“Money Matters” the final Jewel Box Theatre production for the season gives the audience a sense of delightful farce and British style comedy. Carole Brendlinger submitted “Money Matters” to the Jewel Box Original Playwriting Competition in 2002 and earned a well-deserved first place for the script. Don Taylor directs this production which has been brought back by audience demand. Taylor does a marvelous job of directing; actors have the opportunity to deliver some truly great one-liners and the audience has the opportunity to appreciate those moments. The action takes place in 1894, the basic story concerns a young questionably principled gentleman who decides to rescue his family status by marrying money, but he is unable to open his heart to his enthusiastic bride due to his mis-understanding of propriety. The young bride has married for freedom, marriage brings some independence to a woman and this is what she craves. There is lots of sexual innuendo revealed through double entendre—a very amusing set up.
One envisions Cary Grant in the lead role automatically. The actor Taylor has chosen comes close enough as a second choice to make the audience forget about the debonair Grant, and enjoy the interpretation of Chris Briscoe. His portrayal of Holden Latimer, a man who has no understanding of women is excellent and highly amusing.
Another Kris, Kris Schinske portrays the bright young bride and heiress, Catherine Latimer. Her expressions are hysterical, her timing is perfect and her physical understanding of the time frame is exact. This is a case of perfect casting on the part of the director and Schinske handles her character with the surface wit and interest indicative of the times, yet gives the audience a glimpse into her heart without any flutters – simply by using a flutter or two!
The old family solicitor, Mr. Pemberton, is well executed by Paul Smith. His rendition of a brilliant lawyer whose age has allowed him to become comfortable, so he is secure enough to not worry about those senior moments and this makes his confusion in the dialogue realistic. His ability to keep a straight face is outstanding.
Emily Mitchell is Annie Malloy, Mrs. Latimer’s long time Irish maid. Her brogue is very nicely done, however her strength is definitely in the reactions to the confusing events and her double takes are priceless. She has a wide-eyed stare with big baby blues indicating the mid-Victorian ‘whatever’ that draws the modern audience in with ease.
Randall Hunter plays Kendrick, the butler who has been with the Latimer family for many years. This character is the glue that holds the play together because, as is often the case, it is the butler who holds the family together. He seems ready for any curve that may be thrown to him and takes care of necessary business without the slightest blink of the eye. Yet, Hunter is able to convey to the audience with his subtle expressions an absolute understanding of the stupidity and desperation of his master’s plight. He is the perfect butler and brings to mind the Jeeves we have always loved in P. G. Wodehouse.
The last scene of the show seems a little weak, possibly some dialogue has been cut out. If this is accidental, upcoming performances will be stronger as the dialogue indicating transitions is restored. Nevertheless, the actors are able to overcome the slight confusion to bring everything back together for the end. The show is appropriate for most audiences; however it is the wiser generations who will appreciate it the most.”
“Money Matters” appears at the Jewel Box Theatre through May 8. Performances are at 8pm Thursday through Saturday with Sunday matinees at 2:30. The Jewel Box Theatre is located at the First Christian Church, 36th & Walker in Oklahoma City. First Christian Church sponsors Jewel Box Theatre. The address is 3700 N. Walker. For additional information visit Jewelboxtheatre.org or call the box office at 405.521-1786, Tuesday through Friday afternoon. Performance dates are through May 8. For the review posted on Newsok.com, click the link: newsok.com
The Pollard Theatre continues Seasons of Laughter with “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” a surprising musical. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is a musical based on a successful movie about two con artists creatively bilking unsuspecting wealthy women of their assets. The screenplay by Dale Laudner, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning is full of wit and twists. The book by Jeffrey Lane should be a good read. However, the musical does not translate fully. Music and Lyrics by David Yazbeck create an average musical for a great cast. Unfortunately, good directing and solid casting do not counter the fact that reducing witty repartee and complicated set ups to a series of song and dance numbers eliminates much of the nuance and challenge created in the original movie.
Nevertheless, under the expert guidance of W. Jerome Stevenson the cast of the Pollard production has put together a very solid show. Gregory Hopkins and Wil Rogers are exceedingly charming and creative performers with high professional standards. Their characters (with extremely low professional ethics) come across as the sort of connivers a woman simply can’t resist. Both actors are polished as well as dashing. Excellent performances are also turned in by Michael Edsel, Susan Riley and Beverly Caviness. While the lyrics are not memorable, the performances are superb. Although the songs do not carry the story line with as much wit as the story itself demands, these actors manage to insert as much as possible with expression and body language. Cory King, featured as the Oklahoma gal is delightful in her role.
Kacy Southerland, Jake DeTommaso and James Hughes also lend their considerable talents to the large cast. Trinity Goodwin, Timothy Stewart, Preston Isham, Megan Montgomery and Stephanie Neu provide additional quality to the overall production. Brandt Sterling, Tiffany Tuggle, John Richey, Clayton Blair and Arianna Taxman round out this exceptional cast with power and talent in their ensemble roles.
In addition to his position as Director, Stevenson collaborates with Todd Malicoate for Musical Direction quite well. Matt Kemp is Stevenson’s colleague with the Sound Design. Set and Light Design are by Don Childs. While there are a few relatively minor technical glitches in the production, the only jarring technicality comes in the costuming by Designer Michael James. Some of the costumes indicate a time line which does not appear to exist and some costumes do not. Some of the costumes seem unlikely and some unnecessarily unflattering.
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” can be seen through May 8, 2011 at The Pollard Theatre in downtown Guthrie, Oklahoma. Curtain goes up at 8pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s with Sunday matinees. For more detailed information or tickets contact the Box Office at 405.282.2800. The Box Office is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Or anytime online at http://thepollard.org.
OKC Improv twists the audience into apoplectic seizures once again with their line-ups. “The Ones Your Mother Warned You About” are, as always, outstanding as they seize a zany idea delivered by some hapless member of the audience and create improvisational humor around the idea with brilliant one-liners made up on the spot. Cristela Carrizales, Buck Vrazel, Clint Vrazel and Raychel Winstead deliver a series of six different ‘couple’ dialogues that reveal a complete understanding of common misunderstandings. Humor is very revealing, reminding us of the universality of miscommunication, and misdirection. That is, if we can stop laughing long enough to catch our breath!
“Red Letters” is a performing couple consisting of Bryan Buckley and Alyssa Buckley. This hysterical twosome carries the concept just a little further. A dynamic duo based on comedy and married can really explore and exploit each other’s quirks and foibles. The result is fantastic. Alyssa Buckley has extremely subtle and devastating expressions while Bryan Buckley seems surprisingly sensitive in a rather insensitive manner. The couple have been performing together since 1995 and have recently moved to Tahlequah. Close enough to grace the OKC Improv group often!
“Fortune’s Fools” is an interesting concept. A cooperative effort between Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and OKC Improv, the group works very much like a Shakespearean troupe maintaining the style, cadence and language if the Elizabethan era. How much of classic Shakespeare was inspired by Elizabethan actors horsing around? Possibly a lot. Curt Coy, Shane McClure, Christopher Curtis, Sue Ellen Reiman, and Buck and Clint Vrazel manage to maintain the cadence of the language throughout the performance. Occasionally, the structure falters, as a suggestion from the audience (set at K-Mart!?!) forces the improvisation in improbable directions. The audience suggestions create a dynamic that is hysterical and this is much of the charm inherent in improvisation. Some enchanted evening an audience will stick to suggesting appropriate locations and situations that will be even more hysterical to lovers of Shakespeare.
OKC Improv also showcases the fantastic improvisers in “C4: A Red Dirt Special”, “Short Order Crooks”, and “Villain: The Musical”. Other acts to look forward to in the upcoming schedule are “Two’s Company”, “Alternate History” and “Twinprov: Rap-sody” at 8pm April 9 and “The Laughing Stocks”, “The Adventures of Puddles & Fartbox” with “Stretchin’ It” at 10pm April 9. April 16 features “The Laughing Stocks”, “Fortune’s Fools” – back again! and “Villain: The Musical” for the 8pm show and at 10pm, Brad Porter followed by “Sketchers in the Wry” and the fabulous “MiDolls”. The following week OKC Improv will appear on Friday rather than the usual Saturday and feature “Spotlight Improv Students”, “Everybody and Their Dog” and “Red Letters” (yeah!) for the 8pm show and at 10pm Magician William Rader opens followed by “Counterpoint: A Red Dirt Special” and “Twinprov: Rap-sody”. On Sunday, May 1, OKC Improv will appear on the Café Stage at 3pm for a special performance at the Festival of the Arts.
OKC Improv brings together some great talent offering an evening of exciting and sometimes racy comedy giving Oklahoma City the relief and joy of deep belly laughter. Performances take place at the Ghostlight Theatre Club at 3110 N. Walker in the Paseo District of Oklahoma City. And as announced elsewhere. For additional information visit www.OKCImprov.com or call 405.343.1570. To access this critique on line visit newsok.com.
Back in the days of the Great Rebellion, many of us didn’t know much about bluegrass. Hearing the term made us think of Kentucky, but not Bill Monroe. Everything was about Rock & Roll. New and original, Rock & Roll is the music of a generation. Eventually we ran across The Flying Burrito Brothers and one of the best Rock & Roll experiences ever – “The Last of the Red Hot Burritos”. We discovered Byron Berline on the fiddle and we finally discovered bluegrass. We began to trace back Byron’s history in music and fell in love with bluegrass, and every album of every group Berline has been affiliated with. What a fiddle!
The first British music invasion really takes hold in Appalachia. Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh ballads evolved into distinctly American folk music and became the foundation of Country Music, Gospel Music, Bluegrass and Rock & Roll.
Some years ago a beautiful and talented young lady saw a photo of a tall drink of water in the athletic department of the University of Oklahoma. He was holding a football in one hand (his strength) and a fiddle (his soul) in the other. He had a twinkle in his eye (his heart), and that certainly looked interesting. Sooner or later they teamed up and Bette and Byron Berline have been the basis of a strong collaboration ever since.
In 1995 they moved to Guthrie Oklahoma (Bette’s hometown) where The Double Stop Fiddle Shop is located. What a great place for fiddles and fiddlers, violins and violinists – if one doesn’t know the difference it’s easy to find out – mandolins, banjos and guitars. Buying, selling, repairing, but most of all playing and pickin’. Just above the friendly music store is the music hall where the Byron Berline Band often plays on a Saturday night of joy.
Berline was taught to play by his father Lue Berline and his many collaborations from The Bluegrass Boys with Bill Monroe to Byron Berline and Sundance, then Berline, Crary & Hickman have given him the foundation to assemble the best of the best. They came to jam and jelled into The Byron Berline Band. John Hickman on banjo, Richard Sharp on the bass fiddle, Greg Burgess on fiddle and guitar, Jim Fish on guitar and Steve Short keeping tempo on the drums join Byron for a little bit of string heaven. Everyone vocalizes a bit, but the voices of Sharp and Fish are especially melodious.
The Byron Berline Band also has frequent guest artists from Mason Williams to Barry “Bones” Patton (on cowbones –isn’t it great?) adding to the fun and great music. Cowboy crooner Jim Garling is a favorite and his voice and guitar add a wonderful dimension to the evening.
Saturday evening performances take place at 7:30 at the Double Stop Music Hall above the Double Stop Fiddle Shop at 121 E. Oklahoma Avenue. The spring schedule continues with April 9 and 23, May 21 and June 11. May 7 features a special appearance at the fairgrounds for Western Swing featuring Leon Rausch so pull out the dancin’ boots! For more information about finding oneself at the best place and the best time visit www.doublestop.com or call 405.282.6646. The Byron Berline Band, wherever they are is where there is “fiddlin’, pickin’, and a whole lot of grinnin’ goin’ on!”