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a Comedy/Drama
by Neil Simon

COMPANY : Big Top Productions
VENUE : Big Top Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 1139

SHOWING : January 14, 2005 - February 12, 2005



Neil Simon's comedic fable about a siberian village possessed with a curse causing all itís residents to be idiots. Can a newly arrived school teacher break the curse? Or is the small village of Kulyenchikov doomed forever?

Cast David Kronawitter
Lenya Zubritsky JoAllen Bradham
Sophia Zubritsky Susanna Crafton
Slovitch Rob Epstein
Leon Tolchinsky Chris Garland
Dr. Zubritsky Robert Hadaway
Yenchna Barb Hedges-Goettl
Magistrate Todd Shoenfelt
Mishkin David Short
Count Gregor Yousekevitch Norman Tarazona
Snetsky Adam Zangara
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You'll be a "fool" if you don't "rush in" - to see the theatre, at least
by Okely Dokely
Thursday, January 27, 2005
So, there is life after the so-called "arena space" of Little General. They actually made that cold, echoey, crap-hole of a room into something that looks and smells like a theatre. It's still cold and echoey, but it hasn't been their permanent home for very long, and they can do wonderful things with it if they realize it. I don't mean to knock the Cobb Playhouse as a company. I just took issue with their arena space, as I thought it was the absolute worst place for a stage to exist. Like I said in an earlier review, not just any random room can be made into a theatre. But Big Top has gotten rid of the arena thing and has made it proscenium, complete with a new lighting grid and curtains. Good move. The lobby is beautiful, too. Not that different from CPS as far as the layout, but it's got a great paint job, and I like the track lighting.

I so wish I could have seen South Pacific, but I was so busy then, I barely had enough free time to fart. Thanks to my curiosity and a very generous ATML offer, the significant other and I went to see this very funny Neil Simon show, which I last saw at Georgia Ensemble Theatre in 1995, which featured Mark and Tess Kincaid, Tony Brown, Jimmy Donadio and his wife - some of my favorites. Big Top's production was a little rickety. Their biggest deterrent was the distracting echo, which requires the actors to speak slowly and clearly. Very few could be understood all the time. Most of the performers garbled their words too much, making the intelligible stuff hit and miss. Chris Garland as the protagonist, Leon Tolchinsky, I felt had the biggest enunciation problems. Mr. Garland is an interesting physical type for the role, but he grew on me as the show progressed, and I found that he was the teacher type that I'd listen to and take scholastic advice from. I just wish I could have understood him better. Adam Zangara, who I last saw in a miscast performance in CPS's Guys and Dolls, plays a role here which suits him much much better, and he actually turned out to be one of my two favorite performances. My other favorite was JoAllen Bradham as Mrs. Zubritsky. She never faltered or misstepped, and hit all the right chords performance-wise, going from hilarious to moving whenever appropriate.

The production values were very nice, with no visible or audible glitches at all in the set, lights, and pre-show music. They've got that set change down pat. The first thing they should fix is the reverberation issue in the theatre, which is what hurt this production the most. The script is funny, though, and everyone's heart is in the right place. Keep plugging away, guys. Better things are on the horizon. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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