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Act a Lady
a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Jordan Harrison

COMPANY : Staged Right Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Berkmar Middle School [WEBSITE]
ID# 5078

SHOWING : May 13, 2017 - May 21, 2017

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

When the men of a small Prohibition-era town decide to put on a play dressed in "fancy-type, women-type clothes," the whole community is affected: gender lines blur, eyebrows raise, identities explode, and life and art are forever entangled. A thoughtful and exuberant Midwestern fable about the woman in every man, the man in every woman and the power of theatre to uncover both.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Starshine Stanfield
Set Designer Spencer Estes
Stage Manager Kendal Franklin
Sound Designer Scott Piehler
Miles David Huenergardt
Casper JR McCall
Dorothy Nancy Powell
True Dalton Titshaw
Lorna Jenny Titshaw
Zina Marie Violette
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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The Art of Being a Lady
by playgoer
Sunday, May 21, 2017
3.5
"Act a Lady" is a strange play, showing 1920’s rural townfolk putting on a cross-dressed production of what seems to be a melodrama set in the 18th century. Dorothy (Nancy Powell) thinks it’s a bad, ungodly idea, but her husband (David Huenergardt) convinces her not only to agree to the production, but to play the accordion in it. An out-of-town female director in pants (Marie Violette) and a make-up artist with Hollywood credits (Jenny Titshaw) help ready the production, which features local men True (Dalton Titshaw), a tanner, and Casper (JR McCall), a photographer. The gender-bending isn’t restricted to the play-within-a-play; segments within "Act a Lady" have a trouser-dressed female encountering a dress-wearing male, with both of them portraying the same male character confronting the different sides of his personality.

Director Starshine Stanfield has elicited good performances from all the actors, with many of them as strong in this production as they have ever been in previous productions I’ve seen. The play-within-a-play scenes are played far upstage in fairly dim light, with postures and vocal volume compensating for the lack of nearness to the audience. Other scenes are played in front of the false proscenium, close to the audience, with good general lighting abruptly switching to a spotlight as individual characters speak their monologues.

For a make-shift performance space (the band room of a middle school), the production values are quite high. Spencer Estes has designed a simple, yet evocative set that contains a fully operational curtain in the proscenium. Philip Wray’s lighting design takes limited resources and takes every advantage of their capabilities, aided by Scott Piehler’s sound design that plays a mechanical switch effect when the spotlight suddenly goes on. Accordion music plays during scene transitions. Costumes, designed by Marie Walker, do a wonderful job of evoking both time periods of the play and indicate the status of each character, be it as a small-town rube or a big-city director. Women’s hairstyles intensify this effect (and that includes the elaborate wigs worn by men in the play-within-a-play).

Staged Right Theatre takes on challenging plays that do not necessarily have a guaranteed audience due to name recognition of the play and/or playwright. This could be a recipe for disaster in community theatre. But when the production is as capably produced and directed as "Act a Lady," it can only augur good word of mouth and (hopefully) audiences willing to take a chance on a new company filled with talent. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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