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Stage Door

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by George S. Kaufman & Edna Ferber

COMPANY : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 1672

SHOWING : July 27, 2006 - July 29, 2006

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The play concerns a group of young girls who have come to New York to study acting and find jobs. The scene is Mrs. Orcutt's boarding house, where the hopes and ambitions of sixteen young women are revealed in scenes of entertaining comedy. Contrasted with this are the cases of the girl without talent and the elderly actress whose days are over. The central plot has to do with courageous Terry Randall, who fights against discouragement to a position in the theater where we are sure she will conquer. One of her fellow aspirants gives up in despair, one gets married, and one goes into pictures, but Terry, with the help of idealistic David Kingsley, sticks to her guns. Color and contrast are offered by Mattie, the maid; a few young men callers, a movie magnate and young Keith Burgess, the playwright who "goes Hollywood."


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Leslie Kelley
Stage Manager Kristin Smith
Stage Manager Kristen M Smith
Adolf Gretzl Jon Allen
Tony Gillete Emily Bailey
Big Mary Annamarie Decker
Little Mary Chelsea Franz
Bernice Niemeyer Morgan Gardner
Dr. Randall Wally Hinds
Olga Brandt Morgan Keel
Terry Randall Denee Lortz
Billy/ Jimmy Devereaux Caleb McCracken
Mrs. Orcutt Katherine Mullis
Sam Hastings Eric Nash
Mattie Lindsay Olson
Ann Bradock Claire Porter
Keith Burgess Jordan Prince
Judith Canfield Brittany Ritcher
Bobby Melrose Karen Rooker
Susan Paige Julia Shavzin
David Kingsley John Yi
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REVIEWS

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Thank heaven for little girls…
by line!
Sunday, July 30, 2006
4.0
Kudzu Playhouse’s summer stock production of “Stage Door” played for one weekend only and I was privileged to attend their Friday night performance on July 28th. This show was primarily a children’s theatre production with most of the roles being handled by high-school age actors (with the exception of Wally Hinds, who was the sole adult in the cast – for those of us that know Wally, there is truly some sort of irony in that casting).

If you are not familiar with this “old chestnut” of a show, it comes from the pens of Edna Ferber and Geoprge S. Kaufman and from a more innocent time (the late 1930’s). The plot of the show is basically irrelevant, but the setting is critical. The show takes place in a Broadway boarding house for aspiring single actresses in New York. This show is more about the babes, than it is about the plot. It is a thin excuse to parade a stable of young female talent across a stage (very similar to those old “Follies” shows of the same era). Lest you think I have digressed (or for those of you who know me, progressed) into some sort of theatrical pervert saying such things about high school aged actresses, let me tell you that it is a long standing theatrical tradition for young ladies to be on the stage so the audience may appreciate their beauty and charm (in fact, I think that’s the whole point of this script!).

The characters in the show fall into well defined stereotypes which, when combined with the attractive ladies, makes the show very easy to digest…and enjoyable too! The story line involves staying true to yourself and the financial rewards (and spiritual pitfalls) of selling out, and how a talented young girl who works hard will win in the end (as long as there is a man to rescue her). Sorry I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a jab at the dated “woman-as-victim-who-needs-to-be-rescued-by-a-man” gender stereotyping in the story.

In this production, the girls rule, and the boys drool! Sorry guys, but the girls left you in the dust in this one. This is a large cast (27 according to the director in her curtain speech) comprised of talented young ladies (and hard working young men trying desperately to keep up). Somehow I think it is easier to accept a teenage girl in the role of a young woman than it is to accept a teenage boy in the role of a young man. The girls were believable for me, but the boys all looked like they were playing “dress up”. This probably says more about my sexism than anything, or maybe the boys reminded me of my own high school days on the stage attempting to play adults. Whatever the reason, none of the boys in this show looked comfortable on stage (their discomfort may also have been due to the fact that they are teenage boys and they are considerably outnumbered by teenage girls).

Whenever I see a show with such a large cast I am reluctant to single out any performances because I know I will accidentally overlook someone who deserves to be mentioned. All the young ladies in this cast were solid, believable and talented, but I would like to mention a few who caught my eye. Morgan Gardner as Bernice Niemeyer did not have a major role, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing her in major roles in the future (every time she came on stage, she made sure the audience didn’t miss her)! Denee Lortz’s talent made it easy to believe in her character’s talent. She positively radiated on stage. Brittany Richter’s performance as the cynical Judith was perfectly balanced, very believable and not overplayed for laughs.

I was most impressed with the direction of Leslie Kelley. She had these kids in constant motion on stage and giving snappy banter without a hitch! The actors were picking up each others lines without the usual “beat” between deliveries that happens so often in community theatre (even with adult actors!). The blocking was tricky, but smooth, entrances and exits were timely and the kids did all this with a very short rehearsal schedule!

This review is too late to encourage you to attend any other performances of this production since it played for only one weekend. I just wanted to share the good time I had at the show and to let those involved that they did a good job and I hope to see more of them in the future.
-Rial

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