Then once Lee leaves, Dr. Charlotte gets out a pack of cigarettes and starts smoking, which I thought was hilarious. Dr. Wally's first scene was maybe his weirdest. He seemed like an insane and incompetent person and I wanted Bessie to run because I thought at any moment he might put on a ski mask and start stabbing her with syringes. He was creepy but he had a lot of funny one-liners. Like "That's what you get for hiring your brother!"

The Disney World scene is the scene where you realize how much Lee has changed in her parenting. At the beginning of the show she is mean to her sons all the time, but by the end she has seen a different side to parenting and actually thinks about what is best for her children. The way the family acted in this scene showed you the reality of Disney World; how everybody isn't happy all the time. Sometimes people throw their Coca-cola because they are unhappy. Aunt Ruth seems to be having a pretty fun time, but she is kind of oblivious to everything happening in the family. I also really liked the Gopher (Drew Schad). He was so funny and weird and danced around in the most awkward way possible.

There were these sleeping bag scenes with Hank and Charlie before and after the Disney World scene. The first one was so flippin' funny. At the beginning, Charlie would scootch over by Hank and then Hank would push him away very ferociously. I felt like it was so funny and slightly sad, the way they interacted. You see Hank being the really angry type with his brother who is so different from him. And Charlie will never give up on having a brotherly relationship with his brother. You wanted them to get along.

Bessie was so fun to watch. She just had so much character and charisma and I really wanted to know her. When she found out that she had cancer, she reminded me a lot of my grandma. She was so courageous and not complain-y. The way that she interacted with Hank was so sweet. It seemed like she really did understand him. Bessie does lose her temper sometimes because she has so much responsibility, but you still love her because you know how hard her job is.

I also really loved Aunt Ruth because she was so carefree and funny. I felt like her voice was so cute. And she was always such a funny person with an old-fashioned view of the world, which I loved. She's obsessed with this soap opera and she dresses up to go to a wedding that she is seeing through a t.v. screen of people she has never really met. And Charlie did her makeup, which was so adorable.

People who would like this show are people who like courageous women, soap opera weddings, and awkward dancing gophers. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is amazing, funny, sad--everything you want in a show. I loved it so much!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review of Emerald City Theatre's Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans. The book and lyrics were by Will Osborne and Murray Horwitz. The music and additional lyrics were by Allen Toussaint. It was based on the book A Good Night for Ghosts by Mary Pope Osborne. It was directed by Samuel Roberson and the music director was Austin Cook and the choreography was by Florence Walker-Harris. It was about a boy named Jack (Garrett Lutz) and a girl named Annie (Katrina Kiss) who are brother and sister. They go to a treehouse where if they open up a book they can go to where and when that book takes place. This book takes place in New Orleans and they are going to help Louis Armstrong, whose nickname is Dipper (Gilbert Domally), see his pathway to music. They also get to meet his friends--Lil Mac (Angela Alise), Big Nose Sidney (David Robbins), and Happy (Trequon Tate)--and see what he was like as a child. I used to read The Magic Treehouse series all the time; I read about 50 of them! I really liked the show. The books and the show are so fun and educational and you get enveloped in the story.

I loved the Heebie Jeebies song. They sang it while they were in a blacksmith shop and there was a ghost chasing them. I loved the style of the music, which was jazz. And the entire musical was jazz, which was really cool and appropriate for a musical about Louis Armstrong. I loved the dance that went with it. It was kind of like shaking your hands like they do in Beyoncé videos. The song was about trying to get all the scary things away. They each had one thing they were scared of, so each person could protect the other people from the things that scared them. They were trying to say, "You can be scared of something but if you have your friends with you the heebie jeebies won't get you because you can help each other get over the heebie jeebies."

I really like jazz, so I found the scat parts really cool. Annie was pretty good at scat and I really liked that. Jack was not good at scat at first, but I think he got better over time. Jack was a little overly dorky in this production. In the books he isn't a dork and he isn't scared of everything. He is cautious and smart but that doesn't mean he is a dork. Dipper did such a great job at scat and he was such a great singer. He was really fun to listen to. He didn't sound like Louis Armstrong in the songs I've heard, but when he was a kid maybe he did sound like that before his voice got so low. I think it was a good idea not to make himself sound like Louis Armstrong as a grown-up when he sang since he was supposed to be a kid.

Dipper had a lot of different jobs: carrying bananas, lugging coal, and washing dishes. And Annie and Jack, to get more information, would help with each one of those jobs. I thought that all the songs that went with the work were so fun and great. The dancing went really well with the songs and it got the kids in the audience dancing along with it, which was adorable. Dipper thinks, "How can you think this work is fun?" and Jack and Annie are like "Because we are doing it with you." Then he calls them potato heads. I thought that was super funny and I love how they took the potato head line out of the book. Dipper can't help his friends for no money because he does not have very much money and he has to help feed his family. Jack and Annie can do it because they both have money and live in the future. In the time they are visiting, people of different races couldn't ride together on transportation. When Dipper tells them that, it is very sad because that was a terrible terrible time. There is still racism now, but at least there are no laws saying that you can't ride next to a person of a different race on the train. I thought it was very sophisticated to have that part in the play because you don't want to just lie to children about history.

People who would like this show are people who like jazz, fun dancing, and potato heads. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is fun for the whole family and I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Isabella Coelho

Friday, October 16, 2015

Review of 20% Theatre Company's Fugue for Particle Accelerator

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Fugue for Particle Accelerator. It was written by Kristin Idaszak and it was directed by Lavina Jadhwani. It was about a woman named Hope (Pamela Mae Davis) who had a cat named Schrodinger (Erika Miranda) because Schrodinger made the idea of the cat in the box. Hope studies physics and her big idea is that there are alternate realities or parallel universes, like how when the cat is in the box it is alive and dead at the same time. In the parallel universes Hope is both a cellist and not a cellist and a mother and not a mother, which makes the story so interesting and a brain puzzle, so I loved that! In the universe that we track the most, Hope is a scientist and she has a boyfriend named Jonas (Dan Cobbler) who really wants to have kids, but she is not so sure. Then, one day, she gets out of a car to throw up and she meets this guy named Christopher (Noah Laufer) who is basically homeless and doesn't know anything about himself. The play is about science, mysteries, and the choices that you make in life. I thought this play was super fun and exciting. It had a lot of depth to it and you really got to know who the characters were--even the cat! I loved it. It closes really soon (October 18) so you better go see it!

I felt like the science in the show was so cool. I knew a little about what it was already because of Radiolab, which is a really awesome science podcast. It is also kind of like a Dr. Who type of thing, where there is traveling to different universes. Thinking how there might be another me somewhere who makes different choices is really cool to think about and very interesting. And it worked really well in this play to see a bunch of different versions of one person put into a play. It makes you wonder if this theory is true. When you are watching a play you are watching people make choices and in this play you are watching people making multiple choices in different universes. And that makes it even more interesting. I did feel like the ending was a little disappointing. I did understand that it was Hope in another universe, but I didn't feel like I had enough information about the new place to really understand what the ending meant fully. So I guess that having a lot of universes in one play is really awesome and interesting, but it can get confusing, especially if you are in a new place just for a few seconds at the end of the play.

All the men seemed to be in love with Hope. But the thing was that Jonas seemed to make bad choices sometimes and sometimes he seemed very sweet. When he tried to poke holes in places where he wasn't supposed to poke holes, that was not a sweet version of him. But then when he showed his girlfriend how much he loved her, that was the sweet version.Jonas and Hope were strong and smart and adorable together. They were not the stereotypical romantic couple that you usually see on stage because they weren't lovey dovey just wanting to get married. They were strong and smart and adorable together. Hope didn't want to get married; she just wanted to be boyfriend and girlfriend forever. And he wanted to get married and have kids. Her priorities are to win the Nobel Prize, which has been her dream for a very long time, and she wants to be able to fulfill that and learn to travel between universes. That is not the kind of story that you see on stage all the time and I really like a change in the theater. And Christopher is the other man who loves her, but they can't be together for many different reasons, which I won't spoil. I found that relationship interesting too because they had only just met but he felt liked she was the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen. And she loved him too, but in more of a nurturing way.

The cat was really sassy and funny and made me laugh a lot. I loved how she described where her name came from. Schrodinger sounded so proud when she talked about where her name came from, and I just loved that. I think she might have been my favorite character. And there were some scenes where Hope would go into the parallel universe, into the box where Schrodinger could talk, and they would have scenes where they could talk together. I found Schrodinger so sweet because she wanted it all to turn out well for Hope. I also loved how the cat would drink martinis throughout the show. It was like one of those hilarious cat memes of a cat doing things a cat would never do. And I love funny cat memes, so that is a very big compliment. She was also the narrator, but it seemed like she didn't just tell the stories of the characters. She kind of wanted to control them. She controlled them some, but she couldn't control them completely. Because the narrator didn't have control of the story, it felt like something could go terribly wrong at any moment and that was very exciting.

People who would like this show are people who like alternate universes, strong and smart couples, and martini-drinking cats. I think people should definitely go see this show. It was fun and really really interesting and I loved it.

Photos: kClare McKellaston

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review of Forget Me Not Theatre Company's A Strange Disappearance of Bees

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Strange Disappearance of Bees. It was by Elena Hartwell and it was directed by Emelia Zuckerman. It was about this girl named Lissa (Renee Lynn Jackson) whose father-figure Cashman (Richard Jewell) has just passed away. And then, Cashman's son Robert (David Hartley) comes to visit him but they'd never met before. But then he finds out that his father is dead. Lissa falls in love with Cashman's son but the problem is that she is dating her honey-provider Callum (Rusty Myers). And also there was a love triangle in the past between Cashman, Robert's mother, and Rud (Kathleen Burke) who was a beekeeper. But all her bees were dying. It is about love, what makes a family, and mysterious losses.

In the show, they had these interludes where Rud would talk about Bees for a little bit. They were trying to make third-level dialogue (telling a story to get what you want rather than just asking for it) it seemed. They wanted the stories about bees to make you think more about the show and think something like, "Those people are like the bees." She would talk to the audience and you expected to make some big discovery about the play while she talked about the bees. But it was more like listening to one of the education screens at the zoo. I wasn't able to connect it to the play like they wanted me to. It felt like first-level dialogue (just straightforward saying what you want or think) delivered with a huge smile and cupped hands.

They are a lot of really big plot points in this play. Like more than one person gets pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. A character comes back from the war and treats his wife badly. A character has an abortion. Somebody commits suicide by bee. There's a big love triangle. All the bees are disappearing. There are two children who grow up not knowing their fathers. The play just piles stuff on and it makes it hard for the audience to care because the script and actors didn't give any depth to the characters and it was just too much. And even if you do care about what happens, most of the time they don't tell you how things work out.

It seemed sometimes like the actors didn't want to be there. I do have sympathy for that because I think half or more of the problem with the show was in the script. But the show could have been better if the actors had shown their characters and the relationships with the other characters more fully. I would have liked to see clearer choices being made about the characters' behavior, which the director might have helped them with more.

Writing this review has been hard for me because I don't like to hurt people's feelings. But I think that they do need to know the way I actually feel about it because it might be useful for fixing it or for other people doing shows. This show made me think a lot about acting and writing and how to tell a good story, which I think is good for reviewers and actors to think about. I really loved this company's The Impossible Adventures of Supernova Jones and I hope to see more of their shows.

Photos: Emelia Zuckerman

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review of Remy Bumppo's Love and Information

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Love and Information. It was by Caryl Churchill and it was directed by Shawn Douglass. It was a bunch of little different stories put together. It was a lot of different ways of exploring knowledge, secrets, and love. You really have to think and process the show before you feel like you understand it. I can see why it might be confusing for some people. But I like puzzles in shows; I don't like it all to just be given to me. Every time a new scene would start the audience would have to figure out what the scene is about and who the characters are. At the very beginning they would get their props and costumes out of these boxes that were all around the stage (awesome set design by Jacqueline and Rick Penrod) and you would get an idea of what their characters would be like from seeing those things. And as the scene goes on you kind of feel like a detective because you are finding out all these things about the people you are watching. I thought this was a really fun show. I loved it. I thought that this author has a really new, fun, and exciting idea about theater that I really admire.

I loved the One Direction scene with Andres Enriquez and Jennifer Glasse. I found it so funny. I am not a Directioner myself, but some of my friends are. So, I recognized the behavior, like how if they don't know one thing about Harry Styles, they have a complete freak out. And I was wondering what time the scene took place because they didn't have updated shirts because Zane was still in the picture. I am part of a lot of fandoms myself, but I'm not this enthusiastic about all of them. I thought the characters were adorable because they were just so enthusiastic about something. I love seeing people enjoying being fans of bands and stuff.

The different words for table scene with David Darlow and Frank Sawa was so hilarious. The older man was asking about all these different words for table from the waiter that was at the restaurant he was at. It was funny because the waiter seemed to be getting bored of all it at the beginning but then then patron kept asking for more words for table. But then by the end the patron was saying "And they all mean table." But of course they all mean the object that is in front of them. But table is not the "correct word" it is just a way of saying it in English. It showed you that the patron only saw the world as America. The waiter then was like, "Ok. I give up." They weren't exactly communicating effectively even though the waiter knows thirty different languages. Information can be the key to understanding, but not if someone getting the information is culturally illiterate.

There is a scene where there were these two people (Emjoy Gavino and Raymond Fox) who were sitting and making memory houses so they could memorize lists. They would put different things in different places and then go through the house in their minds to remember them. But the woman would keep saying where the things were in her own memory and mess up the man trying to remember his house. And he said, "You need to do this quietly on your own." And then she just stepped over one step and talked in the same voice. And I thought that was very funny. And he ends up remembering a memory of his dad, and that is not what he is trying to do but he remembered his dad when he remembered the house. It ends up being about both memorizing and remembering. There is another scene with these two actors that was also like love and information put in one scene. The woman asks the man a question and the man answers with a fact. It seems like they are practicing for a test or something. And it goes back and forth like this. And she asks "Do you love me?" And he says something like "Let's just keep going." But then at the end he hugs her backwards and says "Yes." And I just found that so sweet.

I thought the short scenes were very effective. There was a really funny scene where a girl (Gavino) was riding on a man's (Gregory Fenner) back and it was like she was telling him about a zoo. And then he just glared at her. And I thought that was really funny. Then there was another scene that was touching which had this woman (Linda Gillum) holding a box of candy. And she said something in sign language and then walked off. It seemed like she was going to give the box of candy to someone who couldn't hear and was practicing what to say to the person. It was very touching because she is communicating in a way that she is not used to just for someone else. There was another short scene where a woman (Penelope Walker) was playing with a Rubik's cube and another woman (Mary Poole) walked in and said something about the universe and walked off. And she said it just like it was a normal thing to come up and say. And I found it very funny because usually when you come into a room you say "Hi! How are you?" you don't just start talking about what the universe is.

People who would like this show are people who like memory houses, different words for table, and One Direction. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is a real puzzler, but it is really fun to watch. I really enjoyed it!

Photos: Johnny Knight

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review of The Revel at The House Theater of Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Revel. It was by Damon Kiely and the music was composed by Jess McIntosh. The lyrics were by Jess McIntosh and Damon Kiely. It was directed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig. It was about these women (Jeanne T. Arrigo, Kamille Dawkins, Courtney Jones, Julia Merchant, and Bridget Rue--Eunice Woods is usually in the show, too, but not the day I saw it) who didn't go to work because of this pastor Deacon (Andy Lutz) who told them if they went up to the top of this mountain and sang for God that they didn't have to work. The leader of the women is Agatha (Sarah Charipar) who has two kids, Peter (Chris Mathews) and Cadie (Christine Mayland Perkins). But Peter doesn't like the idea of the women skipping work because he's promised the bank that they would be able to repay their debts. And the Sheriff (Michael E. Smith) has been told by Peter to get the girls down from the mountain, but he does it much more harshly than he needs to. Then Agatha transforms in a way I don't want to spoil. And then Peter goes up there to see if he can convince them, dressed as a woman. But of course they get super mad that he has disguised himself and betrayed them, so they go way too far. This play is about how being filled with the spirit isn't good if you can't love anything else, how women shouldn't be oppressed, and not knowing how to stop from going too far.

I felt like the choices that the women made in the show were not the best choices. I felt like they should have gone to work because the entire state of their town was in their hands. But of course at first they didn't know that. But then they wouldn't stop and they became crazy and started saying that burning the devil out meant killing people. But it is not supposed to be literal; it is supposed to be about being righteous. But then they take it so literally and so terribly that they turn into bad people. And they become overly free; they are too free for their own good and that makes them not think straight, so they make bad choices. They even go so far as killing the people they actually love.

I feel like this would have been a more feminist story if all the women did not seem dumb at the beginning and then turn into complete psychopaths in the end. The story seemed to be saying that women can't understand metaphors or things that people, like Deacon, say. At first I thought it was going to be a church story with a bunch of cool music, but then it turns into this weird, gory story about women who have a lot of power but they don't use it right. It could be interpreted to be saying, "Don't let women have power because they will just mess it all up." I think they might have wanted to show us that if women are oppressed, then they can act this way, so we shouldn't oppress women. But that didn't work for me because afterwards Agatha is very sad about her choices. And I think she should be. So the play doesn't really give us any sort of confirmation that women make any good choices in life. I feel like people could interpret it in a lot of different ways, so I'm not saying that they were not being pro-women. It could just be interpreted that way by some people.

I thought the set (by Grant Sabin) was really cool. It had a bunch of different levels. It looked all rickety and old and I thought that was cool. This show was based on a Greek play called The Bacchae but it is not set in Greece. It is set in Appalachia during the Depression. The set, when you walked in gave you a sense of where the story would take place. I liked the columns and the way there were different ways of accessing different parts of the set. There were these rolling stairs that they would move so that people could climb up to different spaces and I loved that too.

I thought all the dancing, which was like clog dancing, was really fun and cool. Barbara Silverman was the clogging instructor, and Bridget Rue did the choreography. The dancing showed you that the women were happy at the moment, but then a little bit after that they were still happy but they were not such good people. Clogging is a very happy hoppy kind of dance but it is also loud and stompy, so it was good for the characters to show the angry and the happy sides of them.

I really liked the acting a lot too. I thought Cadie was maybe one of the only sane women who was a character in the show. When people were trying to set her mother on fire, she went for help. She didn't just join in on the whole fiasco. I felt like the role was portrayed really well so she was a likable character. At the very end something very sad happens to her and I was at the verge of tears. I felt like Charipar was also very strong as Agatha. She had a lot of character and she switched sides over the course of the show. I like that because you actually get to see the change in her personality from when she is a sensible mother to when she is a spirit-filled maniac. I felt like the Deacon was not a good person, but he was a really interesting character. He was kind of like a mystery character. You didn't know anything about him except that he was a Deacon. It seems like he might be a kind of con man, but maybe things just went wrong. He provided the spirit, but he did not say to kill people, so I don't think he is entirely in the wrong.

People who would like this show are people who like amazing sets, great acting, and spirit-filled clogging. I think people should go see this show. It was fun to be at and it makes you think a lot about being a child, being a parent, and being a woman.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Friday, October 9, 2015

Review of Miss Buncle's Book at Lifeline Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Miss Buncle's Book. It was based on the book by D. E. Stevenson and adapted by Christina Calvit. It was directed by Dorothy Milne. It was about this woman named Miss Buncle (Jenifer Tyler) who lived in a small town in England and she writes a novel about the people who live in that small place. But then the novel gets published and people start reading it and realize it is all about them. And they decide they have to find out who wrote the book so they can get revenge. But the book actually helps some people to realize that life is too short to not tell people how you feel about them, that if your husband is cruel you should just leave him, and that Egypt is a nicer place than you thought. This play is about love, adventure, and self-confidence. I thought this was an amazing, hilarious show. I laughed so much. I had so much fun at it. I thought it was a great story with great actors. There might be some spoilers in my review, but I think the show is fun even if you know some things that are going to happen.

Mrs. Featherstone Hogg (Katie McLean Hainsworth), Mrs. Carter (Katharine Hildreth) and Stephen Bulmer (Martel Manning) are all very upset about what has been revealed about them in Miss Buncle's Book. They went way too far a lot of the times. Mrs. Featherstone Hogg would invite everyone over for tea and scones and they would talk about what they should do to punish the writer of the book. Mrs. Featherstone Hogg thinks there should be a horsewhipping of the author, but of course they don't know who the author is yet, so they don't know who to horsewhip. I found it funny how defensive they got about themselves. Mrs. Carter kept saying she didn't wear a wig, but of course she did. And Stephen Bulmer said he wasn't horrible to his wife, but of course he was. I loved the bit where Mrs. Featherstone Hogg gave scones to everybody but the people who wanted them. I found that very funny.

I loved most of the love stories that were in it. Almost every person was either married or found love by the end of the play. Dorothea Bold (Tiffany Oglesby) and Colonel Weatherhead (Sean Sinitski) was the most amazing old-people love story. (Neither of the actors were old, but they did a good job making it seem like they were.) A funny thing about them is that when he proposed to her he said "I've always loved you" and did this romantic dip-and-kiss that I thought was hilarious and cute. He kept telling her not to read the book, which had inspired him to propose, so that she wouldn't think he had just done it because of that. I love how he'd stolen the book out of her bag. I also thought there might be a romance between Miss King (Elise Kauzlaric) and Angela Pretty (Oglesby). And I loved how they were inspired by the book to go on a trip as well. I loved how against the trip they both were until they actually went on the trip. I felt like Sally's (Kristina Loy) love story with the Reverend Ernest Hathaway (Chris Vizurraga) showed her not making very good choices because she told his fiancee Mrs. Greensleeves (Kauzlaric) that he was poor so that she, Sally, could be with him. But he was not really poor, he was just finding out what it was like to be poor for a little bit and had stashed away his money. I don't think he should have stayed with Mrs. Greensleeves, but he should have made that decision for himself.

Miss Buncle and Mr. Abbott had an awkward and cute relationship. I loved how during their first kiss she made it so awkward and amazing by like leaning in and getting nervous as it started to happen. But they loved each other's awkwardness so it was not awkward for them. Miss Buncle says she doesn't have any imagination, that she just observes things. But she did have imagination after all and I think Mr. Abbot helped her realize that and all the great things about herself and that she didn't need to be scared about her being discovered to be John Smith, the writer of the book. I loved how he proposed to her in an editor's note. You feel so much for these characters and you want them to be together from the beginning of the story. I thought that it was great how when people discover who John Smith was, she just walks past them so confidently wearing this fancy hat. I loved that, and I loved seeing this character learn so much.

People who would like this show are people who like author-editor love stories, scones, and horsewhipping authors. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is funny and clever and I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Suzanne Plunkett

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Review of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. The book and lyrics were by Robert L. Freedman and the music and lyrics were by Steven Lutvak. It was directed by Darko Tresnjak. It was choreographed by Peggy Hickey. It was about this guy named Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) who discovers he is part of a very rich family called the D'Ysquiths and then he realizes there are only 8 people between him and becoming the Earl of Highhurst. So he decides to kill the 8 people (all played by John Rapson) who are in the line of succession before him. That's the murder from the title. The love part is that Monty has two different girlfriends. Phoebe (Adrienne Eller) is the pretty, sweet, nice one and Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) is a very stuck up girl but also very likable and does a bunch of very sexy things. I loved this show so much. It is definitely one of my favorite shows I've seen at Broadway in Chicago. It was so good; it was funny and surprising and so exciting and new. It was like an opera crossed with a romantic comedy crossed with a murder mystery, so then you have an amazing show! All the performers were so amazing and funny and I loved it.

The D'Ysquith family was killed off in weird different ways. They all had to look like accidents, and they did! Like one person was killed by a swarm of bees and one person was killed by falling into the water after getting back from not being eaten by cannibals! I'm not going to tell you all the people who die in what ways because it would give away a lot of the funny stuff in the story. I thought that it was cool that everyone who died was played by the same actor. It is really funny to see this actor playing all different kids of parts with different accents. And it is also funny to see him playing women and he must have a lot of quick changes. I felt like there were only a few sympathetic D'Ysquiths: Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr. and Henry D'Ysquith. One of them Monty doesn't even kill because he likes him too much, but the odds are in his favor. Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr. gives Monty a job and is nice to him and treats him like a son. And you like Henry because he is funny and seems sweet. But then it also seems like he is in love with Monty. That's not bad, but Monty doesn't love him, and it makes it all the more sad when Monty falls in love with his sister Phoebe as Henry is being stung by bees in the background. Most of the time when Monty kills a D'Ysquith you feel like, "Oh yeah, just another terrible, mean, or annoying D'Ysquith gone. Monty is getting closer!" But that is not the way you feel every time because sometimes they are nice people and he plans to kill them anyway. But it doesn't make you hate Monty because most of the time he kills people you don't like in funny weird ways.

My favorite song was "I've Decided to Marry You," which was all about...well, let me explain the scene before I explain the song. What it is is that Sibella and Monty are having tender moments at his house and then Phoebe shows up and Monty hides Sibella in the other room. Then Phoebe tells him she has decided to marry him, which is funny because I don't think they have even discussed the idea of marriage at this point. But still she has decided to marry him. And the whole time Sibella is trying to listen in and hear what is happening while another girl is proposing to him in the other room. And he keeps trying to shut both doors but then Sibella keeps opening the door so she can see what is happening, and then he has to close that door and then Phoebe tried to open the doors he is closing. Then it keeps repeating and it is so funny as they are singing this song. And at the very end he is literally trapped between them, but one of them is leaning against him and one is leaning against the door he is leaning against. It was so funny, and the scene was amazing, and I loved the song.

Here are some of my favorite funny moments in the show. I really liked it when Monty was singing about how there were only two people more in the line of succession and then Lord Asquith D'Ysquith, Sr. has heart attack on stage at his desk and then a guy comes up to Monty and says "He died of a heart attack." And you expect Monty to be like, "Oh no! This is terrible! All he ever was was good to me!" He had just been singing about how good Lord D'Ysquith, Sr. had been to him. But then Monty just turns back to the audience and sings "Just ONE more person in the line of succession!" And there was this scene where one of the D'Ysquith women was an actress and they were doing Hedda Gabler and she was reciting all the lines so terribly that everyone was happy when she died. And at the end the other actors (Ben Roseberry Matt Leisy, and Christopher Behmke) just said "She shot herself in the temple" and skipped off joyfully.

People who would like this show are people who like charming murderers, amazing music, and identical D'Ysquiths. I think people should definitely go see this show. It was so much fun to be at and the acting and music and everything was just amazing.

Photos: Joan Marcus

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review of Nothing Without a Company's Punk Punk

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Punk Punk. It was by Hannah Ii-Epstein and Birthday Cake. It was directed by Rose Freeman. It was about these two girls, Mindy (Anna Rose Ii-Epstein) and Kathy (Caroline Wright) who are in a punk band but Kathy's landlady Marissa (Jamie Newell) keeps intruding. And they were trying to get ready because a guy from Riot Fest was coming to scout out their band. But Marissa keeps doing all these crazy things and seems like she is crazy. It is about friendship, what punk means, and fame. It was all done in an actual garage which I thought was really awesome.

This show is not for kids. Just so you know, it was because of the language, but not like swearing. I'm okay with swearing; swearing is not something that bothers me. But they had very explicit descriptions of sexual acts which is something that I'm not okay with. You may think, "She's seen everything now. She saw The Full Monty!" But it is not the same because there was nothing too explicit onstage and they didn't describe anything too explicit on stage. I know this difference wouldn't be important to a lot of adults, but it just is to me. I think the adults there did seem to be enjoying it, except maybe when they saw that I was there. We just didn't expect it from this theater company because we had only seen their kid-friendly productions like Alice that they did in Lincoln Park and Down the Moonlit Path. And I didn't know this would be that different. They totally have a right to do shows like this, I just thought I should warn you since I don't often review shows that have such explicit descriptions as this.

But I did find a lot of things that I liked about this show! The music was very funny and weird, which I think is how it was supposed to be. I think they were supposed to be terrible songwriters, and it was funny to see that their actual songs sometimes sounded like a bunch of words jammed together and didn't have a complex or catchy tune. That could also be because they only had a guitar and some buckets for drums. They were supposed to be a band that hasn't been together for very long and nobody has heard of. Usually in these kind of stories the band is really good, just no one has noticed them. But I think in this case, we were supposed to understand that they were not a very good band and no one had ever heard of them. There were still likable because they were funny and had a story about their lives but they didn't have to be amazing at writing songs to be interesting people. Marissa tells them that she thinks she knows what their best song is, but they disagree. I agreed with Marissa on almost everything, except her relationship choices. I felt like Marissa was very very funny because of how awkward she was and how much she wanted in on the fun and how psycho she seemed. I laughed almost every time she was on stage.

The thing was that Mindy was a lesbian and Kathy was not, but it seemed like Mindy might be interested in Kathy anyways. So that made their friendship kind of awkward and weird. There had been an accident between them recently where Mindy tried to kiss Kathy. We did not see that, but they talked about it a lot. Punk is something that they bond over and that they relate on. Punk is like who they are. They are really hardcore and they like to yell a lot. They are in the garage because they actually have a nice space but they want the scout to think they don't have any money so maybe they will get into Riot Fest. Getting along by the skin of your teeth is like supposed to be very cool and punk. Punk is about not caring, and they are very good at not caring about work and stuff. And they probably do care about each other, but only secretly, because they have to seem really cool. There is one scene where it is revealed that they are not as cool as they think they are. And by the end you see them do a terrible thing. If you are disconnected from other people you can get carried away sometimes, but Kathy and Mindy get really really carried away.

People who would like this show are people who like dark comedy, strange friendships, and psycho landladies. I think this would be a very good show for grown-ups. It is funny, exciting, and a crazy in a good way. I hope you have fun at this show.

Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review of Porchlight Music Theatre's Side Show

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Side Show. The book and lyrics were by Bill Russell and the music was by Henry Krieger. It was directed by Michael Weber with music direction by Aaron Benham, and the choreography was by Andrew Waters. It was about these two girls named Violet (Britt-Marie Sivertsen) and Daisy (Colleen Fee) Hilton and they were conjoined twins, which means they could never go apart from each other even though sometimes they got tired of each other. They had worked at a very low-profile sideshow and they had been the stars, but then one day a producer from the Orpheum Circuit, Terry (Matthew Keffer), comes and tells them he wants to help them and work with them with his friend Buddy (Devin DeSantis). But of course, their boss Sir (Matthias Austin) does not like losing his biggest attraction. Of course, they are not supposed to be just an attraction; they are human beings. The rest of the show is them making their way in the Orpheum Circuit and they both fall in love but they can't be separated from the other one. It is a true story and I think that it was a really amazing show. I loved the music and the acting was great. When you think of a huge broadway musical you don't really think of a show like this. They are about conflicts with love usually. But this is not just about men needing women or women needing men. It is about sisters needing each other.

Jake (Evan Tyrone Martin) sometimes seemed like the only male character who was not self-absorbed and who actually loved the twins. I love the scene where Jake confesses something to one of the girls and basically says, "I like you for who you are. I don't care if you are conjoined. It won't matter as long as I am with you." I loved the song that went with it, "You Should be Loved." It was just so sad that the girls hadn't realized the truth about Buddy yet, because maybe then things might have gone better for Jake. He actually understood that the girls wanted to have relationships but still not change who they were. But Terry did not understand that. When Browning (Peter Eli Johnson) shows up, he wants them to stay conjoined, but not because they want to be; he wants to have a movie about them because he thinks they are just freaks. Freak is just a terrible word because it just means someone who is different but it implies that they are different in a bad way. The character of Jake shows us the racism of the time period by showing how Sir casts him as a cannibal, and how a conjoined twin getting married was less shocking than people of two different races getting married. I just found that so terrible because there were probably lots of people who were in love with people of a different race and they couldn't be together.

The sisters really needed each other because they had been together for so long and they really couldn't part with each other. The sisters are pretty different from each other even though they are identical. Daisy is a very flirty girl and Violet always looks before she leaps. But they still are conjoined twins so sometimes it gets hard when one person wants to do one thing and another wants to do another. I really loved "Who Will Love Me as I Am" which was a song about how they wanted to be able to stay with their sister and still have a family or a boyfriend. I found it so sweet and sad and I just wanted to leap out of the audience and say, "It's ok!" You just want to help these girls and this musical is just so beautiful and heartbreaking. I felt sad for them when they had to leave the sideshow, even though they didn't like it there and would be happier on the Orpheum Circuit, because they had to leave all their friends behind. Then when they sang the song, "Say Goodbye to the Sideshow" it was so sad because they had to leave their friends behind for a better life.

I especially liked the opening number where they introduced all the attractions of the sideshow. I thought the entire ensemble was amazing when they came together in that opening number. It started out the show so well, and I really loved the opening number because of the music and all the different attractions coming onstage. It turned out to be a very fun and exciting opening number. One of my favorite scenes was when a few of the people from the sideshow--the Geek (Ben Kaye), the Half-Man/Half-Woman (Deanna Myers), and the Fortune Teller (Veronica Garza)--opened up a bakery. I thought that was so hilarious because it is not the kind of thing you think people from a sideshow would start doing. It told you that they were actually just very sweet people who had been put in a freak show and that they just wanted a normal life where they could bake cakes and open up a bakery. I thought that Sir was so mean to everybody in his sideshow because it would be like asking actors to do a show 3 times a day and then do housework for your boss who does nothing but gets all the money.

People who would like this show are people who like talented twins, amazing music, and sideshow baked goods. I think people should definitely go see this show. I think it is a great show and people in the show have amazing talent. I really loved it.

Photos: Anthony Robert LaPenna

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review of With Love and a Major Organ at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called With Love and a Major Organ. It was by Julia Lederer and it was directed by Thrisa Hodits. It was about a girl Anabel (Abby Pierce) who falls in love with a man George (Tom Murphy) who she meets on the subway, and she gives him her heart--literally. She ends up going to his mother, Mona (Melissa Riemer), and staying with her and they bond. It is about love, determination, and respect. I think the interactions that the characters had with the audience were really fun. This show is funny and sad and it makes you think that love is not you seeing someone and liking them; it is getting to know this person's heart and getting to know what this person is really like. It is hard to talk about this play without giving spoilers, so if you have not seen or read the show, probably you do that before you read this.

The mom of George does not have a husband at the moment, so she goes to speed dating events. I think it is really cool and I think it was really funny how the audience would be who she was speed dating with. Sometimes the people she was pretending to speed date with weren't in the mood to interact, and I think it might have been kind of awkward for her but she did handle it well by going with the flow that the person was a bad date, or if they interacted sometimes they were an okay date. And finally the good date was with an imaginary person. It was funny because she wouldn't let the other person talk at all during the date. I found that the speed dating experiences that she had were kind of like the comic relief because the rest of the play is very sad for most of the time.

I felt like the boy and the girl had a very strange relationship at first because she was just a overly-attached girl on the train who fell in love with a guy on the train. It wasn't a healthy thing. And then she started going too far, but then when she went too far good things came out of it. To give him her actual heart in a plastic bag as a gift is going too far. But then he actually gets to know her heart. And it shows that even if you are weird and crazy someone might actually love you for that. And once they get to know who you actually are other than just "the girl on the blue line" and that underneath it all that you actually have some kind of personality and you like ice cream and The Golden Girls and plaid, you might actually be loved for who you are. We give people our hearts because we want them to accept it as a gift and cherish it and love it. But the thing is that sometimes they throw it away. And that is what she is afraid is happening. But he gets to know the heart and then he realizes he can spend time with the owner of that heart and they can still be happy if she has her own heart.

I think it was sad how George seemed to be pushing his mother away a lot of the time. I think that is because he felt like he couldn't do without her, so he pushed her aside to prove to himself that he didn't need her help anymore. That made his mother feel really sad. She said that she gave him a paper heart so he wouldn't be hurt. I understand that she gave him the paper heart because she had been hurt very deeply and didn't want him to feel the same. It makes him not able to feel anything though. And if you don't feel love or pain, you can't really be a part of the world.

People who would like this show are people who like funny speed dates, beautiful love stories, and ice cream. I think people should definitely go see this show. I feel like it was beautiful, the acting was great, and I really loved the story.

Photos: Tom McGrath