Friday, June 30, 2006

At war with the snob within

As a part-time professional theater snob, I know I’m not supposed to like “Cats.” The famous feline musical was flogged by critics back in the early 80s and has the ignominy of representing the pinnacle of the “all spectacle, no spine” shows of that era. But it’s easy to overlook that even the infamously nasty Frank Rich said, “Whatever the other failings and excesses, even banalities, of ‘Cats,’' it believes in purely theatrical magic, and on that faith it unquestionably delivers.”

I’ve seen “Cats” only once. When they announced the eminent end of its run on Broadway, my wife and I packed up our two theater-loving daughters (5 and 6 at the time) and headed north. Just because I was a snob, there was no reason to keep the kids away from the chance of a lifetime. I was all prepared to be haughty with distain over the show, went into the theater with my nose already pointing towards the ceiling. But surprisingly enough, like gazillions of people before me, I too was transported by that theatrical magic Rich describes. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It reminded me of the first time I saw “Star Wars;” I knew it wasn’t “art,” in the full sense of the depth and breadth that art can be, but darn if it wasn’t an thrilling good time just the same.

Which is all just preamble for a short comment on the production of “Cats” that SPARC is preparing. I saw some of the pictures of cast members in full costume and makeup yesterday and it’s clear that SPARC is going all out on this one. Just seeing the cats in costume gave me a glimmer of that magic again. I wasn’t particularly jazzed about “Cats” before yesterday. But now, I’m thinking that even though swim team championships are that week and the American Idol concert is that Saturday and there’s always 42 other things we should be doing, the T family will be figuring out some way to see this production.

One more little tidbit: the first “official” Beatles stage show opens this week in Las Vegas. I think Circe de Soleil is cool as all get-out and I certainly enjoy my John, Paul, George and Ringo. Still, I can’t find anything in this announcement that excites me in the slightest. Are there people out there who were pining for this show?

I’m heading out of town for the holiday weekend so I won’t be adding anything to this blog until after the fireworks have all gone boom. That doesn’t mean you can’t be commenting away in my absence though (you are out there, aren’t you?) As per “Coffee Tawk,” feel free to talk amongst yourselves. Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 29, 2006


So I’ve updated the entry on “The Full Monty” to include a link to my review (which I’ve only seen online not in print – when will Style get around to home delivery?) but I’ve got to take this opportunity to mention something that didn’t get in my review. There’s a scene relatively early where we first meet Pam, Jerry’s ex-wife, as she storms into the strip club bathroom. Well, during the performance I saw, the lovely and talented Jacquie O’Connor rushed onstage and tripped, a big loud percussive-sounding trip, and very nearly face-planted. My wife gasped and I think a few other folks did too.

The amazing thing was she was right in the middle of her opening line but she barely missed a beat. I don’t remember exactly but I think she might have even ad-libbed something about having too much to drink. Regardless, she went right on, never letting on that her big toe was probably throbbing in pain. I’m sure a lot of folks didn’t even notice and, those that did, were probably just as impressed as I was. The effect on the show was nil; in fact, I would have forgotten all about it if she hadn’t reminded me about it later (sorry Jacquie!).

This to me is one of the most striking things about real professionals, the ability to improvise and carry on as if, “no really I meant to do that.” I think some folks (those who have never been onstage) think actors rehearse so much that everything is just rote by the time the audience sees the final product. With all the curveballs that get tossed during any production, large or small, you can tell the real brilliant folks by the way they can hit even the slipperiest pitch out of the park.

Which reminds me, I came across a listing for this book called “Stop the Show!” which is supposed to be a collection of onstage accidents and which, if it includes stories half as funny as some of the ones I’ve heard, should be a scream. It’s only available for pre-order now, but I expect will be worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Giving Ms. Sanford her due

A few posts ago I lamented the eminent departure of Foster Solomon and Susan Sanford and compiled a short list of links to my reviews of some of Mr. Solomon’s work. Below are some links to just a few of Ms. Sanford’s greatest hits.

Susan has shown an amazing range even in the relatively narrow category of Shakespearean plays, from a fairy in “The Tempest” to a merry wife in “The Merry Wives of Windsor (Farms)” She’s also worked for almost every theater in town, including the Firehouse (“Batboy” for instance) and Swift Creek Mill (“Songs for a New World.”)

But some of her most memorable stuff has been for Theater IV both as a director and an actress. And when I think back on roles where she made the biggest impression on me, I’d have to say that it’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Forever more, she will be the quintessential Lucy in my book.

Best wishes for a good transition westward, Susan and Foster.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Excuse to Expound

To start off the week, I thought I’d use the courteous and educational response from Ms. Liffick at RSF as an excuse to expound further on “Shrew.” I whole-heartedly agree with several of Cynde’s statements: 1) the script of “Shrew” allows for an assortment of interpretations, 2) it is this variety in possibilities of interpretation that make Shakespeare an enduring wonder and delight, and 3) I don’t think Kate is “tamed” in what might be considered the conventional sense.

I’ve seen versions of “Shrew” that play up the suffering Katherina has suffered, through insinuations of actual abuse or, at least, through constant unfavorable comparisons to Bianca. This suffering has turned her against the world and twisted things in her mind so that no one can ever be worthy of her. I like this interpretation because then Petruchio’s hijinks succeed because they parallel what Kate is doing emotionally. That is, Petruchio finds fault with any food brought to Kate so that she ultimately is nearly starving. Similarly, by finding fault with every potential suitor, Kate is starved for love.

I’ve also seen productions that have illuminated in many ways how Kate is actually a very honest and liberated woman. They’ve usually done this by focusing on the “shrewish” ways of Bianca and “the widow,” who by playing the courting game as was expected at the time, turn out to be much more manipulative and in some ways deceptive than Kate.

What I particularly liked about the current RSF production is that it is insinuated that Katherina and Petruchio are instantly attracted to each other, something I’ve never seen highlighted before. To me, that point reinforces both points above. Petruchio’s behaviors – which can come off as downright abuse in some productions – are underscored with affection. Kate is also more willing to cut Petruchio a break because she already loves him on some level. And in a core irony in “Shrew,” by playing through the bizarre charade both Kate and Petruchio come to a more honest and equitable relationship than any of the other new couples in the last scene.

I guess the only unfortunate thing to me is how completely subservient and unironic Kate’s last speech is. Maybe if Petruchio had one last opportunity to wax poetic on what a wife is to a husband, I would leave the show feeling like some mutuality had been established, rather than dominion confirmed.

Thanks a lot, BTW, Cynde for your insight. I hope you’ll weigh in on “MacB” when his time comes!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Current reviews

I’ve updated my entry on “Taming of the Shrew” to include a link to my review. Also, there’s a review in today’s Style of “Nijinsky’s Last Dance” by the lovely Lea Marshall, talented dancer and poet. This definitely seems like the kind of show where a real dancer has more insight than a two-left-footed, “haven’t busted a move since disco” hoofer like me would.

I thought that my review of “Full Monty” would show up today but, as you now know, I sometimes know as little about the ultimate disposition of my reviews as you do…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Enjoy them while you can

Thanks to TVJerry, I just found out that Foster Solomon and Susan Sanford will be moving away from Richmond soon (I'm assuming they're taking their little one with them as well). This talented couple has done some amazing work in Richmond -- including what I guess will be their area swan song as Petruchio and Katherina in RSF’s “The Taming of the Shrew” -- and they will be missed. Perhaps a plaque should be installed at the spot on the stage at Agecroft Hall where Foster proposed?

I first spoke to Foster when he was preparing to do Hamlet; I remember him being a great interview. His subsequent turn as the Danish prince was exceptional.

Some additional highlights of his time here included his leading role in "The Tempest" and highly charged performances in "Topdog/Underdog" and "Lobby Hero." That's just scratching the surface of the impact he's had in town however. Ms. Sanford has also done some excellent work; when I have some time, I'll have to dig up some highlights from her career here.

Best of luck, Solomon/Sanfords! I hope the West Coast treats you all well.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Full weekend

It was great to be able to see TWO shows this weekend; I've updated my posts on "The Full Monty" and "Taming of the Shrew" below to include some of my impressions. Only wish I could have caught "Crimes of the Heart" and "Hansel and Gretel" too. So many shows, so little time, and so much yard work to be done...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Taming of the Shrew

Update (06-21-06): Here's a link to my review of "Shrew."

I'm not sure what the attraction of "Taming of the Shrew" for directors is, exactly. It can certainly be entertaining but the problems of making it relevant or resonant in a modern context seem daunting to me. Maybe it's that challenge that keeps it interesting. But if it's just challenge you want, personally I'd give "Merchant of Venice" a shot (all the kids love anti-semitism!) or even "Titus Andronicus" (a Father's Day favorite!).

Anyway, I've seen a couple of great "Shrew"s over the years. Rick St. Peter's production at the Barksdale back in 2001 was amazing, nicely modernized with two leads that were particularly saucy. Chamberlayne Actors Theatre had a pretty good production the year before that, too. Hmm. So maybe people keep doing "Shrew" because productions of it just have a way of ending up good?

Whatever the case, I've never seen a "Shrew" done by the real Shakespeare experts at Encore! / RSF and I love visiting Agecroft and getting lost in that 16th century atmosphere. Their "Romeo and Juliet" kicked butt last summer; here's hoping they have a crew that has a clue and can do a new "Shrew" that's true blue (sorry about that; it's late and I'm punchy...)

Update (06-19-06): It's really fun to see Shakespeare done well. You'll read all about my generally positive take on "Shrew" once the review posts (I'm never 100% sure when that is going to be...) but here's a couple of tidbits that aren't in the review:

I didn't get a chance to rave about Tony Foley who was great as Tranio. I particularly liked the first scene where he's trying to get it through his love-struck master's head that there are significant obstacles to his wooing. I thought Matt Polson and Amber Wiley made a nice couple. Maybe I'm a little hungover from the "American Idol" madness this spring, but I think Wiley is a dead ringer for Katherine McPhee.

I did get a chance to rave about Andrew Hamm's musical embellishments in my review but I'll do some more here. I don't know where the song "K-k-k-Katie" comes from but it made for a splendid opening to the show and Hamm's playing and singing (along with Maggie Roop) was wonderful throughout. Good going, RSF!

Crimes of the Heart

Dogwood Dell is a great place to take the kids. However, no matter how
successfully the talented (and underappreciated) folks at the Dell interpret
Beth Henley's bitingly funny comic drama, it won't work for the 5 and under
crowd and only barely for the 12 and under crowd. Given that I'll already be
seeing two shows this weekend, the non-family-friendliness factor
disqualifies this show from my dance plate. Which is too bad: I'd be very
interested to see how the talented actresses in the Dell cast measure up
against the movie version's Dianne Keaton, Sissy Spacek, and one of my
all-time faves, Jessica Lange.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nijinsky's Last Dance

According to the mythology around Nijinsky, he wasn't just an amazing dancer, he was instrumental in "creating a new artistic era" (as per the New York Public Library's exhibit on him). If you need a boost to get through the middle of the week, opening night of this show at Fielden's on Wednesday is the place to go.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wagoner Wanders Westward

On her website, Debra Wagoner lists her upcoming gigs, a show with Company of Fools in Idaho in July, Patsy Cline in Ohio in August. They're both lovely locations -- plan your vacation accordingly!

And for those who can't get enough of the Tonys, Entertainment Weekly has a compilation of highlights here. For those who have had enough of them, well, the Oscars are only about 8 months away...

Monday, June 12, 2006

T-D Pros and Cons

It was great to come back from being out of town and see most of the Arts and Entertainment section in this past Sunday's Times-Dispatch devoted to theater. And one of the things the T-D has the resources to do well is cover a broad spectrum, with stories on everything from the local scene (Foster Solomon and Susan Sanford in this weekend's "Taming of the Shrew") to the national scene (the article on "The Color Purple") to the interplay between local and national scenes (Scott Wichmann to appear at the Gloucester Stage Company). They also manage to cover a production that might otherwise be overlooked by the "mainstream" (Tony Cosby's "The Meeting").

However, I wouldn't be a critic if I didn't also see the cloud within the silver lining. Why, for instance, was it so hard to find the reviews for "Steel Magnolias" and "The Full Monty?" This seems to be one of those cases where economics -- not common sense -- drives coverage (that is, reviews get put in Metro because that section is one of the last ones printed). My reflex will always be to look for reviews in the sections (either A&E or Flair) where the rest of the entertainment stories are. In the immortal words of Jon Lovitz, is that so wrong?

I also have trouble finding many of the articles I want online. Oh well; I guess you gotta take the bad with the good...

Tony impressions

The Tony awards left me with many impressions, from the bizarre (was it just
me or did Alan Cumming -- between the haircut and the boots -- look like
some life-size action figure?) to the benign (is it possible not to like
Julie Andrews?), from the haughty (I uncharitably found the speeches of the
first two recipients -- Ian McDiarmid and Frances de la Tour -- tedious and
pretentious) to the heartfelt (I found "Jersey Boys" John Lloyd Young's
unusual tribute -- recognizing his father and no one else -- particularly
touching). Don't have time to write much more about it but, overall, was
happy at the spread of the awards among many shows and only had one major
disappointment ("Pajama Game" beating out "Sweeney Todd" for best musical
revival). Any other impressions out there in the blog-o-sphere?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Death nell tolls early

There's an article from the Reuter's news service that is already starting the hew and cry about the death of theater. As I pointed out below, this usually doesn't start until after the abysmal ratings for the broadcast of the Tonys comes out. But thanks to Ben Brantley's NYTimes piece, subtley entitled, "The Day the Musical Died," the death nell has started tolling already. Oh, well. I guess it's like Groundhog Day: it comes every year and every year, you wonder whether it really means anything...

BTW, I have a copy of Brantley's piece and I can send a copy (via email) to whoever's interested. Have a good weekend!

Steel Magnolias

My apologies to the good folks at Swift Creek Mill. I won’t be seeing this show until later in the month but thanks to the long run, there will be a review in Style down the road. The cast for this show is great, it seems like forever (to me at least) since the wonderful Vicki McLeod has been on stage, and I’m intrigued to see an unfamiliar name in the cast, a Ms. Stephanie Zabner-Hodgkiss who may be a lovely person and a talented actress but who (no offense intended) will need to think of a stage name before she gets to Broadway.

Feel free to chime in with YOUR opinions of the show, though. I'd love to hear what you think.

The Full Monty

Update (06/28/06): Here's a link to my review of "The Full Monty." Enjoy!

I had a conversation last week with Judi Crenshaw, publicist at the Barksdale, who always takes very good care of me as far as tickets and logistics go and I love her for it. The show is apparently doing very well with its presales but she says they’re getting a lot of questions about what the show is about, so many that they’ve had to write up a little canned description that covers all of the bases. I gotta think that has led to some interesting phone conversations.

“Barksdale Theater.”

“Oh, hello. I’m a regular subscriber but I’m not familiar with this Monty show. Could you tell me what a Monty is and why it is Full?”

“Yes, ma’am. The Full Monty is a heart-warming, laugh riot featuring some of the finest…blah blah blah….”

“Well, that sounds interesting but I’m sorry, I thought I heard you say ‘male strippers’ in there somewhere. Must be something wrong with my hearing aid.”

“No, ma’am. I did say male strippers. The characters in the show become male strippers.”

“Oh my. And does that mean they take off all of their clothes?”

“Uh, yes, ma’am.”

“You mean, everything, so like their little kippers are showing and all?”

”Um, yes, ma’am, but it’s very tastefully staged.”


“I’ve gotta call Mabel. How much are group rates?”

I’m sorry to miss opening weekend for this show but will be going next weekend, review in Style to appear on June 21.

Update (06-19-06): What a grand show! Loved the songs, loved the lyrics, loved the production, would rave more but it's all going to be in print in a few days. One quick aside though: my favorite characters in the show were the couple Dave and Georgie, played by Jay Lusteck and Janine Russo. I haven't watched a sitcom in probably 5 years, but if Dave and Georgie had an ongoing show, I'd tune in. Mr Lusteck is a big guy with big appeal, kind of like John Goodman only cuddlier. And it's so good to see Ms. Russo on stage again after many years absent. You must go see her in this show just in case she disappears from the pro scene for another 5 years!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Tonys in pictures

Entertainment Weekly’s website has a photo montage of scenes from previous years’ Tony Awards ceremonies that’s moderately entertaining. I think the shot of Hugh Jackman that starts it off is pretty fab (wish I had seen “Boy from Oz”) and it is interesting to note that another actor from the X-Men franchise (Alan Cummings) shows up later on.

They also put out some predictions. I guess I was right about Patti LuPone not having much competition this year…

PS: Links to EW can be a little squirrelly at times so I'm sorry if these don't go to where I say they go or the pages take forever to load...

Hot Town, Summer in the City

Isn’t summertime supposed to be the slow time for theater? The time when audiences retire to the beach for a few months so actors can all go off to do experimental theater in the Hampshires?

That certainly ain’t the case in Richmond this summer. Two shows opening last week, two this week, and two more next week. With Hanover folks still demanding “No Sex” at the Tavern – resulting in an extension into July – we’ll soon have at least 7 significant productions running in town at the same time. Is this a scheduling anomaly or is theater really this hot? Is the price of gas forcing people to look for amusements locally instead of venturing beach-ward? Have the Hampshires instituted some kind of out-of-state actor immigration reform?

Whatever the case, we have busy stages all over town, which is a great thing for Richmond theater. It’s a little unfortunate for me personally since I wasn’t able to see either of last week’s openers and won’t be able to see this week’s either. I’m, um, going to the beach…

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Prayers for the Heifetz family

Sara Heifetz is a Richmond native and actress who played many memorable roles in shows at the Firehouse Theatre and Theatre Gym. Her father, Art, has been a long-time supporter of local theater and you have probably seen ads for his insurance company in playbills over the years. Sara’s mom, Jackie, is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor. If you can make room in your thoughts and prayers in support of her health and well-being, I’m sure it will be appreciated. Thank you.

Sad News

As many of you have probably already heard, Roger Hunting, Betty Ann Grove's beloved husband of 35 years, died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, June 3, 2006. He had been in St. Mary's Hospital after a fall last week and suffered complications from surgery. He was just shy of his 86th birthday.

Betty Ann will hold a celebration of his life here in Richmond at a time and place she will announce later. She would like Richmonders who want to honor Roger's memory to make contributions to Swift Creek Mill Theatre, Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV in his name. These are the theatres that lured the couple to our city fifteen years ago.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Tonys

…and I’m not talking about Bennett, Soprano or the Tiger. While it has hardly registered as a blip on the radar screens of most Americans, the big Tony Awards ceremony is this weekend. I’d like to say I’m all a-twitter with excitement and anticipation, but I’m not. It may just be a testament to my increasing lame-itude but the sad sad truth is that, of the dozens of nominations being considered for awards this weekend, I can only comment with any authority on a scant three of them. Probably worst of all, I haven’t seen any of the Best Play or Best Musical nominations. If this was a war movie, this would be the point where the sergeant in charge of theater critics rips the epaulets off my uniform and calls me a disgrace to my profession.

To take it a step further, when I first heard about “The Drowsy Chaperone,” I thought it was a joke. It sounded like the kind of name you come up with when you are trying to think of bad heavy metal band names, like “Sinister Barbie” or “Pain Threshold.” From what I’ve read, however, it’s a great show and if I get to New York again before my children graduate college, I’d love to see it.

I saw “Sweeney Todd” back in February and Michael Cerveris was phenomenal as Sweeney. So he’d be my choice for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, in part because I don’t like Harry Connick, Jr. on principle (I went to a concert of his some 10 years ago and it was awful). Patti LuPone was also good in “Sweeney” but not amazing and if she wins her category it must be because the rest of the slate isn’t that strong.

Any other opinions I have are based on the performers’ other work: I loved Cynthia Nixon in “Sex in the City” (she’s up for a Tony for “Rabbit Hole”) and I’ve had a soft spot for Oliver Platt ever since the movie “Flatliners” (he’s currently in “Shining City.”) And I’ll be pulling for “Awake and Sing!” as Best Revival because I’m a fan of Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”).

One last thing on this subject: it’s something of a time honored tradition that, after the Tony Awards airs, the papers will talk about how low the ratings were. There seems to be a subconscious slant to these stories that theater is continuing to die a slow death and is becoming culturally irrelevant. This is, of course, totally ridiculous. The reason the Tonys get such low ratings is simple: the overwhelming majority of people outside of New York, Chicago and L.A. have never heard of “The Drowsy Chaperone” not to mention “Rabbit Hole,” “The History Boys,” or “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.”

Whereas it is usually possible (though often difficult in Richmond) for an interested individual to have seen everything nominated for an Oscar or an Emmy every year, only people living a manageable distance from Broadway and with copious amounts of free time AND with large sums of disposable income will have seen all of the productions nominated for Tonys. So the core audience for the Tonys is really about 48 people living on the upper East Side. Is it any wonder the ratings are so puny?

Of course, it’s hard to underestimate the Oprah influence this year. I’m thinking the biggest question of the weekend is whether “The Color Purple” will have the Tonys seeing a little more of the color green.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Jeers, Applause, Empathetic Murmurs

This is a placeholder for people to submit general thoughts, ideas, or feedback on whatever might be on your mind. All topics are open for discussion as far as I'm concerned, though any Comment with the words "Britney" or "Federline" in it risks being deleted. Comments containing extravagant praise about a certain reviewer writing for a certain weekly magazine in a certain central Virginia town are given special consideration.

If you'd like to send me feedback directly without it showing up on this here blog, feel free to email me at That is unless you are a bad bad spammer person in which case, may your pinkies fall off and your ears grow prodigious amounts of hair.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Agnes Gooch

Could you believe the picture of Emily Skinner done up as Agnes Gooch accompanying the article in today's Times-Dispatch? If you had just showed me the picture and asked me to guess the actress, I think I would have gone through everyone from Rosie O'Donnell to Margaret Cho before I got to Emily. Pretty amazing transformation.

My first gig in professional theater in Richmond was running props for the first "Quilters" show back in 1986. I think Emily was 16 at the time. It's staggering to me that that was 20 years ago, and still very cool to see everything Emily's done since.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Soldier's Play

I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't seen a Living Word show since "Daughters of Zion" more than a year and a half ago. Suffice it to say that that production didn't really get me revved up for any subsequent LWS efforts. Still, I really want Living Word to succeed and it seems they've done a great job with shows like "Crowns." If the fabulous movie version of "A Soldier's Play" (called "A Soldier's Story" and starring Denzel Washington) is any indication, this show has a great script. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this production does justice to it.

Anybody out there seen this? Let me know what you think.

Epic Proportions

This is the current show at Chamberlayne Actors Theatre. I won't be seeing this show and it's not because I hate all CAT shows (which is untrue but seems to be the impression the folks at CAT have based on comments I've overheard there). The truth is I used to love going to CAT shows because the theater is right up the street from my old house and I could get there in about 10 minutes. I also have loved Kristen Swanson is most everything I've seen her in and a few people told me that CAT's production of "Greetings!" that they put up in the winter was actually excellent.

But unfortunately, the beginning of June is relatively jam-packed with openings and I can only go to a couple of them. So please, someone out there tell me whether this production is worth seeing or not. If it is, maybe come next Fall I'll be able to make a more concerted effort to prowl on over to northside for a CAT show.

Addendum (06/03): Well, this morning Susan over at the Times-Dispatch called EP "miserable" and a "mess." This is the most ascerbic pan from Ms. Haubenstock that I think I can remember reading. Anyone have any dissenting opinions?

No Sex Please, We're British

I've seen both of the shows at Hanover Tavern since the theater space there reopened, and it's great to see how they've renovated the place. But "No Sex" was a disappointment for me after the delightful "Barefoot in the Park." This production has a knock-out cast with great vets like David Bridgewater, Larry Cook, and Cathy Shafner and impressive newcomers, too, like Christopher Stewart. But as you might be able to tell from my review in Style, I spent more time shaking my head during this show than I did chuckling. The scene that had me laughing the most involved Mr. Stewart stuck in the kitchen, pretending to be a parrot, and firing off random expletives.

I absolutely love Erin Thomas (having first become enamored with her as Nina in a production of "The Seagull" many moons ago) and could have watched her walk about the stage in her bra and a robe for the whole show. But in the early scenes when she does so, it actually made me embarrassed. I think only a joke or two is made about her being half-dressed so it seems a little prurient (if that's the word) to have her outfitted that way. Man, I must be turning into an old fuddy-duddy.

Just as an aside, during the performance I attended there was a woman sitting center stage who I swear did not laugh once and maybe cracked a smile twice. I don't know what exactly was her problem because there was plenty to smile about, but this farce could have been performed in farsi for all of the effect it had on this particular lady.

In general, I thought the show strained credibility so far that it was more ridiculous than funny. I might not be as stodgy as that center stage woman, but I left the theater feeling a little stuffy just the same.

Of course, my opinion apparently hasn't caused any adverse impact on the box office. I got an email today saying the run is extended to July 9th. That's great news and bodes well for the continued success for the Barksdale at Hanover Tavern.

Did "No Sex" leave you feeling frigid? Let me know!


As you can see, there’s a downright plethora of links over there on the nav bar. The first section has links to posts I've made related to shows that are currently running in town; the post will have a link to my review in Style if I wrote one. The second section has links to the web pages of some of the talented theater professionals that work here in central Virginia, and the third lists links to theater companies in town or close by. If you see any glaring omissions or would like me to add your site to the links, please let me know. You can email me at

Act 1, Scene 1

So I write about theater for Style Weekly magazine in Richmond Virginia. I used to be moderately tied-in to the theater scene. I used to write for BackStage magazine out of New York and went up to the Big Apple twice a year to see the big productions. Many of my friends and acquaintances were in “the business” and I used to see an average of a show a week.

Well, that was years ago and, while I still write about theater, I spend more time watching my kids’ soccer games than I do shows. And I miss it. I miss seeing the emergence of new talent, tracking the progress a director or actor or designer makes from show to show, having an opinion on most every show in town because, dammit, I’ve seen every show in town.

So this blog is my attempt to do something about it. I hope people interested in theater in Richmond – directors, actors, designers, producers, or simply fans – will post their opinions and insights, as well as scuttlebutt and rumors when they feel like it (though I reserve the right to delete anything that is libelous or just downright nasty). I imagine most input will come in via the Comments section, but also feel free to email me if you’d prefer. If a particular comment seems worthy of highlighting, I’ll pull it from the Comments and put it on the main page.

For my part, when I actually get out to see a show, I’ll post previews of my thoughts (as well as links to my published reviews in Style), any interesting scuttlebutt I come across plus additional theater-related flotsam and jetsam from the recesses of my mind.

I don’t know whether anyone will be interested in posting their thoughts here. But for those that are willing to come along for the ride, welcome aboard!