Jewel Box Theatre’s production of ‘The 39 Steps” is a charming and entertaining event, well worth an evening of your time.
The script, a light and witty satire of classic Alfred Hitchcock film scenarios, needs sharp timing, precise and clear diction, and lots of stage and theatre ‘magic’—the kind that usually requires a proscenium stage, with wings, flies and special lighting. Jewel Box, with its open, “in the round” construction, would not be considered an ideal setting for this show; however, director Jennifer Teel renders The 39 Steps beautifully. Her cast, most of whom are faced with the need to be many, many people, have adapted to the needs of the piece and deliver solid and engaging performances.
Kevin Logan as Richard Hannay is the only actor who has the luxury of not changing identities, and in return he has to carry the piece. Logan does this ably, bringing the audience along for an exciting ride through various scenes parodied from classic Hitchcock films. Logan is well partnered by Crystal Ecker, who plays her several roles—femme fatale, trapped woman, and ingénue—with equal deftness and grace.
Richie Rayfield and Matt Barger handled the roles of the two Clowns very well. The ‘hat’ scene demonstrates the cleverness with which these two actors switch among several character parts with only a change of headgear and vocal styling.
To address the needs of an “in the round” production, director Teel has introduced the character of the “Foley Operator,” which is theatre jargon for “the sound effects person.” In this role, dressed as an orchestra conductor and occupying a ridiculously tiny “orchestra pit,” Chris Rodgers very nearly steals the show. Teel, using Rodgers’ talented and elastic face perfectly, weaves him into the show seamlessly—although the character does not exist in the script!
Rodgers and Ecker both demonstrate a sharpness of timing that heightens the dramatic silliness of the show. Logan, called upon to think on his feet constantly, managed perfectly when a prop malfunctioned, and he covered the situation with aplomb. Barger and Rayfield bounce from character part to character part with alacrity and skill.
“The 39 Steps” playing at The Jewel Box Theatre at 3700 N. Walker is a light and thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre. The show runs through February 10, 2013 and tickets are available at the box office. The box office phone is manned Wednesday through Friday afternoons for reservations by calling 405-521-1786 at those times. Curtain is at 8pm Thursday through Saturday with Sunday matinees. Step up to the adventure and catch “The 39 Steps” at the Jewel Box Theatre.
For any organization, thriving for 50 years is a major accomplishment, and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma has defied the odds and will spend 2013 celebrating its 50th Anniversary in style. Deciding what show should open such a monumental season must have been challenging, but Lyric’s Artistic Director Michael Baron decided on SOME ENCHANTED EVENING, which will run January 30 through February 16 at the Plaza Theatre. The production is a rousing review of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music featuring songs from CINDERELLA, OKLAHOMA!, THE KING AND I, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and many more.
“SOME ENCHANTED EVENING is the perfect way to open our 50th Anniversary Season because, in a way, the show is a celebration of theatre itself,” said Baron. “Rodgers & Hammerstein gave so much to the world of musical theatre and many of their creations have appeared on Lyric’s stages throughout its 50 years.”
There are five cast members that will make up the main characters of the show, but this production of SOME ENCHANTED EVENING will have a special feature: each performance will include a returning actor from Lyric’s past. Notable performers include Marilyn Govich, Lyn Cramer, Charlotte Franklin, Jane Hall, Bob Windsor, Lexi Windsor, Matthew Alvin Brown and many more. Performing during every show will be regional favorites Dallas Lish, Jamie Buxton, Heather Geery, Ethan Spell and Melissa Griffith.
To view a full schedule of guest performers visit LyricTheatreOKC.com. Tickets to all of Lyric’s 2013 shows are now on sale and are available for purchase online, at Lyric’s box office at 1727 NW 16th Street or by calling (405) 524-9312. Performances will be held at the Plaza Theatre at 1725 NW 16th Street. Performance times are Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Guest post by Michaela Webb
“The Good Counselor” opens Friday, January 10th 2013 at Carpenter Square Theatre at 800 W. Main in Oklahoma City. Written by Kathryn Grant, the story takes on the question of nature versus nurture, and how the realities of racism and classism can twist situations that may at first seem straightforward. The play is directed by Rhonda Clark, with Rehearsal Stage Manager Jaefinn Carr and Production Stage Manager A’mari Jo Rocheleauthe and Light/Set Designer James Polk Wilson. The show runs through February 2nd. Specific show times, tickets and directions are available at www.carpentersquare.com.
The play opens with Rita (Bernadette Puckett) getting ready for church. One of the things that is really interesting about this production is that her character has relatively few speaking lines—you get the gist of who she is mainly through body language and exposition from the other actors. We spend the majority of our time with Rita’s two sons, Vincent and Ray. Vincent (played by Stephen Dillard-Carroll) seems the prodigal son returned—a successful attorney, well-liked by the community and with plenty of money to slide over to his family despite his job as a public defender. Brian C. Scott is fantastic as Ray, who flails at the other end of the spectrum without steady employment, trying to overcome a longstanding drug problem.
The status quo is upset when Vincent is asked to defend Evelyn (Radonna Carter), on trial for the death of her newborn son. Evelyn and Vincent take their time getting over their preconceived notions of each other. Evelyn is the epitome of ‘white trash’—uneducated, rude, and offended by the idea that she must be defended by a homosexual black man who could not possibly know anything about her life. Ray has little sympathy for a woman who failed so spectacularly at parenting when his own mother survived similar circumstances. A little guidance from his boss, Maia (Lana Henson), helps soften Vincent’s opinions about Evelyn and, consequently, reexamine those about his own mother. Some of the suspicions Vincent harbors about Evelyn are perhaps projected from his own childhood as he is unable to face those realities himself.
While not all elements of the production flow seamlessly, the play is well produced. Clark’s use of popular music between scenes is an effective segue from one setting (or era) to another. Wilson’s train trestle, always in the background, serves as a constant reminder of both where the characters are and where they come from. Dillard-Carroll’s Vincent makes it clear that he suffers from survivor’s guilt, and Scott’s Ray is clearly someone who was never allowed to get over his childhood foibles and neglect. Carter’s shrill Evelyn is a trapped, frantic young woman who most of society wants to forget. Henson is the production’s quiet conscience, reminding us that just because empathy is not automatic doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. Puckett’s Rita is stoic and defensive, having done the best that she could.
It is wonderful and lovely that we’re getting shows like this in Oklahoma. CST consistently produces shows outside the usual fare offered, and we’re lucky to have the opportunity to see them without having to travel too far. Go see “The Good Counselor”!