Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We Both Reached for the Gun

Ms. B’s review of “Steel Magnolias” and my take on “Midsummer Night’s Dream” are now on the Style website. Are you surprised about my Midsummer rave? I didn’t think so.

More on MSND soon but back to “Chicago.” In our household, the most lasting impact of seeing Theatre VCU’s latest production has been the Tline children (ok, mostly Cooper) challenging themselves to hold the monstrously extended “the” that Billy Flynn sings during “We Both Reached for THE Gun.” The little punk was only a fraction of a second from getting there this morning with only a little wavering near the end. I expect he’ll get there in the next couple of days. Vocal calisthenics are what count as fun at our house. Are we geeks or what?

The production that Ms. D’Beck has put together is pretty phenomenal with the dancing being a distinct highlight. Too often I end up not thinking very consciously about the dancing in a show but then something like this show comes along that makes you realize what an impact great dancing can have. Also, for those more in tune with the technical side of things, the lighting for this show is just exceptional. The lights are a great physical echo of the “Razzle Dazzle” the show talks about and have real personality. Kudos to lighting designer Katherine Jenna Ferree.

Of course, I there’s no way to talk about this production without mentioning Maggie Marlin, who is just crazy-talented. Her “I Can’t Do It Alone” tired me out and I was just watching it. But that in no way should be interpreted as a dis of Kimberly Exum as Roxie or Michael Rieman as Billy who both do a great job. I think Rieman has a real future ahead of him – catch him now before you have to pay $80 to see him on Broadway.

Two actors who have been active on the local pro stage – Margie Mills and Matt James – also make quite an impression. In re: Mr. James who is a stitch in his role (don’t want to ruin just what role just in case…), my son Cooper was pretty astounded that a boy could sing such a high part with such strength and clarity. Nice work, Matt.

Someone who probably gets overlooked among all this other talent is Josh Marin as the Master of Ceremonies. His take on the various jury members during the trial are understated but hilarious just the same.

Finally, the Theatre VCU band (under Leilani Mork’s direction) does a knock-out job with the score which really, is just about one of the funnest scores around. I think this show closes this weekend and it’s been selling out most all of its performances. Just warning you…

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