“HMS PINAFORE” BURSTS ON TO THE STAGE AT KEARSLEY PARK

Reviewed by Joseph Michael hms-pinafore-ggerconc.bcmMishler

HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan opened on Thursday at the Kearsley Park Pavilion, and it did so with tremendous energy.

It was a near perfect night for outdoor theatre and the Kearsley Park Players, under the direction of Kay Kelly, did not disappoint the enthusiastic audience. With minimal lighting, no microphones, and a live orchestra, the Players worked their magic. Even the bugs cut us some slack. This reviewer greatly appreciates a cast that handles the acting and stage fundamentals correctly. I give them high marks for that effort.

HMS Pinafore is an old, but funny tale of the strange ways of love. The captain of the ship wants his daughter to marry a man with a high social position, but she loves a common sailor. The powerful man tries every trick in the book to influence the daughter, but – you will have to go see the musical to find out who the lucky man is. But there is more to this love fraught play. Love is a powerful game changer.

The singing and acting in this musical were excellent. The choreography was also well done. The ensemble sports a considerable number of people who can sing and project. Everyone in the ensemble did all of the little things that make the entire show stand out. Facial and body expressions were all well played. The show started with gusto and stayed that way.

David Lindsey/Captain Corcoran fit the bill of the captain to a tee. Using a combination a voice and expressions he kept everything fresh on stage throughout the musical. Eric Gregory/Bill Bobstay-the Boatswain gave a strong performance. He was very convincing as the man in charge. His strong voice echoed through the pavilion.

Kim Streby/Miss Cripps-Little Buttercup played the vixen wonderfully. Nobody escaped her feminine wiles, or smarts. And, of course, she is the one who knows the secret that will help end the musical properly.

Greg Hassold/Dick Deadeye played a very damaged and “ugly” sailor. Of course he had a patch over one eye and his uniform was the only dirty one on stage. His cynicism and negativity were a canker on the ship and he spared no one. Greg performed this part superbly. He even gets a girl at the end – we are still not sure how that happened.

Emily Carter/ Josephine (Captain’s daughter) was a perfect fit for this part. She gave a strong performance and is a beautiful singer. It was quite convincing as to who she really loved.

Tim Ruwart/Sir Joseph Porter and his muttonchops gave a good portrayal of an older rich guy trying to marry a much younger girl. We loved watching his bluster and pontificating on stage.

The Ladies and the Men’s Chorus deserve mention. They sang and danced with great energy and they looked like they were having fun. When a cast is having fun, the whole performance is enhanced. There was good chemistry on this stage.

The costuming was well crafted and the stage gave the feel of being on a sailing vessel. I don’t think there was one inch of the stage that wasn’t used. The orchestra was a gem. There were a few times it was a bit hard to hear actors, but those were few and far between.

The cast and crew received a vigorous standing ovation, and then gave an encore. It was announced at the end of the performance that this will be the last production at the Kearsley Park Pavilion. It’s a sad turn of events because the Kearsley Park Players have a proud history of productions at the pavilion. Kay Kelly was recognized for all of her work over the past 12 or so years and she received a very enthusiastic standing ovation.

Her remarks ended with, “Say good things about Flint!” Judging by this performance there are elements of Flint that are clearly alive and well.

HMS Pinafore is suitable for everyone. I strongly recommend this production. It offers a lot of fun for all. You might even find yourself singing along with the cast. HMS Pinafore will be performed Aug 26 & 27 at 7:30 pm, and August 28 at 2 pm. Kearsley Park is located off of Longway Blvd. on Kearsley Blvd. Kearsley is closed, but if you go to the next road to the left you will see signs and find your way to the park. Parking is right next to the Pavilion. Reservations can be made by calling 810-845-4050 or visiting their website www.kearsleyparkplayers.com.

 

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Look What’s Coming Up Soon at FCP

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“Running Mates” by Beth Kander
Directed by William Kircher
 
A long term Mayor usually runs unopposed, but when he makes a major faux pas he finds himself with a fierce opponent; his wife.  (PG)
 
Performances:
September 8, 9, 10, 16, 17 at 7:30PM
September 11 & 18 at 2:30PM

Tickets:

Adults  $13.00
*Youth & Students  $10.00
*Seniors 60+  $11.00
 
*Youth/Student/Senior pricing evenings only.
No discounts for matinees.
Special Discounted Group Rates.
 
To purchase tickets:
Box Office: 810-441-9302


Walk-up sales:
Beginning 10 days prior to show date, MondayFriday
3PM – 6PM non-performance days

Box Office Hours on Performance Days:
Evening 5:30PM – 7:30PM
Matinee 12:30PM – 2:30PM
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AUDITIONS: Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
A Musical Thriller 
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed by Paul Gregory Nelson 
 
Auditions: September 12 & 13 at 7:00PM
 
Audition Requirements: Must sing!
* 16 bars uptempo, 16 bars ballad upon request of music of your own choosing. Must bring own sheet music. Accompanist provided. 
* We will also teach a selection from the show to sing parts, so try to be familiar with the show.
* Dancers and movers can be auditioned post-casting for certain ensemble roles.
* No monologues please, readings from the script will be done as needed. 
* No call for auditions.
* Auditions only need to attend one night of auditions.
 
An exiled barber returns to his hometown to take revenge on the corrupt judge who banished him by conspiring with a local baker who is in desperate need of fresh meat for her pies. (R)
 
Performances: November 10, 11, 12, 18, 19 at 7:30PM, November 13 & 20 at 2:30PM
 
For a complete character breakdown, visit our website:
http://www.flintcommunityplayers.com/index.html

 

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“The Tempest” Brings Joy Along With The Storm

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest opened to a packed house Friday evening at Flint Youth Theatre to round out the Summer Stage offering. We’re sure the Bard would have approved of this Jeremy Winchester and Kyle Clark adaptation even as some liberties were taken to bring it to a modern youth audience and to keep it just under two hours.

Although we were sure the setting on the Elgood Theatre space was a ship what with the huge mainmast and the great sails floating overhead, it also resembled something else. Then Bary Lehr entered as a Ringmaster dressed in boots and red coat with golden epaulets and we knew – it’s a circus ring! Exactly how those two meld is part of this terrific performance.

Lehr’s character serves as a narrator linking the eight scenes (rings maybe?) together with modern jargon, pomp, comedy and Elizabethan touches as well. He speaks always directly to the audience making sure they are on track and understand all that is transpiring.

The first amazing scene involved the actual tempest that tossed the passengers about as smoke swirled and the sails dropped making us sure they would all drown! LaTroy Childress (Alonzo), Dennis J. Sykes (Gonzalo), David A. Guster (Sebastian) and Kristina Lakey (Antonia) staggered and flung themselves about with incredible realism.

If you’re not familiar with this tale, it involves a banished Duke (Prospero/Michael Kelly) who seeks to get revenge upon his sister Antonia for her part in his expulsion. He conjures up the storm and hopes to shipwreck all of these courtiers and their servants much as he and his daughter, Miranda (Kate Spademan) were marooned long ago. Lakey/Antonia is regal in her demeanor and appearance, and haughty with a capital H!

There is magic afoot on this atoll in the person of Prospero’s fairy servant Ariel, played with dash and mystery by Layla Meillier. She and her troupe of misty minions are responsible for most of the enchantments that occur. She saves lives and conjures love but also metes out justice where it’s due.

Ferdinand (Andrew L. Aikins III), the son of King Alonso, is found wandering apart from the royal party. Indeed, they believe he may have perished in the storm, but Ariel has actually guided him to Miranda. Of course, the two fall instantly in love.

On another quadrant we find two court servants, Trinculo (Mark Gmazel) the jester and the king’s butler Stephano (William Irwin) as they discover the scroungy and pitiful Caliban, played with great growls and grimaces by Katie Young. A misformed beast, Caliban, sees these two as a way out from under the sway of Prospero. Gmazel and Irwin are over-the-top comic relief (as if we needed more) in this show. Under the influence of lots of wine, these two are a hoot to watch. Gmazel’s Clarabelle the Clown oooga horn punctuates most of his mischief, and Irwin’s slightly tipsy pompous air provides the perfect contrast.

Prospero is central to the story, and Kelly fits this character to a tee. With his flowing robe and long white hair and beard, he is a most imposing figure. Each of his pronouncements is attended with concentration and just a little fear. Even Miranda is often slightly unnerved by her father’s wizard-like ways.

As with all Shakespearean comedies, all ultimately ends well. Everyone is happy and life goes on better than it began. In this production however, there are those terrific moments supplied by the Ringmaster and by the orchestra.

Dan Gerics composed and performs his score throughout the performance. He is joined by Owen Ananich, Annadelle Klimber, Reichlin Small and Abhishek Utekar.

Tucked back in the upstage section of the set, their music isn’t always, or even often, Elizabethan in tone. After beginning the show with a decidedly jazzy overture, we were later asked to sing along in serenade of Ferdinand and Miranda – the song? “My Girl”

We could go on and on, but suffice it to say that this is a must-see version of this classic tale. It is incredibly staged with set designs by Gene Oliver and extraordinarily costumed by Adam M. Dill. Kudos to Director Jeremy Winchester for this most exceptional production.fyt2

The Tempest continues in repertory tandem with Stuart Little through August 21. For information and tickets contact the box office at 810-237-1530 or online at www.theFYT.org  

 

 

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“Stuart Little” Launches FYT Summer Stage

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Flint Youth Theatre opened the first of their two Summer Stage productions with a matinee Thursday of E.B. White’s Stuart Little. In this charming adaptation by Joseph Robinette, a mouse is born into an ordinary human family and follows his many adventures in a series of vignettes showcasing Stuart’s ability to not just survive, but to enthusiastically thrive in a world of “big people”.

Director Samuel J. Richardson wrangles a hearty ensemble that serves as any number of groups throughout Stuart’s adventures. They are students and townspeople and some also serve in double capacity as individual characters.

Brittany Reed and Enrique J. Vargas anchor this production as Mrs. Little and Stuart. Reed also handles the role of Narrator and is thereby the bridge between the various mischievous moments in Stuart’s life. She is solid in both parts and comical especially when transitioning in a flash from emotional “mom” to objective narrator.

As Stuart, Vargas sports huge ears and a fuzzy large and curly tail. He is obviously as big as anyone else on stage but manages to live the illusion that he is small aided by various props of outsized proportion. While continuously enthusiastic, he also runs up against a few harrowing moments such as those growling “dogs” outside in the park and must weather the disdain of Snowball (Jennifer Lynn), the family housecat.

Stuart’s brother, George (Steven Sherman) is human but is roundly ignored by his parents after the arrival of Stuart. Sherman does a great job with this character generating many laughs with his resigned acceptance of his second-class status.

The biggest adventure for Stuart involves his feathered friend, Margalo (Mary Scot Mortimer) and her decision to fly north. When she leaves the house it launches Stuart on a harrowing search for her involving a rescue, a boat race, and finally an ending that allows for speculation.

Clearly this show presents some challenges but as usual, FYT is able to meet and defeat them. The boat race and the bird/mouse rescue come right out into the house at Bower Theatre. The constantly changing locales are handled with very large upstage outgoing mail holder built to emphasize Stuart’s tiny stature. It’s size matches other stage props like the radio and the various vintage greeting cards it displays as mail. The cards are well done and a nice touch.

Constantly changing large blocks are set up with pictures that delineate where the scene is transpiring – waves, a dentist chair, columns, a canoe, a general store and so on. One especially clever “outdoor” scene was in a forest of car freshener pine trees complete with yellow hangers on top.

There is a lot to enjoy in this show for all ages. Thursday’s audience was filled with youngsters from preschoolers to grade school but their parents were chuckling and enjoying it, too. One little one was not shy about offering helpful tips from the audience to Stuart – something children’s theatre performers look forward to and appreciate.

If there’s a message to take away, it may be that size isn’t important but outlook surely is, a fact also being reinforced this week in Rio by a certain female gymnast.

Stuart Little is running in repertory tandem with The Tempest (opens tonight at 7) through August 20. For more information on times and for tickets contact the box office at 810-237-1530 or find them online at www.theFYT.orfyt2g

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Kearsley Park Players Set Sail with Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” August 25-28

The Kearsley Park Players’ summer season continues with the Gilbert & Sullivan musical romp H.M.S. Pinafore to be presented at the historic Kearsley Park Pavilion for one weekend only, August 25 through 28.

When it first opened in London in 1878 H.M.S. Pinafore was an immediate triumph and became Gilbert & Sullivan’s first HMSinternational sensation with numerous productions on both sides of the Atlantic. The story takes place aboard the ship Royal British Navy warship HMS Pinafore and is filled with music, mirth and silliness.

This is the third Gilbert & Sullivan show to be produced by the Kearsley Park Players in as many years and their previous productions – Pirates of Penzance”and The Mikado — drew sellout crowds and rave reviews.

Performances are for one weekend only and include;

Thursday, August 257:30 pm

Friday, August 267:30 pm

Saturday, August 277:30 pm

Sunday Matinee, August 283:00 pm

The production is led by Director Kay Kelly, Musical Director Nada Radakovich and Choreographer James Cech. Among the large cast are noted area singers including David Lindsay as Captain Corcoran, Emily Carter as Josephine, Aaron McCoy Jacob as Ralph Rackstraw and Tim Ruwart as Sir Joseph Porter.

Tickets are only $10 and will be available at the door. For information call (810) 845-4050 or go to www.kearsleyparkplayers.com.

 

 

 

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CLIO CAST & CREW’S “LEGALLY BLONDE” ROARS ONTO THE STAGE OPENING NIGHT

Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

It was a hot and steamy night in Clio as Clio Cast & Crew’s production of Legally Blonde burst on to the stage. If you love great dancing, singing and acting this is definitely a production to see.

Legally Blonde with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and book by Heather Hatch is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro Goldwyn Mayer motion picture. The story is simple: a girl follows her love to law school where she discovers a whole different world. I don’t want to give anymore of the story away.

Opening night of Legally Blonde was sold out, and it was a great audience.

Clio Cast and Crew and Savie Productions are a powerful combination. Both bring considerable artistic talent and creativity to the stage. The dance numbers were extremely well choreographed and well executed. They used the stage to the utmost and everything was well blocked. A standing ovation goes to Director Evie Zilinski, Vocal Director Sue Mackenzie, and Choreographer Sandra Brewer. They really raised the bar with this production.

No body microphones were used throughout the play. That was impressive. Actors had to project and, with the exception of the first minute or so, they did this exceedingly well throughout the musical. The timing and execution of the play were done to perfection. The energy level through the play was intense and it never let up right through to the bows.

I am not going to comment on everyone in Legally Blonde because the review would go several pages. This was a wonderful ensemble who worked well with each other on stage, and looked like they were having fun. Even smaller roles were well played and added to the performance

Erica Kennedy played Elle Woods (the blonde) and gave an excellent performance. She appeared in control at every turn of the musical and had chemistry with the other actors. Her performance was a joy to watch.

Shawn Schultz played Warner Huntington III (boyfriend) and also gave a good performance. Donavan Tear was cast as Emmett Forest (possible boyfriend), and he and Woods made an interesting couple. Tear and Schultz portrayed very effective, contrasting characters.

As Paulette Buonofonte (hairdresser), Michelle Hayes gave a strong performance. Her antics on stage were great fun to watch especially with the UPS guy. Playing Brooke Wyndham (exercise/dance leader, and accused), Rachel Hildreth opened the second act with a dance number/exercise that included jump ropes which left us nearly breathless. She also gave a fine performance as Brooke.

There were many great scenes within scenes. The Greek Chorus was a delight to watch. Even the two dogs were on cue. The set was a simple two level affair which left plenty of room for the actors to play. There were a couple of minor issues. Lighting was a little bit of a problem throughout, especially with the spotlights. And air conditioning was an issue when it seemed to stop about half way through the first act.

However, costuming was phenomenal, and the smooth and well-executed scene changes and transitions were nicely woven into the musical.

I strongly recommend this show for everyone. It is a whole lot of fun and very high energy. But don’t wait, tickets are going fast.

Legally Blonde performances are August 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, at 7:30pm, and August 7 & 14 at 2:30pm. Performances take place at Theatre 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd, Clio MI. For tickets contact the box office at 810-687-2588 or online at www.cliocastandcrew.com.

 

 

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FCP’s Ghost Light Series & OhR’lyeh Theatre Present “Scarborough”

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby

Flint Community Players Ghost Light Series has combined with the OhR’lyeh Theatre Company to produce British playwright Fiona Evans’ Scarborough. Startling, now and then comical, often disturbing, this script is nonetheless intriguing and incisive. It is also intended for mature audiences.

A student and teacher have gone off to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough to spend a weekend together. That situation in itself could make the story both tricky and even voyeuristically interesting, and it does. But there’s more as the tryst plays out and is then repeated verbatim with the role of student and teacher reversed.

OhR’lyeh’s co-founder Carl Mizell directs this production. His cast is small but impressive as they portray these socially, shall we say awkward, characters. He has a lot of stage area to work with, maybe too much, but it is used well. The scene is confined to a single room in a bed and breakfast and opens with what seems at first to be just a young couple enjoying a holiday.

Daz (Kyle Clark) and Lauren (Kristen Carter) have spent the night and are preparing to see the local sights. They seem compatible and comfortable with each other at least until Lauren suddenly balks at being seen with Daz in public. It all comes spilling out then – Lauren is Daz’s teacher and, at 29 she is 14 years his senior.

Suddenly we look at things differently. Clark’s youthful exuberance becomes teenage angst while Carter’s playful admonishments force us to perceive them as chastisements. Still, there is clear attraction between these characters. Staying in the room all weekend will bring moments of anger and rebuke, but also affection and tenderness.

Ultimately the love won’t last as both realize there is more operating here than meets the eye. Lauren reveals to Daz that she will marry her current partner who is much older than she. Maybe you can sense a pattern here.

The fact that we accept this affair as plausible and possible and even okay, says much for the playwright’s delivery of the story. But when the second half turns the characters around – well, the play takes on a new dimension.

This time Connor Klee plays the teacher and Layla Meillier is the student, and even though the lines are identical, there are personality facets that color the delivery. Perhaps the most interesting aspect this time is the dramatic irony this tactic creates. After all, we know what’s coming and the characters do not.

Meillier is bubbly but much more confident as this teen. She seems to dominate even Klee who is her senior. He, on the other hand, may seem slightly smarmy as the man seducing the young girl.

Did we mention dialect? The northern English/Scottish dialect is very well handled – sometimes so well it was difficult to understand until the ear became accustomed to it.

In the end, there is parting of the ways, but it is handled with masterful finesse.

This is a gentle and incisive look at a phenomenon we’ve all heard about but perhaps avoided dwelling on. We left the theatre impressed and thoughtful. Perhaps you will, too.

Scarborough continues at the Tom & Bea Nobles Performance Hall, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy, Flint, MI 48507 through July 31. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-441-9302 or online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com

 

 

 

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