Music and Comedy Kick Off 2019 at FCP

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirbyi-love-3_orig

Flint Community Players chose a comedy to salute the new year with their production of the Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Rodgers musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Thursday’s opening found a decent crowd ready to brave the frigid temps for which they were rewarded with songs and laughter in this fast-paced revue.

With a theme centered around dating and relationships, the show unfolds as a series of vignettes that begin in Act I with all the aspects of meeting the right guy or gal and the snags that can surface in that attempt. Act II serves up the whole marriage experience from the wedding to parenthood all the way to life after spouse.

Director Todd Clemons brings a cast of twelve to the stage and mixes them up from bit to bit. It’s cute and it works well. There is a theme of blue that pervades the show as it opens and closes with the cast dressed in various colorful shades. These moments also bring opportunity for full chorus harmony, nicely done and deftly handled.

We won’t speak to every scene (there were a lot), but there were standouts that we don’t mind raving about a bit. Setting the pace and tone from the jump are Christopher Dinnan and Rebecca L. Pauli as they decide on their first date to fast forward through to the end of their relationship all in one meeting. They end with “We Had It All” – clever!

Next we really chuckled as two wallflowers, Gil Hall and Lauren Kondrat, bashfully tried to schmooze with each other while imagining themselves as “A Stud and a Babe”.  And Dinnan and Brienna Hickmott were adorable and funny as they watched a “Tear Jerk” movie he really didn’t want to go to.

The chorus entertained us again at the end of Act I with the musical number “Scared Straight” (into marriage!)

As Act II began we were treated to a hysterical rendition of “Always a Bridesmaid” as Kondrat decides that maybe bridesmaids have it better, aside from the awful dresses!

Parenting bits were cute with “The Baby Song” featuring Alex Weiss, Dinnan and Pauli as their vocabulary with a friend began to sound like nursery school. Very cute! Plus, the car trip was covered pretty accurately as Jason Brownfield and Jessi Jeane Eldredge took the kids for a ride “On the Highway of Love”.

“I Can Live With That” highlighted a sweet and slightly poignant moment as Eldredge and Gene Pincomb II met in a funeral home. Although both had lost a spouse, the idea of taking on a new companion featured nice harmony.

Desmond Sheppard on keyboard and Piaras “Peter” Kent on violin provided amazing musical accompaniment for this show. Where has this combo been?!! They are terrific! We surely hope to see them team up more in the future!

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change continues at FCP January 10, 11, 12, 18, & 19, 2019 at 7:30 pm and January 13 & 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm. Go see it! It’s cute, vocally strong and instrumentally awesome. You can contact the box office for more information and tickets – 810-235-6963 – or online at





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Flint Community Players

January 14 (Monday) January 15 (Tuesday) 7:00pm

Needed: 3 female, 11 male  – ages 20s – 70s

Director: Sam Di Vita • Producer: Rusty Thomas

Wear comfortable clothes! We will start with some improv and then do cold readings from the script. Hate cold readings? Bring a funny monologue instead.

Flint Community Players • 2462 S. Ballenger

The Story

Brooklyn, in the year 1941, two elderly sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster, are perfect examples of charity and kindness. No one would ever suspect them of harboring a dark secret. Their nephew, Mortimer Brewster, has recently become engaged to the girl next door and when he visits his aunts to tell them the happy news, he discovers their hilariously evil secret. The aunts have, out of pure charity and kindness, been poisoning lonely old men with elderberry wine (laced with arsenic) to ease the their suffering! Now, Mortimer must decide what to do with this enormous discovery as his insane brothers, exasperated fiancée, and neighborhood cops loom ever closer to discovering the secret!

Character Descriptions  (all ages approx.)

ABBY BREWSTER is a sweet little old lady who has a habit of poisoning lonely old men — for charitable purposes, of course! She and her sister Martha are a little out of step with the modern day world of 1941, but she knows her manners — and serves a killer batch of elderberry wine. The older of the two sisters. Aunt to Teddy, Mortimer and Jonathan. 60 – 70s.

MARTHA BREWSTER is Abby’s younger sister. She, too believes in charity. She’s very neighborly and regularly takes broth to those who are sick. “She has a real knack for mixing things!” The shier of the two, Martha’s still very proper. She wears a high lace collar to hide an acid burn she’d gotten in her father’s laboratory when she was a girl. Aunt to Teddy, Jonathan, and Mortimer. 60 – 70s

MORTIMER BREWSTER is the nephew of Abby and Martha (and their pride and joy). Despite not liking theater much, he works for a New York newspaper as a drama critic.  Mortimer is a bit of a cynic, but his fiance Elaine doesn’t seem to mind. He is all set to start a new chapter in his life until the rug gets pulled out from under him. 30s

TEDDY BREWSTER  is Mortimer and Jonathan’s brother. He lives with his aunts in their Victorian mansion and is convinced that he is President Teddy Roosevelt. When he’s not charging up San Juan Hill, he’s burying yellow fever victims in the Panama Canal. A very fun role. 30s – 40s.

JONATHON BREWSTER is Mortimer and Teddy’s creepy brother. The family haven’t seen him in years and barely recognize him when they do see him, thanks to Dr. Einstein’s handiwork. Jonathan’s latest face resembles Boris Karlof – a fact that makes him very angry. Of course he wouldn’t need plastic surgery if he didn’t go around killing people. 30s – 40s.

EINSTEIN is a German plastic surgeon, with the accent to prove it. Right hand to Jonathan, Dr. Einstein is mousey and submissive. He should be viewed as a good guy whose life has gone bad. He has a somewhat scruffy appearance due to the fact that he’s usually under the influence of alcohol. 40s – 50s.

ELAINE HARPER is the daughter of Rev. Dr. Harper, and Mortimer’s fiance. She is surprisingly wise in the ways of the world for a minister’s daughter. We witness Elaine run a gambit of emotions — from lovesickness to stark terror then back again. 20s – 30s

THE REV. DR. HARPER is Elaine Harper’s father. The Brewster sisters have seen many ministers come and go over the years, but they seem to be particularly fond of Dr. Harper and vise versa. Dr. Harper displays a sense of polish, refinement, and mild mannered sensitivity towards others. He is not in favor of Mortimer and Elaine’s relationship. Small role 50s to 70s.

OFFICER BROPHY is the first police officer we meet in the show, Brophy is a thoroughly likable sort of fellow and is making his rounds collecting Christmas toys for the needy. 20s – 50s

OFFICER KLEIN is a flatfoot Brooklyn police officer who makes his rounds with Officer Brophy collecting Christmas toys. 20s – 50s

OFFICER O’HARA is the quintessential example of an Irish-American police officer: Full of life, good natured and played big, O’Hara is a would-be playwright, and, once he discovers that Mortimer is a famous dramatic critic, he decides to tell him his plot.  20s – 40s

GIBBS is an elderly gentleman who wishes to rent a room from the Brewster sisters. He is a little gruff, but he warms up fairly quickly upon being offered a treat he hasn’t had since he was a child. Small role 50s – 80s.

LIEUTENANT ROONEY is the man in charge at the local police precinct. He has very little patience for blunder and mistakes. He is loud, decisive, and clearly in-charge. 40s – 60s

WITHERSPOON is the superintendent of Happy Dale Sanitarium. Very mild mannered and kind. Small role 40s – 60s.


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Deep Thoughts Provoked by “The Little Prince”

PrinceReviewed by Mary Paige Rieffel

Flint Repertory Theatre opened what may become a new holiday classic Friday with their young audiences production of The Little Prince. This magical tale first came to life as a 1943 French novella by poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery, where in its original language it is known as Le Petit Prince. It is a fantastical story of a boy that finds himself stranded on Earth in the Sahara with an aviator and separated from his most beloved flower. He encounters an array of creatures that provoke many deep thoughts within the little prince and in turn, the audience.

This work was adapted for the stage by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar with striking ease and charm. The original work, though a narrative, is marbled with beautiful poetic phrasing and imagery, and this production found immense success in every element of design and performance by keeping things positively radiant in its grounded and fluid simplicity.

The cast was made up of an ensemble of just four talented individuals, two of whom played multiple characters. Dalton Hartwell, a fifth grader hailing from Davison, leads the cast as the titular character with lovely innocence and earnest compassion. Brandon A. Wright plays the aviator, serendipitous companion to the little prince. Wright plays this part heart first and endeared Friday’s audience into listening very closely to his powerful and understated words. Josh Popa (Fox and Men on Planets) and Emily Hart-Lopez (Rose and Snake) round out the cast in physically demanding roles executed with precision and grace. Both move exquisitely about the stage in several different styles. Hart-Lopez captivates as The Rose, and Popa enchants us as The Fox. A highlight of the production for me was the silent, not-quite-a-dance, performed between The Prince and The Fox as they get to know each other and become “tame”.

As stated before, the design elements were kept simple and crisp but also warm and exciting. The set, designed by Andrew Licout, is a mostly empty stage, which leaves a lot of depth for performers to play with spatial relationships, but when the large scrim that had been used for shadow-play throughout the show is lifted at the end to reveal “the universe”, the sense of magic is palpable. Alexander Ridgers’ lighting is dramatic and sharp, and Tom Whalen’s sound design creates a subtle and gripping pulse to the scene work. Costumes are designed with Adam Dill’s signature touch of whimsy.

The subject matter may seem a little deep and at times heavy for children, but I absolutely do not feel it is too much for them to digest. To hear poetic language, follow a narrative, and ask questions if they want or need to is the very reason to expose young people to the arts. This story explores not simply what it means to love, but to completely love something.

The use and care of such details as tempo and shape elevated this production to the next level. Director Alex Bodine, along with the entire team, was able to craft a professional show that Flint is lucky to have upon its stages.

The Little Prince is playing at The Flint Repertory Theatre on the Bower stage this weekend and next and is simply not to be missed! A perfect outing for a young family or as a date night, it can be appreciated by all ages and even though it is not a holiday themed story, it will warm your heart just as well as any Christmas Carol.

Catch The Little Prince December 15th-23rd (2:00 pm matinees Saturday and Sundays, 7:00 pm shows Friday’s and Saturday’s). Tickets can be purchased at or at The Whiting Ticket Center 810-237-7333


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Flint Repertory Theatre’s “Assassins” Hits the Mark

Reviewed by Stevie VisserAssassins

It was an extremely exciting night at the Flint Repertory Theatre Friday as many anxious faces anticipated the opening of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Tony Award-winning musical Assassins. As the first Signature Series performance of their inaugural season, Sondheim’s thought-provoking musical, staged in Flint Repertory Theatre’s Elgood Theatre, perfectly captured the intimacy required for such a heavy piece.

While we waited for the performance to begin, we listened to many people fawning over the intricacies of the set and lighting. After all, Shane Cinal’s scenic design and Chelsie McPhilimy’s lighting design was absolutely breathtaking. I’m not sure if it was the incredible hand-painted backdrop that lined the back of the stage, or the hand-crafted letters that exclaimed “Shoot the Prez” all individually lit and exuding a burlesque-grade spectacle. Perhaps it was the backlit antique-paper quality portraits of past Presidents with bulls eyes on their temples. It must have been a little bit of everything.

Director Michael Lluberes has assembled an incredible ensemble cast to tackle this extremely ambitious piece. The actors worked extremely well together, and it was evident that they did not take the task of bringing these Assassins to life lightly. Lluberes should be commended on his sensational cast of scary little freak killers.

Chris French (AEA) played the role of John Wilkes Booth. His perfectly crafted accent coupled with his beautiful singing voice and villainous demeanor brought this character to life. Every movement and every facial expression was so intentional. We really enjoyed his performance. The formidable Jason Briggs portrayed Charles Guiteau flawlessly. His characterization of the legendary psychopath was incredible. His fiery eyes and exaggerated physical movements were the perfect recipe for portraying this character who suffered from grandiosity. The tonality of Briggs’ beautiful voice coupled with his impressive acting chops complimented each other very well.

While every member of this company played their roles impressively, the female characters were especially impressive. Let’s begin with Beth Guest (AEA) as Sara Jane Moore. Guest was absolutely tremendous in this role. Sometimes it’s so difficult to access these ordinary human characters, and yet she does it in such a wholesome way. Her timing is impeccable, and her “Charlie” scene with Mary Paige Rieffel nearly brought down the entire house. Speaking of impressive women, Rieffel’s portrayal of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme is some pretty scary stuff. Her Fromme is dark, stunningly beautiful and absolutely terrifying. If Rieffel’s inspiring scene work doesn’t catch your attention, her gorgeous singing voice will leave you weeping. Her performance was among one of our favorites throughout the night.

Paul Nelson portrayed the role of the proprietor with much precision. We appreciated every single movement and every single choice. Nelson is after all a showboat. He commands the stage in a powerful way and brought such an incredible authenticity to the role.

Now, I am a sucker for a beautiful tenor voice, especially when matched with powerful presence on stage. So if anyone caught my attention it was Scott Anthony Joy (AEA). He had a beautiful voice. When he first opened his mouth in “The Ballad of Booth”, there was a noticeable aura in the room of complete respect for this amazing vocalist. And of course he transitioned well from the Balladeer to his portrayal of Lee Harvey Oswald. Very well done. Mark Gmazel, Michael Pacholski, Alexander Trice and Zachary Wood rounded out this cast all providing tremendous vocals, and very well crafted scene work.

Congratulations to Director Michael Lluberes and Music Director Frank Pitts III on an impressive opening at the Flint Repertory Theatre. If you enjoy heavy theatre that makes you think and ask questions, we highly recommend this incredible piece of art right in the heart of Flint.

Assassins continues through November 18th at the Flint Repertory Theatre’s Elgood Theatre. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-237-1530/810-237-7333 or online at


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FCP Continues Season with Delighful Simon Comedy

Reviewed by Jon R. Coggins

Autumn said goodbye and winter stamped its chilly feet as Flint Community Players continued their 90th season with the Neil Simon standard, Barefoot in the Park.

The slightly 44063084_10155767582731629_1902577255503101952_osparse crowd (come on folks – cultural institutions that aren’t supported well will eventually fade away) enjoyed this gentle comedy directed by Bill Kircher.

The story is easy – two lovey-dovey newlyweds take a sixth floor walk-up apartment to begin their lives together. Comedy ensues! The set was a Steve Munsell creation and as always, it was wonderful and useable. The smallness of the space, bare as the play started, conveyed the cramped quarters the couple must deal with – from the bedroom that barely fit the bed and nothing else to the bathroom that had no tub. And of course, the six, or is it five, flights of stairs was a source of constant amusement.

The cast was up to the challenge Thursday night anchored by Samantha Tadajewski as Corie Bratter, the female half of this intrepid couple. She was on point all night. Her range of emotions ran from deliriously happy to drunken to dismay, as it seemed her new life might be falling apart. Tadajewski pranced and fussed – happy as a clam in her new apartment. And, she was the only one not complaining about the six flights of stairs. She had to deal with a telephone repairman (Brett Beach), an upstairs Lothario, Victor Velasco played by Larry Stecco, and a deliveryman (Jalen Gillum). Eventually, Samantha’s rather conservative widowed mother, Ethel Banks arrived played by stage vet Mary Smith Powers. All very different characters, and all interactions handled well by Miss T. Her vivaciousness is reminiscent of Mary Tyler Moore from the early ‘60s Dick VanDyke Show.

As Corie deals with all the commotion and eagerly awaits the furniture delivery – her beau finally comes home – for the first time – and she is happy, frisky and eager to start their married lives. Philip Kautz plays her beleaguered spouse, Paul. An uptight new lawyer, preparing to try his first case, Kautz played the role well with nearly opposite feelings from those of his new wife. Paul was discontented with the multiple stair climb, with the smallish apartment, with the tiny bedroom and with the lack of a bathtub. Though he seemed eager to be a newlywed, he was distracted and concerned about his new job. Nice work, Philip.

As Ethel Banks, Corie’s mom, Mary Smith Powers was wonderful. Her expressions of disbelief at the apartment, and her reactions to the “climb” were priceless and provided some mellow comedy. Indeed her entrance after a night of partying was the hit of the show. We’re not sure what accent Powers was going for – upscale educated New Yorker, Brooklynite or Jewish mother – but it was intriguing and only emerged when Ethel got emotional or preoccupied. Well done.

The distraction, for Corie and Ethel appears the upstairs (attic) womanizer – Victor Velasco. Oddly enough, he must use the couple’s bedroom window to access his attic apartment. Played well by Stecco, Victor was charming, eccentric and a bit of a horn dog. His scenes with Tadajewski were wonderful with tremendous chemistry. His scenes with Ethel were warm, touching and gracious. The scene between Corie and Victor, after a night of drinking, was brilliant and electric.

Additional cast members due more mention include Brett Beach as the beleaguered phone repairman who, in barely besting the 6 floor climb – twice – allowed for some comedic moments and a bit of marriage counseling. Deliveryman Jalen Gillum had no lines but espoused his discomfort in the climb with a breathless entrance and pantomimed package-signing instructions. And star stage manager Dave Collins made a cameo as Mr. Munshin the landlord.

There was some slight confusion as one tried to place the time period. Written and produced in the 1960s, some of the music was definitely not from the sixties. Additionally, I don’t think Corie would have worn blue jeans – modern blue jeans – even as a free feeling girl from mid-century. Capri pants maybe?? The play was long with two intermissions. I thought about how to shorten the length. The first intermission was needed – to change the set, and the second to relieve sore backsides. Quicker cue pickups – maybe. It seemed pretty tight. I guess sometimes the play is long. In keeping with the tremendous legacy of FCP productions, Director Kircher did a fine job and presented a quality show.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to soggy football and/or gruesome deer hunting or just want to take in a great show – Barefoot in the Park continues through November 18 at the Tom & Bea Nobles Performance Hall, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy. Flint, MI 48507. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-441-9302 or online at

A special thank you to a longtime theatre supporter and production underwriter (he paid for the show) Eugene Miller. It was wonderful to see you and thank you for your support of local theatre.  – JC





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UM-Flint Season Opens with “Peter and the Starcatcher”

patscReviewed by Kathleen Kirby

If you are a fan of Peter Pan, you may enjoy the production currently playing at UM-Flint. To launch the Theatre and Dance 2018/19 season, the stage was overrun Friday night with a host of characters including pirates, orphans, ship captains, lords and ladies, even mermaids and mollusks! Peter and the Star Catcher is actually a prequel to the well-known story of the boy who never grew up.

Written by Rick Elice and based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson with music by Wayne Baker, this tale takes place nearly entirely onboard two ships, one a pirate frigate and the other a royal Britannica vessel. The set is interesting and colorful as the ropes and gangways sway and sparkle throughout.

In this story Peter has no name to begin with and only earns it in the end. But for most of the show he is an unnamed orphan held captive along with two other orphans bound for nothing good! Paul Gregor does a nice job with this Peter and manages to portray the frustration associated with growing up nicely. His cronies, Ted (Giovanni Moore III) and Prentiss (Jarrett Collins) are a comical duo much given to slapstick. Moore’s reaction to mention of a sugary sweet is unique and hilarious.

Most prominent is the young gal, Molly (Briana Wilson), the Starcatcher. Her father is Lord Aster (Austin Kimbrell) and these two share a mystical connection and access to “starstuff”! Wilson brings competence and control to this role and good thing, because everyone else is nearly out of control!

Black Stache the Pirate (Josh Cornea) is clearly the fellow who will come to be known later as Captain Hook, but in this tale he still has his hand. Cornea is bombastic and was especially funny Friday when his mustache kept finding itself detaching!

His sidekick, Smee (Gage Webster) is possibly the most active and gymnastically hysterical character on the stage. He’s pretty funny as a mermaid later on as well.

It does appear that director Janet Haley had her hands full with this crew and this show. There was rarely a quiet moment on the stage and sometimes it became confusing. Still everyone moved about well with lots of interesting entrances and great wave action when folks went overboard!

This is also a musical, yet it wasn’t all that successful in that regard. The amplified piano accompaniment was quite loud and often drowned out the non-amplified lyrics. The only words we recognized were in the Navy Hymn and that’s because it was familiar. It’s frustrating to not understand what’s being sung.

Basically it struck us as a bit of an odd show. Glimpses of comedic characters were fun but generally any specific exposition to explain character background was too murky to allow much real identification with them.

Still, there is a lesson and a message – be kind, help when you can, and be a friend. Life is what we make it, and as Molly says, “Things are only worth what you’re willing to give up for them.”

Peter and the Starcatcher continues at the UM-Flint Department of Theatre and Dance Oct. 27-28 & Nov. 2-4. For more information contact them online at


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McCree Theatre’s “Those Gorgeous, Glamourous Girl Groups” is Absolutely Stunning

Reviewed by Stephen Visser

While the audience was scarce at the Friday night performance of Those Gorgeous, Glamorous Girl Groups; the energy, and sheer electricity of this bombshell cast was enough to send shivers down the spine of the most skeptical theatre-goer. This original work features a book by Charles H. Winfrey, and Music Direction by William Guy. This was actually my first time ever seeing an offering at the McCree Theatre. And I was dancing all the way out. Most importantly my three-year-old daughter (my date) was singing ‘Mr. Postman’ the whole car ride home. If you’ve never been, I’d highly recommend this group. This is a hidden gem in our community, people.

As I fingered through the program; I expected a typical revue. What I got? An experience. It was a tantalizing mixture of brilliantly crafted harmonies, and enlightening historical epitaph that highlighted the struggle, and more importantly the footprint of African American feminist culture.

Director Billie Scott Lindo has assembled a chronically talented cast for this historical tribute. While everyone deserves mention because of the quality, there were several performers who left me speechless. One of which was Fred Fife. He provided a beautiful rendition of “Black Pearl”. His vocals were impeccable. His voice was perfectly clear and had stunning tonality.

I also appreciated Lindo’s staging of this number. It was a perfect opening to this piece that pays tribute to those striking female groups. The number was filled with beautiful women all wearing simple black dresses and tiaras. They were smiling bright, and served as the perfect metaphor for the imprint they left on the American music scene.

Two performers who were simply breathtaking, and provided incredible vocals throughout the night were Aryia Canada and Michala Anderson. These are some incredibly talented young women who can harmonize immaculately. They were utilized well throughout the show, and provided impressive vocals all night.

Alby Winfrey’s set design was simple, but perfect. It was dominated by platforms, and levels that allowed for many entrances and exits throughout the production. As this is a show that slips into many different vignettes, it functioned very well. And of course, there was a meticulously rehearsed live band in the center of the stage. These guys (William Guy, Kenneth Hampton, Ulyssey Bailey, and Kent Crawley) were in-freaking-credible. They didn’t miss a beat all night, and they were responsible for most of my toe-tapping dance moves on the way out (I’m not sure if they want to take credit for that).

Ever so often we come across a production that moves us, and this was definitely one of those for me. There are only two more performances today, but you can still get your tickets if you hurry. You will be immersed in powerful musical numbers, and be given a platform to reminisce about all Those Gorgeous, Glamorous Girl Groups that left an imprint on your heart growing up. Warning: I will be there dancing again tonight. And it may not be pretty.

Those Gorgeous, Glamorous Girl Groups performs twice today at 2:00 and 7:00pm. For tickets and information contact the box office at 810-787-2200 or online at




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