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17 May 2008

The Philadelphia Story

ACT's "PHILADELPHIA STORY " is not to be missed! Bernie's direction is spot on, the set by Jack Lindsay and Adam Cohen is elegance itself and the performance is simply superb. Nothing is out of place in this late 1930's silly saga on the manners and mores of the inhabitants of the "Philadelphia Main Line". Kelly Christianson's "Tracy Lord" exemplifies the "golden goddess girl" to a "T". The trio of Wilde, Clancy and Wood as "C. K. Dexter Haven", "Mike Connor" and "George Kittridge" respectively, are as goofy a bunch of hormone driven rich guys as can be found anywhere. Their nutty machinations are aptly supported by a cast of lovely characters. Linda Underwood's costumes are a gorgeous revival of early 20th Century elegance. God, we really used to dress in a grand but casual manner..ahh, the flow of pleated, expensive fabrics on beautiful women... but I digress. Jason Williams' lights are right on the money. Really, as well as being a piece of great entertainment, this production is a nostalgic voyage through a long gone (with no little regret) era.

Thankyou ACT. By the way, some of the younger generation may have confused "THE PHILADELPHIA STORY" with "PHILADELPHIA", a somewhat dark and dismal cinema epic starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer dying of AIDs. Believe me, ACT's offering is nothing like it!!

With kindest regards,

Mike Vaniman

02 May 2008

The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me...

from the C-T...

‘The Only Thing Worse’ is powerful look at gay life
by Jim Cavener, Take5 correspondent
published May 2, 2008 12:15 am

It’s rare that a show can mix comedy and serious drama with equal effectiveness. But the one-man piece “The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me ...” by the Immediate Theatre Project does both with smashing success.

Dan Butler’s skits about being gay in an often-hostile society resonate with authenticity and reality. Some are simply wise and insightful. Others are painful and poignant. Some are filled with laughter, others provoke tears. There is much to learn from this well-crafted script, and almost anyone will be touched with this insider’s view of being gay in late 20th century America.

Director Hans Meyer found the right actor to star in this multi-faceted journey. The bouncy, boyish Francis Kelly is endearing and a moving actor. His ability to communicate varied emotions is impressive. Anyone with a strong aversion to profanity may wish to tune out on the first episode, or wear earplugs. Kelly calms down and delivers some heavy material in a few of the later skits. His dialect work is commendable.

Meyer not only cast and directed the show, he did the sound design. Stage manager Jamie Nicholson runs the board and doubles as the DJ who spins and mixes the tunes with a professional’s skill. The music selections and cues are masterful.

The varied roles portrayed by Kelly are aided by the use of minimal costume changes. Company co-founder Lauren Fortuna is the costume designer who gets much mileage out of a few rags.

Dames at Sea

From the C-T...

‘Dames at Sea’ features super singing and dancing at Flat Rock
by Tim Reid, Take5 correspondent
published May 2, 2008 12:15 am

A small cast produces a large sound in Flat Rock Playhouse’s charming musical “Dames at Sea” about the proverbial small-town girl making it big in the Big Apple.

Director Amy Elizabeth Jones has assembled a powerhouse cast of talented actors who sing and dance their way through high-energy tunes that stir the emotions as well as adrenaline.

Lisa K. Bryant is marvelous as Ruby, a naive ingénue from a small town in Utah who arrives in New York in the 1930s with dreams of becoming a Broadway star.

When Ruby turns up at a rehearsal for a new musical, a tender-hearted cast member Joan (Wendy Hayes) wrangles her a spot in the chorus line while coaching her new friend on how hard life is in the big city.

Ruby gets a taste of that when the show’s star, temperamental diva Mona Kent (Marcy McGuigan), takes an instant dislike to her.

But Ruby also makes a new friend in a young sailor Dick (Freddie Kimmel), an aspiring songwriter who coincidentally is from the small town in Utah where Ruby grew up.

When the new musical’s opening is suddenly disrupted by news that the theater is to be torn down, Dick and his fellow sailor Lucky (Matthew Schneider) propose that the musical open on the deck of their nearby battleship.

The only obstacle is convincing the captain (Carl J. Danielsen) to let the ship be used for such a purpose.

It turns out that’s not a problem as the captain is a former boyfriend of Mona Kent. The diva only has to remind him of their past passions and he is willing and eager.

In true storybook fashion the temperamental diva gets her comeuppance and Ruby gets her chance at stardom. And, of course, love triumphs.

George Wilkins Jr., Paul Babelay and Charles Holland perform Jim Wise’s unforgettable music that propels this simple story into a perennial favorite.

“Dames” made Bernadette Peters a star when it debuted Off-Broadway in 1966 and has been delighting audiences ever since. Flat Rock’s production will please those who like a sweet story coupled with endearing tunes.

Tim Reid reviews theater for the Citizen-Times.