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Teachers, The Musical!

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA MUSICAL
by Robin Seidman, music composed by David Reeb

COMPANY : Kudzu Children's Theater [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 3515

SHOWING : September 25, 2009 - October 25, 2009

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A retiree wannabe discovers her new teaching partner has only taught cats and her new student, Sammy, (aka Satan) has his own ideas about education. This musical comedy is about “tested” teachers who discover what they have might not be what they want. These tales from the teachers lounge are for everyone who has ever had the “Monday Morning Blues” and for all teachers desperate to set the world on fire ... before their students do it for them.

Showing September 25-October 25, 2009
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays at 7:00 pm
(No show on October 27)

Please call 770-594-1020 for reservations


CAST & CREW LIST
Writer Robin Seidman
Director Wally Hinds
Pit Conductor Kelly Lane
Stage Manager Kathy Manning
Keyboards Kelly Lane
Drums Jeff Pullen
Steven Higgs Gage Clark
Doris Gross Kathy Manning
Sammy Chase McGrath
Chrissy Collins Mandy Papenbrock
Principal Larry Sludge Charlie Rogers
Belle Tobbins Karen Walsh
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Inane
by playgoer
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
3.0
"Teachers, the Musical" is being given a colorful, comic strip production at Kudzu Playhouse. The bright set and brighter costumes do their best to add sparkle to the show, but the lightweight plot and pedestrian score keep the sparkle from igniting.

I felt sorry for the actors in the cast. Charlie Rogers and Kathy Manning, as principal Larry Sludge and his assistant Doris Gross, put a lot of energy into their performances. Mandy Papenbrock and Karen K. Walsh, playing supposedly young teacher Chrissy Collins and supposedly retiring teacher Belle Tobbins (although they appeared to be of approximately the same age), both did nice vocal work. Chase McGrath, as Sammy the devil-child, showed good stage presence. The weakness of the script and songs, however, constantly undermine their good intentions.

The lyrics are the low point of the show. The rhymes are often imperfect, the scansion is often off, and sometimes the words being sung don't make a whole lot of sense. "A dodo at the top of the tree??" The dodo was a flightless bird. Its extinction did not enable it to fly to the top of a tree on angel wings! The best lyricists make it look easy, but they never make it sound simplistic, as is often the case here. I also have to admit bafflement at one lyric that sounded to me like Belle singing "I'm a Darwin" over and over. Only near the end of the song did she enunciate clearly "I'm retirin'."

The music is often derivative and repetitive. The accompaniment is sometimes plodding and never adds the variety necessary to make the songs sound better than they are. At least Kelly Lane and Jeff Pullen are given characters and a bit of stage time, before being sent back to "detention" to play their instruments. The only melody I felt had real promise was "No Ring Blues," but the reprise used spoofish lyrics that ruined its effect. The heartfelt simplicity of the melody at least came close to working.

"Teachers, the Musical" has had three chances locally to get it right. At this point, I'm afraid that the material just isn't strong enough to justify continued tinkering. It's a teachers' lounge show, targeted to an audience of teachers, with little appeal to those not involved in the daily grind of "teaching to the test." [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
a possible "I'm a Darwin" moment? by Okely Dokely
Unless Kelly recently married Jeff and I was unaware, I think you mean Kelly Lane.
Correction Made by playgoer
Thanks by cathead67
Thanks for your honesty about the show. Even though you didn't give it the best review you did give it a decent score, so I assume you found some merit in what we did. And a special thanks for thinking I appear to be appoximately the same age as Mandy! : )
Karen
If you can read this, thank a Teacher!
by line!
Monday, October 19, 2009
3.5
Where would we be without the teachers that have affected us in our lives? That is one of the key points made by “Teachers, the Musical” currently playing at Kudzu in Roswell.

Hopefully, everyone can cite at least one teacher who made a difference in their lives. I know I can! Let’s see, there was “Jerky” Joe Johnson, the “cool” American History teacher in High School who gave an annual “Millard Fillmore Memorial Brick Award” (named after our least effective president) to the student who asked the stupidest question of the year. There was also High School English Literature teacher “Miss Jessie” Denman, who, while holding back tears of laughter, clarified Chaucer’s intent in the phrase “he took her maidenhead” to a confused student who thought it meant decapitation. But the teacher who most affected my life was Mr. Douglas Adcock when he came into my 6th grade class promoting the wonders of “The Drama Club” as an extracurricular activity. Good teachers, one and all; as are so many that go unheralded.

But enough about them, let’s get to the show!

“Teachers, the Musical” is a fun, over the top look at one particular Elementary school as seen from the Teacher’s Lounge. We have a naďve first timer who has never set foot in a classroom before, a weary old-timer who is about to permanently set foot outside the classroom, a controlling school secretary who constantly puts her foot down, a “flighty” Principal whose feet don’t seem to touch the ground, a delivery man whose feet don’t stink, and a student who is directly referred to as “Satan’s Spawn”. I have to admit that I absolutely love these characters!

The script has a lot of fun with an “avian” theme and uses it to good effect. The principal is a bit “cuckoo” and works everything he says into some sort of “fowl” remark. There are puns aplenty and it just adds to the fun. The puns are groaners sometimes, but you groan with a smile. There are several plot lines happening and all intertwine smoothly and appropriately without bumping into each other and without being too much to keep track of. There is romance, intrigue, conflict and redemption. But most of all, there is fun!

The music is solid and mostly appropriate (as appropriate as someone bursting into song in a musical can be). The melancholy tunes really hit home and convey sweetness without getting maudlin or saccharine. The up tempo numbers are clever, cute and fun songs that really got the audience moving and clapping along!

The two piece band of Kelly Lane and Jeff Pullen did a very impressive job of providing a full sound from only two people. They also set the tone for the evening, when as the show starts, they are banished to “detention” during the curtain speech.

This production is well cast with actors who unite to give a winning performance as an ensemble. Karen Walsh as the “about to retire, seen everything, but still dedicated old pro”, Belle Tobbins, gives a beautifully balanced portrayal. She has a solid voice and emotes wonderfully in her songs. She has a strong stage presence and a confidence which suits her character very well. Mandy Papenbrock may look like she is too “experienced” to be accepted as a totally naďve “newbie”, but she compensates for it with good acting choices and a sweet singing voice which convince us of her character’s innocence and sincerity. Kathy Manning rules the roost with her “take no prisoners” portrayal of school secretary Doris Gross. Her comedic touches and “takes” are on the money and her voice may be just be a bit too good to be coming from her character. Chase McGrath’s character Sammy (aka Satan’s Spawn) is written to steal the show. He doesn’t let the chance pass him by either. This young man grabs the role with both hands and makes it dance to his tune! While his voice was weaker than I would have liked (volume-wise), it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of his full-throttle performance. Gage Clark is the man with the cookies that makes all the teachers’ heads turn! Gage gives a subdued, gentlemanly performance that stays on the sweet side of sexy without getting sweaty. His singing voice was also a little weak, but considering his eye candy factor, I don’t think the ladies in the audience minded. The performance that soars like an eagle in this production is given by Charlie Rogers as Principal Larry Sludge. He takes a well written role and gives it a strong over-the-top-yet-pitch-perfect performance. He positively owns the stage whenever he appears! His energy, timing and delivery add a layer of joy and fun to an already enjoyable show!

The Teacher’s Lounge set is functional, colorful and simple. The only set element that bothered me was the cookie vending machine. I’m not sure why exactly, but perhaps it was just too big. Otherwise, the whimsically designed set did a wonderful job of visually telling the audience they were going to have a fun time.

“Teachers” is a very positive, uplifting show, but there were a few negatives for me. The biggest negative (for this particular production) is the fact that there was virtually no choreography. A musical needs movement! When actors are singing, they should also be moving! (Conversely, when singers are acting, they shouldn’t be moving!) There wasn’t enough choreography in my opinion, and what there was, was half-done (undoubtedly because there was no choreographer listed in the program). There was also one glaringly bad bit of logistical planning in the script when there is a long-ish blackout because all of the main characters were just in one scene and must make a costume change before the next scene can start. A transition scene of some sort involving the characters that were not involved in the previous scene needs to be added to aid the change. Leaving the audience in the dark for a couple of minutes detracts from the energy and flow of the show.

“Teachers” is a really fun show and is good entertainment. The performance I saw was on a Sunday night and the audience was filled with many teachers and other education professionals who related whole-heartedly to the jokes, situations and sentiments of the story. They were not just being kind either. They really enjoyed the show. You will too.

Class dismissed.

-Rial
[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
William Chaucer? by Dedalus
I suppose he was Geoffrey's naughtier twin brother?

-- The Wandering Pedant
Knew I was up too late when I wrote that.... by line!
Good thing I didn't say Tennesee Chaucer. LOL


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