Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reasons to be Pretty : San Jose Stage Company : Cast Challenged by Material

LaBute’s gift for creating dialogue with pitch-perfect realism and authenticity puts Mamet to shame. Conversations are composed with a deceptively mundane naturalism that could cause one to overlook the keen observations being made.

The total impact of what is really being said is largely dependent upon the ability of the actor to deliver the full resonance of the words. That being said, not all of the cast members are up to the task.

Stephanie, who’s introduced spewing a flood of profane invective, must possess a complexity and vulnerability to engender any sympathy, let alone empathy. Despite her best efforts, Ms. Verady never quite succeeds in playing the right note.

The remaining three players are more successfully portrayed, particularly by Robert Brewer, who brings a depth to Greg, the central character, who at first glance could easily be mistaken as ordinary.

Will Springhorn Jr., as Greg’s friend Kent, provides the requisite testosterone filled charisma as a philandering jock, but his macho bravado would benefit from just a bit less intensity.

Allison F. Rich, on the other hand, shines as Kent’s wife as she deftly traverses a challenging range of emotions with a wonderfully magnetic subtlety. She’s quite good.

Notwithstanding the uneven performances, this provocative play manages to be both acerbic and sentimental. I wholeheartedly endorse spending two hours of your time supporting local theatre at its best!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweeney Todd : Sunnyvale Community Players : Enthusiastic Cast Highlight Production

Minimalist but effective production, with a hard working cast with varying degrees of vocal and acting talent. It's bolstered by some genuinely creative staging and the good fortune of being accompanied by a live orchestra.

The lead is competently portrayed by the gigantic Walter M. Mayes. His sheer physical stature lends the part a unique gravitas which his performance would be lacking otherwise.

On the otherhand, Ruth E. Stein's Mrs. Lovett is polished to a bright lustre, both in singing prowess and comic-timing.

The remaining cast members carry their weight, with honorable mention to Jordan Pajarillo, who's superb vocal interpretation and earnest characterization of young Tobias almost steals the show.

Enjoyment of the overall experience was tempered only by some annoying audio problems and poor execution by the lighting crew.

Disappointingly, the theatre was undeservedly half full on a Saturday night. Please support your local repertory companies, South Bay!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shopping: The Musical : Bobrow Productions : Outstanding Original Revue

A wonderful ensemble cast, featuring a series of clever, comical musical vignettes on the topic of shopping. Not a musical in the strictest sense, but a contemporary revue without any discernible storyline, but an underlying theme which is universal.

Most of the sketches hit their targets successfully and are often laugh-out-loud funny. The only flaw I could observe was the lack of electronic amplification which proved to be a disservice to some of the performers during the choral numbers. Perhaps one or two members of the cast could temper the volume just a tad? Otherwise, the tiny "theatre" and minimalist production requires little in the way of fancy props or equipment.

Oh, and the hard-working and talented piano accompanist, Ms. Dwyer, is stunningly beautiful to the point of distraction!

A great evening out for those who do not require the window dressing of the larger, high-priced venues. Have fun!