Kearsley Park Players cap season with “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

The 10th Anniversary Summer Season of the Kearsley Park Players culminates with a production of the classic American drama “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams. One of Williams’ best-known works and his personal favorite, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Kearsley Park Players production will be presented for one weekend only at the Opera House in Crossroads Village at 6140 Bray Road. Performances will be at 7:30 pm on Thursday, September 25, Friday, September 26, and Saturday, September 27, with the only matinee at 2 pm on Sunday, September 28. Tickets are $5.00. Reservations can be made by calling (810) 736-7100 (ext. 6) during daytime business hours.

Directed by Kay Kelly, the experienced cast includes Ella J. Thorp as Maggie, Michael Kelly as Big Daddy, Matthew Szukhent as Brick, Laura Friesen as Big Mama, Ian Thomas as Gooper and Kari Kilpela as Mae.AAA PR PHOTO

Of particular interest is the fact that Michael Kelly and Laura Friesen (Big Daddy and Big Mama) are reprising roles they played together in a 1977 production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” while students at the University of Michigan-Flint. As Kelly relates, “It was a very successful production back then but I was a 26-year-old playing Big Daddy. Today, I understand who Big Daddy is much better than I did then.”

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” features several recurring motifs, such as social norms, greed, hypocrisy, decay, sexual desire, repression, and death. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is the story of a Southern family in crisis, especially the husband and wife Brick and Maggie and their interaction with Brick’s family over the course of one evening gathering at the family estate in Mississippi. The party is to celebrate the birthday of patriarch Big Daddy, “the Delta’s biggest cotton-planter”, and his return from a health clinic with what he has been told is a clean bill of health. All family members (except Big Daddy and his wife, Big Mama) are aware of Big Daddy’s true diagnosis: he is dying of cancer. His family has lied to Big Daddy and Big Mama to spare the aging couple from pain on the patriarch’s birthday but, throughout the course of the play, it becomes clear that the family has long constructed a web of deceit for itself.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” will be the final production of this season’s schedule for the Kearsley Park Players and is part of “2014 Theatre in OUR Parks”, a collaboration between the City of Flint Parks and Recreation Department and Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission with funding from the Ruth Mott Foundation.

The full list of performances is as follows:

Thursday, September 25 – Crossroads Village – 7:30 pm

Friday, September 26 – Crossroads Village – 7:30 pm

Saturday, September 27 – Crossroads Village – 7:30 pm

Sunday, September 28 – Crossroads Village – 2 pm (only matinee)

More information at kearsleyparkplayers.com.

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HOLLY ANNOUNCES AUDITIONS FOR THE UPCOMING DICKENS FESTIVAL

Auditions for The Dickens Festival play, “A Christmas Carol – Abridged”, will be held on September 15 & 16, 2014, 6-8:30pm at the American Legion Post 149 Hall located at 408 S. South Saginaw St. in Holly.

“A Christmas Carol – Abridged” is an abbreviated version of the Charles Dickens tale. It is one of the features of the Festival.

You don’t have to bring anything prepared. We will be working from the script. Rehearsals will begin a week or so after auditions. The director for the play is Joe Mishler.

This year we are excited to announce that the play will be performed on a temporary stage on the patio of Red Devil. We are excited to be a part of this wonderful Holly tradition. Even if you don’t join the cast, come to the festival and have a great time.

Characters needed: Scrooge, Marley, Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Young Scrooge, Scrooge’s Nephew, All Three Ghosts, Mrs. Cratchit, Belle, several children and several street people. We also need a stage manager.

Performance dates are November 29, 30, December 6, 7, 13, 14. Performances times are Saturdays: 2, 4 & 6pm, Sundays 2 & 4pm. The play is approximately thirty-five minutes in length. We will be performing semi-outside.

For further information contact Joe at 810-348-9960.

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FLINT YOUTH THEATRE INVITES 7th THROUGH 12th GRADE STUDENTS TO AUDITION FOR “9 x NOURISHED”, AN ORIGINAL FYT PRODUCTION

Flint Youth Theatre announces open auditions and technical interviews for 9 x Nourished, written by Michael Rohd and devised by Michael Rohd and FYT. This play will be directed by Janet Haley and performed onsite at the New Flint Farmers’ Market, October 17 through November 2.

Through SONG and DANCE, A LOVE STORY, a COOKING LESSON and more, FYT examines the unique place the Flint Farmers’ Market holds in our community. Located at the new Flint Farmers’ Market, this dynamic new play celebrates the Market’s value to our past, present, and future.

Students are invited to audition and interview to be a part of this play.

Open to all students currently in grades 7 to 12
Flint Youth Theatre • 1220 E. Kearsley St. • Flint, MI • 48503

Auditions: Saturday, September 6, 2 pm – 5:30 pm (check-in after 1:30pm)

Call-backs: Tuesday, September 9, 6 pm – 9:30 pm (if needed)

Technical Interviews: Saturday, September 6, 2 – 3pm (check-in after 1:30pm)

• Auditions are for students interested in being in the show.
Plan to attend the entire audition.
• Tech interviews are for students interested in working back stage.
• Students may apply for both.
• Auditions will involve reading from the script, and a variety of physical and vocal exercises. You do not need to prepare anything to audition.
• Participating in this production will require you to miss four days of school.

Rehearsals: Beginning Sept 16, Tuesdays – Fridays, 6 pm – 9:30 pm, Saturdays, 2 pm – 5:30 pm

Tech: Sat, Oct 11, 12 pm – 8 pm, Sun, Oct 12, 12 pm – 8 pm and Mon, Oct 13 – Thurs, Oct 16, 6 pm – 9:30 pm

Performances: 
Fri, Oct 17, 7:30 pm
Sat, Oct 18, 7:30 pm
Sun, Oct 19, 2:30 pm
Wed, Oct 22, 10 am & 12:15 pm
Fri, Oct 24, 10 am, 12:15 pm & 7:30 pm
Sat, Oct 25, 7:30 pm
Sun, Oct 26, 2:30 pm
Wed, Oct 29, 10 am & 12:15 pm
Fri, Oct 31, 10 am, 12:15 pm & 7:30 pm
Sat, Nov 1, 7:30 pm
Sun, Nov 2, 2:30 pm

About Flint Youth Theatre

Flint Youth Theatre is a program of the
Flint Institute of Music. In partnership with the
Flint Symphony Orchestra and the Flint School of Performing Arts, its mission is to change lives through a lifelong continuum of music, dance and theatre. Since 1957, FYT has provided inter-generational live theatre arts programs for Flint and Genesee County residents. FYT is the nationally-acclaimed, award-winning resident theatre company at the Flint Cultural Center.

For more information about Flint Youth Theatre call 810.237.1530.

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FYT’s “Alice in Wonderland” Delights the Senses

Reviewed by Shelly L. Hoffman

To see a show on the now underutilized Bower stage is a treat in itself, but Flint Youth Theatre doled out a big bag of eye candy Friday night with its deliciously vibrant production of Sharon Holland’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s book Alice in Wonderland. It is a cleverly staged romp through this classic tale of the girl who falls down a rabbit hole, drinks a shrinking potion to fit through a very small door, and encounters many curious inhabitants of a strange universe.

Director Samuel J. Richardson’s cast, composed of many youngsters and anchored by some veteran adult actors, perform at a frenetic pace creating incredible energy and a great deal of fun. Sometimes, though, this works to the detriment of the show, as it became difficult, at this clip, to discern, at times, what some of the youth were actually saying.

Elsa Harchick assumes a commanding presence as the Narrator. In addition to her vital role of keeping the thread of the story moving, she serves a more utilitarian purpose as well, delivering an expertly rehearsed curtain speech, which blends nicely into the start of the show, and guiding traffic during scene shifts.

Kate Spademan exudes joy and confidence as she portrays a bewildered Alice. Her intelligibility, though, is a victim of the fast-paced dialogue; much of what she was saying was garbled and lost.

Alice is guided to Wonderland by the White Rabbit, played with great physicality by Matt Coggins. There’s no hookah-smoking caterpillar here but, rather, a rainbow clad one who blows bubbles to relax. Layla Meillier handles this role with aplomb, while Enrique J. Vargas is clear and strong (Dare we say “eggscellent?”) as the ill-fated Humpty Dumpty.

The tea party is visually stimulating and made all the better by William Irwin’s presence as the bombastic and pleasingly comical Mad Hatter. Irwin pulls double-duty and appears later as the White Knight. He possesses perfect comic timing and sports separate but equally outrageous mustaches for each role. As the White Knight, though, he becomes touchingly human and he and Alice share a very sweet scene. The White Knight implores Alice to remember him and she notes she may remember him best of all. We suspect audiences may as well.

The shrill Queen of Hearts (Deirdre S. Baker) drolly orders a multitude of beheadings while the King of Hearts (Mark Gmazel) presides over court. Gmazel is simply hilarious and creates an indelible impression as the lisping and posturing King. The courtroom scene, as a whole, is a highlight.

Richardson has assembled an outstanding technical team to help bring these memorable characters to life. Adam Dill’s costumes and Andrew Layton’s scenic design create a wonderfully cohesive and whimsical motif. While the set pieces are spartan and include many cardboard-like cutouts, each is smoothly moved in and out and used to great advantage. The proscenium arch façade is a particularly nice touch. The costumes, with an eclectic mix of patterns, perfectly capture each of the characters and subtly suggest the traits of some of the animals portrayed.

Sadly, Thursday’s show was plagued by sound problems (caused by a seemingly needless microphone on the Narrator) that we hope will be sorted out for the remainder of the run. All in all, though, this is a delightful production that is certain to bring smiles and laughter to both the young and the young at heart.

Alice in Wonderland runs this Friday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2:30 pm and 7:30 pm), and Sunday (2:30 pm), as well as Thursday, August 14 (2:30 pm), August 15 (2:30 pm and 7:30 pm), August 16 (2:30 pm and 7:30 pm), and August 17th (2:30 pm). For tickets, which range from $12 – $18, call 810-237-1530. Performances take place at Flint Youth Theatre’s Bower Theatre in Flint’s Cultural Center.

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“MAN OF LA MANCHA” ROCKS THE STAGE AT STRATFORD

Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

Man of La Mancha reigns at Stratford, Ontario, at the Shakespeare Festival. This is a moving, rousing and energetic production. Actually, the word stunning works better.

Man of La Mancha is the story of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes died at a young age after being a soldier and then a slave for five years. Don Quixote’s story lives on through the book and the musical. In the story Cervantes is arrested along with his servant. They are imprisoned waiting the inquisition. In prison, the inmates proceed to rob him only to discover what he possesses is his written story. They are going to burn it and he begs them to try him. That is where the story begins.

The musical Man of La Mancha was written by Dale Wasserman with music by Mitch Leigh, and lyrics by Joe Danlon.

We all go on quests. The most important thing about a quest is that we must finish no matter what happens. Don Quixote is an excellent example of this idea. Go after it, no matter what. We don’t have to stick with tradition because it is easier; we can break from it and go in a different direction. Everyone tilts at windmills from time to time.

The set greeted us first as we entered the theatre. A massive set depicts the nasty environs of a dungeon. Behind the set, and much larger, stands a windmill that actually works. It is captivating because it is always present and almost always moving. The prison is dingy, nasty, and has a cast of characters one can only wish never to meet. The Governor, played by Shane Carty, who also plays the Innkeeper, runs this prison.

Cervantes/Don Quixote/Alonso Quijana are all played by Tom Rooney. He is a gem to watch. Transformations to each character are flawless and breathtaking. Excellent is the only way to describe his performance.

Aldonza played by Robin Hutton is a ball of fire throughout the musical. She plays the noble woman Don Quixote loves even though she is not one. Her dancing and singing were spectacular. When the inmates attack her, the dance scene is a wonder and a horror to watch. Coupled with the fight scene where Don Quixote, Aldonza, and Sancho take on the inmates has no match.

Sancho played by Steve Ross also gave a strong performance. He gives us the other side of Don Quixote. The cast of Man of La Mancha deserved and received a tremendous standing ovation. The play moved in unison from start to finish. They took the audience to the heights and then dropped us only to do it again and again.

“The Impossible Dream” was clearly a favorite number with the audience. The play ends with the song as Don Quixote is taken to the Inquisition.

The orchestra was wonderful; the choreography was brilliant. Some of the dances were extremely complicated but were flawlessly done by the cast. The director, the cast, and the crew earned a rousing, sustained standing ovation.

I rate Man of La Mancha a 5+ and recommend it if you are going to Stratford. If you have never been to Stratford and are an avid theatregoer, you should consider a trip. They have four theatres and shows are performed every day, but Monday. They perform a variety of plays other than Shakespeare. There are also a lot of good restaurants for dining and plenty of places to stay.

Man of La Mancha runs until October 11 at the Avon Theatre. Stratford’s Shakespeare Festival is north of London, Ontario. You can find out more by calling 1-800-567-1600 or 1-519-273-1600. Their website is stratfordfestival.ca, and they are on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

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“CHRISTINA, THE GIRL KING” OPENS STRONG AT STRATFORD

Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

            Michel Marc Bouchard’s Christina, The Girl King opened at the Studio Theatre at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, on 7/29/2014. The opening performance was very impressive.

Bouchard is a Canadian Playwright with numerous plays and awards to his name. One of his plays received the Critics Award in Venice in 2013. He also received the National Centre Award, the Betty Mitchell Award, the Prix du Journal de Montreal, and many others.

Christina, The Girl King is based on the story of a Swedish girl who ascends to the throne at the age of six in the 1600s in the midst of the religious upheaval caused by Martin Luther. She is obsessed with learning and freedom. As she grows older she finds herself at odds with her stepfather and advisors. She wants to break from the past and move her country forward.

Christina doesn’t want to be married or have any children, but the court demands an heir. Her views on peace differ from other leaders who see war as a good thing. Sweden is a Lutheran Country that has vanquished its enemies. In the end, she is forced to make a decision of serious magnitude. Her decision surprised everyone.

The set was minimal and stark, contributing to the mood and tenor of the play. The backdrop was a collection of interlocking reindeer antlers that also served as a door. Several small benches and bedding comprised the entire set. The costumes were austere reflecting Luther’s beliefs at the time.

Christina played by Jenny Young was powerful and energetic in her characterization. She did a superb job of moving in and out of the emotional forces buffeting her throughout the play. Her expressions, gestures and body language were all in sync. We were riveted on her throughout the performance.

Karl Gustave played by Ryan Wilkie also gave a strong performance. He is in love with Christina and has to deal with being constantly rebuffed by the Queen. He gives several monologues protesting, begging, and whining about her rejection of him and his love for her.

Countess Ebba Sparre played by Claire Lautier does an effective job as the lady-in-waiting who the queen is in love with. The queen showers Ebba with gifts, and she does what is expected because it is the queen.

Rene Descartes played by John Kirkpatrick is the agent of change who is feeding the queen with new ideas and interpretations. He is the opposite of Gustave and gives a strong performance.

Count Johann Oxenstierna played by Graham Abbey is the queen’s stepbrother and is funny to watch as he preens and praises himself on stage. His speech about his body and its wonderful parts brought the house down. Wayne Best played Count Axel Oxenstierna, the stepfather. He portrays this frustrated father, advisor, and bully well.

The entire cast gave a strong performance and earned a thunderous standing ovation.

I would rate Christina, The Girl King very highly and heartily recommend it if you are going to Stratford. Christina, The Girl King will be performed until October 21 at the Studio Theatre during the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. For more information or to reserve tickets call 1-800-567-1600 or 1-519-273-1600, or access them on the web at http://www.stratfordfestival.ca. The festival is also represented on Facebook.

 

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Kearsley Park Players’ “Pirates of Penzance” is a Winner!

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

A sold out Crossroads Village Opera House greeted the Kearsley Park Players Friday to view their rollicking production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Beyond the terrific performance, experiencing the play in this venue was like taking a step back to a time when both the show and the building were the grandest entertainment offered.

Director Kay Kelly has once again assembled an incredibly talented troupe. The show is glorious to hear and tons of fun to watch as a band of softhearted pirates scheme to plunder then marry a bevy of beauties they happen onto in search of an errant apprentice.

Mike Davis leads this swashbuckling group as the Pirate King. His voice is strong, even stentorian. He has a twinkling eye and sets the tone throughout the show, keeping the tempo sturdy and the comedy dynamic.

As Frederic, the apprentice accidentally let go but now pursued, Zac Wieber is hearty and stern in his adherence to his duty. His story illustrates the branding of this show as a comic opera as he sings about his duty, his curiosity about women, and his enchantment with the lovely Mabel.

Caroline Collins brings an amazing vocal talent to Mabel, the eldest daughter of the prolific Major General Stanley (Michael Kelly). Indeed, the whole flock of girls are claimed to be his daughters, which saves them from certain capture by the pirates.

Mabel and Frederic fall instantly in love, much to the chagrin of Ruth, Frederic’s long time nurse who had her eyes on him as well. As Ruth, Jessica Himstedt offers strong vocals and superb comic timing.

As for the Major General, Kelly struts and storms to save his daughters by telling the pirates a story that he knows will appeal to their gentle nature. Later he regrets his lie and unable to sleep is joined by his daughters (all of them) who, led by Edith (Natalie Rose Sevick), try to console him.

Suddenly the police arrive to subdue the pirates who have skulked in unseen. The pirates intend to subdue the police. It doesn’t look good for the gals or the cops, but an opportune intervention by the Sergeant (David Bailey) changes everything. He demands the pirates yield in Queen Victoria’s name – they do – and the day is saved.

The pirate band is incredible – they sing with great gusto and they dance that way as well. We must mention the ladies chorus too, which is vocally powerful, pretty and quite properly comical. The Opera House is small but the cast uses all of the available entrances and exits including the aisles, so mind your elbows!

Music is key; this is an operetta after all, and while we couldn’t always understand each and every word, we caught the overall drift and enjoyed the sound above all. Kudos to Nada Radakovich for her amazing musical direction, and to James Cech, pirate Samuel, for his rumbustious and exciting choreography.

Congratulations to Kearsley Park Players for taking on the challenge that is Gilbert and Sullivan. This one’s definitely a winner!

The Pirates of Penzance continues August 2 and 3 at Crossroads Village Opera House at 7:00 pm and reservations are strongly advised. August 8, 9 and 10 the show moves to Kearsley Park with performances at 7:00 pm Friday and Saturday and 3:00 pm on Sunday.   http://www.kearsleyparkplayers.com

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