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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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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FYT To Present “The Adventures of Robin Hood”


2 Guys…. too Many Characters

A two-man tour de force
directed by Flint Youth Theatre’s
new Artistic Director,

Michael Lluberes!

Starring Brandon A. Wright and Bret Beaudry

Don’t miss this hilarious, 

swashbuckling adventure told like

never before!


       AFTERNOONS – 2PM                                                 EVENINGS  – 7PM

      Saturday, August 12                                                     Friday, August 11
      Sunday, August 13                                                        Saturday, August 12
      Friday, August 18                                                         Thursday, August 17
      Saturday, August 19                                                     Friday, August 18
      Sunday, August 20                                                        Saturday, August 19                             

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FCP Presents a Devilish Comedy – “Hand to God”

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirbyhandtogod_orig

First a warning – do NOT take your children to Flint Community Players’ production of Hand to God! Appropriately part of FCP’s Ghost Light Series (a set of mature audience only plays), the spirits that arise in this show are definitely not kiddie fare. However, Friday night’s adult audience was gasping and guffawing simultaneously at Robert Askins’ amazing look into the psychological effects of abandonment and grief, and the lengths to which people can go to in search of calm.

Set in a small church basement, a recently widowed woman and her son have taken on the task of crafting a church puppet show. Margery (Taylor Boes) is at loose ends since the death of her husband and unsure how she and her son will make ends meet. This small job is therefore hugely important. Unexpectedly, her son Jason (Britton Paige) seems oddly influenced by the sock puppet he has made and calls Tyrone.

The grief these two have not come to grips with sets the tone and directs the action as Jason’s puppet evolves from a simple sock to something more sinister and perverse. Paige plays the introverted Jason as a soft-spoken and shy young man anxious to please – that is until the evolution of Tyrone, the sock that inhabits his right hand and arm. His overall performance is amazing as he alternates between a trembling boy and a power-crazed tyrant.

Paige plays these two roles with such dexterity it’s actually scary at times! He voices both entities all while manipulating what turns out to be a bloodthirsty and demonic right hand. He accomplishes this to the point that we hear two voices and perceive two personalities even though both are Paige.

As for Boes, her crafting efforts with Jason and two other young people fall short, to say the least. She exudes a constant sense of stress and tension. Being accused of causing her husband’s death because she cooked him too much doesn’t help. She, too, will go around the bend before the night is over.

Timmy (Seth Hart) is only killing time while his mother goes to rehab; he hasn’t made a puppet. Jessica (Dominique Hinde) lives next door to Jason and he has a crush on her. She brings her puppet named Jolene. However, after Timmy continues to interrupt the workshop, Margery sends Jason and Jessica outside so she can counsel Timmy. Whoa! Bad move on her part as Timmy is pretty needy himself and not saddled with much conscience.

One more character could be the mediator, but has some issues of his own. Pastor Greg (Bary Lehr) is often at a loss to understand the underlying rumbles of pain and abandonment these folks are feeling. He has his own loneliness issues. Lehr’s character is friendly and helpful at first but begins to fray as the show progresses.

Still, the center of this drama is Paige with his violently creepy yet hilarious outbursts as Tyrone juxtaposed perfectly with his angst and horror at what his “arm” is doing. Talk about ego versus id colliding! This is a clinic on that psychology.

Hearty congratulations must go to Sarah E. Jarrett who directed this tightly wound show. Sets are changed smoothly and with only a moment’s pause while blue and red lighting leads the audience seamlessly from scene to scene.

Hand to God is performed in a single act with no intermission, but it packs a darkly comic wallop that will linger for some time to come. It continues today at 2:30 & 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30pm so hurry over to FCP, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy. Flint MI 48507. More info at the box office – 810.441.9302 or online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com


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FCP Ghost Light Series Playing Only This Weekend

One weekend only

Flint Community Players’ Ghost Light Series is bringing bawdy humor to the stage. Directed by Sarah E. Jarrett and written by Robert Askins, HAND TO GOD is a tongue-in-cheek look at modern religion and teenage rebellion. This adults-only comedy runs one weekend only, July 21-23, with two matinees, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm.

Mild-mannered Jason unhappily has to participate in a Jesus-themed puppet show at his
church. However, he soon discovers that his puppet, Tyrone, has a mind of its own. Foul-
mouthed and possessed by the devil, Tyrone torments Jason and the other puppeteers as he leads them to sin.

“HAND TO GOD is so ridiculously raunchy, irreverent and funny it’s bound to leave you
sore from laughing. Ah, hurts so good.”
—New York Daily News.

All Ghost Light Series shows are intended for mature audiences. Due to violence, gore, and sexual situations, this is definitely not the kind of puppet show where you’d bring your kids.

Tickets are $10
(810) 441-9302

Friday, July 21 @ 7:30pm
Saturday, July 22 @ 2:30pm
Saturday, July 22 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, July 23 @ 2:30pm

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Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

            Out of the Frying Pan by Francis Swann frying panopened strong at Clio Cast and Crew. The audience laughed almost non-stop throughout the play.

Set in the 1940s, Out of the Frying Pan takes place in an apartment where six out of work actors live. They are broke and are trying to get the attention of the producer who lives below them. Whenever they start rehearsing the play, which is currently in production, things never seem to work out. If it weren’t for bad luck, they would have no luck. But they don’t give up.

Three men and three women portray the actors. One couple is secretly married. Throughout the play the lead actor constantly throws Stanislavki’s name around and some of his acting theories. I am sure Stanislavski might have been impressed by his name constantly being invoked. One of the young girls’ fathers shows up, and he is unhappy. The producer shows up. The landlady makes a number of very funny appearances.

If there was ever a play that allowed actors to go over the top, Out of the Frying Pan fits the bill. Director Andrea Wilkerson did a fine job of casting.

The play flowed well, and the cast had the timing down. There were a few minor blocking issues, but they didn’t really detract. It might have been better to play the peephole in the floor downstage since the upstage position put actors in an awkward situation.

Steve Visser played Norman, the guy who seemed to be in charge and the one who was quite intimate with Stanislavski. Visser was in his element and handled the changing confusion with ease. He was fun to watch.

Steve Yerian played George Bodell, who was the opposite of Norman and didn’t really care about Stanislavski. Dennis Wayne Spence played Tony Denison, another actor who is secretly married. He was difficult to understand at times.

Rochelle Dula played Marge Benson who is secretly married to Tony. She was also fun to watch with all of her over played dramatics. She had a unique voice that was hard to miss.

Becky Coggins played Kate Ault who was very talented in mixing up Micky Finns. She also gave a good performance.

Cassidy Couturier played Dottie Colburn, a very petite actress with boundless energy. She played the clueless part very well. Her costumes always seemed a bit too big which only added to the character.

Others who also stood out were Sandy Turner playing Mrs. Garnet, the landlady. She momentarily stole the show when she broke into an Irish ballad. William Kircher played Mr. Kenny, the producer and a wannabe chef. He played the part well.

Finally, Wendy Davis, Christopher Dinnan, Shane Wachowicz, and Colin Edwards also  contributed to the chaos and mayhem on stage.

While the set was a bit crowded, it did look like a well-used apartment. The theatre announcer even got into the act. He gave the audience a quiz about the 1940s during one of the intermissions—The winner had to clean the theatre after the show.

I do question why they allow audience members to send messages to the actors during intermission. That seems a bit risky because of the potential for negativism.

If you are looking for an evening of good laughter, I heartily recommend Out of the Frying Pan.

Performances run through June 23rd at Clio Cast and Crew’s Theatre 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd., Clio, MI 48420. For more info contact the box office at 810-687-2588 or online at www.cliocastandcrew.com

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FVP’s “Thoroughly Modern Millie” Beyond Impressive

1280x450-Thoroughly-Modern-Millie-ShowGraphic-FVPReviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Every once in a while a show comes along that we hope we can extoll to lengths that will do it justice. Such a show opened Thursday as Fenton Village Players launched their amazing production of the musical 20s romp, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Director Mary Collins has taken advantage of summer break with a slew of collegiate musical theatre majors and degreed graduates in leading roles, most of them in their very first role at FVP. The overall effect is beyond impressive.

To begin with, Millie Dillmount, a Kansas farm girl, arrives fresh off the bus in New York and is bowled over by the place. Sophia Rizzo’s strong voice and terrific characterization commanded the stage immediately with her “Not for the Life of Me”. Rizzo was still center stage as the strength of the entire cast exploded forth with “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, an energetic and well-choreographed audience favorite.

The story moves from the street to a young women’s hotel run by a supposed Asian lady named Mrs. Meers (Willow Collins). There is subterfuge afoot here but the gals seem oblivious as she lures them to a fate unknown. In her first FVP performance, Willow does a great job moving through dialects and attitudes.

Meanwhile back on the husband trail, Millie was met that first day by Jimmy Smith (Gage Webster) when a pickpocket took her purse, her hat and her shoe(?). Webster does an impeccable job with “What Do I Need with Love”, impressing the house with his vocal strength.

Back at the “hotel”, Miss Dorothy is a newcomer seeking a place to stay. Madison Merlanti sports a head of blond corkscrew curls and purports to be an orphan. Maybe so, but her vocal range is epic, and her duet with Rizzo on “How the Other Half Lives” is adorable.

When Millie applies for a job at Sincere Insurance, the whole office scene is worth the price of admission. From the toe tapping that stands for typing to the amazing stenography test delivered by boss Trevor Graydon (Aleksander Papanastasopoulos), this is a clever, funny and wildly well-done number.

Since Millie is still on a husband hunt, Jimmy takes her to a reception given by the famous Muzzy Von Hossmere (Rolecia Looney). Looney’s “Only in New York” showcases her strong, slightly husky but powerful vocal talent. She will be the salvation of many, and it will be comical.

With all of this talent, we almost forgot the two “Chinese” helpers working with Mrs. Meers to try to earn their mother’s passage to New York from China. Ching Ho (Brandon Kastell) and Bun Foo (Dante Justice) are a hoot most of the time! We cannot vouch for the accuracy of their Chinese, but we loved the captioning projected center stage during both their songs and dialogue.

If we were looking for weaknesses in this production, we missed them. Every aspect added strength to this highly entertaining production. First, we were thrilled to hear live musicians directed by Frank Pitts. The vocals were strong and well timed and the body-mikes worked to perfection allowing every lyric to be clear even with the live music.

Choreography was intricate (we loved all the tap!) and performed with precision. Costumes were glorious staying true to the 1920s flapper era with gals in fringe and also tailored work jumpers. Wigs providing vintage hairstyles from bobbed to curls were terrific also.

The set design folks deserve a medal for the beautiful rendition of New York as well as the perfect small adjustments that took us from place to place. Set changes moved with professional speed and ease.

Overall, Fenton Village Players is to be commended for the highly professional presentation that is this Thoroughly Modern Millie. It is one of the most talent-filled and balanced shows we’ve seen in a long while. We urge you to head out to Fenton – you won’t regret it!

Thoroughly Modern Millie continues at Fenton Village Playhouse, 14197 Torrey Road, Fenton, MI, on July 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, & 29 at 7:00 pm and July 16, 23 & 30 at 2:00 pm. For tickets and more information contact the box office at 810-750-7700 or online at www.FentonTheatre.org

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