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REVIEWERS SIX DEGREES
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Brode Tuwall [ALL REVIEWERS]
Companies Reviewed#
ACT13
Cumming Attractions Theatre Company1
Class Act Theatre1
Average Rating Given : 4.40000
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REVIEWS

Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
"Into the Woods"
Saturday, July 29, 2006
5.0
“Into The Woods”

“Into the Woods” is a metaphor for life. It is a statement that life is not a “fairy tale.” Instead, life is full of surprises, selfish-ambitions, confusion, conflict, and uncertainty. In the “woods” we lose our way, find that things go wrong, people leave us forever, loyalties shift and there are “giants” in the land. This account of life is carried forward by the characters of a mix of characters from a medley of fairy stories. You will see many with whom you are familiar in this fast paced, hilarious and sometimes hard to follow musical.

The ACT 1 Company has a winner in this play. It is probably one of the most endowed casts I have ever seen in any amateur production. They all grimace appropriately, have their characters nailed and keep up a pace that is energized throughout. Every voice is strong. They dance well. The choreography is well directed and executed. Every character brings cheers. And I might add, I have seen some of the actors before. It appears to me appears that the overall strength of this cast has had a positive effect on their individual performances.

Technically the play is also a winner. (I only wish they had a larger venue for their performance.) Kelly Lane, the keyboardist does a remarkable performance with a very complicated musical style. Murray Mann, lighting and sound technician has prepared a very complicated sound track and set lighting track and works it masterfully. The sets done by a bevy of creative people is superb. This is enhanced by the smoothness with which the stagehands move things on and off stage to keep the pace going without a break. If you like costumes you will not be disappointed in seeing some very well coordinated and designed wear fare.

If there is anything negative about this play I would say it about the playwright/ composer. There are some scenes where the music score and dialogue is overworked and unduly extended. Still it is a good play that brings a message of hope – at least the way it was presented by ACT 1.

The Man Who Came to Dinner, by Kaufman & Hart
The Man Who Came to Dinner
Friday, August 12, 2005
4.0
The Man Who Came to Dinner

Comedy is not easy to carry off. People who do comedy usually have a long history of clowning off in school or developing the matter of timing, finesse and delivery through a series of personal mishaps. Therefore, I am usually suspicious of amateur romantic comedies.

The Man Who Came to Dinner is a romantic comedy. Masterfully written in 1938 it has lines which refer to notables of a bygone era. Therefore, some of the comedy in this play will be missed by those who are not historically conscious of vaudeville, old time theater and screen. However, that is the problem of the play. It is not necessarily the problem of the actors.

Some of the humor in this play was missed because of the era of the piece. Some of it is missed because the actors delivered their lines too quickly, failed in their timing or mumbled lines that had a punch. This does not diminish the fact that the actors, by and large, met the criteria of a comedic drama.

Having seen Jim Dailey in several plays I think his role as Sheridan Whiteside, the man who came to dinner, is his best. I saw the second presentation. By the time the play has had several showing I am sure Dailey will hone his lines to excellence. Certainly, Jim is well cast and creates empathy for the character as he moves from an arrogant curmudgeon to a tender hearted repentant jerk.

Gene Heslin as Professor Metz would plays the nutty professor well to garner laughs with far less mugging than Jerry Lewis did in his wacky role of a similar stereotypical character. Chris Goldston, playing the romantic lead, is smoothly a good pick as a romantic lead while he imitates a drunk admirably well and suave straight man. His romantic opposite, Anna Lichtenwaler, Maggie Cutler, fires some spunky lines really well at her boss, Sheridan Whiteside, and then ably moves to become a love enamored single woman who have found her man with convincing alacrity.

I regret that I cannot identify the character by name who played the part of the Hollywood vamp. However, credit goes to her for her sashshaying back and forth across the stage in her red dress giving necessary burlesque to the drama. She did it well and we will not forget how we may look when we try to be bigger than we are. And, what can we say about the wacky comedienne who graced the stage with flowing and flowered robes? We can say, well done. You remind us all of the people in our lives who are preoccupied with their own illusions and who talk to themselves. Thanks for giving us some comic relief.

A word of appreciation must go to the rest of the cast who did superb support work. They are making the Catco Productions something we will not want to miss at the Cumming Theater. They are quality. They are our own. They deserve our support and appreciation for reminding us a good hobby is one that makes others happy.

Derrel Emmerson

The Man Who Came to Dinner, by Kaufman & Hart
The Man Who Came to Dinner
Thursday, August 11, 2005
4.0
The Man Who Came to Dinner

Comedy is not easy to carry off. People who do comedy usually have a long history of clowning off in school or developing the matter of timing, finesse and delivery through a series of personal mishaps. Therefore, I am usually suspicious of amateur romantic comedies.

The Man Who Came to Dinner is a romantic comedy. Masterfully written in 1938 it has lines which refer to notables of a bygone era. Therefore, some of the comedy in this play will be missed by those who are not historically conscious of vaudeville, old time theater and screen. However, that is the problem of the play. It is not necessarily the problem of the actors.

Some of the humor in this play was missed because of the era of the piece. Some of it is missed because the actors delivered their lines too quickly, failed in their timing or mumbled lines that had a punch. This does not diminish the fact that the actors, by and large, met the criteria of a comedic drama.

Having seen Jim Dailey in several plays I think his role as Sheridan Whiteside, the man who came to dinner, is his best. I saw the second presentation. By the time the play has had several showing I am sure Dailey will hone his lines to excellence. Certainly, Jim is well cast and creates empathy for the character as he moves from an arrogant curmudgeon to a tender hearted repentant jerk.

Gene Heslin as Professor Metz would plays the nutty professor well to garner laughs with far less mugging than Jerry Lewis did in his wacky role of a similar stereotypical character. Chris Goldston, playing the romantic lead, is smoothly a good pick as a romantic lead while he imitates a drunk admirably well and suave straight man. His romantic opposite, Anna Lichtenwaler, Maggie Cutler, fires some spunky lines really well at her boss, Sheridan Whiteside, and then ably moves to become a love enamored single woman who have found her man with convincing alacrity.

I regret that I cannot identify the character by name who played the part of the Hollywood vamp. However, credit goes to her for her sashshaying back and forth across the stage in her red dress giving necessary burlesque to the drama. She did it well and we will not forget how we may look when we try to be bigger than we are. And, what can we say about the wacky comedienne who graced the stage with flowing and flowered robes? We can say, well done. You remind us all of the people in our lives who are preoccupied with their own illusions and who talk to themselves. Thanks for giving us some comic relief.

A word of appreciation must go to the rest of the cast who did superb support work. They are making the Catco Productions something we will not want to miss at the Cumming Theater. They are quality. They are our own. They deserve our support and appreciation for reminding us a good hobby is one that makes others happy.

Derrel Emmerson

Fiddler on the Roof, by Joseph Stein
Fiddler on the Roof
Sunday, July 31, 2005
5.0
Fiddler on the Roof
A Production of
A.C.T. 1

In my 60 years of movie going Fiddler on the Roof the movie version of Fiddler leads the pack in favorite movies. I hold that movies' overall standard so high that I consider anyone who tries a stage production of it to be courting disaster. My expectations, therefore, are very high.

This play has a large cast. It has numerous changes of scenery. It requires dancing, singing, superb acting, direction and musical background. Did A.C.T. 1 rise to the challenge? In my opinion they exceeded the subjective handicap I gave them.

The cast was strong with a few who showed some need for improvement as the play wears on. I have every confidence they will, considering how well they performed in only their second public performance.

The sets were superbly fitted to a very small stage. They were artistically rendered, demonstrated the output of engineering skills, and worked well. The fact that part of the set extends beyond the stage into the audience area adds to the intimacy created by the actors who come stage forward many times to deliver their lines.

The dancing not only held up but was ingenuously choreographed to fit a small area with more than two dozen dancers. In time the dancing will do more than “hold up.” It is very close to being a well oiled production for an amateur performance.

What can we say about direction? It is apparent MoiraThornett and Rebecca Coffee have produced a high standard for A.C.T. 1 that will be the marker for future productions. It is also clear that they have collected a talented and hardworking support team including Murray Mann, the man on the technical board.

Musically, Kelly Marino is her usual talented self, playing keyboard with nuances that made this small production a play with an orchestra, howbeit, simulated. The “Fiddler”, Savannah Cookson, is very talented, hardly missed a note and is all over the set playing her fiddle with the aplomb of a musician with stage presence. Strong and talented singers in the production include Karen Walsh, as Golde; Sawyer Armstrong, a 16 year old, as Hodel and Stephen Scheerer as Lazar Wolf. I regret I have missed others but these are the names I wrote on my program while watching.

What can you expect from the actors? An excellent performance! Marshall Hitch, playing Tevye, is playing that role for the fifth time. He does it in such a way that his lines come without hesitation and as if they are emerging from his own personality. Now, that is acting! And, it sets a pace the others have followed with varying degrees of skill. Some, admittedly, are acting at acting. However, more of the performers seem to have found their characters with feeling, skill and authenticity than in most amateur productions of this magnitude.

Should you go to see this production? Who am I to tell you what to view? However, if you love the movie you won’t be disappointed. If you like to support talent you will support this theater by going. If you like good family entertainment you won’t regret keeping the kids up for this three hour performance. And, if you like the intimacy of small theater you will have a cast that will connect with you. They will bring their characters and the old Russian countryside to life as holograph in your living room.

Derrel E. Emmerson (Brode Tuwall)

Dearly Departed, by David Botrell & Jessie Jones
Dearly Departed
Saturday, March 12, 2005
4.0
“Dearly Departed” is advertised as a comedy and it is. However, is also serious drama, a slice of life, as only comedy can present it. There is something here for everyone: a bit of the storied “old south”; moments of engaging pathos; hilarious mutilation of language; contemporary references to the famous; and actors who show more than tell.

The set is minimal and just right. The scenes move from “split staging” to “on the road scenes.” In between we have the hint of a funeral chapel, a family wake, and front porch at the family homestead. All of this is done with the help of a few created props, common tables, dishware, chairs, a bench and excellent sound effects and lighting by Murray Mann.

For me to single out any performer as better than another would be a travesty. Every actor became their character and delivered the action and lines accordingly. ( I noticed only one rushed line delivery and it was quickly covered in such a way that everything appeared seamless.) There was energy. The actors related to each other as real people and it seemed they forgot the audience - the mark of good acting. Everyone of them delivered the funny lines as laughable and the sad ones with pathos.

This being said, I think it appropriate to make a comment about several actors. The first comments I would make is about two who carried their parts with few words: Brian Thornett and Samantha Watson. Brian Thornett played two roles: Bud and Norvel. Tim Conway could not have done Norvel’s role better. When Brian died as Bud with his face in his oatmeal I began to worry that Raynelle might not get his head up before he smothered. Samantha had me convinced the whole way that she was the bratty, self-absorbed and totally insensitive character she played.

The other scenes that were memorable drama were lines delivered by John Donnelly as Ray-Bud , Moira Thornett as Raynelle and Jarrell White as Royce. These three carried the serious and sane commentaries in the story. John Donnelly was convincingly the one figure who represented reason and sensitivity. Moira Thornett, the abused widow, left us with a final line that hit my gut with a kind of philosophical resolution. Jarrell White, the neer- do- well was a convincing detached deadbeat who refused to let the insanity of others enter the circle of his insanity.

You will miss a good play if you don’t see this one. As a character play it rises well above a mere amateur production.

CLOSING SOON
Steel Magnolias
by Robert Harling
Academy Theatre
NOW PLAYING
Crossing Delancey
by Susan Sandler
Alliance Theatre Company
Midnight at the Masquerade
by The Murder Mystery Company
The Murder Mystery Company in Atlanta
Steel Magnolias
by Robert Harling
Academy Theatre
The Spy Who Murdered Me
by Kevin Gillese
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
Three Ladies of Orpington
by Daniel Guyton
Onion Man Productions

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