Seles VanHuss shines in 1920s musical at Boulder Dinner Theatre Stage
Reviewed by Tom Jones
November 27, 2016
Millie Dillmount, delightfully played by Seles VanHuss, is the traditional mid-western young woman who arrives in New York City without fear, and with aspirations of a great change in her life. Some girls travel to the Big Apple to make it big in show business. Millie’s plans are much more defined. She wants to marry a rich man. Continue reading Millie Goes Thoroughly Modern in New York City→
Boulder Dinner Theatre Stage Offers Good Food and Ghosts with “The Addams Family”
Reviewed by Tom Jones
December 3, 2015
A very strange “family” has moved into Boulder.There is the father, Gomez, his luscious bride, Morticia, their two children – the very strange Pugsley and his sister, Wednesday, who has potential of being somewhat normal.Then Grandma comes with the group, as does Gomez’s brother, Uncle Fester.The family’s servant is an extremely tall chap, Lurch, who doesn’t say much but brings an air of frightening delight to the going’s on.
We meet the family on stage in “The Addams Family,” a musical version of the death-defying antics of cartoon characters created by Charles Addams.The cartoons resulted in a very successful TV run about the strange family.The gang was assembled for a Broadway production in 1960.The Broadway team had great credentials, but were not successful in giving life to the family.Even the amazing talents of Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth could not surmount the script and music difficulties, however.The show was subsequently rewritten, and is finding a new life of it own in local productions, such as the current Boulder show.
The set is clever – the spooky mansion, the cemetery crypt, the ever-present trees!This is a cartoonish set design that is very effective.
Wednesday realizes that her family is not normal, but confides in her father that she has fallen in love with a regular guy – Lucas Beineke.She has an “uncharacteristic desire to marry a square kid from Ohio!”She has invited Lucas and his parents to the family home, so that everyone can meet over dinner.There hasn’t been such a stage dinner since “La Cage Aux Folles” when a gay couple invited the Mayor of Paris and his wife to meet their heterosexual son who was about to marry the Mayor’s daughter.This time around there are not questions of gender, but problems of living and dead!Uncle Fester enlists the help of the dead ancestors who emerge from the family crypt for guidance and support at the family dinner.
Wednesday has evidently worn black for 18 years, but turns up in a bright yellow outfit the the family party.Her father is aghast, noting, “You look like a crime scene!”
Scott Beyette has directed the show and stars as Gomez.Alicia King plays his wife, Morticia, with Sara Grover taking the role of their daughter, Wednesday.Wayne Kennedy is a delight as Uncle Fester, as is Casey Andree playing the solemn servant, Lurch.Barb Reeves plays the daffy grandma, and the role of Puglsey is double-cast, with Ethan Lelandand Owen Leidich sharing the part.I saw Leland who is very good, especially when attached to his adored torture machine, giving him the opportunity to cream loudly in wonderful pain!
Brett Ambler is convincing as the naive young suitor, Lucas Beineke, who finds the zany Wednesday to be someone special.Scott Severtson and Joanie Brosseau are effective as Lucas’ bewildered parents strangely horrified by the goings-on in the Gomez household.
Scenery is terrific, as are the lighting, and costumes.The sound system did not permit me to understand some of the characters as easily as I had hoped.Songs are pleasant, but not after-the-show hummable.There is an especially fun scene when Fester declares that he is in love with the moon, singing, “the Moon and Me.”Dancing is spotty – with some good numbers, but an overly-long Tango near the show’s end.
An interesting part of the production’s effectiveness is the presence of many dead ancestors who meander through the show, silently and effectively “commenting” on what is happening among the live folk.This is a blissfully ghoulish little show!
Affectionadoes of early incarnations of “The Addams Family” will have a field day noting some of the comedic touches which have been handed from from cartoon format, to TV series, to the stage.The dark and brooking “look” of the family has been remarkably transferred in this goofy tale.And the food is very good!
“The Addams Family”
Through February 27, 2016
BDT Stage –Boulder’s Dinner Theatre
4401 Arapahoe Avenue
Boulder, CO 80303
For information: Telephone 303/449-6000
Or online at www.BDTStage.com
“Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney is an Interesting“ Look at the Creator of “Micky Mouse.”
Reviewed by Tom Jones
March 23, 2015
Just the mention of the name “Walt Disney” conjures up impressions of “The Magic Kingdom,” family entertainment, nature documentaries, “Disneyland,” “Mary Poppins,” and yes – “Mickey Mouse!.” Some of these warm and fuzzy ideas about the motion picture genius are about to be threatened by The Catamounts’ interesting take on Disney’s later years. The Boulder-based company staged “A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney,” as written by Lucas Hnath.
This was my first opportunity to see The Catamounts. The evening was an adventure by itself – having difficulty finding the theater’s entrance, then being warmly welcomed into the theater, separated from the parking area by a curtain and a nondescript door. The night I saw the show, the production was arranged for theater-industry guests. It was as if I was attending a private party of long-time friends, delighted to see one another, and welcoming some new faces to their crowd – my wife and I attended the show with friends – none of us having any idea what we were about to see!
The reading’s title is nearly as long as the performance , that is actually about 70 minutes, with no intermission. The length was about right, as four persons seated on a table facing the audience as if they were reading a screenplay could become a tad tedious if it were longer. As currently constructed, however, the show is a fascinating look at author Hnath’s take on what may have developed if Disney had written the show as his final production.
Paul Borrillo is mightily impressive as the famous Disney. His portrayal doesn’t create new fans for the animation genius, as we learn he was an egomaniac, usually treating his family and close associates with great disdain. His daughter’s memories of being raised by him resulted in her reminding him he was such an awful father, that she didn’t want any of his children to be named after him. He used anyone to achieve his personal aims, treating his brother Roy, as if he barely existed, and actively disliking his daughter’s husband, Ron.
Mark Collins is very good as the brother, who appears to keep Walt appearing as somewhat normal, while taking the brunt of Disney’s idiosyncrasies and unpleasantness. Jason Maxwell portrays Ron, his daughter’s husband. He appears as a none-too-bright chap, eager to do anything to please his father in law, or at least have a job! Lindsey Pierce plays the daughter. She has the gumption to confront her father about his meanness, but the confrontation does nothing to change her father’s intents.
Some looks behind the Disney productions are delightfully revealing. Disney insisted on making a live-action documentary which included a sequence about Lemmings jumping to their deaths by suicide. The Lemmings tale was eventually shown to be completely false, and Disney required his brother to take responsibility for the “error.”
The “Unproduced Screenplay” reading concludes with Disney’s head being purportedly cryonically frozen the idea that he’d eventually return to life. This is the tale that author Hnath proposes Disney would have written, had he authored his own story! In reality, Disney died at age of lung cancer 65 and his remains were cremated.
Amanda Berg Wilson directed this fascinating piece of theatre. I was intrigued with what I saw, and the show did result in my wanting to “know more” – spending time with Google to decipher Disney fact from fiction! The “Public Reading” generated substantial discussion among those in attendance, trying to figure out what was fact and what was fantasy – and how we might wish to write our own story for future posterity!
“A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney”
March 13-28 2015, The Catamounts in the madelife building, 20001 21st Street, (East entrance), just off Pearl Street in Boulder.
For tickets: 702/468-0487
For information about The Catamounts: www.thecatamounts.org