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juliebug [ALL REVIEWERS]
Companies Reviewed#
Rosewater Theatre Company1
Average Rating Given : 3.50000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Chicago, by Kander and Ebb
Chicago in Cumming?
Saturday, September 15, 2007

As someone who keeps up with the comings and goings of the Cumming playhouse, I felt this was--by far--the best product that Rosewater has put forward in their tenure in Cumming. I felt that in casting, they found a jem in Lauren Jann, who began the show with an amazing performance of "All That Jazz". They were lucky to have found her. I felt that Lisa Riley handled Roxie with grace, although I felt the role was a big too big for her at times vocally and sometimes choreographically. I felt that the choreographer, Colleen Hargis, did a good job fitting the choreography to Riley, who is more of an "actor that moves well" as opposed to a "dancer". The choreography overall, I thought, was well-suited to the space constraints as well as the talent of the ensemble. Rather than having truly trained "dancers", they had a whole cast of "actors who moved well" and I thought Hargis did a brilliant job of tailoring the choreography to fit that. I felt the choreography could have been cleaned more--there were points at which the excecution was questionable due largely to chunks of dance that were not clean. It is a very big show, though, and I'm sure time was just an issue as the rehearsals wound down.

The highlight of the show for me was Nicholas Morrett as Amos...he was just brilliant. His vocals were flawless and I thought his characterization was right on point---innocent and shy and withdrawn but not to the point of over-simplifying the character. It had some real depth to it and I thought his choices were wonderful. As for the other lead roles: I thought "Mama" played by Kathy Russel was well executed, even though I felt she could have been a bit more "gritty". Russell is a great vocalist, though, and her and Jann's rendition of "Class" was excellent. Daniel Van Hiel as "Billy Flynn" was good--although he seemed a bit like nerves got the best of him for part of the performance when I was there. I felt, though, especially after reading his bio in the program, that he handled the role extremely well considering it was his first foray into a leading role. What a way to start!

Musically speaking, overall I felt the cast handled a difficult show with grace, but felt like there was a depth lacking in the vocals-particularly in the women's ensemble roles. The vocals felt shallow, which could certainly be in large part due to the immense amount of dancing they were trying to execute--I had the feeling that stamina was part of the problem.

While it was fantastic to see a large ensemble of talented musicians onstage for a show in Cumming, I definitely felt as though they were hindered due to the spacial constraints of the theater. It felt as though the band had to play so softly so as not to overpower the actors that there were some nasty notes hit just because the musicians were afraid to really let loose. As well they should have been since that space is just a big wooden open area where sound loves to bounce around. On the numbers like the Opening where no one was singing, the band was able to be a little freer and the difference was huge. Hopefully as the Cumming Playhouse grows, they will be able to invest a little more in the sound options for the space. The musicians, although clearly talented, also felt a little bound to their music--the show had some phasing problems between instruments that seemed largely in part to the musicians' having their heads burried in their music. I would have liked to have seen them have some more fun.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night of theater. I felt they handled the "censoring" of the show very well. I've seen the show uncut before and I noticed that they cleaned up quite a bit of the language, but they certainly made it work even without excessive language. They had some great "bits" and gags that really sold the show and the cast looked like they enjoyed themselves. Again, I felt it was the best piece I've seen from Rosewater thus far and while I still think there is room for improvement, it looks like they put together a directing team for this show that proved to have great ideas and a lot of talent at making good use of the talent and space that they had available to them.

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