The Village Rep on Woolfe’s Production of “Disaster: The Musical” is a Boat Rocking, Earth Shaking, Night of Fun

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By Mark A. Leon

The incredible thing about live theatre is that each performance is a unique one of a kind experience.? Live theatre reaches into your soul and pulls the triggers of your deepest emotions.? It drives you to tears and laughter, warmth and heartache.? Every now and again, a play comes along that just entices you to just have fun.? That play is Disaster: The Musical.

The Village Rep on Woolfe’s latest production is a nostalgic roller coaster ride, sing along, laugh induced parody of the 70’s disaster genre with a little help from the lyrical genius of Blondie, Eric Carmen, Diana Ross, Bay City Rollers and more.

Take the likes of the drama filled, star studded 70’s disaster drama, i.e. Airport, Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno, adding in the slap stick parody of Airplane and the musical composition of Grease or Rock of Ages and you have an evening that is sure to make you smile and maybe even try to find those old 8 Tracks.

With a cast from age 12 to 65, Disaster, under the wonderfully crafted direction of Keely Enright, musical direction of Kevin Thorn and choreography of Sarah Callahan Black, brings 1979 back to life with flare, color and excitement.

From the opening number of “Hot Stuff”, to the unrequited love scenes belted to the hits of “Feelings” and “Without You” to the insanely funny dismembered rendition of “Three Times a Lady”, this show will leave you smiling and reminiscing.? No musical taking place in the 70’s is complete without a little Gloria Gaynor.? Spoiler, some did survive.

The ensemble cast were the true show stoppers.? Their overly emotional expressive dialogue and musical numbers lit up each scene.? Complimented by stunning wardrobe selections that either made you yearn for the 70’s once again or remember why those outfits went away, the costumes add to the humor of the evening.

Two performances shined just a little bit brighter in this sky filled with local stars.

Madelyn Knight, as Sister Mary brings a subtle, often out of character humor to the stage.? Her comedic timing, extremely talented vocal range and blend of physical comedy turned that black and white nun’s outfit into one of the most colorful characters on stage.? This range of acting skill has showered the Lowcountry in several performances including Sense and Sensibility, Dogfight, The Wedding Singer and Nunsense.? She is a gifted talent in the Charleston theatre community.

Skyler Waddell, at age 12, alone shows courage and talent performing nightly to a large group.? Skyler takes this role one step further.? He takes on the role of twin brother and sister Ben and Lisa.? It wasn’t enough to take on two roles, with two voice ranges, but he has to be in several scenes as both (mind you a dummy stepped in to help a little).

From children to adults in the audience, it was clear that Skyler played a cherished character(s).? When he was on the floor after the boat rocked and he said, “I can’t find my Light Bright pegs in the shag rug”, it reminded many in the audience of a different time.? This young actor has a promising future.

Individually, there were golden moments of pure laughter.? Kathy Summer (Shirley) whose spasms and vulgar outburst were pure magic and Tamara Delaine Sauders Jenkins (Levora) had a voice that could hold its own on Broadway.

If you want a fun evening, where you will find yourself unconsciously singing along to songs we all know and love, where you will laugh as the performers poke fun at the silliness of life and where you will be swept away by a night of music, love and an earthquake, come to Woolfe Street Playhouse and catch Disaster:? The Musical, playing through May 12th.

Ticket Information and Purchase

Threshold Repertory Theatre’s “Hand to God” is a Comedic Ride Through a Tornado of Insanity

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By Mark A. Leon

Boy loves Mom
Boy loves Jesus
Boy makes puppet
Puppet is possessed by the Devil
Puppet has crazy orgasmic sex with another puppet
A life lesson in family values

This is the genius behind Robert Askins’ Broadway adaptation masterfully brought to the Charleston Stage by Director Erin Wilson, Artistic Director Jay Danner, Managing Director Darryl Laplante and five incredibly versatile actors.? In the final production of the 8th season for Threshold Repertory Theatre, nothing was held back in this outrageous, laugh out loud, poignant and at times dark comedy.

With an excellent script and precision timing, the cast takes you through a journey tackling the issues of religion, lust, love, loneliness, family values and the eminent dangers of puppetry.

With lines, so comically powerful as “You are so far in the closet, you are in Narnia” (Jessica speaking to Timmy about his bottled up homosexual tendencies), a well-chosen musical soundtrack including Baby, Baby by Amy Grant and Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood, scenery so vivid and detailed it becomes part of the experience and behaviors so radically fueled, this play is an over the top hit.

James Ketelaar is a shining star on stage portraying young Jason and his possessed puppet Tyrone.? His transformation from a young and confused church going only child who recently lost his father to a puppet possessed by the Devil is one of the most beautifully acted roles of the season in Charleston.? His deep hedonistic Tyrone voice and innocent lost childhood Jason voice compliment so well and evolve seamlessly throughout the duration of the play.

James extends his acting boundaries not only in the dual role, but with the compliment of his ability to add physical comedy to his performance.

Without given away too much detail, the puppet sex scene between Tyrone and Jessica’s promiscuous puppet had laughs so hard that audience members lost sight of the dialogue between Jason and Jessica.? A scene that played out as two young lovers were awkwardly trying to ask each other to the homecoming dance.? If the Muppet Show met the raunchy cast of Monty Python, with the physical comedy of the Marx Brothers, you would come close to the vision witnessed in that scene.

It was magical and yet still left you feeling sinfully dirty just for appreciating every moment.

Addison Dent, played Timmy, the lustful beanie wearing troublemaker, whose passion for Margery, the teacher and Mother of Jason, led to a sequence of mischief that is the catalyst for the entire cast and story spinning out of control.

Camille Lowman, originally from South Carolina and a College of Charleston graduate, lit up each scene as a recent widower, follower of Jesus and confused woman dealing with the desires of a teenage boy, lonely courtship of the pastor, and a son who is possessed by a hand puppet.

From questioning the words of the bible, to legs spread open wide on the floor of the church classroom, Camille let loose in a way that warrants respect and admiration.

Laurens Wilson complimented the cast so well as Pastor Greg providing reason and balance and a touch of insecurity to the story line and Loren Mixon as Jessica provided an inherent wisdom that helped the rest of the cast find direction.

From the opening scene to the final malicious puppet laugh, Hand to God is a remarkable achievement in dark insane comedy, that even finds time to add touching life lessons about family values and the road blocks we all hit in life.? Life isn’t always easy and at times, love can be heartbreaking, but when evil rears its ugly head, there are ways to overcome and this play brings that lesson home.

Go enjoy this play and be prepared to laugh all the way home.

Ticket Information and Purchase

Threshold’s “Sense & Sensibility” is a Sensible Choice for an Evening of Live Theatre

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By Mark A. Leon

If comedy, mayhem, gender role analysis on relationships, family and a tiny bit of inanimate object role playing is what you have in mind, the new Threshold Production of “Sense & Sensibility” will keep you on your toes for a wild night of entertainment.

This adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel reminds us that whether it is 1818 or 2018, the relationship struggles of men and women still exist in very similar ways.? This remarkable cast of eleven, who assume thirty (30) different characters, each bring a unique blend of comedy and raw emotional bliss to the stage.

If multiple characters and costume changes were not enough for these actors, playing the roles of flowers, vases and dogs add more well designed silliness to the audience experience.

We hope we have piqued you interest.? But wait, there is more.

Set in the countryside of England during the turn of the nineteenth century, this whimsical and poignant story centers around the Dashwood family and more importantly the sister’s Marianne and Elinor, who must face class struggle in the relentless pursuit of love.

During this two hour performance, I began to see the same nervous intuitions, awkward courtship and family pressures we all feel today as we pursue relationships and family.? Though the narrative has changed from William Shakespeare to Nicholas Sparks, the themes have remained the same.

This story will open a box of thoughts and emotions that will take the audience down the vulnerable journey of love and romance.

The cast is comprised of local theatre veterans and newcomers that mesh integrally well in this ensemble.? Among the stars in the sky, one actress shined brighter than all the rest.? Tara Denton Howegner (Fanny Dashwood / Lucy Steele / Gossip) had remarkable presence on stage and almost single-handedly stole the spotlight in each scene she was featured.? With her quirky facial expressions, charming overbite and over the top, energetically charged banter, Ms Howegner was a powerful force.? Sometimes a role can define and actor or vice versa, but in this case, the actor transformed into the role from the opening harmony to the final bow.

On the other end of the spectrum, stage veteran Paul O’Brien brought a proper pronounced appeal to his role complimented with honor, romance and dignity.? As Colonel Brandon, Mr. O’Brien brought balance to the mayhem of the gender and class struggles.? With a tall stature, refined British accent and subtle demeanor, the role of the Colonel represented the traditional proper behavior of England masterfully.

There is something to be said for Jimmy Flannery as Mrs. Jennings that words may not be able to explain properly.? Crazy perhaps?? A little bit zany?? Slapstick? Animated comical bliss?? I think want to package all that together when describing his performance.? Watching Jimmy Flannery in this role is like watching a finally tuned one person improv act that is right on cue.? It was a lovely exercise in complete acting release.

Katte Noel, a graduating Theatre Performance major at the College of Charleston, played Marianne Dashwood beautifully.? As a young vulnerable beauty crossed between love and the freedom of youth, she showed a wide range of emotion from glee to extreme sadness at a highly competent level.? Ms. Noel has tremendous depth of skill and clearly has a long future ahead of her in live theatre.

Finally, Carri Schwab (Elinor Dashwood) represented the glue of this cast.? Crossed between economic challenges, unrequited love and mature responsibilities, Ms Schwab carried herself honorably.? The area where she really defined her performance came in the unspoken moments, where you could look deep into her soul and see the raw emotion she was feeling.? There were several moments, she was stage left or right and sadness painted her face with sheer perfection.? Her evolution throughout the performance was so well played out.

Congratulations Director Andrea Catangay, who managed to take eleven (11) actors and transform them into thirty (30) characters, dogs, vases and plants.? That was a feat that is truly worthy of praise.? Kristen Bushey and Emma Scott teamed up to lead the costume design.? The use of color and detail played a critical role in the audience transformation to nineteenth century England.

We must also speak highly of Jennifer Metts, William Griffin, Aaron Andrews, Nat Jones and Madelyn Knight who filled out this cast, all adding a unique flavor to this mix of talented stage performers.

“Sense and Sensibility” is a beautifully energetic performance wrapped in Monty Python inspired comedy that will leave you very satisfied.

Sense and Sensibility Ticket Information

Cookin’ with Booze Charleston Restaurant Review: Tu (With Cocktail Pairings)

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By Cookin’ with Booze

It’s Restaurant Week everyone (cue cheers)! I use Restaurant Week as an excuse to try new places, even if they aren’t participating. This year, the hot new restaurant Tu was at the top of my list. Tu comes from the culinary masterminds that brought us Xiao Bao Biscuit, so I knew I was in for a treat.? I know you will read a lot of other reviews of this place because it’s hot and new, so I’m going to switch it up and not only review the food, but suggest cocktail pairings with each course I tried.

Crudo Paired with the Destello Verde

 

Before arriving to Tu, I trolled their menu, Yelp, and the minds of fellow foodies to find out what I should order. The first dish I knew I had to try was the crudo. The crudo is a light appetizer featuring raw fish, habanero, guava, and cheese ice. That’s not a typo, I said CHEESE ICE. I don’t even remember what kind of fish was in the crudo because I heard the waiter say cheese ice and got distracted.

This dish was one of the most complex/ tastiest/ most creative dishes I’ve had in my life. The cheese ice (frozen Parmesan cheese) keeps the fish refreshingly cold while adding a salty and nutty flavor. I thought the habanero was going to punch me in the face with spice, but it was sliced so thinly and contrasted so well by the other ingredients that it added the perfect amount of heat.

The cocktail I would pair with this dish would be the Destello Verde, which is, as the waiter described it, “a margarita on steroids.” I love spice and tequila together, so this dish and cocktail are meant to be.

Aguachile paired with Desolation Avenue

For our second course, we went with another raw and refreshing dish, but this time with beef instead of fish (call me Dr. Suess, y’all). The aguachile composed of beef aged in kombu (seaweed), bonito (dried fish) mayo, thin sliced red onion & serrano peppers, and tomatillo water. The kombu gave the beef a salty note, which was complemented by the brightness of the tomatillo water and serrano peppers.

I would pair this dish with the Desolation Avenue cocktail (per the waiter’s suggestion) because the Desolation Avenue cocktail contains barley brine, which would complement the briny flavor of the kombu/ tomatillo water.

Pastrami paired with Coast Hopart IPA

I love that this dish is just called “Pastrami,” as if you’re going to get some pastrami slapped onto a plate. On the contrary, you get a sauerkraut pancake with crispy bits of pastrami, scallions, and topped off with a buttermilk mustard oil. I was a little nervous that the funk of the sauerkraut would take over the dish, but the salty pastrami and zing from the mustard were the stars of the show.

I chose a Coast Hopart IPA to pair with this dish because it’s like drinking a beer with a hot dog on game day; it just makes sense.

Yakitori Special paired with the Slow Gold

Our last course was a special they were having that night: Lamb Yakitori with Drunken Salsa. Obviously, they had me at drunken salsa. Yakitori is a Japanese kebab, so the lamb was skewered and charred to perfection on the grill. The drunken salsa was composed of pumpkin seeds, tomato, chipotle, mezcal (the drunken part), and lime juice.? The chipotle had a pungent spice that was a little too much on its own, but when it was combined with the fattiness of the lamb, the spice was toned down a little bit.

I would pair this dish with the Slow Gold cocktail because it’s the only sweet cocktail on the menu, which would tamp down the spice of the salsa.

calling all Adventurous Eaters!

For all you adventurous eaters out there, Tu is the place to go. The small plate-style of eating is perfect for people looking for a unique dining experience. You could probably go back here every day and have a different experience each time (in a good way). I know I will go back for a different experience, minus ordering the crudo over and over again because I may lose sleep over how tasty that dish was.

Official Tu Charleston Website

Location:? 430 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC

Threshold Repertory’s “The Elephant Man” Brings Humanity to the Stage

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By Mark A. Leon

The latest production from Threshold Repertory Theatre exposes the deepest roots of humanity and self-realization in a poignantly emotional retelling of the story of John Merrick, whom history deemed the Elephant Man. A being so grotesque to other’s that his life was showcased as a freak show act until an unlikely relationship with Doctor Frederick Treves was forged.

This show was visualized with courage by Director Jay Danner. Theatre is a personal extension of oneself. It is the crafting of imagination and vision to create a reality that tells a story and derives personal connection from the audience. Few directors in Charleston push boundaries to tackle highly emotional and liberal subject matter with confidence and brilliance like Jay. He is a gift to the Charleston Theatre community and though he may risk alienating a conservative body of patrons, his work is nothing short of memorable.

From my initial entrance into his world with the 2016 production of “Bent” to this latest production, Jay Danner’s work needs to be seen and experienced. He is a patriarch to the arts and his interpretation of “The Elephant Man” is a testament to his fine body of work.

Two facets of the show that left a mark were the character of John Merrick (The Elephant Man) void of make-up showing his clusters of mushy skin protruding from his body and the Shakespearean silent film approach to introduce each scene of this one hour and fifty- minute single act play.

Patrick Arnheim, as the lead character of John Merrick, continues to be one of the best local acting talents in the Lowcountry. His vulnerability and innocence is so penetrating as he scales back the layers of his hideous form to uncover the man inside. With the same desires and passions, he begins to transform those around him by opening their eyes to an inner beauty that most of us never see in others. Even without make-up, his body movements and posture, allow the audience to suspend reality and see him as he was.

Though tragic in nature, this play takes on an aura of love and companionship as the relationships develop on stage. In a way, there is a theme that so many are lost and truly only want to be loved, even if it is by only one or two others. That was a message I took away long after the final line was recited.

Center stage back wall launched each scene with a brief interlude of words reminding us of the days of Chaplin and Keaton in the silent film era. As the stage lights dimmed and the white cloudy words appeared, it seemed like a human cinema reel on stage.

Kelley Swindall played the role of the actress Mrs. Kendal. As the first woman to find comfort in John and become the token of his affections, Kelley demonstrated an eclectic range of sassiness, humor and empathy. She and Frederick showed the greatest personal transformations through their very personal connection to John. It was a strong performance and a wonderfully powerful female presence to this show.

David Wohl, Brent Fox, Addison Dent, Sarah Smith and Sienna Goering all played multiple roles with poise and range. From a Duchess to a Congo Pinhead to a circus manager, each showed tremendous talent on stage supporting the ensemble cast.

History and science have ways of shocking us. John Merrick was a medical oddity, rejected by society and left for nothing more than a circus freak show act. Humanity finally stepped in and allowed him to live out the last few years of his life with dignity and for a few brief moments, love.

Threshold Repertory Theatre has brought to the stage an inspired play and one local theatre goers should take advantage of and see.

Ticket Information – The Elephant Man – Playing through November 19th

Have a Ghoulishly Fun Time with ‘The Addams Family’ at The Footlight Players – Charleston Daily Review

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By Mark A. Leon

An Addams Family love story, hmmm they do say opposites attract.? The latest production from The Footlight Players, “The Addams Family” reminds us that love works in mysterious ways.? From its opening number of “When You’re an Addams” featuring the entire cast surrounded by a lavish set and ominous fog, you are drawn into this mad cap evening of fun, music and mayhem.

This finger snapping, foot stomping production is the perfect first entry into the Charleston Halloween theatre season.? In the background of a remote forested area somewhere in New York, lives the Addams Family.? Gomez, the quirky, yet suave husband and father, Morticia, the sexy and slightly sinister wife and mother, Uncle Fester, whose insanity is just enough to question his motives, but his lovable romantic side makes him irresistible, Wednesday, who has the makings of a future Navy Seal, but gets hit by cupid’s arrow, Pugsley, the lovable youngest son who prefers torture to tennis, Grandma, at least we think she is someone’s grandma with her potions and playful demeanor and Lurch, who, in such few words says so much.

This two hour and fifteen-minute musical enters the world of a family who prefers the sewers to the sunlight, black to white, pain to happiness and turns its world inside out as the dorky conservative Lucas finds true love in the heart of Wednesday Addams.? Now the Addams Family, must not only face the thought of losing their daughter, but meet Lucas’ family as well, a conservative middle class family from Ohio.? Let the games begin.

David Hatch as Gomez is a shining star on stage.? His dominant presence with his sensitive heart, comical narrative and robust musical voice made for an outstanding theatrical performance.? He truly embodies the nature and character of Gomez Addams with integrity and warmth.

Maureen Renee Hughes brings sexiness and fear to the character of Morticia.? As she reveals her legs and fishnet stockings and engages in the Tango with Gomez, there is an aura of romance and intimacy that both characters bring out with ease.? She encompasses an elegance to black and even in the shadows of darkness, she finds the light of love.

Rebecca Weatherby, a graduate of the Charleston Southern’s Horton School of Music, brings to life this awkward teenage girl who knows more about crossbows than boys and makes her believe in a life of normalcy.? When she enters the stage in a yellow dress prior to dinner, the uncomfortable innocence of a girl who wants so much to be loved and accepted comes out so powerfully.? Over the course of the play, she much wrestle with the critical issues of love, family and future.? It is a touching evolution wrought with anger, understanding and humor.? Ms. Weatherby’s performance was highlighted with the tremendous range and versatility of her vocals during her musical numbers.

This beautiful cast is rounded out by Clyde Moser as Lurch, Jessie Price as Pugsley, Emma Scott as Alice, Matthew Willingham as Lucas, Daniel Breuer as Mal, Allison Brower as Grandma and Rusty Cooler as Fester.? Each brings a zany pop and flair to the ensemble.

Act I concludes with the Addams and Lucas’ family playing a post dinner game of Full Disclosure.? As not to give away too much, this was reminiscent of the final scene of “La Vie Boheme” that drew Act I of “Rent” to a close.? It is a large ensemble number filled with many moving parts that manifests in a true turning point in the play.

You will be all smiles throughout the night with musical numbers like “Just Around the Corner”, ‘Crazier Than You”, and “Tango de Amor” to name just a few.

The Addams Family is a night filled with humor, spooky fun and strangely good family values.

Find someone you love or bring the family.? You will not be disappointed.? Just be sure to not put an apple on top of your head.

Ticket Information

You can’t help but fall in love with ‘Sweet Charity’ at the Charleston Performing Arts Center

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By Mark A. Leon

In 2013 Kirk and Scott Pfeiffer moved to Charleston with the goal of providing “excellent education in musical theatre, and to ensure theatre arts remain prominent and accessible within the community.”? Today, this small community theatre cuddled nicely on Folly Road is actively celebrating its fourth season and what an inaugural season achievement with their flamboyantly fun and musically triumphant production of “Sweet Charity”

Originally conceived, staged and choreographed by Bob Fosse based on the book by Neil Simon, the Charleston Performing Arts Center captures the quirky nuances and rich colors of 1960’s New York City so beautifully.? The intimate cabaret style theater puts the audience in the heart of the action.? With rich explosive numbers including “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now” the crowd is swept away into the free-spirited life of New York City in the 1960’s.

Right away, you cannot help but fall in love with Charity Hope Valentine played superbly by Johanna Lacy.? From the open scene where she is dumped through her journey to find love, you are drawn in with her quirky mannerisms, tremendous vocal range and optimistic pursuit of love. ?Her performance is nothing short of a pure delight.? Taking on a stage presence filled with beauty in the wake of uncertainty in a city that has lost its innocence, Johanna tackles this role with style and grace.? Throughout the performance, you want nothing more than to have this down on her luck heroine find true love.

This small stage musical at times resembled a massive production due in large part to the vibrant costume design and supporting cast of singers and dancers.? From the taps to the dips, the choreographed numbers kept your smiling all evening long.

Yovel Aviv and Jackie Kirchhoff play Nickie and Helene, Charity’s confidants and co-workers who have given up the glimmer in their eyes, but secretly cheer on Charity as she walks through the maze of life finding true love.? In their own saucy way, they continue to keep her grounded.? Yovel’s sassy New York accent and pint-sized powerhouse attitude as Nicki is lovable and sincere. Jackie’s rich voice and charm compliment well during her duo’s and ensemble numbers.

Khawon Porter as Herman, the cross-dressing owner of the dance hall, brings an explosive voice and dominant presence to every scene including an uncharacteristic rendition of “I Love To Cry at Weddings” at the conclusion of Act II.? His tough exterior, but lovable hidden side make for an unlikely father figure for Charity.

The performance would not have been complete without strong contributions from Dillon Smith (Oscar) and Joseph Baldino (Vittoro Vidal) who play two very different male figures who both have a vital impact on Charity’s life.

Love comes and goes and sometimes you lock in on your destiny and other times, you bow in defeat and keep looking.? Life is about finding balance between the inner and outer beauty, securing those that you truly connect with and having fun.? “Sweet Charity” truly encompasses those values with a beautiful rainbow of costumes, a talented cast, toe tapping music and dance and an overall great time at the theatre.

Ticket Information

The Critics Have Spoken: Midtown Productions ‘It’s Only a Play’ is a Monster Hit

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By Mark A. Leon

‘It’s Only a Play’ presented by Midtown Productions delivers an insanely comedic and poignant powerhouse punch.

Setting:? It is opening night on Broadway for Peter Austin’s ‘Golden Egg’ and friends, family and the theater community have gathered at producer Julia Budder’s Manhattan townhouse anxiously awaiting the critics reviews.? As players from the big screen, small screen and theater community emerge, the symbiotic lunacy of compliments, mockery, underhanded stabs and intellectual snobbishness creates a seamless blend of intellectual and physical comedy that the local Charleston theater has not seen for some time.

Fresh out of the cornfields of Wisconsin (okay, Madison), Michael Okas plays the bright-eyed Gus P. Head, an aspiring actor, singer and performer who has just gotten his first gig in New York taking coats for the likes of Lady Gaga, Liza Minelli and the cast of Hamilton.? His boyish charm and innocence in a circle of gluttony, greed and narcissism brings a unique perspective that brings sweetness to the endless bottle of bourbon that is the acting community.

In act two, Gus breaks the tension of bad reviews and life evaluations with an inspired adaptation of ‘Defying Gravity’ that launched the audience into a standing ovation.

Jon Ballard provided a dominant performance as James Wicker, aka Wacker, the leading actor who turned down the lead role in ‘Golden Egg’, written by his best friend Peter to continue his long-standing role on an ABC sitcom.? His intellectual prowess and witty charm make him a prominent figure throughout the production.? As the evening progresses, his own vulnerabilities about selling out of live theater for the small screen begin to unravel until his finds a rekindling with his first true love, the theater.

Lynda Harvey-Carter takes on the role of Virginia Noyes, the Diva with absolute perfection.? If I sought out an actress just slightly past her prime, but not yet accepting the realization, that is constantly drunk and strung up on cocaine and prescription pills, there is no better actor in the theater community.? Her performance as the once decorated Oscar quality big screen actress being flushed out of her Hollywood life and looking for a rebirth on Broadway was close to flawless.

What critic hasn’t aspired to be a playwright or a screenwriter?? He hides behind his critical assessments holding onto that childhood dream of seeing your words produced into a reality.? Enter Ira Drew, played by Terry Davey.? Terry is verbally tortured, ridiculed, punched and defiled with food, yet he still stands behind his profession and continues to pursue his dream of being the creator of theater magic.? Terry, as Ira, performs his role with great timing, well situated dialogue and a certain off scene magic that still has him playing a critical role in scenes where he does not even have lines.? Through subtle behavior and mannerisms, his flamboyant nature continues to bring importance to the stage even has his observes from the corner of stage right.

A great ensemble comedy would not be complete without the neurotic British director, who suffers for his success.? Sir Frank Finger, played with beautiful precision by Xan Rogers is played so well that you won’t even know whether he is truly British or American.? He is a visionary genius and a kleptomaniac.? Bravo.

The producer, whom without her most generous disposable income, Broadway would be dead is played by Andrea K. McGinn in the role of Julia Budder.? Julia, who has more money than a king and as much knowledge of theater as a five-year-old, is bubbly, flamboyant, warm and driven.? As the supportive financial foundation of the “Golden Egg” she relies on the collective embodiment of her crew to ride the wave to success, or failure.? Her playful nature and normalcy compliments that actors by neutralizing the mad cap whirlwind of emotions.

Finally, our playwright, Peter Austin whose oration, passion for the core integrity of live theater and unquestionable respect for the history of Broadway is played with vulnerability and poise by Andy Livengood.? For those in the storytelling and improvisation community of Charleston, Andy is a figurehead of leadership and support for comedy and expressive performance art.? His training and experience in sketch comedy and improvisation make him a tour de force in this production.? From his prayer to the theater to his clever visualization of a new and revolutionary play to his outfit fit for the likes of Liberace, Peter delivers a performance to be remembered.

This two hour production will leave you in stitches, keeping you on your toes and truly understanding the unique life of a performer.? It is often said that there is a fine line between creativity and insanity.? In this case, the two lines clash in an off the wall comedic explosion.

We must commend Ryan C. Ahlert and Andre Hinds who co-directed this look inside the wild world of live theater.? At the end of the day, when we truly put our lives in perspective and look at how we react to the little nuances, we just need to remember, ‘It’s Only a Play’.

Live theater has been given to us as a gift to invoke conversation and debate, celebrate creativity and reward us with an escape.? ‘It’s Only a Play’ is a true celebration of the art of live theater and all the players that bring concept to reality.

Come out and celebrate.

Ticket Information – ‘It’s Only a Play (Midtown Productions) – October 13 – 29, 2017

“Dracula: King of Vampires” Rekindles the Classic Horror Story at Dock Street Theatre

 

By Mark A. Leon / Edited by Minta Pavliscsak

The Prince of Darkness rises from the crypt to haunt Charleston in the Charleston Stage dramatic production of “Dracula: King of Vampires” playing October 19 – November 6 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre.

Blending the power of persuasion, deep symbolism, the essence of good vs. evil, and a hint of well-positioned comic relief, “Dracula” dishes up a stew of spooky and potent Halloween entertainment.

The dark mystique of Transylvania and the backdrop of Historic 19th Century England come alive with exquisite costume designs, precision use of shadows and well performed British accents.? This production takes you into the heart of the world of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” leaving behind a trail of blood as we follow the mission of a madman.

The set designers use of cryptic furniture, the illusion of a levitating castle door, shadows and sound effects to create a haunting Transylvania castle add a dark foggy aura.? They successfully transformed the stage to intimate settings in Transylvania and England.

The use of symbolism plays a critical role in “Dracula”. ?They are highlighted by a quintessential masquerade scene with a wolf, sheep and Bo Peep, Anarchy symbol atop the shipwrecked boat, office desk laden in faces of undead babies and poisonous spiders, crypt below the Abbey home dimly lit by deep purple and red hues.? These carefully positioned props and colors schemes hypnotize the audience luring them deeper into the play.

The role of Count Dracula is played by resident actor Alex Garcia.? His quest for eternal life and world domination drive him to disturbing acts.? Yet, it is the dangerous emotional weapon of love that causes him to trip up making careless mistakes along his conquest.

Aside from his mischievous accent and devilish grin, Count Dracula provides us with a surprising element of humor.? Within the many dark scenes, he brings a break in the drama with playful facial expressions and well-timed lines.? This bit of comedic interruption was perhaps the most surprising element of the performance.

Madeline Glenn Thomas with her mesmerizing eyes, dimples and innocent charm played the role of Mina, the heroin, so beautifully. Her signs of strength and moments of uncompromising weakness showed her range so well.

Insanity is a mental condition that causes a deranged state of mind and a very important part of the plot line.? Nathan Burke, as Renfield, digs deep within his acting range to take on this role.? He was a shining star performing his role as the sailor exposed to the monster and transforming to a person unrecognizable to himself.? It is truly a memorable piece of acting fueled by fear, madness and devotion and one that derives empathy from the audience.

Pen Chance as Dr. Quincy Seward consistently showcases his talents throughout the entire production, sharing the stage with each member of the ensemble cast.? In every scene, he was comfortable being the focal point or the supporting player contributing a level of rationality in a world of insanity.

The story and characters build to a violent and powerful conclusion with magic, theatrics and cast members donning the aisles with black sheets, demonic staffs and lace.

The aura of the classic horror tale Dracula is re-created with passion and heart in the new Charleston Stage adaptation of “Dracula: King of Vampires” now playing at the Dock Street Theatre.

Come for Weezer, Stay for Panic! At The Disco

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By, Minta Pavliscsak

The sleepy little town of Daniel Island, South Carolina was rocked to life Sunday evening when the sounds of Panic! At The Disco and Weezer came streaming from the rows of hanging speakers at the Volvo Car Stadium.

In unison, the crowd jumped to their feet with excitement as “Miserlou,” more notably known as the theme song from Pulp Fiction, suddenly started pumping through the speakers as the outline of a red car appeared, racing across the stage screen. Next entered 29 year old, Vegas grown Brendon Urie, and so it began.

I remember Panic! At The Disco when they first emerged onto the music scene. They showed promise, but then they seemed to fade only to return with what I though was a more mainstream sound, so honestly I lost interest. I am here to 20160619_203226-01 (2)tell you, Mr. Urie proved me completely wrong in every sense of the word this past Sunday night!

Between the bold sounds of the band, Brendon’s unbelievable vocal range -the kind of range that could only come from a deal with the Devil himself- and the energy coming from both the stage and the crowd, feeding off of one another, you had what made for a perfect opening set. I have never seen SO much pure, raw energy on stage, and Brendon even did a couple of -rather impressive- backflips!

The highlights of their set were definitely when Brendon took to his drum set, side of drummer Dan Pawlovich, for a dual drum solo/dueling drums/kick-ass this-is-what-we-do moment, and equally as kick-ass, their tribute to Queen with a crowd pleasing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Among the playlist was “Death of A Bachelor,” “Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Hallelujah,” “Girls/Girls/Boys,” “Miss Jackson,” “Crazy = Genius” and “Nine In The Afternoon.”

Thank you Panic! At The Disco for a fantastic performance!

The set change was a bit on the long side. However, it was well worth the wait, and sitting under an almost full moon on the eve of the first day of summer with a cool breeze, enjoying a tasty beverage, how could one complain?! Finally it happened –what we had all came there for– the lights went out and that was our cue to once again jump to our feet, scream as loudly as we could, and welcome to the stage the one, and only Weezer.

I feel that it is important to mention?20160619_222505here that Weezer is what we would refer to as an “old school”
band. That’s not a bad thing by any means! In a lot of ways, it is has its advantages, bonuses even. Their debut album, The Blue Album was released in May of 1994. I was in 5th grade at the time, and have been a fan ever since. {Thank you to my awesomely cool parents who never attempted to censor my musical choices!} I have been to many concerts of artists who fall under this same category – The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Green Day, just to name a few. When going to these shows, you are excited for whatever they give you, but you always hope to hear your favorite classics, the ones that made you fall in love with the band in the first pla20160619_213749ce. Weezer did not disappoint! They got straight to the point, opening with “Hash Pipe” then tossing out giant beach balls to the crowd with “My Name Is Jonas.”

It only got better from there!

Of course they played some of their new stuff which, holding true to Weezer form, was awesome, but it was peppered with their classics as well. A few we were graced with were “Beverly Hills,” “Pork and Beans,” “Everybody Get Dangerous,” “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Buddy Holly,” and “Undone – The Sweater Song.” Weezer wasted no time with a bunch of talking, only doing what they do best, rocking out.

As they said goodnight and walked off stage, the entire stadium chanted their name “WEEZER, WEEZER, WEEZER,” begging for their return. Showing sincere appreciation for their fans, they complied and returned for a couple more jams. My longtime dream had come true. Truly a magical night of musical greatness.

Weezer, you rock.

 

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