FYT’s “A Wrinkle in Time” is Magical

GeYv6HppJCGzzJc7QJlIOg0gVFWzsRY3peAuK2EnwdwWcq6bQ7Z3c_kbesmKsuqKZf9R9jyCZzur3y3eBAsv-FL9H98zo0Sp6CMHznDzXqhvt-kb0FqD0hiwWXlC58RHHQM5-q-NZfDe2J6uTKevfg=s0-d-e1-ftReviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Flint Youth Theatre opened a magical, exciting and even a bit scary production Saturday evening of the Madeleine L’Engle classic tale as adapted by Tracy Young, A Wrinkle in Time. Staged in the cozy Elgood Theatre, the audience was brought in close to this story of cosmic travel, ominous black clouds, and bravely intelligent children to the rescue.

Briefly, A Wrinkle in Time is the story of a young girl who, along with her younger brother and her friend, is transported on an adventure through time and space to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet.

We knew we were in for a “sky” story the minute we entered the theatre. The entire multi-level set is painted a sort of sky blue and lit by stars. It is a striking first impression. Indeed, lights and sound play a huge role in the passage of time and place effects. The rain is especially effective.

We love it when kids are cast as kids and FYT is terrific at this. Leading the action here is Paige Benner as the smart but awkward, unpopular and defensive middle-schooler, Meg Murry. She will nevertheless step up to hero status before the play is done.

Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace Murry is played amazingly by young Haedyn Scott. He brings this slightly odd but highly intelligent, probably autistic, child to life quite nicely. His devotion to his sister (he reads her mind) and the family will find him tested mightily as well. We did wish he would speak louder though, as much of what he had to say was swallowed up by some sound effects and a lack of vocal projection.

Rounding out the trio of time travelling kids is Calvin O’Keefe, a boy from a very large family with an overburdened mother. He is looking for someplace more joyful than his own home. Syd Brown plays this character with a nice mix of hesitancy and confidence as they set out to traverse time and space together.

They don’t do it on their own of course. Charles Wallace introduces them to three immortal characters living in a haunted house in the woods. Mrs. Whatsit (Amy Dolan-Malaney) is a sweet woman dressed in layers of multicolored fabrics. She is kind to the children and even flies them on her back in a most amazing and technically splendid scene.

Brittany Reed is Mrs. Who, a bespectacled woman fluent in dozens of languages and given to communicating in quotes. Mrs. Whatsit explains that Mrs. Who is not so comfortable using her own words.  But her glasses nearly save the day!

Rounding out this trio of spirits is Mrs. Which played by Kristina Riegle who also plays Meg’s mother. Mrs. Which is perhaps the most ethereal of the three with her witch hat and glowing orb.

These three spirits invoke the tesseract, a way of folding time and allowing them to travel quickly through space and the cosmos. This visual effect is quite amazing and the players react to it perfectly as they seek to rescue Meg’s father from imprisonment on Camazotz.

Others worthy of mention include Bret Beaudry as Meg’s imprisoned dad, Dekotah James Myers for his terrific enactment of Fortinbras, the dog, Sarah Jarrett as the loveable Aunt Beast, and those two adorable twins, Lucas and William Eldredge.

We won’t spoil the outcome for you but we will say that this production’s technical team is to be commended. Lights, sound, and visual effects literally change the set from one planet and one place to another.

Kudos must also go to director Michael Lluberes. The staging features a lot of movement as it cleverly provides a constant reminder that we are reading a book as the story unfolds before us.

A Wrinkle in Time runs just over 90 minutes and continues at Flint Youth Theatre’s Elgood Theatre through October 22. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-237-7333 or online at theFYT.org

 

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Clio Cast & Crew Presents “Poe’s Midnight Dreary”

poes-w280h205Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Clio Cast & Crew opened their 2017-2018 season Friday with Poe’s Midnight Dreary, a show surely chosen for its supposedly spooky overtones. Written by Richard McElvain, the play consists of vignettes from the works of Edgar Allen Poe and even features the poet as narrator.

Christopher Dinnan plays the role of Poe who is ostensibly dying in a Baltimore hospital. He repeatedly arises to live out his musings about various works he has written – living each of them as if for the first time. Dinnan is effective in this role. His facial expressions are impressive even when he is only observing.

If you are a Poe aficionado, you will recognize the scenes that reflect the “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Black Cat”, and “The Raven”. (Speaking of that crow, the ending has a potentially terrific representation of the raven at Poe’s death played in an amazing costume by Brett Beach.) Other works featured include “Annabel Lee”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and “The Premature Burial” with an aside nod to “The Cask of Amontillado”.

Although a young cast, a few merit mention. Cassidy Couturier was interesting in the role of Bertram. Short of stature, she still managed to exude the evil nature of the character’s intent.

Kaity Honnen played a variety of feminine roles well but with little delineation between the characters. Preston Sannicolas managed to be the bad guy most of the time with his portrayals of the Banker and Roderick. Also, Rochelle Dula was intriguing as the Cat with her feline gyrations, yowls and hisses.

This script seems to aim at a youthful audience, so the casting of many youngsters was appropriate. Director Shane Wachowicz may have needed to rehearse them a bit more to achieve the desired impact. Many of them made up the chorus of monks and other shrouded figures. They were often called upon to speak in unison in response to Poe and to echo things said. This technique can be very impressive done correctly. Instead, this aspect seemed under rehearsed so that their sound and diction was ragged.

Wachowicz employed a two-story set often used at Clio that affords multiple exits and entrances. He used them to advantage throughout the show. Poe’s deathbed is rolled in when he needs to make comments from there and is then rolled out again. (We wonder if a stationary hospital setting that Poe could go to and from might have been more subtle and less distracting.)

Overall, the spookiness factor fell victim to bright lights and a certain lack of definition between vignettes. This isn’t your usual plotted play that begins, transpires, and then ends. Instead it transitions between stories, often assuming the audience’s familiarity with Poe’s work, which, if present, would enhance the scare quality.

We applaud CCC for their willingness to take on a show like this – it is certainly an appropriate one for October with its potentially scary characters, murder and mayhem!

 Poe’s Midnight Dreary continues at Clio Cast & Crew’s Theatre 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd, Clio on October 7, 13, 14 at 7:30 pm and October 8 & 15 at 2:30 pm. For tickets and more information contact the box office at 810-687-2588 or online at www.cliocastandcrew.com

 

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Flint Youth Theatre presents Madeleine L’Engle’s “A WRINKLE IN TIME”

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Michigan’s professional theatre for young audiences, Flint Youth Theatre (FYT) presents A Wrinkle in Time, adapted for stage by Tracy Young, based on the book by Madeleine L’Engle. Performances for this thrilling new adaptation begin Saturday, October 7, 2017 and run through Sunday, October 22, 2017. Tickets are now on sale.

After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend on a journey through time and space in order to find him. FYT presents a new version of this mind-expanding science fiction story that’s still a favorite with the young and young at heart.

A Wrinkle in Time is directed by FYT’s new Producing Artistic Director Michael Lluberes (The Boy in the Bathroom, Peter Pan: The Boy Who Hated Mothers). The cast includes Bret Beaudry (The Adventures of Robin Hood), Paige Benner, Syd Brown, Lucas Eldredge, William Eldredge, Sarah Jarrett, Amy Dolan-Malaney (Mary Poppins), Dakotah James Myers, Brittany Reed, Kristina Riegle and Haedyn Scott. The production team includes Scenic Design by Lisa Borton (Tipping Point Theatre’s Boeing Boeing), Costume Design by Katherine Nelson (Pinocchio), Lighting Design by Doug Mueller (The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963), Sound Design by Gene Oliver (The Adventures of Robin Hood) and Projection Design by Alison Dobbins (Mitch Albom’s Ernie & Hockey The Musical). The Stage Manager is Nicole Broughton (The Adventures of Robin Hood).

Performance dates for A Wrinkle in Time are Saturday, October 7, 7 p.m.; Sunday, October 8, 2 p.m.; Friday, October 13, 7p.m.; Saturday, October 14, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

(College Night); Sunday, October 15, 2 p.m., (ASL interpreted); Friday, October 20, 7 p.m.; Saturday, October 21, 2p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, October 22, 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and teens, children (12 & under) are $14 and $10 for college students. Tickets can be purchased by calling (810) 237-7333 or online at http://www.TheFYT.org. This show is recommended for ages eight and older.

A Wrinkle in Time is sponsored by Tom Glasscock and Helen Bas, William Hentgen, Ron and Cathy Prevett, Dr. Frederick and Gloria VanDuyne and Sheila Zorn.

Flint Youth Theatre is located at 1220 E. Kearsley St., Flint, MI 48503. Since 1957, Flint Youth Theatre’s nationally acclaimed, award-winning intergenerational programming has provided Flint area residents with opportunities to experience the unique joys of discovery and self-expression through the performing arts. A program of the Flint Institute of Music, FYT is the resident theatre company at the Flint Cultural Center. A nonprofit organization, FYT receives support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about Flint Youth Theatre please visit http://www.TheFYT.org.

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“A LITTLE MURDER NEVER HURT ANYBODY” HAS RAUCUS OPENING AT FENTON VILLAGE PLAYERS

Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

A-Little-Murder-Tickets-300x300            A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody by Ron Bernas opened energetically Thursday evening at the Fenton Village Players. It’s a comedy about a couple who make some pretty extreme New Year’s Resolutions. For example, the husband’s resolution is that he is going to kill his wife before the year is out!

The plot becomes complicated when their daughter announces she is getting married. As the husband plots against his wife, the butler is embezzling from the couple, and the future son-in-law is sure his future mother-in-law is trying to kill her husband. A very skewered plot to say the least.

Director Sam Di Vita has assembled a strong cast and crew, all perfectly suited to causing mayhem and confusion on stage. In this play a lot of people are allegedly murdered, but the wife lives through all of her husband’s attempts. The first to be murdered was FiFi, the family dog. She ate something meant for someone else.

For an opening night, this performance was well done. There might have been a line or two bungled, but they were hardly noticed. The flow and timing of the play was good. The entire cast has considerable stage experience.

Matt Bach played Matthew Perry the nervous, frustrated husband. Bach performs this part perfectly. His expressions, reactions and body movement all present a complete character. He is a gem to watch throughout the performance. The cement block above the door was a nice touch.

Geno Essenmacher became Buttram the Butler. Geno put on a clinic in this role. He handled all the other characters with ease and added to the confusion and mayhem on stage. Still, he is a schemer with an agenda no one else knows about. His embrace scenes with Matthew’s wife were wildly funny.

Mary Powers played Julia Perry, the rather confident, cynical wife of Matthew. She is well matched with Essenmacher and Bach, and, like them, she also owns the stage. Powers’ Julia foiled her husband’s efforts with ease, and handled all of the confusion smoothly.

Zachary Bach is cast as Donald Baxter, the fiancé of the Perry’s daughter. Zachary gave a strong performance. When he was dressed as Prince Valiant, he was great fun to watch.

Grace Lee played Bunny, the Perry’s quirky daughter. She played this ditzy part extremely well. Her wedding plans were monumental as were her mood swings.

Ron Barrett played Detective Plotnik, a rather overbearing policeman. In the first act Barrett was a bit difficult to understand because of the Brooklynese lingo, but his overall performance was strong. He fit right in with all of these other zany characters.

The technical side of the play was well done. The set was rather simple yet elegant, and the music helped set the tone of the play..

I highly recommend A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody for all audiences. Be prepared to laugh a great deal. No, I am not going to reveal the ending, but the play did remind me a bit of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody is playing at the Fenton Village Player’s Playhouse and runs Sept 28-October 1, October 6-8, 2017. The Playhouse is located at 14197 Torrey Rd, Fenton, MI 48430. To reserve tickets call 810-750-7700. You can also find them on the Internet at www.FentonTheatre.org.

 

 

 

 

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“Voices from Heaven” Coming to New McCree Theatre

photo_of_caravans_category{The New McCree Theatre, G-2040 W. Carpenter Road, is presenting the original gospel musical, Voices from Heaven: the Story of the Caravans, opening October 19 through October 28, with performances on Thursday and Friday at 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Advance admission is $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for seniors, and $5.00 for students.  At the door prices are $20.00 for adults, $15.00 for seniors, and $7.00 for students.  Every Thursday is 2 for 1 night, all tickets are $10.00.  Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more.  Call (810) 787-2200 for ticket information.]

The Caravans evolved out of the jubilee group Robert Anderson and the Gospel Caravans and emerged as the Caravans when Anderson abruptly left the group in 1952.  From that point on, the Caravans were unparalleled in recording hit after hit, but also in terms of the solo talent that moved in and out of the Caravans revolving door.  A number of notable gospel greats received their indoctrination into the field through the Caravans, including Albertina Walker, James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Inez Andrews, Dorothy Norwood, Bessie Griffin, Delores Washington, and many others. The Caravans and its progeny virtually dominated the gospel genre for over 50 years.  By the turn of the millennium, the Caravans and offsprings had amassed hundreds of Grammy and Dove Awards.

Tickets may also be purchased on the theatre’s website at www.thenewmccreetheatre.com .  Contact Charles H. Winfrey for additional information.

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Flint Community Players Opens Strong With “Urinetown”

imagesReviewed by Kathleen Kirby

To launch their 89th season, Flint Community Players exploded onto the stage Thursday with a terrific production of the oddly relative Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’ Tony Award-winning show Urinetown the Musical. Quirky, darkly comic with a host of musical numbers that spoof some well-known shows, this is one to definitely see this fall!

As director Shelby L. Coleman says in the program, this is “a musical about toilets. Bathrooms. Urine.” But she also points out “this piece is so much more than ‘just another musical’”. Really, folks, it will have you laughing, swaying, tapping your toes, and even considering weighty issues like the danger of inordinate power and the threat of revolution it can bring.

Set in a futuristic setting where water has become so scarce that it must be regulated and controlled, the populace now has to pay dearly for a place to pee. Infractions cause arrest and the exile of the culprit to Urinetown, a place from which no one returns.

An extremely talented and vocally adept cast augments this storyline. Songs that parody the likes of West Side Story, The Threepenny Opera, and Les Miserables are delivered with gusto and talent that rivals anything you’ll see professionally. Among the strongest voices were Steve Morgan as Officer Lockstock, Kim Heath Streby as Penelope Pennywise, Britton Paige as Bobby Strong and Annadelle Kimber as Hope Cladwell.

Morgan’s “Cop Song” duet with Kyle Clark as Officer Barrell lit up the first act and paved the way for a stirring Les Miserable– style anthem as the people decide to revolt. Unfortunately, Thursday night’s first act found the onstage orchestra far louder than the singers therefore rendering most of the lyrics unintelligible. That problem was happily overcome in Act 2 with an increased volume for the actors’ body microphones.

Act II highlights included Paige and the chorus with the revival-style “Run, Freedom, Run” and Kimber and the chorus belting the bluesy “I See A River” to restore faith in the survival of good over greed… well, for a little while anyway.

We should mention Kristen Carter for her strong vocals and endearing portrayal of Little Sally. The sad news fell to her near the end with “Tell Her I Love Her”, but her constant interaction with Morgan is fun to watch.

The onstage orchestra directed by Desmond Sheppard on keyboards and including Will Mintline on percussion, Aaron Weeks on reeds and Keith Fleetwood on bass is musically very competent. Still, they did have a hard time scaling back their sound when so close to the singers.

Choreography by Lucas Moquin was outstanding in this show! Some of the best we’ve seen in a long time. The set by Rick Doll and Coleman was versatile and perfectly designed to effuse the dark and sultry existence most had to endure. A subtle nod to Flint can be seen in the portion of an untitled but clearly Vehicle City arch that sits atop the second story crosswalk.

Overall, even though the plot is bizarre and the themes often crude, there was an amazing energy that blasted across the footlights Thursday to engulf the audience as we mentally joined the Urinetown rabble in their cause. Go see it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Urinetown continues at the Flint Community Players’ Tom & Bea Nobles Performance Hall, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy. Flint, MI 48507 through September 24. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-441-9302 or online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com

 

 

 

 

 

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“THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD” OWNS THE STAGE AT FLINT YOUTH THEATRE

Reviewed by Joseph Michael MishlerPvW1AjEqiZtJh2yqair6KkVSH12aTCoQkYykZA-xldyCo8tW2U8ConnXFT-fDDO4AJAFmgxgHZwh-zRwMgTcPd_P7Uy9ZsUHYMDLgIFNJAecfPQNCEdJKrbdCwhcFVvRwQS_bREivp6K0yVAEqRNJA=s0-d-e1-ft

It was in grand style that The Adventures of Robin Hood opened at Flint Youth Theatre on 8/11/2017.

The story of Robin Hood is an age-old tale that never really tires audiences, however this show is different in the sense that there were only two actors who played most of the characters in the story. And they played on a stage that was stripped bare except for equipment along the sidewalls and shelves containing a large number of plastic tubs across the back wall.

The playwright, Oliver Emanuel, has written and worked in a number of countries. One of his plays won Best Show for Children and Young people at the UK Theatre. The Adventures of Robin Hood is for all ages.

Early Rock n’ Roll music played during the pre-show. The play started when Brandon A. Wright entered as a custodian mopping the stage floor. He would eventually play Robin Hood. Bret Beaudry entered in the back a moment later. He was also a custodian. The play started with both doing a shadow show introducing Robin Hood. It was a great beginning.

Both actors remained dressed as custodians throughout the show. Even though they used custodial equipment for weapons, costumes, and other props, they were always convincing! The action was non-stop throughout the play. Transitions from one character to another and from scene to scene were flawless, and the timing was superb.

Director Michael Lluberes selected two strong actors for this production. They were an excellent team. The action was so well choreographed that the chaos and mayhem looked quite natural. Using ladders, plastic tubs, buckets of water, and custodial equipment, they created these scenes with ease.

Bret Beaudry moved in and out of his characters seamlessly. He played both the Sheriff and Maid Marion very convincingly. One of the best scenes came early in the play when he was portraying Little John. He and Robin Hood were fighting in the river and Little John nearly drowned. All of this was done using a green bucket with water in it; a very well played scene.

Brandon A. Wright played Robin Hood and the wolf. There were so many great scenes, but one that stood out was when the Sheriff pulled the tail out of the wolf. One almost felt sorry for the wolf. Brandon reacted effortlessly to all of the character changes.

The rescue of Robin Hood at the end of the play was splendid. They completely trashed the set as a sword fight ensued amidst thousands of gold pieces. Gold pieces flew in every direction as Robin and the Sheriff dueled. When all was said and done and Robin was saved, the two actors returned to their custodial duties.

This is an energetic, funny play that will keep audiences interested from the start to finish. I enthusiastically recommend this play for all audiences. There is no intermission.

The Adventures of Robin Hood runs from August 11-20, 2017 at Bower Theatre. The theatre is located 1220 East Kearsley St., Flint MI 48503. For tickets or information call 810-257-1530.

 

 

 

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