SHOWING : January 06, 2005 - January 30, 2005
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ASC is pleased to introduce this special series of plays consisting of
all-time favorites of Artistic Director Jeff Watkins- plays which will make
your stomach hurt from laughing and your soul soar to heights that can only
be reached at The Shakespeare Tavern. Don't miss this special double bill
made just for you this January.
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|by Okely Dokely
Saturday, January 8, 2005 ||
I'm honored to write this site's first review of the new year.|
I had a fine evening at the Tavern. Speaking as the biggest soup fan you'll ever meet, their Rainy Day Tomato soup is to die for. I even saw McKerley sneak a bowl backstage. The pair of shows I saw was better than Richard II, and there were many funny moments. First off was The Cathedral, which was Marc McPherson delivering a rather impassioned 25 minute-or-so monologue, with what looked like the script on a music stand as an aide. He needs to go over the words and phrases that are getting him tongue-tied (this happened to him at least 5 times, where he'd do what we all do sometimes - get syllables mixed up), but he had everybody's attention, and had some interesting physical choices, even if some of them might have inspired unintended chuckles from the audience. Other than that, you could hear a pin drop on the rug.
Okay, forgive my phrasing, but I can't think of a classier way to say this and get my point across, but does Matthew Trautwein have testicles? 'Cause damn that boy can sing high, and it sounds breathtakingly angelic and hypnotic. As a performer in both shows, and the Music Director of both shows, he does a tremendous job of pulling quadruple duty. When the cast of The Mandrake all sing together, their 8 voices sound like at least 20. There was a duet with Valerie Payton and Becky Cormier that took me a good 30 seconds to figure out which one was signing soprano and which one was alto. That is one of the signs of a truly good blend.
Reading this over, it sounds like the ingredients for a 5 rating. So why a 3.5-ish? What I touched on in the Richard II review was that when exposed to something other than "normal human speaking", a lot of the language goes over my head the first time around, although I enjoyed these shows just a smidge more than Richard II. But for such a high-energy show as The Mandrake, there were a handful of scenes where the blocking was non-existent and people just stood there, which is fine if you're directing an "in concert" show at Onstage Atlanta, but not so fine if you're directing a Commedia del Arte show at the Tavern. Maybe I'm also growing slightly weary of the regulars, as great as they continue to be [Tony Brown was old reliable Tony Brown, Marc McPherson still projects wonderfully, McKerley's still the tops in my book]. It does not come as much of a surprise to me that my favorite performance of the night was from someone I had never heard of before - young actor Paul Hester. While bordering on overacting in one of his soliloquys to the audience, he nails everything else, and has an amazing presence. I hope to see more of him. Overall, it was sorta kinda good, but not my favorite. But it was better than Richard II.
I wonder if that'll turn up as a blurb somewhere. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || Matthew... by KristieKrabe|
| I have to agree with you on Matthew's voice - it is unbelieveable. He is the first male musical director I've ever had that could sing my part along with me - in my octave - and sound good!!|
| || an additional tidbit by Okely Dokely|
| The night I saw it, Jeff McKerley had quite a fall on the stairs while making an exit. He popped up, said "No, really, I'm fine", and exited. I thought it was intentional and part of the show - he told me today it wasn't and he's feeling pretty sore. So, bravo to Jeff for covering it so well.|
| || Preview show by Shadrach|
| I saw the preview show and I was going to post a review, but it would be an unfair review. I fell asleep during both shows (don't blame the show, I had pulled a 12-hour work shift that day and I was mentally TIRED). I'm planning to go back and see them again if I find the time.|
I loved the singing in Cathedral...being hearing-impaired, I couldn't understand what they were singing, especially Matthew (my friend that was with me told me during intermission what they were singing). But it didn't really matter if I couldn't understand the words - I was just captivated by their voices while singing, and I think that's what counts - when it touches your heart like that.
Can't really comment on Mandrake because I kept drifting off (not their fault, I was REALLY tired) to sleep. But I noticed one scene where the actors just completely flat-out forgot their lines, and they were laughing onstage. The thing I like about the Tavern is whenever someone screws up a line onstage or goes blank, they make it funny and it doesn't seem awkward.
| || Clint's comment... by Parrott65|
| Yeah Clint, I'm with you on the whole line "screwup" thing. I think it really gets me when I see a show that is VERY effective in mesmerizing me into the story, to the point of forgetting that these are LIVE actors on stage. Then, in the middle of the performance, they forget their lines and are stumped on how to adlib their way out of it. For some reason, it bounces you back to reality that this is live and not television. It really makes things entertaining as long as it is ONE messup and not a bunch of them. It certainly adds to the entertainment value of the show.|
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by David Shire (music), Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics)