Tag Archives: entertainment

Theater review: SHE LOVES ME

 – Ordinarily, going all the way to Budapest to see a good show would be too far to go.

But in the case of Stolen Shakespeare Guild’s current production of the musical She Loves Me, which is set in that East-European capital, the journey is more than worth it.

This 1963 musical by Joe Masteroff and Jerry Bock is based on one of the most frequently adopted pieces of literature in the 20th century. It began as the 1937 play Parfumerie by Miklós László, and served as the basis for three films: the romantic comedies The Shop Around the Corner(1940) and You’ve Got Mail (1998), and the musical, In the Good Old Summertime(1949).

But this more recent stage musical has proven to be one of the most enduring adaptations, having had a strong initial outing and a couple of revivals on Broadway, with still another slated for next year. Plus, it has been a frequent visitor to regional and community theaters since its debut.

Set in a shop dealing in perfumes and various female notions (of every type), She Loves Me tracks the halting romance between fellow employees Georg (Brad Stephens) and Amalia (Lauren Morgan). The pair fall for one another in the course of an anonymous correspondence, which was apparently one of the ways boys met girls in the story’s day. But, when they just happen to wind up working in the same perfumery, they develop a highly antagonistic relationship without knowing they are the people who so warmly call one another “dear friend” when putting pen to paper (something else people used to do).

Since the course of true love seldom runs smooth on the musical comedy stage, it takes them a few major misunderstandings and several delightful numbers to get their hearts in the right place. Their efforts in that direction receive little help from their fellow bath oil peddlers, all of whom have problems of their own.

So, given the durable track record of this story, it is no shock that the plot pulls you right along. But you may be surprised at the overall quality of all of the components of this production, which marks the debut of the highly-talented and widely-booked director Robin Armstrong with this company.

Just about everyone and everything in this show sparkles like fresh snowflakes. Stephens sings his role with gusto and a strong sense of character. Morgan, who is one of the founders of the company, lends a beautiful voice to her part that we too seldom hear in this company’s shows. Sarah Powell, as the shop girl Ilona, delivers her numbers in a manner that matches her striking and fiery red tresses.

The efforts of these leading characters are consistently equaled by the supporting players. Even the minor part of the head waiter at a restaurant where Georg and Amalia have an awkward rendezvous is delivered with great verve by Billy Betsill. Most of the other singers come through just as well. But Evan Faris, as the insecure clerk Sipos, needs to have more confidence in his voice and let it rip when his number is up.

Armstrong, who is admired for her work with madcap farces, does an excellent job in her maiden voyage with a musical. She brings a keen sense of comedy and motion to her staging that gloriously enlivens the material. And her vision of the piece is perfectly complemented by Karen Matheny’s inspired choreography. The bountiful fruits of their partnership is most apparent in the staging of A Romantic Atmosphere, one of the show’s best numbers in every regard, which also features the input of Kylie Frandsen for its tango moves.

The show’s set, by Morgan, her husband Jason Morgan and Keith Glenn, is almost a character unto itself. Its rolling parts are brilliant in their design and dazzling in their execution. The only knock is that the look is far too bare. The shop’s exterior, especially needs a sign, and the interior needs some wall decorations.

Also exceptional are the period costumes designed by Armstrong and Lauren Morgan (is there anything these women can’t do?) for this show set in 1937 before and through Christmas.

The primary shortcoming of the production is that it relies on a recorded score. But that fault is offset somewhat by the fact that we get to enjoy the show’s wonderful voices without amplification in the cozy confines of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.

So, while there are just a few rough edges, there is a lot to love in this musical from a company far better-known for its works from the Bard and Jane Austen adaptations. Everything about this She Loves Me makes it easy to love it.

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They Think To Go Like Saints

Print vouchers for $2 off/ticket.

Print out a voucher for each ticket desired, present them at the theater and receive $2 off/ticket!

Rehearsals are well underway for my next project, The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller and a classic of American drama. Opening September 12th and running through the 28th, the production re-teams me with director Allen Walker (The Curious Savage, Hay Fever) and launches Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre’s second season. I will perform the role of John Proctor.

Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. When a farmer’s wife is falsely accused of witchcraft by her former serving girl, the threads of this Puritanical society begin to unravel. Class envy and long-held grudges erupt as it suddenly becomes fashionable for neighbor to accuse neighbor of trafficking with the Devil.  Can John Proctor save his wife’s life, along with his own good name, before the fires of bigotry and deceit consume their world? This gripping drama, which Arthur Miller wrote as a condemnation of McCarthyism in the 1950s, is still a timely parable for our contemporary society.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.thetart.org or by calling the box office at 682-231-0082.

UPDATE: You may also purchase tickets at the theater and receive a discount.  Simply print out as many ticket vouchers as needed and present them at the door for $2 off each ticket.  Vouchers are only valid at the box office and cannot be used for tickets purchased online.

Reviews of The Crucible:

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Big Improv Show Tuesday Night

Here’s the flyer for our next Improv Dallas Big Improv Show:

Improv Dallas Show 20140812

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/ImprovDallas!

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Playwright to Attend Performance

Brad Stephens in HOPE & GRAVITY

Brad Stephens in Circle Theatre’s HOPE & GRAVITY

Hope and Gravity playwright Michael Hollinger will attend the Saturday, July 12th evening performance at Circle Theatre with a “talk back” immediately following the show.  The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions about his newest work, a non-conventional play consisting of a series of interconnected one-acts presented out of chronological order.  The Circle Theatre production is only its second professional staging.

Since opening on June 21st, Hope and Gravity has enjoy a warm reception from audiences and critics alike.  Punch Shaw of the Star-Telegram praises the play for its “rich and funny” dialogue, noting “there are no weak performances.”  Nancy Churnin of the Dallas Morning News enjoys “Harry Parker’s smart direction”, while David Novinski of TheaterJones finds it “instantly likeable”.  Elaine Plybon of The Column Awards exclaims, “It is always refreshing to see a new play, but I found this one definitely worth seeing again and again.”

Just as an elevator starts and stops on random floors, nine different stories are connected by a simple twist of fate. This nonlinear play travels backward and forward in time as each character experiences the highs and lows of relationships and chance encounters. Their universal quest for life, love and happiness results in both comedy and tragedy. As the play draws to its inevitable closing, two strangers must decide whether or not to risk taking a momentous leap of faith.

Circle Theatre’s mission is the advocacy of contemporary plays rarely seen in Dallas/Fort Worth. Hope and Gravity will run June 19th through July 19th. Visit Circle Theatre’s website for showtimes and tickets!

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Immaculate Conception of The Big Picture

The cast of HOPE & GRAVITY Skype with playwright Michael Hollinger prior to rehearsal.

I am currently in rehearsals for Hope and Gravity, a new play by Michael Hollinger which will have its second professional staging at Circle Theatre.  The production reteams me with director Dr. Harry Parker who directed me in Company two years ago.  After meeting Hollinger via Skype during our first read-through, the cast and I have dug into rehearsals which have been full of discovery and laughs.  I’m anxious to see where we go next and excited to get the play on its feet and in front of an audience.

Just as an elevator starts and stops on random floors, nine different stories are connected by a simple twist of fate.  This nonlinear play travels backward and forward in time as each character experiences the highs and lows of relationships and chance encounters.  Their universal quest for life, love and happiness results in both comedy and tragedy.  As the play draws to its inevitable closing, two strangers must decide whether or not to risk taking a momentous leap of faith.

Circle Theatre’s mission is the advocacy of contemporary plays rarely seen in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Hope and Gravity will run June 19th through July 19th.  Visit Circle Theatre’s website for showtimes and tickets!

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T.A.R.T. and The CURIOUS SAVAGE

Poster – The CURIOUS SAVAGEI’m pleased to announce I have accepted an offer to perform in Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre‘s upcoming production of The Curious Savage.  Written by John Patrick, the second production of TART’s inaugural season is slated to be directed by Allen Walker and scheduled to run May 9 – 25, 2014.  I will play the part of Hannibal.

When Ethel Savage’s husband passes away shortly after the end of World War II, leaving her the family fortune of ten million dollars, she decides to create a memorial fund in his honor – a fund to help people make their foolish dreams come true.  Her grown step-children, however, have other plans for the money and commit Mrs. Savage to a sanitarium until she gives up her crazy scheme – unaware that she has already sold control of the family industries, converted the money into negotiable bonds, and buried them.  Hilarity ensues as Mrs. Savage sends them on wild goose chases to see how far they’ll go to make fools of themselves.  Meanwhile, the gentle patients of “The Cloisters” teach Mrs. Savage that the virtues of generosity and kindness have not entirely been lost in a world that at times seems only motivated by greed and dishonesty.

Visit www.thetart.org for further information and to purchase tickets.

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Many Cooks, Many Laughs

Cast of TOO MANY COOKS at Circle Theatre, running October 17 – November 16, 2013.With two weekends left in its run, Circle Theatre’s hilarious production of Too Many Cooks is enjoying sold-out performances, uproarious laughter, and standing ovations.  Strong word-of-mouth and stellar reviews are driving ticket sales.  Seats for the remaining eight performances are going fast.  The show takes its final bow Saturday, November 16, 2013.

“If you could bottle this kind of comedy, I’d take a case,” raves TheatreJones critic Jan Farrington.  Mary L. Clark, Associate Critic for John Garcia’s The Column Online, recommends the farce as “a great example of its theatrical genre and a splendid way to watch eight actors finely adept at their craft.”  Clark finds favor in every cast member .  Of Brad Stephens, she writes:

“Always pulling his uniform into place, Stephens made [Constable] Effing the forthright, upstanding, tee totaling officer he is supposed to be. In a farce such as Too Many Cooks, that kind of character only leads to hilarity and Stephens brought it in style.”

For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.circletheatre.com or call the box office at 1-817-877-3040. You may also go in person to the Circle Theatre box office at 230 W. 4th Street, between Houston and Throckmorton, in downtown Fort Worth.  Tickets range from $20 – $35 depending on the day of performance. Senior, student, military, KERA, Press Pass, S.T.A.G.E. and group discounts are available.

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TRUE TALES Opens Dallas VideoFest

A wonderfully entertaining and insightful documentary in which I had the pleasure of performing will open Dallas VideoFest next week.

Just two days after Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a little-known Dallas strip club operator named Jack Ruby murders Oswald on live television.  Why did he do it?  Despite decades of theories and speculation, the question has never been satisfactorily answered.  Until now.

Shunning the press for nearly 50 years, Tammi True—a top-billed stripper in Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club—is finally ready to reveal the answers.  AMS Pictures presents True Tales, an original docudrama exploring the bizarre world of 1960s Dallas burlesque through the eyes of its preeminent entertainer.  Featuring dramatic re-creations shot on actual locations, True Tales immerses you into the events that led to one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th Century.

Slated to premier on the opening night of Dallas VideoFest 26, the film centers on Nancy Myers, aka “Tammi True,” with a preshow performance by Ruby R-E-V-U-E, Texas’ Premier Burlesque and Variety Show.  Tammi True will do a Q&A after the film.  True Tales delves into Myers’ life as a headlining act at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club in the early 1960s.  To celebrate, the Video Association of Dallas invites patrons to come dressed in their best early 1960s/“Mad Men” attire.  Dallas VideoFest’s opening night documentary feature will now screen at the South Side Music Hall Gilley’s Dallas, 1135 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215.

And if you go, watch closely!  You may catch me from time to time coaxing Tammi into the burlesque business.

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TOO MANY COOKS Rehearsals Begin

TOO MANY COOKS at Circle TheatreI’m very excited to announce I have accepted a role in Circle Theatre’s upcoming production of Too Many Cooks.

Written by Douglas E. Hughes and Marsha Kash, the comedic play begins rehearsals tonight with DFW’s “Queen of Farce” Robin Armstrong directing the mayhem.  I will be playing the role of Hamilton X. Effing, a Dudley Do-Right type, Constable for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

It’s 1932 in Niagara Falls, Canada, where the rum-running business is at its peak. In the aftermath of the Crash, Irving Bubbalowe and his daughter, Honey, have risked everything they have to open a new gourmet restaurant. When their star – the renowned singing chef François LaPlouffe – fails to appear, tonight’s grand opening is suddenly placed in jeopardy. However, when unemployed chef Frank Plunkett wanders in looking for work, Honey persuades him to masquerade as the missing LaPlouffe. The beleaguered Bubbalowe, meanwhile, also has to contend with Chicago gangster Alfonse Feghetti and his sidekick who have come looking for an illegal shipment of booze that, unbeknownst to Bubbalowe, has found its way into his basement. In addition, Bubbalowe has to keep at bay the hot-blooded Immigration officer Veronica Snook, on the trail of the vanished chef, as well as a suspicious teetotalling Mountie who is ready to arrest Bubbalowe for both murder and bootlegging. Madness ensues and Bubbalowe and the others create a hornet’s nest of fabricated stories and identities as they try valiantly to save the restaurant – and themselves – from both the gangsters and the law.

Circle Theatre’s mission is the advocacy of contemporary plays rarely seen in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Too Many Cooks will run October 17th through November 16th.  Visit Circle Theatre’s website for showtimes and tickets!

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ONCE IS ENOUGH Trailer Unveiled

ONCE IS ENOUGH StillOver the past couple of months while I was sporting a beard as Baron Skanskorg in Undermain Theatre’s production of Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata, I was privileged to work with independent filmmaker Paul Csige on his new film, Once is Enough, a comedy/fantasy about finding one’s way in modern America.  The production wrapped principle photography last week and Paul wasted no time in cutting together a trailer in time for the wrap party hosted yesterday.  Here is a peak at good things to come:

The film follows John Everman, recently divorced and reluctant to start over. On a beer run, John’s car suddenly breaks down in front of a warehouse run by Bob, an out-of-work Wizard.  John sees an opportunity to get his old life back by trying out new ones.  Bob gives John new lives and he’s swept away on adventures as other people but will they give him the life he truly wants?

In addition to the trailer, an extended clip featuring snippets of all the actors involved with the production was shown as well.  I was quite delighted to find so many actors I know and with whom I have worked involved in this film.

Once is Enough is scheduled to complete post by the end of summer 2013.

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