Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

James Monroe Iglehart Making his Broadway Debut!

This is so fantastic! James Monroe Iglehart who has performed in so many Bay Area Productions is making his Broadway Debut this Friday in The 25th Avenue Putnam County Spelling Bee. You may have seen him recently in Smokey Joe's Cafe at AMTSJ. If you are a fan of Foothill's shows you will remember him from Sweeney Todd and Ragtime. Go James!

Want to go to New York to see the show? Get tickets here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Little Slice of Heaven - "Enchanted April" at Bus Barn Stage Company

How is your April going? Does it need a little magic? Yes, you say? Then you must get over to the Bus Barn Stage Company before May 5th and see Matthew Barber’s, Enchanted April. This production directed by the multi-talented, Shannon Stowe makes for an absolutely enjoyable night of theatre. Barber’s adaptation of the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim is surprisingly well written. How often does a novel, turned into a movie, then finally a play, get nominated for a Tony Award as Best Play (2003)?

Barber’s script strikes a perfect balance between humor, sentiment and plot. Four women, with very different personalities and problems, sneak off on a holiday to an Italian villa in order to get away from men and their pasts. But when, Lottie Wilson, played wonderfully by Laura Jane Bailey, decides that she misses her husband and that she must send for him, and come clean on the scheme, the conflict and comedy burst forth as husbands and wives, a landlord, and a jilted lover are forced to live together in what Lottie keeps reminding us is supposed to be “paradiso.”

One of the funniest moments on stage involving the character of Mellersh, Lottie’s husband, and a bath towel, had me and nearly every audience member in absolute stitches. John Romano, who plays the role, displays an ability with physical comedy as good as anything I’ve ever seen. In fact, every actor in this production is absolutely wonderful. Laura Jane Bailey is funny, feisty and touching in the role of Lottie Wilton. Her scenes with Sally Clawson, who plays Rose Arnott, are priceless. Ms Clawson is perfect as the long suffering, Rose, who so wants to bust out but just can't seem to do it. Gemma Beddo Barozzi is perfect as the beautiful socialite Lady Caroline Bramble. The character requires an actress with outstanding acting ability and striking beauty. Ms. Barozzi fits the bill in both areas. Ken Boswell captures the complexity of his character Frederick Arnott with a multi-layered portrayal. Jeanie Forte provides many laughs as the Italian housekeeper Costanza. She speaks only Italian throughout the entire show both with her voice and her body. It was just delightful to see. William J. Brown III as Antony Wilding, the owner of the villa, plays his character with real charm. He seems so completely wonderful and selfless, until we see his disappointment when he finds out that his guests aren't widows. I found it hilarious to see his disappointment creep out. The most riveting performance of the show is given by Beverley Griffith who plays Mrs. Graves. Her physicality, voice, and her character's point of view and journey, were so full and rich that I left the theater talking about it for hours. I hope we see her again soon.

Something that really struck me was how each of the actors really seemed to grasp that wonderful conflict between propriety and desire that makes British comedy so enjoyable. Director Stowe has orchestrated something truly magical in Los Altos - this production is one of the best I’ve seen this year. Get over to the Bus Barn before May 5th for a little taste of heaven.

Enchanted April by Matthew Barber. From the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim.

Directed by Shannon Stowe.

Scenic Design by Ron Gasparinetti.
Costume Design by Gloria Grandy.
Lighting Design by Brendan Bartholemew.
Sound by Rich Miller.
Properties/Production by Nichole Y. Hamiltion.
Stage Manager is Nancy Park.
Master Carpenter is Charles McKeithan.
Assistant Stage Manager is S. Conner.
Cast: Laura Jane Bailey, Gemma Barozzi, Ken Boswell, William Brown, Sally Clawson, Jeanie Forte, Beverly Griffith, John Romano

Theatre: Bus Barn Stage Company, 97 Hillview Avenue, Los Altos, CA
Through May 5, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Amnesiacs at City Lights, War and Remembrance at A.C.T. and Nostalgia at AMTSJ

This week I saw three very different shows at three theatres. The first was After the War at A.C.T. in the beautiful Geary Theatre. The set is constructed as a three story building that spins on a turntable to reveal various rooms and staircases in a boarding house. The thing is huge and it creaks as it turns. The actors were able to continue acting as it turned. It was quite a wonderful piece of stage work.

I also saw a free pre-view of Smokey Joe's Cafe at AMTSJ. James Monroe-Iglehart was wonderful, especially when he danced. I always loving seeing him dance. He's a large powerful man who looks like he should be on the front line of the 49ers, not a musical stage. But then when it's time for him to bust some moves, he's amazing!

And...last night I saw Voluntary Amnesia a City Lights in San Jose. What a fantastic show it was! Nichole Hamilton's direction and the excellent acting all around made this thoroughly challenging and enjoyable. Some of the comic character acting was just wild. It was great to see a brand new face to the bay area theatre scene, Lia Fischer from Chicago, bring her expert comedy to the stage. I hope we see a lot of her in the future.