FCP to Present “The Santaland Diaries” One Weekend Only

The Flint Community Players is proud to present The Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris’s antidote to schmaltzy Christmas cheer. Joe Mantello’s stage adaption is based on Sedaris’s essay about his real-life experience working as a Macy’s Christmas elf. As the holiday season wears on, the humiliation and cynicism build. This one-man show runs December 11-13 and is intended for mature audiences.

The Santaland Diaries is presented as part of FCP’s alternative series. Shows in the alternative series are intended to broaden the offerings of Flint Community Players by presenting plays that may not fit in the main season.

This special event will run one weekend only. It is intended for mature audiences due to some strong language. Tickets are $7 and are available online at http://www.flintcommunityplayers.com/box-office.html, over the phone at 810-441-9302, and at the door.

Friday, December 11 at 7:30pm; Saturday, December 12 at 7:30pm; and Sunday, December 13 at 2:30pm

Flint Community Players

2462 S. Ballenger Hwy.

Flint, MI 48507

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Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened strong at Flint Community Players Thursday. This show will definitely warm up the cold evenings for you.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, book by Jeffery Lane, music and lyrics by David Yazbek, is about several cons trying to con each other. It is hard to tell who the “good” folks are in this musical. Lawrence and Freddy are the two main con people. They are bold, grand schemers. They live for the excitement and danger of the game, and they play to win. Only in this play the schemes don’t quite go the way they are supposed to and in the end there is an even grander scheme being played. All of this mayhem leads to a great deal of rousing laughter.

Sorry, if you want to know how it ends, you have to see the musical.

I was impressed by several points. Director Jonathan Smith cast a great group of actors. The ensemble was extremely well played and it was great fun to watch them. The dancing and singing were well done. The cast truly defined ensemble. The play moved smoothly throughout. The backstage crew is to be complemented for a wonderful job; we hardly noticed they were there. The cast seemed to have loads of chemistry, which is always a good thing.

The play did begin a little slow and the music was a tad off, but a few minutes into it and they were on their way to a good show. There was also some microphone static, but it didn’t detract from the performance.

Jesse Glenn played Lawrence Jameson, a smooth, sophisticated con man who was very believable. Conning people looked easy. He carried the part off with such energy that even though he was the bad guy, we were still rooting for him. He had a plan and a counter plan for everything.

Michael Poehner played Andre Theabault, the assistant to Lawrence. His French accent was highly suspect, but he carried it off. Of all the con men, he actually gets the girl even though he was just trying to help his boss out. The romantic scenes were very well played.

Carrie Hayes played Christine Colgate a very innocent young woman who was genuinely trying to help Freddy who was faking paralysis. This was done sincerely and her songs and dances were well done. She also played the innocent part extremely well. She was an exciting character to watch. She captured the hearts of both bad guys and those of the audience. Her purple and black outfit combined with her red hair clearly set her apart from the others.

Lindsey Tatum played Muriel Eubanks. She played the part to the nth degree. Her songs and dancing were a joy to watch. The romantic scenes with Poehner were wonderfully done. At the finish, she got her man. Not the con man, but the assistant. Never underestimate love and romance because they say it conquers everything. Andre had no chance of escaping Muriel.

Patrick Munley played Freddy Benson, the other major con artist. He and Jesse had very energetic parts with a lot of action. Freddy comes across as a bumbler with a sob story to fit every occasion. Munley handled this part giving a very strong and energetic performance. He handled the wheelchair with ease. He and Glenn made quite the team.

Lauren Kondrat played Jolene Oakes, a wild cowgirl from Oklahoma. Her song “Oklahoma” was a show-stopper. She came on with a burst of energy and left everything out there on the stage. Her outfit defined her, and she was a lot of fun to watch.

During the show we sort of got the impression that each group that sang was trying to raise the bar for the next song. If that’s true, it worked really well.

Others with small parts that gave strong performances included Amber Fullner as Renee, Rose Adams as Sophia, Marie Vanhorn as Lenore, and Micah Pitts as Gerard.

Director Smith, Musical Director Rafael McDaniel, and Choreographer Andrea Allen did a great job with this show. The orchestra is also to be commended.

I highly recommend Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for an enjoyable evening. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs from November 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 2015 at 7:30pm, and November 15 & 22, 2015, at 2:30pm. Flint Community Players is located at 2462 Ballenger Hwy., Flint MI, 48507. For more information contact the Box Office – 810-441-9302 or online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com.



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FYT FirstStage to Present “Madeline and the Bad Hat”

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UM-Flint’s “Romeo and Juliet” Brings Violent Delights and Violent Ends

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Whether it’s love at first sight or not, those two teens from Verona are back in town and more familiar than ever. With the surroundings on set looking, we’re sure intentionally a bit scruffy and slightly the worse for wear, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet opened Friday at the University of Michigan-Flint. Indeed, this tale could have happened here, in this time and place. It’s a story that never ages, and its tragic ending is preordained.

Director Janet Haley’s troupe is impressive. Every character is unique and strong. We saw Romeo first – he was there on the stage all along as the audience arrived, writing love notes to a girl he’s sure that he loves but who doesn’t return the feeling. Kyle Clark brings wonderful intensity to this role along with a brash and affectionate impulsivity that will ultimately bring him down.

Most are familiar with the situation in Verona at this time – the warring factions between two families, the Capulets and the Montagues. This strife is local, but it mirrors the strife in any town or state or country when two sides disagree and refuse to negotiate or compromise. Here, it is the youth who cannot resist a fight.

Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio (Joshua Cornea), sets him up to crash a party where he will be able to compare his unrequited love to other girls and see that he has choices. Cornea is steady in this role as he acts to stabilize his cousin’s impetuosity. Throughout, he is a loyal comrade, likeable and concerned. Fatal choice number one: the party is at the house of Capulet. Romeo is a Montague.

Juliet, as played by Michaela Nogaj, is bright, excitable and also impulsive. Her interactions with her affable Nurse (Shelby Coleman) are bubbly and clearly based in history and love. It isn’t surprising when, mid-party, she locks eyes with Romeo and emotional sparks immediately fly. But her cousin Tybalt (Lucas Moquin) has also spotted the interloper and demands his uncle remove him. Moquin plays this angry character well. He emotes Tybalt’s confrontational persona nicely and tees up the bloodshed to come.

Unaware of the strife brewing, Romeo and his pals recap the day led by the usually droll and clever Mercutio. But, Mark Vukelich’s interpretation is abrasive. Even though his costume – black leather jacket and headgear with fingerless gloves – somewhat matches the bawdy, satirical nature of this character, that element of comic raconteur is missing.

The street fights begin on the day of Romeo and Juliet’s secret wedding. As in all Shakespearean tragedies, the stage begins to fill with bodies of the dead. Turf wars are at the heart of them – sound familiar? Of course, the innocent also fall victim just by being there.

Even the church, in the person of Friar Laurence (Andy Eisengruber) although steady and full of counsel, cannot save the day. By the end, the families have lost their future and the town has lost some of its brightest and best.

If there’s a tragic flaw in this story, it doesn’t reside in personality. It’s more likely to reside in circumstance. The stars have aligned to thwart these lovers at every turn. It was sad and awful to watch what we knew would happen unfold. Yet, this production managed to keep it all moving with a relentlessness that kept us glued to the action anyway.

Hopefully audiences will walk away with solutions swirling through their heads. So much could have been done to avert these tragedies. So much can still be done.

Lisa Borton’s set design is imposing and made even more so by Doug Mueller’s lighting. The darkened byways, the glow of horizon, the gloom of the tomb, all contrast with the fleeting brightness of midday and celebration.

Sound was just a bit confusing until we figured out it was the sea that we were hearing in the background. Birds and woodland sounds unfortunately were occasionally mistaken for an errant cell phone conversation that then became distracting.

Still, this is a wonderful, if disturbing, production. It moves smoothly and with nary a slip through the two and a half hours it takes to tell this tale. Do go to see it. You owe it to yourself.

Romeo and Juliet continues at the University of Michigan-Flint today and tomorrow at 2:00 pm and  November 6-8. For times, tickets, and information contact the box office at 810-237-6520 or online at umflint.edu/theatredance.




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Janet Haley directs this classic tale wherein Romeo and Juliet risk their lives to preserve the beauty of hope they have found with each other. Meanwhile their families’ ancient grudge rages on with volatile acts of destructive violence in old Verona.

Our audiences will find UM-Flint’s Theatre to be transformed in an explosive new way in order to showcase the passionate action, poetic language, bawdy humor, and electric swordplay of this production’s “violent delights” and “violent ends”.

We recommend this production for audiences age 16+ as it contains mature content/language and stage violence.

Running time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.

The University Theatre is located at the corner of Wallenburg and Kearsley Streets in downtown Flint: 303 E Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502.  Free parking in the Harrison Street ramp beside the Theatre.

Scheduled performances are Friday, Oct 30 – 7:30; Saturday, Oct 31 – 2:00* only – no evening performance;  Sunday – Nov 1, 2:00*; Friday – Nov 6, 7:30; Saturday – Nov 7, 2:00* and 7:30; Sunday – Nov 8, 2:00*.   *Post-show conversations with director and company follow each matinee.

Due to popular demand, and restrictions on seating because of the unique scenic design, we strongly encourage our patrons to purchase tickets in advance.

Box Office: (810) 237-6520 or (810) 237-6522

Box Office is open M-F from 10 am – 5 pm + one hour before performance times for ticket purchases.

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Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

            The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell opened at the Fenton Village Players on Thursday with a solid performance. According to the program this is a dramedy, meaning it is a dramatic comedy. It is all of that.

This is a play about three women who go together to the cemetery once a month to take care of their husbands’ graves. The women are on edge because they have reached a turning point in the grieving process. Lucille puts on airs that she is dating a lot of men. Ida is at the stage where she wants to date. Doris is totally dedicated to her deceased husband and not ready to move on.

The play revolves around their friendship and whether or not it will survive the changes they are confronted with. Doris is a rock and the other two are moving on with their lives. Enter Sam, a butcher, who occasionally goes to the cemetery to visit his wife’s grave. Sam claims he has dated a lot of women with little or no success at finding the right one. He and Ida hit if off, causing more than enough trouble in the play.

This was a good performance which was somewhat tarnished by the curtain used at the Fenton Village Players. If there was ever a curtain that did not belong, this one is it. Loud scraping/grating noise occurred every time it was opened and closed. There was not enough room for the scenes in front of the curtain, so the actors had to brush into it causing a lot of distracting movement. Further, curtains should be open and closed in one steady move, not by yanking on it several times.

Moving on to the players. The play started just a bit slow.

Ida, Doris, and Lucille, three Jewish women, were well matched on stage and played off each other very well. The scene early in the play when Sam enters was priceless. Doris is shocked at the behavior of her friends, Ida is smitten, and Lucille throws herself at the guy. A riotous scene. The scene after they return from the wedding was well done. They were drunk and they danced. A very touching scene. Accents by all the actors were believable and consistent.

Rita Vater-Darnton played Ida. She gave a good performance, but was a little inconsistent at the beginning of the play. She had good chemistry with Sam and their relationship was believable. Her best work was when she was with the other women. Her hangover scene was good.

Sandy Mascow played Doris, and left no doubt in our minds that her character was dedicated to her late husband. She was also quite believable in her efforts to keep the trio together. Mascow played Doris to a tee. You knew she wasn’t going to change. The little green garden stool she took to the cemetery said it all. Good touch.

As Lucille, Mary Powers’ character was a little over the top, but that’s what it was supposed to be. She was obsessed with furs and how she looked. Powers was very convincing as a woman who dated a lot of men or so she claimed. There were a couple times when she was close to stealing the scene. This was especially true when Sam was around. Her character was shameless, but then she gave a very touching monologue at the end of the play.

Melvin Case played Sam. Case was very believable as the soft-spoken butcher looking for companionship. Trying to be soft spoken, he was a little hard to hear once in a while. His reaction to the women fawning over him was good.

Playing Mildred, Amy Herman has one small scene toward the end of the second act. She is supposed to be Sam’s new love interest.   She gave a good performance.

The Cemetery Club set was nicely done. The costumes were well suited for the play except for the leather coat worn by Sam that seemed out of place. Scene changes in the second act were a bit long.

I do recommend The Cemetery Club. It is a good production and these women are a joy to watch.

The Cemetery Club runs October 15-18 & 23-25. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7pm and Sunday performances begin at 2pm. Fenton Village Playhouse is located at 14197 Torrey Rd. Fenton MI. 48430-0531.   For tickets call 810-750-7700. Also get tickets on line at www.fentonvillageplayers.org

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Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Flint Youth Theatre has long been defined by excellence. Audiences know that FYT productions will be educational, inspirational, and memorable. However, Friday this troupe went over and above their best with a brilliant production of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women.

This Marsha Chamberlain adaptation focuses on the time that the four March girls and their mother must hold down the home front while their father is away fighting in the Civil War. They are all valiant in their own way but also very different personalities.

Most independent and perhaps strongest is Jo, played with spunk and enthusiasm by Alyssa Banister. Assumed to be the author, this character is the clear center of the family and Banister delivers her with stunning poise.

Older sister Meg is genteel, sensible and portrayed with elegance and emotive depth by Destiny Dunn. Her strength comes through in her carriage and focus as she maintains her position as eldest in spite of Bannister’s bombast and determination.

Syd Brown brings the quiet and shy Beth to life with her sweet disposition and her love of music. Never bold and often seeming slightly anxious, Brown carries this character’s devotion to home and family clearly to the surface.

As the youngest, Macy Scot Mortimer’s impatient and sometimes selfish Amy nearly rivals Banister’s Jo in her drive to be recognized and appreciated. She is everyone’s bratty little sister one minute and the contrite and adorable penitent the next.

As their mother, Marmee, Beth Guest is strong and resilient. Her position as now head of the household is clear and her maternal attention to her girls is inspiring. She brings out the best in each of them with her calm and consistent integrity.

As the men in their lives, David A. Guster shines as Laurie, the boy next door who dotes on Jo, and Philip Kautz, plays Brooke, who as Laurie’s tutor is properly reserved but decidedly intrigued with Meg. We enjoyed the near cameo performances of Michael Gillespie as the rich and benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence, and Jesse Glenn as Mr. March who returns battered but strong from the front.

Directed by UM-F theatre Professor Emerita Carolyn Gillespie, the overall level of performance here, and the impeccable characterizations created completely surpass expectations. There is not a single weak performance including the small roles of Hannah (Shannon Olsen), the cheery housekeeper and the opinionated Aunt March (Deirdre S. Baker).

Set in the March household, Lisa Borton’s design is wonderfully versatile. Three entrances (two are aisles) plus Jo’s attic writing room with its lovely staircase and lower hideaway make for easy and fluid movement. The fireplace occupies one corner and the flame effect is special. The dining table is central and serves to delineate the passage of time with the constantly changing centerpieces placed there.

Costumes are superb as designed by Katherine Nelson. Pay special note to the versatility of Jo’s costume and to the huge effect simple additions often make to the others. They are all wonderfully detailed and vintage correct.

Oh, there’s more – there’s music and singing (Gary King is behind the scenes, but his piano permeates); there’s pain and sorrow and loss; and above all, there’s joy and fun and laughter.

Take your daughters especially to this one, but the boys will love it, too. Just don’t miss it. It ranks right up there as one of the best we’ve ever seen at FYT.

Little Women continues through October 25 with both evening and daytime performances. For more information, tickets and time schedules call 810-237-1530 or access theFYT.org.


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