The sun may come out tomorrow, but the stars will certainly be out each night through December 14 at the Poteet Theatre in Oklahoma City with a stellar production of “Annie”. Director Shawna Linck has taken advantage of some of the great students and talent in the area and gives opportunity to two great casts with the younger set. The Red Cast and the White Cast play alternately, and while this review speaks to the performance given by the Red Cast, word has it that the White Cast is just as fantastic.
The Red Cast title role is beautifully handled by Meg Linck. Linck’s exhibits a sound degree of professionalism as well as dedication to the craft. Add to that outstanding talent and Annie comes to life in “Annie”. She is a joy to watch.
The role of Daddy Warbucks in all cases is well handled by Cordell Jordan. While Jordan seems slightly overwhelmed and disconnected in his initial scenes, W. C. Fields did remind us not to play opposite children and dogs. Yet Jordan overcomes the handicap with aplomb and an easy going and lovely rapport develops between Daddy Warbucks and Annie due to his confidence and effort.
While the cast is far too large to compliment every member individually whether they are ensemble players or in supporting roles, suffice it to say that each cast member approaches their performance with a degree of confidence and dedication to rival Broadway productions. However, certain stand out performances deserve special mention. First of all, Miss Hannigan is the woman we love to hate in this production and Jessica Sigman brings an intense enthusiasm and integrity to the role of a woman with no integrity and less enthusiasm.
Kristen Jackson is a superb Grace Farrell, secretary to billionaire Warbucks. Her voice is clear and crystal. She bridges the scenes between the orphanage and the mansion beautifully. Other notably excellent performances are found in Chris Harris as Frances, Randall Hunter as Drake, Jennie Linck as Annette, Heather Newby, rising starlet, Bryan Whorton as Rooster, Christy Smith as Lily, Jack Nortz as Bundles and Patrick McGinnis as F. D. R.
Once again, the room is not large enough to recognize all the outstanding performers of all ages who deserve recognition and applause. Room must also be left for the room itself, or set. Director Shawna Linck designed a beautiful set for this production. Costumers Jenifer Dear-Mayo and Jay Prock created beautiful costumes with many of them provided by Jeffrey Meek & Lyric Theatre of OKC. The authenticity created by the creative efforts of the team under Linck’s direction provides an excellent foundation for the cast to perform competently and confidently. They are all stars to be.
Oh, and W. C. is agitating. Don’t forget that the Linck family also debuts Henry Linck as Sandy the Dog. He does very well and wags his tail with enthusiasm for well-deserved applause.
“Annie” plays through December 14 at the Poteet Theatre located at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. The address is 222 N.W. 15th Street in Oklahoma City. For ticket information visit www.poteettheatre.com or call 405-609-1023. Call soon as this show is likely to be sold out quickly!
What constitutes normal? The musical “Next to Normal” reveals an entire family ready to settle for just normal enough to function. And to play such a dysfunctional family requires an entire cast of off-the-charts superior talent. The cast of “Next to Normal” is such a cast. The powerful book and lyrics are by Brian Yorkey with music by Tom Kitt. The award winning musical achieves the pinnacle of a Pulitzer Prize in 2010.
“Next to Normal” is not a musical that is fun and frivolous; this is a serious drama about an extremely important subject presented in a powerful voice, backed by an exciting band. “Next to Normal” plays at the Freede Auditorium in the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City through November 20, 2011. This production is a piece with all the power and all the voice for anyone afflicted with a mental illness and even more importantly, anyone who loves another.
CityRep presents “Next to Normal” under the excellent direction of Michael Jones. Charles Koslowske as Musical Director leads a fantastic band in accompaniment to the exceptional voices of a professional cast. A starkly depressing yet beautiful set from Scene Designer Amanda Foust provides an excellent backdrop for Jones to stage effectively.
So many versions of mental illness are labeled and mislabeled manic depression, bipolar disorder, erratic mood swings, depression and grief. Almost everyone is connected personally to someone suffering from a form of mental illness and an objective perspective is virtually impossible.
For years the character Diana Goodman is haunted by her demons and ghosts. Her diagnosis is manic depression or bipolar disorder. Not only is the illness profoundly ruining her life, it is just as devastating for her family. Playing the role of Diana is Stacey Logan. Logan brings to the role a complete understanding of the illness, a superb vocal talent and the interpretation of a confident and brilliant actress. The audience is completely bowled over by this outstanding performance.
Lane Fields as husband and father Dan is every man and woman in the audience with a family member who has been saddled with such a diagnosis. Anderson Daniel is the picture of every lost child haunting a family closet whose name brings too much pain. Natalie comes to fearful life in every move and expression of actress Jennifer Hiemstra. Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden are both played by Matthew Alvin Brown and his god complex strikes the gut with great power. Jordan Justice as Henry, Natalie’s young and initially irresponsible yet sanely normal teen boyfriend brings a much desired ray of hope to the characters.
While the music and lyrics and story of Yorkey and Kitt are superb and well deserving of great acclamation, it is the subject tackled that makes this show Pulitzer material. This is an indictment of the medical community, particularly the psychiatric community for categorizing grief as mental illness in the first place. Accolades should be given to the sponsors of this production, particularly those in the Psychiatric industry for the guts to back this production.
Technically, the choice made by Sound Designer, W. Jerome Stevenson and Jones to provide individual microphones for each cast member rather than placing microphones strategically on stage is questionable. Individual microphones create greater mobility and versatility in staging yet can dampen the vocal quality of voices in cases where the singers have the diaphragm to carry the sound and fury to the back of the auditorium. This is a cast of powerful voices. The Freede Theatre is a space able to acoustically handle these beautiful voices without individual microphones thereby giving an even greater clarity to these powerful performances.
For tickets call 405-848-3761. If you are a mental health professional, patients and families need your attendance. For everyone else: you are not alone.
Wow! Reduxion Theatre presents an inspired “Hamlet” for Oklahoma City patrons. Under the expert direction of Erin Woods, seven cast members portray twenty-four characters superbly. William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” takes place in Denmark and Woods has placed the time period in 1938. The demeanor of the cast reflects the Elizabethan Era and the minimalist set denotes the stark contrasts of pre-war Europe.
Kyle Gossett, Music Director and Composer, accompanies the action and transitions on piano. The score is very nice and serves to enhance the action. Costume Designer, Jessa Raye Court, with assistance from Susan Tetreault, dresses the actors ideally for the mood, allowing them to mesh with the characters perfectly.
The role of Hamlet is superbly performed by Tyler Woods. Woods interpretation is in many ways subtle as Hamlet descends into madness. His pain is obvious yet his lunacy is shocking. Woods is an outstanding Hamlet and should receive the highest acclaim for his work.
Robert Shaun Kilburn portrays both King Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the old king Hamlet. Costumes are similar, faces are identical and the royal presence is profound in both characters. Yet the differences are clear and the audience has no trouble distinguishing between them. Kilburn’s movement establishes the difference concisely. The contribution of Clint Vrazel as Movement Coach is obviously a factor, and Kilburn uses this asset to advantage.
Sam Bearer is Stage Manager and plays seven, yes seven!, different roles differently. Costume variation, musical accompaniment and lighting help define the specific personalities, but once again, Bearer has the advantage of a movement coach with Vrazel. From Polonius to the Gravedigger, from the Captain to Francisco, from Osric to the Priest or the Player Villain, Bearer captures each individual securely.
Rob Gallavan plays four characters and once again each role is achieved with clarity and sensitivity. Gallavan is magnificent as Laertes, excellent as Guildenstern, believable as the Player Queen and exceptional as Marcellus. Gallavan is a good actor.
Lindsey Ruta has five roles. Her Ophelia is wonderful and her madness is almost soothing as one understands what Ophelia has experienced. Her Rosencrantz is wonderful, and Bernardo, Cornelius and Fortinbras are all incredibly unique.
Horatio, Voltemand, and the Player King are the roles taken by Leavell Javon Johnson. Again each individual has clarity and integrity. Johnson’s seamless performance create a crucial flow in the progression of the show.
Angie Duke as Queen Gertrude is also outstanding. Although her costume is initially worrisome, her performance overcomes the insecurity. She is, in fact, illuminating in spite of the fact that she is not quite playing with a full deck. However, her portrayal of a Player is appropriately and fortunately a bit dimmer.
As the play concludes the inevitable eruption occurs. Swordplay must be handled convincingly. And so it is. Fight Choreographer, Matthew Ellis makes it so. Woods and Gallavan are precise, flamboyant and controlled.
This production of “Hamlet” is not a show one should assume one knows. This “Hamlet” is tragic and interesting. This “Hamlet” gives to modern audiences the “Hamlet” Shakespeare wrote. It is nice to see it as if we’d never seen or read it before.
The Reduxion Theatre Company shows “Hamlet” through November 19 at the Broadway Theater located at 1613 N. Broadway Avenue in Oklahoma City. For tickets call 405-651-3191.