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"Catch Me If You Can," May 5-28, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
"Don't Dress For Dinner," May 12-21, Workshop Theatre, 799-6551.
"The Producers," May 25 - June 4, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"Rock of Ages," June 2 - July 1, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"Quilters, a Musical," June 9-10, Ritz Theatre of Newberry, 276-6264.
"Second Samuel," June 9-18, Village Square Theatre, 359-1436.
"The Commedia Sleeping Beauty," June 10-18, Columbia Children's Theatre, 691-4548.
"Sex On Sunday," July 7-15, Trustus Side Door Theatre, 254-9732.
"Beauty and the Beast, Jr.," July 23-30, Village Square Theatre, 359-1346.
"Madagascar - A Musical Adventure," July 28 - August 6, Chapin Theatre Company, 240-8544.
"Black Super Hero Magic Mama," August 4-12, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
Press Releases for Current Shows
Camden Community Theatre
Chapin Theatre Company
Columbia Children's Theatre
On Stage Productions
Ritz Theatre of Newberry
SC Shakespeare Company
Sumter Little Theatre
Village Square Theatre
Six Veteran Comic Actors Romp With Abandon Through Workshop Theatre's “Don't Dress for Dinner”
Review by August Krickel
Promoting his production of Marc Camoletti's farce Don't
Dress for Dinner - which Workshop Theatre is presenting in the Market Space
at 701 Whaley through this weekend - Frank Thompson jokingly asked me "If
you're doing a British sex farce with slamming doors and half-naked women, what
director do you hire?" He was alluding of course to his well-known
fondness for the genre, and his many appearances in farces locally, including
Noises Off, The Foreigner, and Fox on the Fairway. As a director,
he's primarily done big musicals, but with this production - which ran for two
premise is a stock scenario: affluent couple Bernard (Ripley Thames) and
Jacqueline (or Jackie, regally portrayed by Zsuzsa Manna) live two hours from
is at the top of his or her game, and timing is impeccable, which is crucial
for the material to succeed. Changes in tones of voice, inflections in
phrasing, and even icy glares inspire avalanches of laughter from the audience.
It's a talented cast, but credit must also go to Thompson as director, and he
ensures that every inch of floor space is used as characters pace in
frustration. Manna turns in her customary professional performance, reverting
from harsh and accusing with her husband, to flirty and coquettish with her
lover. Rodillo-Fowler is one of my favorite local actresses, one who can play
almost any type of role on stage, many of which end with her in lingerie - I'm
happy to report that this is the case here too. Her character is the most
outrageous and least subtle, but that's Suzanne's nature.
Dean McCaughan's set is quite elegant. Merlot-colored walls alternating with exposed brick, and the appearance of a rich hardwood floor, define the interior of a renovated country farmhouse. Beautiful artwork adorns the walls, but everything is still a little rustic, implying Bernard and Jackie have only recently moved in, which works perfectly with the limited space and budget of a local theatre group. We simply assume that the couple is still roughing it a bit, but have great wealth. The hint of a hallway to the kitchen and dining room offstage, and the bottom of a staircase, are included in the set decoration, adding welcome detail and verisimilitude. Costumer Alexis Doktor has made excellent choices for each performer, with clothing clearly reflecting each character's nature.
Camoletti's script is much talkier, and therefore more intellectual, than one might expect - there's definitely some physical comedy too, but most of the humor is to be found in the wordplay among the characters as everyone tries to keep their stories straight. Since much is made of who is going to be sleeping in which room, the author helpfully allows the characters to refer the rooms' former incarnations as "the cow shed" and "the piggery," which makes logistics vastly easier for the audience to follow. The same is true with the character's repetition of the details of their assorted lies, enabling the audience to be reminded of who thinks what about whom. By the show's end, the characters are so exhausted from their assorted charades that it's easier for them to just go with the flow than to try to unravel matters further, and the audience may well think the same thing, as the play runs 20-30 minutes longer than this sort of show needs. Still, as long as one enjoys the genre, this is an excellent way to spend an evening, and an excellent choice with which Workshop closes out its 49th season. Don't Dress for Dinner returns Wednesday, May 17 for four more evening performances, then closes with a 3 PM matinee on Sunday, May 21. Call the box office at (803) 799-6551 or visit https://www.workshoptheatre.com/dont-dress-for-dinner.html for more information.
A Clever Con Artist, Fearless Feds, Saucy Stewardesses, and Naughty Nurses Featured in Town Theatre's “Catch Me If You Can”
Review by August Krickel
Town Theatre's production of the musical Catch Me If You Can is as slick, smooth, energetic, and appealing as its engaging young protagonist, and the bevy of flirtatious beauties who back him up. The story of teenage runaway-turned-master forger and con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. was the subject of a 2002 Steven Spielberg film with Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank, and Tom Hanks as Agent Hanratty, the G-Man hot on his trail. This might seem like unlikely source material for a Broadway musical, but the adaptation by multiple Tony-winner Terrence McNally - with music and lyrics by Hairspray's Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman - works nicely, with Frank narrating most of his escapades in flashback just as he is finally caught by Hanratty.
that Frank (Casey Berry) never sought a life of crime,
but was blessed with a flair for improvisation inherited from his
entrepreneurial, wheeler-dealer dad (Clayton King.) With his parents' marriage
on the rocks, Frank runs away, describing his anguish in "Someone Else's
Skin" - an intriguing explanation for how someone wanting to no longer be
himself so easily began impersonating others. Forging checks with
ever-increasing proficiency leads to a life on the run from the law, with Frank
adroitly adopting the roles of airline pilot, ER doctor, and attorney, although
mainly as a way to impress girls. Those girls - an ensemble of the sassiest
dozen chorines you could imagine - figure prominently in the show's promotional
material, including the cover of the program, which features Frank in pilot's
attire with the reflection of enticing young women seen in his sunglasses;
that's not gratuitous however, as their allure turns up in the lyrics of most
of the songs, including gems like:
Given such lyrics, it
will come as no surprise that choreographer Tracy Steele follows suit, with
almost every ensemble number staged like a television variety spectacular from
the early 1960's, the era in which the story takes place. Many of the ladies
have extensive experience on stage at Town and elsewhere, including plenty of
ringers who have played lead and featured roles and indeed choreographed shows
on their own, but here
Listening to the lavish opening number, "Live in Living Color," I jotted down "this sounds just like Hairspray!" - which is a good thing - before realizing that it actually was written by the Hairspray composers, once again homaging the various musical styles of the pre-Beatles 1960's. Most of Frank's numbers reflect the sort of light pop rock one might have found on American Bandstand (or for that matter, the Corny Collins Show) while songs featuring the older Hanratty (Gil Young) or Frank, Sr. have a distinct Rat Pack vibe. "Seven Wonders," a sweet duet between Frank and love interest Brenda (Katie Glatch) has vague echoes of a country ballad that someone might be crooning on The Voice, while songs sung by Frank's French-born mom (Jordan Harper) are reminiscent of a sultry singer in a Parisian cabaret. Frank's culminating solo "Goodbye" has a more contemporary sound, like a hitherto unknown bonus track from Miss Saigon. In other words, the composers are musical chameleons, proficiently penning tunes in multiple genres from the period, creating clever rhymes - "Paris" with "Roger Maris" - yet never stooping to parody. I especially liked the authors' tendency to insert stretches of spoken dialogue within the middle of many songs, making the song lyrics an extension of the conversation, and thus more integral to the plot. I also enjoyed the way that characters speak their lines naturally, but then open up the floodgates of emotion when singing, as if these are internal monologues. For example, the peppy, swing-influenced "Don't Break the Rules" allows Hanratty to show a little soul, revealing much more passion than the straight-laced "just the facts, ma'am" cop would ever allow to be seen by anyone. His duet with Frank (with some pretty backing harmonies from King and Harper) "Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year" sounds almost like a love song, except it's a lonely kid turning to a surrogate father figure. Lines like "I hope we meet again - when you're serving 8 to 10" are awfully witty, but often reveal underlying sadness or irony. Another good example is Brenda's soulful lament when she learns the truth about Frank, which could be the flip side to Gladys Knight's "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," featuring the refrain "Now I wanna see him fly, fly/ I'll be your alibi, my baby/Fly, fly, fly away." Not only are there interesting choices with internal rhyming, assonance, and alliteration, but here, in song, the straight-laced young lady calls him "baby," divulging a level of intimacy not found in her spoken lines.
Can you tell I really enjoyed the score? McNally's script, however, is pretty much by-the-numbers, and a world away from his intense early work like Love! Valour! Compassion!, although this is the sort of frothy, jubilant musical which that play's characters would have embraced with glee. As Frank, Berry has the right level of youthful bravado balanced with naiveté that the role demands; his voice is rich and his acting charismatic. King channels the same sheisty persona he used as Nathan Detroit in the recent Guys and Dolls at Village Square - Frank. Sr. could really be an older version of Nathan, finding that making an honest living is harder than he thought - and his Frank and Dino-style numbers with his son and with Hanratty are enjoyable. Young gets a terrific part to play, all business as he leads a contingent of sad sack career agents from the boring bank fraud division on their first sexy international case, fatherly as he tries to counsel Frank, and amusing when he adopts the persona of a film noir protagonist. Director Jamie Carr Harrington has cast her show well, with great voices that surely made musical director Amanda Hines's job gratifying, and in tandem with choreographer Steele creates a fast-paced crowd-pleaser. There's even some choreography for two men in handcuffs, surely a first for this stage. Danny Harrington's set doesn't try to replicate the many settings and locales of the story, but instead relies on a basic construct of stairs, railings, and an upper level, rendered in interesting geometric shapes and patterns - they reminded be a little of Mr. Worf's bat'leth - and enhanced when lighting floods particular areas with color. Props are usually limited to a single piece - a sofa, a bar with stools, a bed, a desk with chairs - to define specific locations. It's by no means fancy, but it's a great example of how a musical doesn't need a dozen clunky scene changes when you're supposed to be focusing on the performers. I do wish that the blank backdrop for the upper level and for the FBI office had something visual to make them more interesting, possibly simple projections, which Harrington has had much success with in the past. The actors perform to a recorded score, which I normally am leery of, but I must say that this one works very well, with no discernible glitches. Plus, whoever those session guys were on sax and trumpet were on fire the day it was recorded. Head microphones are used, and again, I have to say that they were almost invisible; sitting literally on the front row, I never noticed them until a few performers were standing only a couple of feet away from me, and there were never any annoying feedback issues. It should be noted that there are severally very loud gunshot effects, one right when the lights go down and the show opens, so be forewarned.
Catch Me If You Can was never a huge hit, running for a modest yet respectable 6 months on Broadway, and garnering four Tony nominations, with the Hanratty actor the only win. It doesn't explore too many deep themes, but those it does are universal - the innocence of youth, the malaise of mid-life failure, and humanity's natural need for love and acceptance. Yet it provides great singing, dancing and acting opportunities for its cast - directors looking for a big splashy show that is at most PG-rated and could be done without too much expense at the community or high school level would be wise to take notice of this one. And did I mention how much I enjoyed the score? Sure, it's derivative, by intent, which I think is a great accomplishment, much like the score for another Hanks film, That Thing You Do. My guess is that while the original leads on Broadway are popular and respected performers within the world of stage, they may not have had the same marquee value as the names Spielberg, DiCaprio, and Hanks. I'll go out on a limb here - if the show had starred Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman, I think it would still be running today. For that matter, I'm also imagining an 80's incarnation with Matthew Broderick and Jerry Orbach in their prime, or even a 60's version with perhaps Frankie Avalon or Ricky Nelson as Frank, and Old Blue Eyes himself as Hanratty. Ah, we can dream. Catch Me If You Can runs through May 21 at Town Theatre; call 803-799-2510 or visit www.towntheatre.com for information.
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