Monday, January 31, 2011


The first review of Swift Creek Mill’s “Once on this Island” is in (Ms. Haubenstock’s take in today’s T-D) and it’s a rave. Looks like the Mill might have a hit on their hands with this one.

And speaking of hits, SPARC’s “The World Goes Round” that closed this past weekend was a definite smash. Though made up of a cast of students, the show was a winner in all respects. Director/choreographer Deb Clinton did an amazing job of guiding some of Richmond’s finest teenage talent through a review of Kander & Ebb songs. Many of the cast members have appeared on Richmond pro stages in the past and, if we’re lucky, many of them will appear on pro stages again in the future (in fact, would someone just go ahead and plan a production of “13” already and sign up this cast pronto before they get any older?)

I would gush about individual performances but I don’t have the time and feel like it might end up being repetitive – how many different ways can you say “awesome” after all? But while many of the teenagers were exceptional, I do have to single out a couple because of an aspect of performing that goes beyond just being a good singer. Both Makenzie Mercer and Allison Gilman had trouble with their mikes during the Saturday performance but neither of them let it ruin their solos. Both had the presence of mind to carry on, knock the volume of their voices up a notch perhaps, and bring their songs to a successful close. The ability to adapt to circumstances on stage shows a level of professionalism uncommon among those so young. As Seth Rudetsky would say, “Brava!” I also got a great kick out of the kids who ventured out into the audience to sing. That kind of variable interpersonal contact could rattle lesser performers but not these kids, another testament to their uncommon maturity.

Final accolades must be paid also to Tony Williams whose musical direction and accompaniment during the show was impeccable. I also really liked the costumes, though there was no customer designer listed in the program. Whoever coordinated that aspect of the production did a fantastic job. And one final shout-out to Ms. Clinton: sure, you had some really great raw material to work with but to mold such an entertaining evening out of a horde of teenagers takes great vision and skill. Nicely done. My only complaint is that the show only ran for one weekend. This was one I gladly would have returned to at least one more time.

And while I’m on the subject of smash hits, have you heard about the next “Glee”-like TV show that is in development for next season? I might groan a little at the idea of a show -- entitled "Smash" -- built around the behind-the-scenes going on during the staging of a Broadway musical if such a talented bunch of people weren’t involved in the development with Mr. Spielberg himself at the top of the list. I’ll be awaiting casting information on this one eagerly.


Stephen S. said...

Hi Dave!

Did you get to see "Once on this Island" yet?

I was so incredibly impressed by the production. If this is not a hit at the Mill, I don't know what is...

I seriously couldn't find one negative thing to say about the show. It was just right. Kudos to the cast and crew!

I also think SPARC did a great job with "The World Goes Round". SPARC certainly provides superb training.

In the show at Swift Creek Mill, I believe that both leads and the young girl is affiliated with SPARC. They are all remarkable.

I can't wait to hear your take on "Once on this Island". I thought is was splendid!

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Saw Once On This Island on Friday and it was BEAUTIFUL! Such a committed cast, beautiful storytelling, Leslie Owens-Harrington's choreography was STUNNING (can't hardly wait to see what she's done with Cadence Theatre Company's Godspell and thrilled to learn she's choreographing Barksdale Theatre's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels this summer, which I was already excited about).

I can't believe I missed And the World Goes 'Round! I'm a huge fan for Ms. Gilman. I thought it ran another weekend! Argh. Although...I'm a bit sad that 13 isn't a better show, imo. There truly aren't enough vehicles to showcase young talent. It's truly a shame that Paul Zindel has passed. He really wrote some incredible meaty roles for young (teen) actors. And Suzan Zeder is writing again, so perhaps we'll have more!

That's probably enough from me for now.