Monday, November 24, 2008

A Deb Doubleheader

Both of my theatrical journeys this past weekend had more to do with my children than me. I took in SPARC’s “Really Rosie” playing at ComedySportz’s place and “Grease” at the Jewish Community Center, both of which closed this weekend. As it turns out, both were directed by Debra Clinton also so it was a testament to her talent that they both were impressive examples of what can be done with young actors. “Rosie” featured 7-10 year olds and they were pretty awesome.

What was particularly surprising was how much choreography they could absorb and perform (mostly) without a hitch. I get the sense that on some level, songs are easier to learn, there’s melody and meter and repetition to help you remember. But combining that with movement can be a challenge and Deb certainly kept these guys moving. If I had come to the show with expectations of a glorified school play, that choreography, its execution and the excellent work with the score done by musical director Jason Marks certainly blew those expectations away.

I only got to see probably the last 1/3 of “Grease” but my daughter and son report that the whole thing was excellent. Again, the choreography here was what grabbed my attention. It was a large cast and for them to all move with conviction and purpose through some pretty involved numbers was (again) impressive. In the scenes I saw, two actors I was not familiar with stuck out as rising star material: Daniel Pippert as Kenickie and Allison Gilman as Frenchy.

The production also benefited from two vets from professional productions: Eric Pastore (Roger) and Michael Thibodeau (Doody). And even though the cast was pretty uniformly good, the pros still stuck out for one main reason (IMHO): they remained engaged on stage at all times. Regardless of where they were or what else was happening, they were in the scene and focused.

Great work, Ms. Clinton. I think I might have to make a point to come see the next JCC production, “The Chosen,” which was one of my favorite books in high school.

For those who were checking out the pro theater this past weekend, the T-D’s featured Susan’s reviews of “Bite Me!” and “Sanders Family Christmas.”

No comments: