Wednesday, July 20, 2011

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR • St. Louis Shakespeare

In the latest production from St. Louis Shakespeare, Mistresses Ford and Page are up to mischief in Windsor.

Sir John Falstaff (Martin Casey) is broke when he visits Windsor, and plans to woo Mistresses Ford and Page (Suki Peters & Jamie Marble) to get at the wallets of their husbands.  Fellas, if you're gonna write a nearly identical love letter to two women, make sure they don't find out about it, please.  That's the mistake Falstaff makes.  Once the Mistresses find out, they are bent on making a fool of him -- not really a difficult task.  Master Page (Chris Jones) doesn't give this buffoon much thought, but Master Ford (Ben Ritchie ) is jealous like crazy, so he disguises himself as "Master Brook" to try to get to the bottom of the "Fat Knight" and exactly what his intentions are.  Mistresses Ford and Page have a great time causing Falstaff to endure all kinds of humiliation as payment for his sloppy flirtations -- everything from being submerged in a filthy mess of smelly laundry to being poked and prodded by the local townsfolk.  Poor Falstaff.  In the end though, everything turns out fairly well.

Suki Peters (Mistress Ford) and Jamie Marble (Mistress Page).
Photo credit: Kim Carlson
This play may not be known as Shakespeare's best, but once it finally takes off (which takes a while), it's an enjoyable little romp.  There's a synopsis in the program book, which is helpful for those who may not be all that familiar with the plot.  *Points at self*…

This production, directed by Todd Pieper, was bolstered by a top-notch cast all around.  Suki Peters and Jamie Marble were a joy to watch as Mistresses Ford and Page.  Emily Adams was another standout as Mistress Quickly along with Ben Ritchie as the jealous Master Ford and Martin Casey as Sir John Falstaff.  Jennifer "JC" Krajicek's costumes were absolutely beautiful and there was nice work by James E. Slover's lighting and Cristie Johnston's scenic design.  Shakespeare lovers will want to check this one out for a nice production.

Martin Casey (Sir John Falstaff) and
Suki Peters (Mistress Ford).
Photo credit: Kim Carlson


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Todd Pieper
Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square
through July 24 | tickets: $15 - $25
Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Thursday at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2pm

Suki Peters (Mistress Ford), Ben Ritchie (Master Ford), Jamie Marble (Mistress Page), Marissa Barnathan (Anne Page), Chris Jones (Master Page), Casey Boland (Doctor Caius), Emily Adams (Mistress Quickly), Phillip Dixon (John Rugby), Paul Devine (Sir Hugh Evans), Carl Overly (Host of the Garter), Martin Casey (Sir John Falstaff), Ruman Kazi (Nym), Austin Pierce (Fenton), Tim Callahan (Shallow), Ben Watts (Slender), John Wolbers (Pistol), Joshua Nash Payne (Simple) and Emily Jackoway (Robin).

Costume design by Jennifer "JC" Krajicek; scenic design by Cristie Johnston; lighting design by James E. Slover; stage manager, Lydia Crandall.

Monday, July 11, 2011

THE CRUMPLE ZONE • Citilites Theatre

Ah, the holidays.  Supposedly a time of mirth and merriment for families and friends right?  Well, not always.  If there's one thing this play about infidelity, love and friendship demonstrates, it's that the holiday season can be just as unfulfilling for gays as it can be for straight folks.  Sounds like an engaging play though, right?  Well, not really.

Set in a small apartment in Staten Island, our cast of characters includes Terry (Keith Thompson), the incredibly lonely and neurotic unemployed actor who has a tremendous crush on Buck (Troy Turnipseed). But Buck is the lover of Alex (Seth Ward Pyatt), Terry's roommate.  He's working as a Santa Claus at the Staten Island Mall.  Then there's Matt (Anotnio Rodriguez), Alex's long-term boyfriend who is out on the road touring with a musical adaptation of "Salem's Lot".  There's also Roger (Devin Przygoda) who is picked up by Terry on the Staten Island ferry.

As the play opens, Buck and Terry are stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree, waiting for Alex to come home and listening to lovelorn messages on the answering machine from Matt to Alex.  Terry is going on and on about his disgust with the happy ending of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" when Alex enters with stories of being peed on by obnoxious children.  Buck  spends much of his time trying to convince Alex that he should move in with him, while Terry spends most of his time with long diatribes bemoaning the fact that he is alone.  Naturally, Matt unexpectedly shows up at the end of the first act.

In the second act Terry and Buck try to convince Matt that they are together, but Matt knows better.  What follows is drunkenness and a little truth-telling.  Alex, after telling Matt that it's over, leaves to be with Buck, and Terry is left to try to console Matt with a story about crash test dummies.  Yes, here's where the title comes in.

Devin Przygoda (Roger), Troy Turnipseed (Buck)
and Keith Thompson (Terry).
Photo credit: Juan Castillo
Written by Buddy Thomas and directed by Marsha Hollander Parker, I had a couple of problems with this one.  First, it was just kind of boring -- your basic love triangle with some gay guys thrown in.  Secondly, the pacing is a little off.  The character of Terry seems like the one that should have garnered our sympathy and laughs, and he does get most of the best lines, but many don't quite land.  Although Keith Thompson's Terry is full of skittish energy and has some funny moments (particularly one scene where he tries to seduce Buck with a lip-synced version of "Nevertheless, I Love You"), he pitches the majority of his lines at the same rhythm and tone, so when the jokes do come, they're hard to differentiate from the delivery of anything else.  It was also hard for me to feel anything for any of the characters, really -- they were all pretty underwritten.  Alex and Matt are a major part of this love triangle, but we never learn much about Matt, and I never really got the sense that Alex was torn between Buck, his new lover, and his boyfriend, so if he doesn't care, why should I?  I also felt like I could "see" most everyone acting.  Not good.  Troy Turnipseed came off as the most realistic for me.  On the technical side, the set by GP Hunsaker, lighting by Steven J. Miller, costumes by Alexandra Scibetta Quigley and sound by Seth Ward Pyatt and Heather Tucker all worked well.

Maybe the performances will come together later on in the run, but still, this rather generic play lacks what it needs to make it truly memorable.  


Written by Buddy Thomas
Directed by Marsha Hollander Parker 
Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Ave.
through July 24 | tickets: $15 - $20
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm

Keith Thompson (Terry), Troy Turnipseed (Buck), Seth Ward Pyatt (Alex), Devin Przygoda (Roger) and Anotnio Rodriguez (Matt).

Costume design by Alexandra Scibetta Quigley; scenic design by GP Hunsaker; lighting design by Steven J. Miller; sound design by Seth Ward Pyatt & Heather Tucker; choreography by Janet Strzelec; stage manager, Lisa Beke. 


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