Friday, December 30, 2011

Can I just talk about Stephanie J. Block for a minute? • Thank you.

Hello again theatre peeps, and Happy Holidays!  You know what the Holiday season brings -- among many other things, it's also typically when I ramble on about random stuff, so here goes…
I love Stephanie J. Block, aka, Broadway Crush #1.  I know, big surprise.  Why you ask?  Well, the first time I saw her was when she came through St. Louis with the first National Tour of WICKED as Elphaba in 2005.  That show is what prompted me to see more theatre.  I just thought to myself, "I enjoy this too much to not do more of it".  The rest is history.  Okay.  Not really history, but you get my point…

Saturday, December 10, 2011

KRAPP'S LAST TAPE • The Black Mirror Theatre Company

Samuel Beckett wrote of his character in KRAPP'S LAST TAPE, "Krapp has nothing to talk to but his dying self and nothing to talk to him but his dead one."  This hour-long, one-act, one-man classic is said to be the closest thing to an autobiography he'd ever written, and its current staging, the second show from the newly founded Black Mirror Theatre Company, is marvelous.  

The space where the show is presented, the Firecracker Press on Cherokee Street, is a graphic design studio and letterpress printshop.  This showroom is filled with handmade posters, stationary, and a ton of other little artistic knick-knacks for sale.  In enlarging Krapp's profession to include printing, this location served as the perfect backdrop.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO • New Jewish Theatre

The plays I've seen from The New Jewish Theatre often seem to be these intimate little "slice of life" affairs that offer lessons that sneak up on you.  This 1997 Tony Award winning play by Alfred Uhry (author of DRIVING MISS DAISY), with solid direction by Gary Wayne Barker, is no exception.
It's the Holiday Season in a 1939 well-to-do German Jewish community in Atlanta, Georgia.  "Gone With the Wind" is about to make its film debut, and a flighty, young Lala Levy (Rachel Fenton) cannot wait to soak up the atmosphere of this highly anticipated premiere.  Lala's social climbing mother, Beulah "Boo" Levy (Peggy Billo), is more concerned with securing a suitable gentleman to take Lala to "Ballyhoo" -- an annual celebration for southern Jews that culminates on the last night with a dance.  Lala, a college dropout who's not the most popular girl, is one of the only ones in her circle of friends who is still unmarried.  Lala and Boo live on one of the finest streets in Atlanta with Boo's single brother, Adolph (Greg Johnston), head of the Dixie Bedding Company, and their seemingly simple and endearing sister-in-law, Reba Freitag (Laurie McConnell).  Although they boast a Jewish heritage that goes back 150 years, the Levys and the Freitags have hardly any idea what it means to be Jewish, aside from a couple of Yiddish words here and there.  They are so assimilated into the predominantly Christian South that the opening scene has Lala decorating their Christmas tree -- without the star on top (which makes it okay).

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