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Stage Door Players3
Average Rating Given : 4.25000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Bus Stop, by William Inge
Flawed Classic
Thursday, February 15, 2007
  My expectations were high for Bus Stop at Stage Door: High due to the Artistic Director's terrific track record; high because of the past accomplishments of Barbara Cole, the director; high for the craftsmanship Chuck Welcome is known for.
  Sometimes it's when my expectations are high when I become most dissapointed. Such as it is with Bus Stop, as the flaws are many. Lost is the rich texture and deep characterizations inherit in William Inge’s classic script. The cast is perfectly suitable, although they certainly are not at the level of past Stage Door productions. Ms. Cole's direction is adequate, but it certainly is not compelling, and at times its plain melancholy. Then there is the set: Although fine by usual community theater standards, it is not what I have come to expect from Mr. Welcome.
  The leads, Justin Sims and LeAnna Lambert, take time getting use to. By the end of the evening, they give just strong enough performances to be embraced by the audience. Although their charactorizations are not as complex as Ingle probably intended, the two are adequate enough for the script to come alive.
  Bo's sidekick Virgil Blessing is intelligently played by Dewayne Morgan, an actor who gives a rich, low-key interpretation more in line with my expectations. Equally impressive is Karen Whitaker as Grace, the owner of a diner who provides momentary shelter to an odd collection of travelers trapped by a snowstorm.
  Among the other cast members, there is plenty left to be desired. Dr. Lyman is more theatrical than needed, although actor Rial Elsworth at times demonstrates some fine complexity. However, as Mr. Elsworth has the tendency to butcher his lines like a runaway lawnmower, he is a diamond in the rough. The under aged Elma is even less convincing, both physically and through odd character choices such as her response to the professor's inappropriate advances.
  Despite its flaws, I do believe this staging of William Inge’s classic deserves our attention. Inge, one of America's premiere playwrights of the last century, brings a warm-hearted compassion and appreciation of average humanity to the stage that is both touching and stimulating. Stage Door barely succeeds with this in their mounting of Bus Stop. Good, but I expected more.

Home for the Holidays, by Robert Egizio and Chuck Welcome; Musical Arrangements by Linda Uzelac
Stage Door's Seasonal Gift
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Stage Door's "Home for the Holidays" is a living, breathing Hallmark Christmas Card.
This is not a show with subtle complexities or rich textures. It doesn't need to be. Instead, it is a bright, carefree (and sometimes corny) ode to family, togetherness and holiday joy. Here the human condition is not explored, but it is celebrated.
The tale is simple and is constructed around a family joining together on Christmas Eve, reminiscing in song about their favorite holiday memories.
The set design by Chuck Welcome is very impressive and well executed. So is the direction by the team of Robert Egizio and Linda Uzelac, who are bar none in Atlanta's community theater circle. In-town professional theaters should take note.
Egizio and Uzelac have collected an all-star ensemble. There isn't a week link in the bunch. My favorites are Cathe Hall Payne, Andy Meeks, Liz Birmingham and Michael Austin. I hope to see more of Meeks, Birmingham and Austin as all three are wildly talented young performers who all share a bright future. But the true standout performance is provided by Cathe Hall Payne, who easily steals the show as the Mom. With a dozen "Christmas Carols" being presented in the city, Payne easily gives the best all-around performance this holiday season.
If Stage Door's "Home for the Holidays" doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will.

Leading Ladies, by Ken Ludwig
Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Sure, playwright Ken Ludwig is not known to be highly original; his "Leading Ladies" follows a predictable story line heavily borrowed from Shakespeare, Coward, Wilde, Sheridan and even Aristophanes.
So what is Ludwig's gift? He takes the tried-and-true and makes it seem new. Sure, there is little concern for logical plot and in-depth characterization in this celebration of clowning. No matter; super-sized laughs are served abound. Only the terminally dour will fail to be seduced by all the mayhem.
Oh and what clowning and mayhem! The play may be the thing, but it's the players who make this thing soar. "Actors are liars - they lie for a living," says the pompous minister who tries to undermine the hilarity. And the eight Stage Door players make up a splendid ensemble of liars who are terrific at making us believe the script's many improbabilities.
The ensemble is led by a pair of tacky Shakespeareans playing the Moose Lodge circuit who pass themselves off as women to con a dowager out of her fortune. Bobby Labartino and Piotr Stapor play Clark and Gable (get it?) respectively, together milking and mugging their way through Ludwig's script, manifesting a bawdy tour de force performance as the show's two "leading ladies".
I'll admit that at times the staging by director Robert Egizio appears somewhat overhanded, perhaps for mere effect. And certainly there are too many over-the-top moments by the players. But even if the director tries a tad too hard and his troupe of jesters occasionally push the comedic envelope a bit too far, all is forgiven, because their romp scores far more palpable hits than misses. "Leading Ladies" is a clear example that sometimes the sum is greater than the parts, and this particular production scores overall as first-rate.

Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
Well Done Act1 Theatre
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I feared the worse; the Act1 Theatre is in a church setting in ultra-conservative Alpharetta, and I didn't know what to expect.
I was genuinely delighted. Even before the curtain was raised I was charmed by the storybook reading of Eric Bragg, who also played the Mystery Man.
The stage and lighting was impressive, as were the costumes. The performance itself was absolutely fantastic.
"Into The Woods" is not my favorite Sondheim fare, but I had a wonderful time because the actors were a joy to watch and truly brought the play to life with great timing and strong singing. There was also ample interaction between the actors and the audience. The princes, Cinderella and her family were standouts. So was the evil Witch. The pace of the show was a delight, as were the vast comical touches added throughout. I don't think I laughed that hard in years.
Frankly, with the depth of talent on hand, I cannot ever imagine being unimpressed at the Act1 Theatre. I shall return.

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