FYT Presents Staged Reading Sunday, March 29

Sunday, March 29 • 6pm

Join us for this Sunday’s Off The Press staged reading of David Ives’ “Venus In Fur” at 6pm. The Village Voice said this erotic drama, “invites both carnal and cerebral excitement.”

A beleaguered playwright/director is desperate to find the female lead for his adaptation of the classic tale “Venus in Fur.” Into his empty audition room walks a vulgar and equally desperate actress. Through the audition they blur the line between play and reality, entering into a serious game of submission and domination.

Tickets are $7. and available at flintyouththeatre.org.

Sponsored by Dr. Daniel and Donna Anbe In Memory of Almeda Hunter
The Off the Press Series is sponsored by Fandangles’

Advisory: Off the Press readings are recommended for adults and older teens. These readings often include explicit language and graphic discriptions of a sexual or violent nature and could be offensive to some viewers.

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Youngsters Shine in Clio Cast and Crew’s “Pippi Longstocking”

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

In what appears to be a growing tradition, Clio Cast and Crew opened their Spring children’s show Friday night to a houseful of appreciative parents and at least one patron we met who seemed to just love kid’s shows. This year it’s Astrid Lindgren’s popular story about the very independent Pippi Longstocking, adapted to the stage and set to music by Thomas W. Olson and Roberta Carlson.

Set in Sweden, the stage design sends signals right off the bat. A small house looks normal, even quaint, except for the horse looking out the half door! Then when the sole resident, an outspoken little floppy braided redhead, appears on the roof it’s clear that things will take some unusual turns.

Pippi, it seems, showed up alone at this little house with neither a parent in sight. She proceeds to bamboozle most of the adults who try to harness her including two corny cops, Klang (Duane Dunckel) and Larsson (Johnny Rak), a couple of kooky crooks, Thunder (Mikayla Maier) and Bloom (Rochelle Dula), the prim Norwegian school teacher (Toni Henry), and the child welfare worker Mrs. Prysselius (Dana Usealman).

Constantly resisting the charge that she’s an orphan, Pippi reveals that her mother has gone to heaven, but her father Captain Longstocking (Mark Gerics) still sails the seas as a pirate and will return for her at any moment. Pippi has been on the move most of her short life, but may find staying in one spot with friends is not so bad after all.

Directors Lori Fournier and Cindy Hubbard had their hands full with a huge cast of 40 performers. While pretty evenly split between adults and children that still left a whole passel of kids to corral. And corral they did with a great little chorus performing as school children.

But the most outstanding performer in Friday’s show was Abbey Messing in the title role. This youngster’s energy seemed to know no bounds and her characterization of this wacky whirlwind was impeccable. Plus, she has a powerful voice that shone mightily Friday as she sang the very nice “Mama and Papa and I”.

We can honestly say that it is rare to see kids this age (probably 8 to 12ish) exude the kind of concentration and performance panache we saw Friday. Talent spills out all over the stage here. It’s pretty wild and often raw-edged and not totally polished, but the sheer numbers are impressive.

Still, the play is choppy. It runs well when the scenes are in gear, except for a couple slow musical starts that left actors standing and waiting. It’s the in between that drags things down. Leaving an audience in the dark during slow scene changes can dilute the overall exuberance.

Overall, this Pippi Longstocking is a nice little show with a load of talented kids on stage, and that is always great fun to see. It continues at Theatre 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd, Clio 48420 through March 29. Evening shows begin at 7:30 and Sunday matinees are at 2:00. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-687-2588 or find them online at www.cliocastandcrew.com



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Kids Carry the Day as FCP Open “Cheaper by the Dozen”

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

The kids carried the show Thursday as Flint Community Players presented the now vintage, true story of the large Gilbreth family, Cheaper by the Dozen. Dramatized by Christopher Sergel from the book by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, the script doesn’t call for all 12 children to appear, however the nine who do manage to be the collective highlight of the show.

Set in the 1920s, Cheaper by the Dozen is the recounting of the authors’ young lives with their parents and 10 siblings. Dad was a time management expert who often imposed and tested his various theories and efficiency experiments on his family. Newcomer Kevin Marsee portrays Mr. Gilbreth with a good deal of energy, a bit of intensity but also clear affection for his children. We figure out early on that Dad has a serious heart condition, one that his children are not aware of, and that is driving him to make his family self-sufficient.

Carrie Gerrild plays Mrs. Gilbreth, who was also a well-known psychologist and one of the first working female engineers at the time to hold a Ph.D. Her portrayal here however exudes calm and even mousiness as she defers to her husband’s decisions about the children. She does gain some strength in Act Three when Mr. Gilbreth’s condition becomes known to some of the children.

Director Tammy Robison has double cast the children in this production, so an alternate cast will replace the youngsters we saw Thursday tonight. We wonder how this might be affecting the overall tempo and cohesion of the show. Still, the Gilbreth children Thursday were, for the most part, cute and effective.

The play is told in flashback as the two authors, Frank Jr. and Ernestine (played Thursday by Jesse Gerrild and Alexandra Marsee) reminisce about particularly memorable moments growing up. This works to help move the audience back and forth in time as the action unfolds in vignettes. One that repeats is the whistle blown by Dad to summon his children with a stopwatch ready to time their arrival.

Eldest child Anne (played Thursday by Grace Lee) becomes the spokesperson for the children. Her determination to set some modern precedents with her strict father provides some touching and humorous moments.

Anne’s first attempted date turns comical as the buffoonish cheerleader Joe Scales (Alex Weiss) arrives complete with trick bowtie and a backfiring automobile. By the way, sound effects are handled nicely by Robison. The music was a bit overpowering a few times, but other sounds were spot on.

One notable character is the pompous and stiff lipped teacher Miss Brill (Ann Oravetz). It seems there is some suspicion surrounding this family as the children are often found to be skipping grades. Oravetz is prim and properly stunned at their accomplishments.

Jesse Glenn’s set for this show is impressive with multiple entrances and extreme attention to detail. The large cast moves fluidly around the set with no illusion of being crowded.

Somewhat dated, this story still has the power to entertain and amuse. Plus, anytime there’s a passel of cute kids on stage, it’s a good time. Cheaper by the Dozen continues at the Tom & Bea Nobles Performance Hall, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy. Flint 48507. For tickets and info call the box office at 810-235-6963 or access online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com



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Lights Finally Come Up on Flint Youth Theatre’s Postponed Production of “Bud, Not Buddy”

Reviewed by Shelly Hoffman

After a week’s delay, Flint Youth Theatre’s Bud, Not Buddy opened Friday night to a sold out and boisterous audience. Adapted by Reginald Andre Jackson from the award winning children’s story by Flint native, Christopher Paul Curtis (who was in the audience Friday night), Bud, Not Buddy tells a Depression-era tale of a young Bud (played by Masai Clayborne) who is orphaned upon the death of his mother (Deirdre S. Baker). Bud runs away from an abusive foster family in Flint and heads to Grand Rapids in search of the father he never knew.

The scant clues Bud’s mother has left him include a poster for a performance by band leader Herman E. Calloway (Anthony Ennis) and some rocks with city names and dates written upon them. Bud’s quest is fraught with peril as he gets into fights, escapes from a shed he has been locked in, tries to walk across Michigan, stays in a Hooverville, and finds himself in Owosso after dark. His journey also brings joy as he has his first kiss, is picked up by a kindly man, and is embraced by a group of musicians.

The theatre, festooned with clotheslines that include sheets which later serve as projection screens, creates a welcoming atmosphere, with an intriguing set and wonderfully appropriate pre-show music.

The set, a series of shelves, doors, and cabinets, cluttered with symbols of Bud’s life and adventure, towers upstage. It is cleverly constructed and utilized, at one point even becoming a train (complete with a working smoke stack). As attractive as it is, the set was the cause Friday night for much alarm as a cello placed high upon it crashed to the ground.

At the helm of this production, which is executed with varying degrees of success, is director Alfred Bruce Bradley, who has assembled a sizeable cast to undertake Bud’s journey. The nature of this play, which moves quickly from location to location, calls for fluidity and this was sorely lacking. Missing are FYT’s signature graceful, precise, and expedient scene changes. They are replaced by unorganized and unnecessary movement of large, clunky pieces. This is somewhat ameliorated by Jeremy Winchester’s media design where old photos are projected onto the sheets hanging from the clotheslines to give the audience a sense of both place and time. Also adding to the sense of time are Amber Marisa Cook’s gorgeous costumes. The attention to detail in these is striking.

At times, this production felt more like a variety show than a stage play. A soft shoe routine has been inserted as have some live vocals (in two instances to cover those lengthy scene changes). While the dance is well executed and Gwen Pennyman-Hemphill’s singing is enchanting, both feel out of place. Ultimately, it seems Bud is far too demanding a role to place on the shoulders of such a young and inexperienced actor and, as such, the necessary cohesion is lost.

That is not to say there aren’t many delightful moments to be found. When Bud happens upon a Hooverville he meets Deza from whom he gets his first kiss. She is charmingly portrayed by Keziah Brown who not only dazzles Bud, but also the audience. David A. Guster twice plays Bud’s tormentor and each time he is equally up to the task. Bud is rescued on his journey by Lefty, who drives him from Owosso to Grand Rapids, but not before they are stopped by a cop. This scene is one of the most entertaining. As Lefty, Phil Darius Wallace is authentic and captivating. Finally, once in Grand Rapids, Bud is made an honorary member of a band. The men who comprise it (LaTroy Childress, Colin Edwards, Mark Gmazel, and Marwan Prince) bring significant energy and chemistry to the stage.

While good in spots, Bud, Not Buddy, though much like its title character, travels a rocky road.

Bud, Not Buddy continues at Flint Youth Theatre’s Elgood Theatre in Flint’s Cultural Center Saturday, March 7th at 7:30 pm, March 8th at 2:30 pm, March 13th at 7:30 pm, March 14th at both 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, and March 15th at 2:30 pm. A conversation with the creative team will follow the March 14th matinee.

Advance tickets are $12 for children, $14 for teens, senior citizens, and military veterans, and $16 for adults. They are available by calling 810-237-1530 or online at FlintYouthTheatre.org. Day-of-performance tickets are an additional $2 above each listed ticketing category.





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Fenton Village Players’ “Run For Your Wife” Is Non-Stop Laughter

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

It was a frosty night Thursday but non-stop laughter quickly warmed the brave souls who came out to see Fenton Village Players’ hilarious opening performance of Ray Cooney’s Run For Your Wife. The chuckles began even before the play started as the usual housekeeping voice-over delivered a comical soliloquy of “important” audience information.

This hysterical British farce tells the story of a London taxi driver who has managed to get himself married to two women, with whom he maintains two separate households, and his madcap efforts to keep the whole situation from imploding.

Daniel Ragan doesn’t look like a ragingly deceptive Lothario; he comes across as a regular sort of fellow caught up in a very personal love triangle. That is until one night he is attacked by a bag lady trying to escape some muggers and is sent to a hospital with a head injury.

The two wives, Mary and Barbara, are played very well by Victoria Stratton and Taleena Williams. Their opening pantomime finds them both on stage and pacing as they worry about their missing husband. Stratton comes across as the nurturing and steady wife that is until she swallows some pills to calm her nerves and begins to behave, shall we say, out of character.

Barbara is the less nurturing, more seductive of the two in her silky lounging outfit and come hither expressions. Happy to have her hubby back, she is surprised at his nervous and erratic behavior (he locks her in the bedroom), and begins to lose her patience with his silliness.

Two strait-laced detectives played by Rick Spangler and Ken Witzgall give it their all to try and figure out how two taxi drivers named John Smith could have been mugged by a bag lady on the same night! As these two Columbo types each become separately involved with one of the “families” the plot thickens snagging Ragan’s character in the middle.

To the rescue, or so he thinks, comes Mary’s lumbering neighbor Stanley Gardner (Stevie Visser). If Ragan is the straight man here, Visser is the comedian. The role seems to fit him like a glove as her manages to dig Smith’s hole deeper than ever by coming up with one comically improbable explanation after another. Still, Ragan nearly stole the show as he ate half a page of newspaper on stage! Not really sure how he did that!

Attempting to explain the second domicile, Ragan’s Smith “admits” that he and Stanley are in love and needed a hideaway – an “admission” that had Visser’s Gardner completely undone! By this time, the audience is also nearly undone with laughter!

Alex Willet adds yet another new dimension as Barbara’s gay upstairs neighbor, Bobby. The total opposite of Stanley, Willet’s Bobby prances and preens hysterically all while trying to resolve a spilled paint problem overhead.

Director Steven Shelton deserves credit for this well-paced show. Comedy needs to move and this one never lags. It is filled with well-executed double entendre and hysterical pratfalls all while being one of the best comedies we’ve seen this season.

Take the trip to Fenton and enjoy!

Run For Your Wife continues at Fenton Village Players, 14197 Torrey Road, Fenton, through March 15. For ticket information contact FVP at 810-750-7700 or online at http://www.fentonvillageplayers.org-


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FLINT YOUTH THEATRE’S ‘Bud, Not Buddy’ Opens Friday

The story of Flint native Bud Caldwell will be brought to life at the Flint Youth Theatre (FYT) stage when Bud, Not Buddy opens March 6 and runs through March 15, 2014. The play is based on the book written by Flint-born author Christopher Paul Curtis, and will be directed by Alfred Bruce Bradley.

“Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things to Have a Funner Life Number 83…If an Adult Tells You Not to Worry, and You Weren’t Worried Before, You Better Hurry Up and Start ‘Cause You’re Already Running Late.”

It is 1936, and ten-year-old Bud Caldwell has been in and out of foster homes since his mother died four years ago. With nothing but a bag full of rocks and a heart full of hope, he sets out on a journey to find his true home.

“We are so proud to produce Christopher Paul Curtis’s Newbury Medal winning story for our audience, and Mr. Curtis himself will be joining us for the March 6 performance. This moving Depression-era story about an orphan in Flint is a modern classic and our exceptional cast is directed by local legend Alfred Bruce Bradley.” says Jeremy Winchester, Executive Artistic Director for Flint Youth Theatre.


Friday, March 6 at 7:30pm*
Saturday, March 7 at 7:30pm
Sunday, March 8 at 2:30pm
Friday, March 13 at 7:30pm
Saturday, March 14 at 2:30pm*
Saturday, March 14 at 7:30pm
Sunday, March 15 at 2:30pm
*A conversation with the creative team will follow these performances.

Advance tickets for Bud, Not Buddy, which is best suited for ages 8 and up, are $12 for children, $14 for teens, senior citizens and military veterans, and $16 for adults. Tickets are available at Flint Youth Theatre by calling 810-237-1530 or online at FlintYouthTheatre.org. Day-of-performance tickets are $14 for children, $16 for teens, senior citizens and veterans, and $18 for adults.

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FLINT YOUTH THEATRE’S ‘Bud, Not Buddy’ Postpones Opening

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the opening public performance of Flint Youth Theatre’s
Bud, Not Buddy has been rescheduled for
Friday, March 6.
If you have purchased a ticket for February 27, 28 or March 1st, please contact FYT at 810-237-1530 to exchange your ticket. Thank you.


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