Thursday, November 16, 2006

Over the River and Through the Woods

Though two shows in a few months does not a stampede make, Joe Dipietro has been a prominent name in Richmond this year. “I Love You, Your’re Perfect, Now Change” ran for a healthy long time down at the Mill and now “OTR&TTW” opens up at Hanover Tavern. There’s an interesting interview with the playwright at TheaterMania if you are interested. A few things that I’m using to set my expectations appropriately about this show: it was written before “I Love You…” (back in 1994); with it’s older characters (two sets of grandparents), it’s clearly targeted at an older crowd; and the families are specifically Italian meaning that some thick accents and broad comedy can be expected. The cast looks good though, so I still have high hopes.

I’m curious what ever happened to Dipietro’s “Memphis” that was getting some try-outs a couple of years ago. Did he kick that to the curb so he could focus on “All Shook Up,” a high-concept musical (all Elvis songs) that just seemed like a bad idea to me. Though the New York Times said that, compared to other so-called ‘juke box’ musicals, ASU “actually rates as slicker and more skillful than most,” the show was generally damned by similarly faint praise. For instance, the NYT review went on to say “Were it staged in a pint-size theater with cardboard scenery and a campy young cast, "All Shook Up" might be a moderate hoot. But inflated to the proportions demanded by a glamour barn like the Palace, it becomes a mind-numbing holler.”

“All Shook Up” is currently touring nationwide, though nowhere really close to Richmond. A show that might be worth a trip out of town though is the regional tour of “Doubt,” which will feature Cherry Jones in the cast. That tour is coming to DC, Baltimore, and Charlotte, NC. I’m thinking I’ll be heading north to check it out come springtime.


Frank Creasy said...

After attending the Critic's Night preview of OTRATTW, I was a bit surprised by the T-D review. Sure, it's one person's opinion and I agree the script isn't the freshest. Still, I had seen the Mill production a few years ago and it was entertaining but hardly hilarious, and I thought the performances in the Tavern production make this show sparkle with laughter while it tugs at your heart.

Yes, I have some friends in the show but I didn't come to be a cheerleader - honestly, because I was acquainted with the show I didn't have high expectations. I expected solid performances, not dozens of laughs, so it was a pleasant surprise. I thought it was truly delightful. Guess it's a good thing I'm an actor, I'd probably be a piss-poor critic!

Anyway, I'm recommending the show already. It made better half and me laugh a lot and it warmed our hearts. It's not a Christmas show but it's in the spirit of the season nonetheless. Good job, Bruce and company, you've done well I say.

Anonymous said...

I was in the production at the Mill so I guess I am bias, but I thought John, Lou, Chris and Jolene were very funny. The script itself is not a laugh riot by any means. I remember it was more about what those actors brought to the roles that made it so funny and sweet (anyone who has ever worked with John Hagadorn knows it is ALL about his facial expressions...BRILLENT!) I'm sure the same is true for this production.