Rhonda Clark, Director of “Distracted” currently showing at Carpenter Square Theatre likes to make the audience work a little bit, as does author Lisa Loomer. Nevertheless the cast makes the show look easy even though it is certainly difficult. The humor and relativity of the subject reaches out to every parent and teacher as they witness the tough choices parents can be facing. “Distracted” is a comedy with a question rather than a message.
Mona Campbell does an exceptional job of creating Mama, the young mother trying to wade through the system with a child diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. No one can be quite certain if ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) is a condition, a disease or the normal behavior of an active but difficult child. The play takes Mona through the funny yet heartbreaking discussions she has with teachers, doctors and friends and neighbors as she and her husband struggle to find answers. Dad is well played by David Burkhart and son Jesse is realistically played by Ian McDougall. These three establish a believable family unit who face this daunting challenge with humor as they attempt to educate themselves about an increasingly common situation with no clear answers.
Weaving throughout the show several actors portray the teachers, psychologists, physicians, administrators and neighbors and they all take many parts. Dana Palmer shines in her several roles ranging from UPS delivery man to psychologist to teacher. Mary Ingram also manages her numerous roles distinctly and with distinction. Andy Neill portrays Dr. Broder, Dr. Jinks and Dr. Karnes and while he does a wonderful characterization with great humor, he would do well to differentiate them a bit more solidly. CheyAnne Strickler is Natalie, the neighbor’s teenage daughter who has also been through the maze of school induced psychological counseling and either suffers from a severe condition, or is she simply over-medicated. Strickler lets Mona and the audience sees what happens with treatment run amok.
Angela Curtis is delightful as neighbor and advisor as Natalie’s mom, she has seen it all. Lana Henson’s portrayal of the very wacky neighbor Vera is amusing and catalytic.
And the work is worth the effort. Because Clark takes advantage of the humor and sympathy of the characters Loomer has created with a good cast the work isn’t very hard—but it is still quite scary. Scary because it is commonplace to face what these parents face and risk losing the childhood of a child. The bureaucracy and insensitivity within the system are frightening burdens, but this play gives the audience hope that one answer exists. That answer is to accept and love the child created in love, then do the best you can do.
“Distracted” is showing through June 9, 2012 at Carpenter Square Theatre. Carpenter Square is located at 800 West Main and tickets are available through the box office at 405-232-6500 or at email@example.com.
For anyone who has never performed in a comedy, it may come as a surprise that it is incredibly difficult to be funny. Correct timing and tone (and some flexibility) is a requirement. That being said, anyone who has seen a Reduced Shakespeare Company Show will know that this talented bunch has discovered all the secrets of a successful comedy.
Founded in 1981, The Reduced Shakespeare Company took on the task of tackling large topics in a limited amount of time. For one weekend only, RSC is bringing two of their gut-busting productions to Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre. OKC theatre patrons can catch performances ofThe Complete World of Sports (abridged) and Completely Hollywood (abridged) in the Freede Little Theatre at the Civic Center Music Hall. After their performances this weekend, the RSC crew is taking their show across the pond for a 5 week tour in the UK and a 6 week season in London’s West End.
The troupe consists of three performers, Dominic Conti, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. All three perform marvelously under pressure. In Thursday night’s performance of The Complete World of Sports (abridged) all three actors proved they were obviously skilled improvisors. The trio (who also wrote and directed both shows) engaged the audience in a performance with minor tweaks that gives the show a home-town feel. Sporting jerseys from the Thunder, OU Sooners and OSU Cowboys, the actors gave a run-down of the histories of a variety of colorful sports from every continent. They kept the audience laughing all night with lots of quick-paced action, physical comedy and witty jokes.
The Complete World of Sports (abridged) has one more performance left on Friday, May 18th at 7:30pm (that’s tonight, by the way). After that, they switch gears and take on Completely Hollywood (abridged) Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 1:30pm. If you see one, you will want to make sure you see the other, so make sure you clear your schedule for both shows!
There is a lot going on this weekend, but with such a limited time to see this talented group perform, this is not one to miss. For more information, visit City Rep’s website at cityrep.com, or call the box office at 405-848-3761 for tickets.
-written by Victoria Stahl
Erin Woods, Managing Director at Reduxion Theatre Company, adapts and directs “Sense and Sensibility” at the Broadway Theater, located at 1613 N Broadway Ave. The adaptation stays true to the central idea behind the conception of RTC—revisit the classics, distilled. Her retelling of the Austen novel doesn’t stray from the themes of the popular story, but tweaks a few details that definitely make the show more relatable to today’s audiences. This is her second original adaptation, and I’m anxious to attend the next RTC production (the Jane Austen Festival, June 14-16) to see the stage reading of her first adaptation, “Pride and Prejudice”.
The show stars Jennifer Wells as Elinor (Elle) and Rachael Barry as Marianne. While the story, as all Austen novels are, is ostensibly about the business of getting a husband and starting a life, “Sense and Sensibility” is one of the only Austen novels that portrays the heroine’s family as sympathetic characters, rather than bumbling idiots who nearly ruin her entire life. Wells and Barry play well as sisters, and embody the true theme of the novel—I love my sister more than anything, even if she is truly ridiculous sometimes. Less central to the story but still the impetus behind every twist in the plot are the other women in the play. Mrs. Mary Dashwood, played by Kris Schinske; Mrs. Jennings, played by Elizabeth Ann Brooks; Fanny Dashwood, played by Siobhan Morava; and Lucy Steele, played by Holly McNatt all do an excellent job portraying the various archetypes characterized in the novel. My favorite performance, though, is that of Taylor Munholland as Mags. She had few speaking lines, but manages to project her entire character mainly with body language and facial expressions.
While the women of the play do the heavy lifting of moving the plot along, the object of all their struggles are certainly the men. Timothy Berg plays John Dashwood, Willoughby and Thomas Palmer—I had no idea he plays all three, he does a fantastic job differentiating between the three of them. Tyler Woods plays Colonel Brandon and definitely gives him a more masculine attitude than I ever get from the novel. Ian Clinton does a great job with Eddie Ferrars, and I love Paul James as Jonathan Middleton.
Presented in the round, the theater itself gives opportunities to update the story. The characters walk through the audience members, chatting with them, asking them to hold their coffee mugs, etc. Costume Designer Stephanie Orr, with assistants Caitlin Yost and Amy Kercher, do an amazing job dressing each character for their part. The musical numbers that are interspersed throughout the play by Musical Director Kristin Marie Stang are a great foreshadowing device. While I don’t feel that every single idea works, Woods and Catherine Pitt (Production Stage Manager) make sure that this new retelling is entertaining and fresh. Call 405.651.3191 or go to http://reduxiontheatre.com/Tickets.html to reserve tickets. Take your sister!
– Keely Womack
The worst aspect of the Theory of Evolution is that it may also run backwards. Can a species go through a process of devolution? Or is it just a case of the older generation wondering what the younger generation is coming to? Irresponsibility is the height of fashion and many individuals are unable to face themselves and their truth. Denial is a favorite psychological buzzword because it is so prevalent.
Ghostlight Theatre Club is currently showing “An Impending Rupture of the Belly” by Matt Pelfrey which addresses these concepts by chronicling the inevitable disintegration of a man unable to face himself. Clay is a young man nervous about impending fatherhood and in attempting to create a perfectly safe environment. He is incapable of making rational judgments. As a result he makes a series of decisions that are ultimately fatal and as he descends into madness it is obvious that he is not alone in his weakness. Each character in the story is completely out of touch with reality and unable to determine their motives are control their emotions.
Craig Pruitt is outstanding as Clay, the young father to be trying to do the right thing. As he has never really discerned the difference between right and wrong he is influenced negatively by others. His wife, Terri, brilliantly played by Jeni White goads him into action, yet withholds important information. Another influence that is deadly is that of his friend and supervisor, Eugene played by Jason McKelvey. The obviously negative influence of Clay’s wastrel brother, Ray is handled perfectly by Mike Waugh. Ray is a loser musician who mooches off his relatives, cannot hold a job, indulges in mind altering substances and cares nothing for anyone else. Yet Waugh shows perfectly that his character has some idea of what he actually is and is therefore the most redeeming person in the story. As Clay disintegrates in personality his confrontation with the dog owner who refuses to use a pooper scooper in Clay’s yard, one sees that his unnecessary rudeness is a catalyst for Clay’s loss of control. Christopher Robinson captures this rudeness with ruthless accuracy. Rounding out the excellent cast is Mason Pain whose performance as Adam expresses his momentary confusion and shock that so quickly becomes acceptance.
This is not a show for the faint of heart, but it is a show for the faint of integrity. Pelfrey comments on the deplorable state of our society in a way that makes as think, using humor that allows us to relate to the characters actions. He is trying to scare us. Under the direction of Lance Garrett, he succeeds. The play is staged well with a minimalist set and an excellent use of lighting by Scott Hynes.
“An Impending Rupture of the Belly” can be seen at Ghostlight Theatre Club located at 3110 N. Walker in Oklahoma City. Show times are 8pm every weekend through May 19, 2012. For ticket information contact www.ghostlightokc.com or call 405-286-9412.
“Cheaper by the Dozen” is the delightful tale of an American family encapsulating the flavor of the early twentieth century exactly. Written by two of their twelve children, Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, “Cheaper by the Dozen” chronicles the family life of the Gilbreth as they lovingly embrace their parent’s theories of motion economy. Frank Bunker Gilbreth and his wife, Lillian Moller Gilbreth believe that reducing and eliminating unnecessary movement saves time and effort, and they put their ideas in practice with their children.
As the story takes place the eldest child, Anne is growing up and discovering her feminine allure. As most fathers, Mr. Gilbreth does not immediately recognize her need to ‘waste’ time with silly boys. And, like most fathers, he ultimately recognizes the need for silk stockings and dances as daddy’s little girl grows up.
The play is a very accurate slice of Americana and while this production is quite accurate at the core there is one minor difficulty. Daughter Anne is overall nicely portrayed by Jessa Schinske, however her vocal tone is exceedingly whiney. While many young women go through a somewhat whiney stage, young ladies of this era would invariably hear: ‘Do not speak to me in that tone of voice, young lady!’ Because Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth never chastise Anne for this tendency it apparently not an issue and Director Linda McDonald would have done well to steer Schinske away from this interpretation.
Overall, McDonald’s direction of a young group of actors is good. Ernestine is delightful and quite comfortably portrayed by Rachel Conn. Ben White is a very endearing Frank Jr. Gigi Grotta as Martha and Alex Fulmer as Bill contribute mightily to the production. Joshua Ferguson as Dan and Nathan Ferguson as Jackie as well as Hannah Hunt as Lillian and Gavin Keen as Fred give very nice performances from the younger set. McDonald’s staging on the lovely set enables these actors the freedom of movement and action their exuberance requires. Rounding out the cast of young people, Wesley Sweigart as Joe Scales and Courtlin Kilhoffer as Larry, Anne’s two gentlemen callers are good renditions of the amusing young men of the day.
The adult cast includes John Q Wilson as Dr. Burton and Carol McDonald as Mrs. Fitzgerald who add a very nice flavor to the production. Chris Harris as the indomitable Miss Brill captures the regimental personality perfectly.
The parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth are portrayed nicely by Rob May and Kris Grimes. Grimes bring Mrs. Gilbreths quiet self-confidence to the fore and May has developed the character of Mr. Gilbreth with outstanding genuine truth. His great love and respect for his family and the human race is evident and May shows the audience the conviction behind the Gilbreth theories in his performance.
With the exception of the one jarring note, McDonald has done a superb job with this cast and production for Poteet Theatre audiences. “Cheaper by the Dozen” is certainly an important picture of American culture during this time period and lays the foundation for much of our modern cultural attitudes.
The opportunity to discover “Cheaper by the Dozen” at the Poteet Theatre is available through May 6, 2012 with performances at 8pm Thursday through Saturday and 3pm on Sundays. The Poteet Theatre is at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, located at 222 N.W. 15th Street in Oklahoma City. For ticket information contact 405-609-1023 or visit poteettheatre.com.
Mark Brown’s adaptation of the beloved Jules Verne story “Around the World in 80 Days” is being presented at Jewel Box Theatre through May 6, 2010. Directed by Robert Woods, this production is lighthearted fun for the audience and an actor’s showcase for the cast.
“Around the World in 80 Days” requires a highly professional attitude from the cast members, and Woods has directed a production that delivers. The roles are complicated, confusing and crackpot, yet the entire cast performs smoothly encouraging complete immersion from the audience.
The story unfolds as Phileas Fogg a wealthy and somewhat stuffy Englishman bets his cronies that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. He sets off with his secretary on an adventurous journey around the earth.
The role of Phileas Fogg is smartly played by Kurt Leftwich, his dry and humorless façade captured perfectly. His secretary, Passepartout is wonderfully portrayed by Philip Wiles. Jessica Mahon plays Aouda, the sweet young thing they rescue on their journey. Scott Doyle plays Detective Fix who follows the group believing Fogg to be an escaping bank robber. Wiles also plays the role of John Sullivan and Mahon is also cast as James Foster, a priest and a newspaperman. Doyle is cast in 8 other roles besides Detective Fix and he handles each role beautifully. Rich Bailey has 17 roles and each individual character is fleshed out perfectly with hilarious results. Bailey’s performance is exceptional. The position of the Foley Artist is done with exactly the right amount of tongue in cheek humor by Roger Oxford
The play is continually amusing as the characters must finagle themselves out of a series of scrapes in order to meet their deadline. The audience is completely drawn into the story, so it is only upon later reflection that one sees the difficulty in performing all of these roles. The entire cast maintains a professional standard that enchants the audience and Woods good direction begins with great casting.
Woods has also taken advantage of a great crew for “Around the World in 80 Days” with Mimi Lynch putting together excellent costumes and Turner Beal keeping a technically difficult show running with the precision of a Phileas Fogg. Technical Director for the Jewel Box, David Hester, and Richard Howells, Set Construction with Lighting Designer James Gordon rounds out the technical aspects nicely.
“Around the World in 80 Days” is an excellent show for families or couples. Now is the time for consideration for Gem Award nomination and this show should garner several nominations. Rich Bailey in particular is quite deserving of such a nomination. “Around the World in 80 Days” has capped the 54th Season for the Jewel Box Theatre, and we are now looking forward to the 55th Season beginning with “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“Around the World in 80 Days” plays through May 6, 2012 with performance times at 8:00pm for weekend performances. Sunday matinees are at 2:30. The Jewel Box Theatre is located in the annex of their sponsor: First Christian Church at 3700 N. Walker in Oklahoma City. For reservations visit jewelboxtheatre.org or call 405-521-1786. The box office is open afternoons Tuesday through Friday so call soon as “Around the World in 80 Days is likely to be a sell-out show!