South City Theatre Reviews Archive
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Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean at South City Theatre
Reviewed on August 28th, 2006 by Maree Jones
This past Friday night a group of
fellow thespians and I went to see
First of all, let me brag on the casting
of the play, which was very intelligently done. Cindy deSa as Mona and Donna
Littlepage as Joanna were two of my favorites. When Littlepage first came on
the scene as the transsexual Joanna, she had this regality to her which is
rarely seen on a
The best thing about all of these characters, however, was the fact that the way they were written was so complex that I actually felt like I know these women. At the climax of the play when Mona has her huge breakdown I immediately thought of many breakdowns I had witnessed by the women in my own family. My heart just felt for her. All of the characters had their own qualities that make them who they are, but what made them well-rounded characters was the fact that they all had their own stories as well. I saw more than one dimension of all of them, and that really impressed me. I felt empowerment as Edna Louise (Amy Donahoo) told Stella May (Mary Ann Kane-Garrett) that she felt sorry for her. I wanted to stand up and cheer, “Yeah girl, money isn’t everything if you’re not happy!!!” I didn’t of course, but my delight manifested itself in tears of joy.
If I had to be negative about anything in the production, though, it would have to be the costuming and hair choices. A few of the pieces felt too modern to be considered 1950’s or even 1970’s. I felt like I could go out and buy some of the outfits at the mall. And I think I may have seen a “Rachel” haircut on one of the women, too.
But you know, if that’s the only thing I
could find to really be a critic about, then I’d say you have a good
production on your hands. This is honestly the best non-musical I have seen
Arsenic & Old Lace at South City Theatre
Reviewed on June 9th, 2006 by Billy Ray Brewton
South City Theatre really
has a winner on its hands with "Arsenic & Old Lace", one of the
best comedic productions I have seen in the
That is thanks, in large part, to a script that is so intelligent and so engrossing. The story here is interesting. The two elderly Brewster Sisters are secretly killing lonely old men as their 'charity'. When their drama critic nephew discovers this, he is thrown for a loop. Throw into the mix a brother who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt and another with homicidal tendencies, and you get one hell of an entertaining ride, complete with corpses, cops, cuckoos, and Elderberry Wine.
Let's work our way from the top down. Donna Littlepage and Sally Montgomery are the fabric used to weave this story along, and they are absolutely delightful. Littlepage is in top form, as always, and Sally Montgomery adds all the right ingredients to their duo to make them the audience favorites from their first scene together through the curtain call. Two better actresses could not have been found for these roles. As Jonathan, the homicidal son, Todd Ponder seems like he stepped right off the last Broadway production of "Arsenic & Old Lace" – he was obviously born for this particular role. His intensity level was through the roof and you could tell he loved what he was doing. As Teddy, Richard Scott has probably the most fun role in the show and he delivers in a big way, never dropping his charming accent and always on his A-game. In two bit parts, Chris Nelson demonstrated a nice acting range that really had many audience members unable to tell he was actually two separate characters – I hate that I just spoiled the surprise. Dan Strickland's Dr. Einstein was wonderfully aloof, Kenny Morris' Mortimer had a nice Jimmy Stewart swagger to his performance, and Jay Smith and Jim Ruth were affective in smaller, yet crucial roles. But, the entire cast was on task for the show, including Nicole Berry as the very 30's era girlfriend and Anthony Pohl as the Irish cop who wants to be a playwright – his accent was sometimes hard to understand, but not for long.
Now, on to the set. This is, without a doubt, South City
Theatre's most massive undertaking in terms of set construction, and boy did
it pay off. The two story set comes
complete with a staircase, gorgeous decoration, and the kind of staging that
makes performing so much simpler for the actors. I loved the use of the stage without any
lights on and the use of the candles – this was a nice touch that many
directors don't take advantage of quite as often as they should. I loved how the hat rack on the stairwell
kept losing hats throughout the show – planned or not, it was very
creative. The director,
"Arsenic & Old Lace" was one of the best times I have had at the theatre in a long while and an absolute joy to see unfurl. It was the first time I had seen the production staged and I can't wait to head back out and see it again. This is a fine close to South City Theatre's 2005-2006 season, and if this is any indication of what the theatre has in store for next season, go ahead and mark me down for season tickets. I am sold, and you will be to after seeing one of the best shows of the past season, from any theatre in town.
The Fantasticks , South City Theatre
Reviewed on April 23, 2006 by Billy Ray Brewton
Fantasticks" is my second favorite musical of all-time. I have been involved with the production
before, I have studied the show a considerable amount, and I have seen a few
productions of it previously -- basically, I love the show. So, I was quite excited when I saw that
The show centers around two young lovers who are tricked by their feuding fathers and the scheming El Gallo, and eventually discover themselves through assorted adventures and happenings in the world.
In a sense, they grow up. There is not much to say about the production of the show because the production is supposed to be minimal -- there is very little in terms of sets, and the minimalism helps with the message of the show. It is very much the "Our Town" of stage musicals. So, the set was wonderful.
In terms of performances, we'll move from the top down. Jonathan Goldstein does not have the vocal range for El Gallo. This is not a negative comment so much as something I am just very use to. El Gallo has to be a baritone, borderline bass -- he doesn't have to be, but he needs to be. See Jerry Orbach for a perfect example. However, what Jonathan Goldstein lacks in vocal range, he makes up for in energy and panache and a real flair on stage -- you never get bored while watching him work. The two lovers, Amanda Davis and Brandon Triola, blend so nicely together and seem to have great chemistry -- however, the character of Matt was played a bit too arrogant and a bit too comical. Matt is a very naive character -- a young kid who acts too old. It was too slapstick, at times, and that took away from the slow progression of the character into adulthood. Amanda Davis handled this transformation much better. The two fathers, Tim Calhoun and Paul G. Barnes, were electric by themselves; together, however, there was something missing -- they just didn't find a connection on stage and it was very evident. Libby Medicus, as the Mute, was really just there, as is required by the character. For what it's worth, she did a fine job, but she really didn't have as much to do as the Mute does in most other versions I have seen. Finally, the highlights of the show were David Gregson and Chris Burch as Henry and Mortimer, the two bumbling actors who help stage the abduction. David Gregson was born to play Henry, and he hits all the right notes. Chris Burch is big and bumbling and perfectly cast and the Indian turned Pirate with the thick Cockney accent.
The biggest problem I had
with the show was the choreography.
Wow. This was most noticeable with the fathers. Most of the choreography between the two
was something you would expect to see in an elementary school production of
Most of the others songs also lacked any flair whatsoever in the dance department. I am just use to seeing the song "Plant A Radish" performed with much more movement and show. It was very disappointing to see it staged so sheepishly. Another problem with the show was comedy. "The Fantasticks" has some very humorous moments, but I noticed that some of them were woefully misplaced. The biggest example was during "Round and Round". This is supposed to be a dark song, an almost creepy song. You didn't get any of that here -- El Gallo was played as almost whimsical. More attention should have been paid to the mood of the production -- that would have been quite beneficial.
Now for the
positive. Some of the sequences really
dazzled. "The Rape Ballet"
was the highlight of the show, well staged, and unbelievably enjoyable. "It Depends On What You Pay" was
a very well done, with Jonathan Goldstein delivering his very best vocal, and
all three actors sparkling with energy that was lacking in some of the other
numbers. And, once again, Henry and
Mortimer stole the show with their few scenes scattered throughout. I guess I just wanted to see more of the
show that I love -- the show I have seen before. I was disappointed that some classic bits
from the show -- bits that were started in the original Off Broadway
production -- did not show up when I expected them to. For a show that looked as if it was trying
to hard to be authentic, it really did leave out some stuff that should not
have been discarded. Alas, I enjoyed
the show. I enjoyed it quite a
bit. This is a musical that every
theatre lover should so, and you will likely not be disappointed when you see
Inherit the Wind , South City Theatre
Reviewed on March 12, 2006 by Richard Metzer
This show marked my second South City Theatre experience and my expectations were high. The original film version of Inherit the Wind is one of my all-time favorite films and this was the first time I ever had the chance to see the stage version. Overall, I guess I would have to say my experience with this production was a mixed bag.
There was just something missing the entire night and I never could put my finger on it. It felt like half of the ensemble was really giving it their all and the other half was just there to be there.
Here were the problems I had with the show: (a) highs and lows. Some of the performers were completely over-the-top, while others were more understated than they needed to be. There was no balance with the performance; (b) the courtroom scenes. They were just inconsistent.
One minute they would be high speed and relentless, and the next they would be lethargic and yawn inducing; and, (c) some of the performances. Maybe I am being too harsh, considering this is a community theatre, but some of these actors were just not up to the level the material requires. Examples: the young guy who played Cates - -the individual the entire play is about -- looked uncomfortable in his own shoes. He and the girl who played Rachel had no chemistry at all, and some of his gestures were so rigid and unpolished. It looked like a ventriloquist's dummy was playing the role. I also had a problem with the Judge. I swear I caught him looking down at something during the second act, and I hope it was not the text. I am just going to assume he was trying to think of his lines or something, because that would take me to a totally new level.
But it was not all bad. There were some aspects of the show I admired. I very much enjoyed the staging of the production -- very small, yet very grand in scale. I loved the crowd reactions in the courtroom scenes -- very disruptive and very nice...they added some nuances that really gave so much to the production. As for the performances, the three leads made the show -- everyone else was either mediocre, or had such a tiny role, I could not tell. The three leads played Drummond, Brady, and Hornbeck, and they were exceptional.
Drummond and Brady were equally impressive with powerful and meaningful performances -- their courtroom scenes sparkled with impeccable dramatic timing. Hornbeck was played in a way I had never imagined and stole the show for most of the audience -- the swagger and the lecherous motions and gestures. The final scene between Drummond and Hornbeck was the best of the entire show.
Overall, "Inherit the Wind" is a decent enough theatre experience. I wanted more, but I guess I was expecting too much. I would certainly recommend to theatre lovers and to those of you interested in history that is coming back on us today.
The Odd Couple (Female Version) at South City Theatre
Reviewed on January 14, 2006 by Richard Metzer
This was my first trip to
South City Theatre since moving to the
Though the show gets off to a somewhat
slow start, things start picking up pretty quick, and once they do, they do
not let up for a moment. Tammy Salazar
White is strong as Olive, playing her as both sarcastic and cynical, though
someone you could easily imagine having for a best friend. Cynthia deSa brings the energy on stage to
a whole new level and left the audience rolling in the floor for most of the
night -- he facial expressions are absolutely flawless and hr comedic timing
is unmatched in the show. When the two
Spanish brothers enter, the show steps it up another notch.
I loved how the show tried to stay true
to an 80's theme. The music and the
clothing and the hairstyles made me very nostalgic. The set was fantastic, with a big kudos to
whoever inserted the Nagel painting into the first act. I came to
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare at South City Theatre by The Park Players
Reviewed on August 1st,, 2005 by Ryan Story
Now it might shock a few people for me to be so open about this but I really don’t usually like Shakespeare. Sure the plots are complex and the characters are multi-layered, but I just don’t go in for period pieces. I also find the early Modern English distracting because I spend too much time thinking about what is being said instead of enjoying the show. So you can see why I was less then thrilled to be going to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged! However, once I got into my seat and the show started up I found myself enjoying the show.
A lot of the reason I was having fun right off the bat was because of Grey Tilden. Tilden is one of only 3 actors in the show so you can imagine how crazy it gets when you have 3 people playing all of Shakespeare. Tilden came out at the top of show with so much energy it put the audience right on track for what was to come. He also decided to make his character gay without being stereotypical about it. His timing was on the mark and he never missed a punch line. Norman Ferguson, Jr. was also effective. I have seen him in a few things about town and have been pleasantly surprised each time. A. Clay Boyce rounded out the cast and gave the best performance I have seen from him. Boyce’s best moment was playing Titus Andronicus as a cooking show host. For audience members unfamiliar with Titus, it is perhaps Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. Watching Tilden come in as Titus’ daughter with a lisp (her tongue was cut out) made me laugh out loud.
Shakespeare, Abridged! starts out with Romeo and Juliet; that piece took so long I began to wonder how we were going to get through the other 36 plays in less then 4 hours. However, they put all of the comedies together since they felt it was basically the same plot. The Histories all got tossed in together, too. Actually, they covered everything except Hamlet in the first act. With all the other plays covered so quickly I wondered how they would make a whole act out of a single play (and a tragedy at that) funny. They did it, though. Then, when it was all said and done, they did Hamlet in 60 seconds. Then they did it in 10 seconds. Then backwards. Before running it backwards we were warned to listen for the satanic messages. There was one alright, and it got the biggest laugh in the show.
The only major disappointment was Othello. I know another responder to the show stated he liked it. I found it offensive. Trying to figure out who would play Othello out of the 3 actors they had, the troupe went though a few PC jokes. I never thought being PC was very funny. Then, since Othello is a Moor they decided to rap the play since all of the actors on stage were Caucasian. Of course Othello is usually played by an African American so I guess they thought rap would be funny. It wasn’t. Are we, as an audience, supposed to automatically connect rap with African Americans? Can only African Americans appreciate rap music? Can only African Americans actually perform rap? What about the Beastie Boys? Where do they fall? Now it may actually be in script that Othello is supposed to be rapped. If it is then I find it rather short sighted to think that the playwrights didn’t think that at some point someone besides a Caucasian would actually perform their material. Even if it was in the script then it is still as offensive.
Now that I am off my soapbox I would like to say it didn’t ruin the moment for me. I still enjoyed the rest of the show and would actually recommend it if it were still running. This was, by far, the best show Park Players has done and I am looking forward to seeing their next production, Twelfth Night.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare at South City Theatre by The Park Players
Reviewed on July 30th, 2005 by Billy Ray Brewton
After seeing "The Shape of Things" the night before, I needed something lighthearted and whimsical to replace the cynicism and good natured badness of a Neil LaBute piece. "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" provided just the relief my senses needed -- a mindless, madcap romp through some of the most beloved pieces of English literature the world has ever known. This was one of the better staged shows I have ever seen by Park Players, though minimal to no direction is required, as the actors are given most of their instruction by the playwrights. Credit the actors then for turning such a hodgepodge of material into something moderately cohesive and highly entertaining.
"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" is a two-act piece. The first act covers every single Shakespeare piece, minus one. Act Two covers "Hamlet", arguably the Bard's most accomplished piece of literature. Most of the dramas are handled with one of the actors portraying the female lead, while "Titus Andronicus" is presented as a cooking show. "Hamlet" becomes interactive as audience members are asked to portray various levels of Ophelia's mind, including the id and superego. While the first act covers most of Shakespeare's work, Act Two is, by far, the more humorous of the two.
My personal favorite was a cockeyed attempt at a rap song to sum up "Othello" for the masses -- watching three overly white Caucasians attempt rap beats and rhyming slang was quite enjoyable.
The cast couldn't have been any better. Norman Ferguson, Jr. stole the show, especially when he broke out his banjo and warded off a verbal assault from a menacing group of three year olds. Grey Tilden was highly effective as the gentleman usually responsible for the cross-dressing. It was quite obvious that he was, by far, the youngest of the three actors, but he certainly kept up, and outperformed, at times. And, as usual, A. Clay Boyce was as off-the-wall and engaging as you could imagine -- especially during the "Titus Andronicus" cooking show, and whilst performing with hand puppets. These three actors really elevated this piece above its typical level, threw in some local humor, and delivered in a big way.
Adding to my enjoyment
was the fact that this was not shown outside in the 100 degree temperature,
as with most Park Players show. This
was the extended third weekend at the newly renovated and more than spacious
South City Theatre in Alabaster,
The Coarse Acting Show at South City Theatre
Reviewed on June 11th, 2005 by Scott Sims
There is a lot of truth in the old saying “Dying is easy, Comedy is hard.” That truth comes forward with any comical theatrical production, but is especially apparent with South City Theatre’s latest offering.
The premise of this hilarious comedy was inspired by Michael Green’s book, “The Art of Coarse Acting”. This very funny book teaches actors how to act by telling them what not to do. If you want to be coarse, or “rough”, just follow the guidelines, which were founded on amateur acting mistakes. The book proved so popular with theatrical types that scripts began to be written to illustrate these acting mistakes and production problems. Thus, “The Coarse Acting Show” was born. The best of these scripts take on some seriously dramatic classic works and show how unintentionally funny they can become when in the hands of amateur actors and crew members.
And that’s where the hard part comes in. The key to the comedy is being a good enough actor to play the part as a serious amateur actor who is soon over his depth while swimming in a production full of mistakes and mishaps. If you play the part as if you are doing a comedy, you lessen the humor. Quite a minefield to maneuver. And South City Theatre does an excellent job of handling this difficult job by making it look easy and fun.
With a cast and crew of over thirty people,
With such a large cast and so many comic moments, I hesitate to single out any for mention. But hesitation has never stopped me before. George Scott’s Inspector in “Streuth” is delightfully Clouseau like. Cindy deSa is a hoot as the Cook in “Streuth”, the Conductor of the orchestra in “Il Fornicazione”, and Ida Hepplethwaite in “Sweet Tea”. Donald Cano shows strong force as the Leader of the Hunt in “Il Fornicazione”, the God Pan in the Shakespeare parody, and Queequeg the cannibal in “Moby Dick”. B.J. Underwood showed great physical comedy and focus as Alfonso, the lover, in the opera and the Stationmaster in “The Cherry Sisters”. David Gregson’s delivery of all his lines were pitch perfect as James the butler, Grandpa Hepplethwaite, and Grot, the Elizabethan loon. Billy Ray Brewton’s Ishmael has a great accent and comic timing that anchors the swirl of activity found in “Moby Dick”. A comic highlight to me was the spoof of the avant-garde “Last Call for Breakfast”. I have seen a performance of some of Samuel Beckett’s theatre of the absurd and it cries out for parody. The dancers who begin this segment were very funny in their serious choreography. They were followed by the performances of She and He, played by A.J. Hancock and Pete Moffatt. This pair of young actors received some of the loudest laughs of the night with their inspired dance moves, dramatic line delivery, and “important” gestures. Then we have the appearance of Sugar Cube, played by Carly Strickland, who clearly is embarrassed to be in such a show and says her lines as if she were forced to be in the part.
There are so many different comic moments that the night is really like a comedy buffet; everyone will find something that tickles their funny bone. It makes for a really fun evening of entertainment, with the emphasis on the word fun. This many-layered production also reminds us all, in its deliberately clumsy way, of the immediacy and unpredictability that makes live theater so engaging.
The Crucible at South City Theatre
Reviewed October 8th, 2004 by Scott Sims
direction of Alan Gardner, South City Theatre has again produced a qu
The key here is
strong direction and accomplished acting.
Alan Gardner, with assistant director Diane Daniels, displays a sure
hand in the directing category. Alan
also did the stage design which is simple, functional, and invokes the dark
mood of the piece. In regard to
performances, the main triangle presented by
Don’t see this play because it is historical or because your English teacher would be proud of you. See this play because it is Fall and nothing celebrates the season more than enjoying well done theatre. Theatre that will entertain you while at the same time exploring the darker aspects of human nature.
The Night of January 16th at South City Theatre
In 1933, the year The Night of January 16th
was penned by Ayn Rand, unabashed sexual liberty and a soulless devotion to
the more base practices of industri
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