Friday, August 18, 2006

A Weekend of Theater

Nothing ever quite turns out how you expect. I went into last weekend expecting to be hanging out with my whole family on Saturday and watching “Follies.” As it turned out, I was there solo and, due to a work situation, had to leave at intermission. I hated to miss the whole show.

What I saw was pretty fun, maybe more so for a Richmond “old-timer” – I was pretty easily swept up in the nostalgia being dramatized on stage due to my own nostalgic memories. I still remember meeting Lynn West with the amazing green eyes for the first time about 20 years ago. It was great to hear her voice again. And Jenny Fralin was saucy and sexy and lots of fun. I can’t remember when I last saw her onstage. Jason Marks’s big solo was when I realized this was really going to be a high-quality production – that boy can sing!

I am a bit hampered in commenting on the show because they had run out of programs by the time I got there but I believe it was Terri Moore who sang “I’m Still Here” and man, what a stunning delivery of a knock-out song. All of the four older leads were excellent – I loved the dynamics between the couples, particularly Fern’s and Lauren’s characters. What fun to see Mrs. Leinhass-Cook really dig into a bitchy character! You go girl!

The younger set of couples were also very good but frankly I didn’t get to see much of them before I had to split. And probably the single performance that impressed me the most was Jodi Rentz (I think) as the second female older lead (can't remember character's name). Interesting character played very well. I hope to see her in something else soon.

I’ll reserve judgment on the show itself until I see a complete production. It’s a very interesting premise but the bits and pieces of plot stuck in between mostly disconnected musical numbers seems like a setup for a somewhat unsatisfying show. But it certainly was a great production, downright astounding given that it’s a totally volunteer operation.

I saw Luther Memorial’s Arts Program production of “Annie” out at the Glen Allen Cultural Center last Sunday. What’s great about these educational program shows is that you always see some kids that clearly have that mysterious, wonderous quality that makes them positively shine on stage. There are always a couple of moments where you see someone miss a cue or drop a line, too. Those are the most revealing situations; they are interesting in the same way minor league baseball games are. The way the players handle those little mishaps is a good indicator of whether they’ll make it in the big leagues or not.

1 comment:

Joe Pabst (Director, "Follies") said...

Thanks, Dave! I'm glad you were able to attend, even if only for the first act. You're right -- the script is not without its inherent problems; it wants to be both a splashy musical & an intimate drama... But this cast gave it an outstanding treatment! And even without a program (sorry about that!), you still managed to get the names right!!