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Frost/Nixon
a Historical Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Peter Morgan

COMPANY : Blackwell Playhouse
VENUE : Blackwell Playhouse
ID# 3653

SHOWING : February 20, 2010 - March 13, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Blackwell Playhouse presents
Frost/Nixon
Directed by Jerry Harlow

Frost/Nixon features Thomas L. Strickland and Whit Davies in the title roles, respectively. The ensemble cast is rounded out by Arif Ali, Emma Greene, Jen Fischler, Paul Komorner, Mark Olsen, Zip Rampy and Jeremy Southwell.

SHOW DATES:
Saturday, February 20 - 8 pm
Saturday, February 27 - 8 pm
Sunday, February 28 - 3 pm
Friday, March 5 - 8 pm
Saturday, March 6 - 8 pm
Sunday, March 7 - 3 pm
Friday, March 12 - 8 pm
Saturday, March 13 - 8pm

Tickets are $18 for Adults, $16 for Seniors and Students.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 678-213-3311.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Jerry Harlow
Stage Manager Paul Komorner
Set Design John Christian
Technical Director Rob Hardie
Sound Design Katy Harlow
Costumer Alyssa Jackson
Lighting Design Brandon Sartain
Sound Design David Shelton
Costumer A. Nikki Strickland
Props Design Rene' Voige
John Birt Arif Ali
Richard Nixon Whit Davies
Evonne Goolagong, Ensemble Jennifer Fischler
Caroline Cushing, Ensemble Emma Greene
Irving "Swifty" Lazar, Ensemble Paul Komorner
Jack Brennan Mark Olsen
Bob Zelnick Zip Rampy
Jim Reston Jeremy Southwell
David Frost Thomas L. Strickland
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Drawing Us In
by Dedalus
Friday, March 5, 2010
4.0
In 1972, 18-year-olds were finally allowed to vote, and I, a mere 19 at the time, participated in my first election. For reasons too embarrassing to go into at this late date, I helped re-elect Richard Nixon to the presidency. Less than two years later, in August of 1974, he resigned in disgrace, a result of the disturbingly large-scale cover-up of the embarrassingly small-scale Watergate burglary.

The results of this incident were many and varied. At a personal level, it made me take elections more seriously, made me actively research prior to Election Day, rather than passively swallow and compare campaign noise. It also drove me into the “Independent Voter” category, and, eventually, into the Democratic Party.

At a more public level, it opened up the Presidency to tighter public scrutiny and criticism, lessening the “hands-off” respectability earlier Presidents had enjoyed. As seen in the opposing punditries of the last four administrations, it even allowed the “disloyal opposition” to pretty much make up any durn thing they like and have it accepted and believed.

And, on a more TV-Generation level, it gave us the 1977 David Frost interview, during which the Ex-President admitted that he had "let down the country" and that he “brought myself down. I gave them a sword and they stuck it in. And they twisted it with relish. And, I guess, if I'd been in their position, I'd have done the same thing.” Also, by stating that “If the President does it, it’s not illegal,” he started the continuing debate regarding the limits of power and the “Imperial Presidency.” This, in turn, gave us the marvelous 2006 Peter Morgan play, “Frost / Nixon,” made into a marvelous 2008 movie of the same name.

And now, Blackwell Playhouse has bravely mounted a production of “Frost / Nixon,” and, IMHO, has succeeded in creating a gripping and absorbing piece of theatre.

Like Frank Langella before him, Whit Davies creates a plausible “Richard Nixon” character rather than pastes on an impersonation. Keeping his voice soft and low throughout, he draws us in to everything he says, only to explode at just the right moments in irritation, or frustration, or just “I’ve-been-through-this-too-many-times” weariness. It’s an impressive performance that comes close (but not too close) to actually making us feel sorry for the man.

Thomas L. Strickland’s David Frost is all surface and charm, convincingly playing the entertainment world expert, convincingly making the transition to serious journalist. If his accent tends to fray around the edges, it was never distractingly off. And I especially liked how he found himself almost liking Nixon, in spite of himself.

Jeremy Southwell’s Jim Reston (our narrator and “guide”) is all ‘70’s casual, wearing his indignation and political passion as comfortably as his long hair and casual clothes. It’s a shock when he comes onstage in act two in the requisite coat-and-tie, but he even makes that seem casual. Yes, I knew people like this at the time, may even have been one myself.

The rest of the cast is hit or miss, mostly hit (with one exception who shall remain nameless because it was thankfully small role). I would have liked to see more women in the ensemble (as the same face in so many roles distracts a bit), but, by and large, the swirl of people intersecting with the story is credible and supportive.

Technically, the show was given a spare black-box setting that easily accommodated the many quick and cinematically brisk scenes. A number of (admittedly slightly out of period) television sets carried images that enhanced rather than upstaged the many locales. Act Two was, of course, dominated by the easy chairs of the actual interview, and the lighting kept the action brisk and comprehensible. The costumes were generic ‘70’s suits and casuals, all appropriate, and, though the movie conditioned me to expect Jack Brennan to be in uniform, this production showed that that is hardly a necessity.

Director Jerry Harlow is definitely to be commended for putting on this quality of a production under the strict regimen of Blackwell’s budgetary restrictions (dare I say “non-existent budget” without offending anyone?). This is hardly a title that will generate mass crowds, even though the quality here far surpasses that of most non-professional theaters.

I may confess to being prejudiced to like this script (I read it many times before the movie came out) due to the prominent place Nixon and Watergate hold in my adult life. I love how it is able to build tension, even though we know how it turns out. And I love how it gets under the skin of its very public characters, and how it puts under a microscope the minutiae that go into a seemingly “documentary” interview.

On the other hand, my bias in favor of the script carries with it a high-expectation bar that would lead me to be hyper-critical of any production of it. Mr. Harlow and Blackwell definitely cleared that bar with room to spare. If the remaining audiences are as modest as the Sunday few I was with, it would be a crime on par with, well, on par with the Watergate cover-up.

-- Brad Rudy (BK Rudy)



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A Must-See!
by carsun
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
4.5
Bravo to director Jerry Harlow and the cast and crew of Frost/Nixon! As a director, rarely do I sit and watch a play without re-directing it in my head. I was mesmerized almost from the start.

As it slowly builds, Frost/Nixon finds its pace and drive once the two characters begin their on- and off-screen battles. Whit Davies is nothing less than brilliant in making the complex character of Nixon come to life. Thomas Strickland as Frost deftly buries his doubts beneath his playboy image. Both men fully inhabit their roles to the point that the verbal battles between the two at the show�s climax feel as intense as the real thing.

Mark Olsen, Zip Rampy, Jeremy Southwell and Arif Ali offer up remarkable supporting roles that add depth and richness to their characters even when the focus is on Frost and Nixon.

In the end, this smart and well-paced production scores with the intensity and immediacy of the two main performers. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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