Friday, August 12, 2022

Review of "Anne of Green Gables"

Can lightning strike twice?  Almost 50 years ago, a spunky, redheaded orphan named Annie made her debut at the Goodspeed Opera House before moving to Broadway to become one of the longest running musicals in the history of The Great White Way.  Fast-forward to today and Goodspeed is producing another musical starring a high-spirited, redheaded orphan in their world premiere of Anne of Green Gables.

 


The show has issues which need to be addressed (more below) before a move to New York can be considered but, overall, it is an entertaining musical that will not disappoint fans of the 1908 novel.  My friend, who accompanied me to opening night, is a lifelong admirer of the source material and she was captivated by the show.  The production has been crafted for today’s sensibilities.  It has the look, feel, and vibe of the musical Spring Awakening, a hit “coming of age rock musical” from 2006.  Unlike that show, Anne of Green Gables is appropriate for children, say 10 and up, but also satisfying for adults. 

 

The musical follows the young Anne Shirley as she arrives at the home of brother and sister, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.  As they are getting along in years, they had requested a boy from the orphanage be sent to them to help with running their farm.  Their initial displeasure turns to acceptance and eventually an embracement of the vivacious girl.  Anne is smart, feisty and speaks her mind, not always to her advantage.  Following the storyline of the book, the show traces her life from an inauspicious beginning to her eventual graduation from college.  Along the way, we witness her clashes and struggles with the Cuthberts and the folks of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island.  There are the friendships she makes; her rivalry with the charming, good-looking star student, Gilbert Blythe; and, finally, her growth into a confident and assured young woman.

 

Book writer Matte O’Brien quickly and effectively sets the tone and direction of the show during Act I.  He handily develops the central characters and the core storyline.  It is fast-paced, coherent, and absorbing.  Act II, however, comes across more of a series of stitched together vignettes.  Scenes can seem confusing, shift hurriedly and are less focused.  There is a more somber tone that overtakes the production as the time frame of Anne’s life becomes more drawn out, characters grow, lives change.  Does this undermine the show?  No, but a reevaluation by Mr. O’Brien and Director Jenn Thompson would help the show find a consistent tenor.

 



The central characters are fully realized.  We care about their well-being and future. 

 

The cast is led by Juliette Redden as Anne Shirley.  She imbues the lass with strength, fortitude, and a never say never attitude.  She is funny, rude, and a pleasure to watch.  The actress truly embodies the character at all stages of her young life.

 

As Gilbert Blythe, the actor Pierre Marais is full of self-importance and swagger.  He also deftly brings out a vulnerability and intelligence that presents a more fully developed character seeking his place in life.  As Anne’s best friend, Diana Barry, the lithe Michelle Veintimilla gives a solid performance.  She is lovely, confused, and gracious.  Her character, however, needs better definition.  Initially, she comes across as a simpleton, which is how she is referred to by the townspeople and students at her school.  Yet, by the show’s conclusion she is portrayed as smart and self-assertive.  Which one is it?

 

Sharon Catherine Brown instills Marilla Cuthbert with a no-nonsense outlook that is layered with regret and love.  D.C. Anderson, as her brother Matthew, may be soft-spoken and a man of little words, but I found him to be the heart of the musical.  I’d like to see his character expanded.  Conversely, even though Aurelia Williams delivers one comedic moment after another as the gossipy, sour puss neighbor, Rachel Lynde, I felt her role could have been reduced.  She gives a marvelous performance, but at the expense of rounding out the characters of Mirella or Matthew.

 

The music by Matt Vinson and lyrics by Matte O’Brien is one of the strongest attributes of the production.  I haven’t heard such a satisfying score from a new musical in a long time.  The mostly rock-infused score, which also includes influences of folk and country, is tuneful and strongly sung by all the performers.  The songs embody the emotions and dreams of the characters. 

 

The choreography by Jennifer Jancuska is a mixed bag.  When dancing is suitably entwined into a scene, the kinetic movements of the ensemble players are a joy to watch.  Yet, too often, the choreography comes across as separate from the action on stage.  Instead of enhancing, it proves distracting.

 

Director Jenn Thompson, a well-respected presence on Connecticut stages, has skillfully guided the production to its satisfying end.  She effectively integrates the ensemble into the show, using them to capably inject needed exposition.  Ms. Thompson nimbly teases out the humor and pathos of the work.  As stated earlier, she needs to reexamine the efficacy of the choreography.  Work also needs to be done in Act II to better define some of the intent of certain scenes and the overall flow of the production.

 


Wilson Chin’s Set Design is minimal, with a revolving platform, center stage, simulating the ebb and flow of the story.  The focus is on the back wall with weathered, floor-to-ceiling wooden planks denoting the barn at the Cuthbert’s farm.  In keeping with the ambiance of the show, Tracy Christensen’s Costume Design incorporates a fine mix of early 20th century sensibilities along with modern garb.  Philip S. Rosenberg’s Lighting Design, while occasionally overstated, breathes life and radiance into the musical.

 

Anne of Green Gables, an enchanting new musical, well worth a trip to the Goodspeed Opera House.  Playing through September 4, 2022.  Click here for dates, times, and ticket information.


 

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Review of "Guys and Dolls"

 Shows from the 1940’s and 1950’s - the Golden Age of Broadway musicals - are not often present on Connecticut stages.  When they are produced, and done well, the results can be a highly entertaining night (or day) at the theater.  Case in point is the raucous, tuneful, crowd-pleasing production of Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls at the Sharon Playhouse.  The show runs through August 14.

 

How wonderful it is to sit back and hear all those classic songs live, sung by a superb cast with beautiful and powerful voices.  I even moved my seat from 6th row center in Act I  to the last row in the compact theater for Act II just to see how good the performer’s voices were.  I was not disappointed. 

 

The songs in Guys and Dolls include such gems as "A Bushel and a Peck," "Adelaide's Lament," "Guys and Dolls," "Luck Be a Lady," "Sue Me," and my personal favorite, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."

 

The book of the musical, by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, is based on a number of short stories from the writer Damon Runyon.  His often humorous tales are full of colorful characters of Broadway, which include gamblers, nightclub performers, and denizens of the street.  

 

In Guys and Dolls, the focus is on Nathan Detroit and his men who are desperately trying to find a locale for his floating crap game.  Complicating matters is his longtime girlfriend, Adelaide, who has been patiently waiting 14 years to get married to the man.  Add in the presence of big-time gambler, Sky Masterson and his pursuit of the Salvation Army’s Sarah Brown, and you have a rollicking show, full of humor and well-paced action.

 

The cast is marvelous, with all the leads played by Equity actors.  Their professionalism, charisma, and hijinks is what makes the musical so enjoyable.  Robert Anthony Jones, as Nathan Detroit, is a lovable schlemiel with superb comic timing and delivery.  Lauralyn McClelland imbues the character of Miss Adelaide with a winsome appeal.  She is also a terrific dancer and accomplished vocalist.  Amanda Lea LaVergne provides the heart and soul of the production as the by-the-book Times Square missionary, Sarah Brown. She convincingly moves the character from having a single-minded, dispassionate outlook on life to a more open-minded, fully empowered woman.  C.K. Edwards is a handsome and solid Sky Masterson.  Mention also needs to be given to the two partners-in-crime of Nathan, Benny Southstreet, portrayed by Dom Giovanni, and Nicely Nicely Johnson (Joshua Spencer).  Like the two gangsters in Kiss, Me Kate and The Drowsy Chaperone, they provide continuous comic relief throughout the production.  Joshua Spencer is also outstanding, singing and hoofing through the big Act II number, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."

 

Speaking of the choreography, Choreographer Justin Boccitto delivers one fabulous dance sequence after another.  For audience members that savor tap dancing spectacle, the show will not disappoint.  You could argue there is not much variety in the big production numbers but, as a tap aficionado, I’m not complaining.

 

Doubling as Director, Mr. Boccitto skillfully guides the production through its numerous set changes and seamlessly integrates the dance sequences throughout the show.  He has a light, but assured touch, which adds to the feistiness and playfulness of the musical.  The opening sequence, which depicts the hustle and bustle of New York City life, is presented in shadow behind a curtain pulled across the stage.  It doesn’t really work.  Fortunately, once the sheet is pulled down and the performers come to life, the musical begins to shine.

 

Daryl Bornstein’s Scenic Design evokes the New York City of yesteryear with logos of many forgotten establishments and businesses plastered above and to the side of the stage.  The movable set pieces add a rewarding variety, which is enhanced by Jamie Rodriguez’s Lighting Design.

 

The costumes by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case are a dazzling assortment of bold colored suits and splashy night club outfits.  The duo have pulled out all the stops to add authenticity and glamour to the show.

 

Guys and Dolls, a big, flashy musical that is sure to entertain.  Playing at the Sharon Playhouse through August 14.  Performances are Thursday, August 11th at 2pm & 8pm; Friday, August 12th at 8pm; Saturday, August 13th at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday, August 14th at 3pm.  Tickets are $20 - $45.  Click here for information.

 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Review of "Hysterical!"

The onset of an unknown ailment or disease can cause confusion, concern and outright panic.  Witness the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s and today’s COVID pandemic.   In playwright Elenna Stauffer’s modest one-act, Hysterical!, a nameless malady - maybe real, maybe not - is the antecedent for a meditation on alienation, inclusion, relationships, and the pressures high school women face.

 

Meet The Bandits, a cheerleading squad led by the take charge Senior captain, Shannon (Olivia Billings).  There is fellow Senior, Madison (Kendyl Grace Davis), and captain-in-waiting, Charlotte (Julia Crowley), Mia (Isa MuiƱo), and Freshman, Maddie (Shannon Helene Barnes).  They are a well-oiled unit, even though their personalities don’t necessarily mesh.  When a mysterious illness sidelines Mia, it is just the start of a reckoning the teammates must face with each other and their future.

 

Ms. Stauffer’s structures the play, at first, as a comedic piece.  You can’t help but laugh at the appearance of Mia’s tics.  However, the smiles soon turn to unease as the depth of the spasmodic twitches take hold and the young woman’s life, as well as other members of The Bandits’, takes a darker turn.  The playwright has stated she based the work on a real-life event of mass hysteria among high school girls.  We never do find out the root cause of the problem.  But that’s not the point.  Ms. Stauffer wants to use the situations and conditions to ruminate about acceptance and understanding. 

 

The playwright incorporates humor into the show as a way to leaven the dramatic and emotional toll of the teenagers.  In a number of the staccato-like scenes in the production, she cleverly employs three of the cheerleaders as a type of Greek Chorus.  While running through precision routines, they comment on the events and feelings the students are going through. It adds needed exposition and provides a good dose of levity to the production.  Bianca Paolello, billed as the show’s Cheer Coach, does a marvelous job shaping the actresses into a accomplished crew.

 

While the five actresses tackle their roles with commitment and spunk, I never felt overly connected to their plight.  They did convey a disorientation and bitterness to their quandary but, on the whole, I felt their portrayals lacked nuance and relied too heavily on histrionics.

 

Director Tracy Brigden has formed a cohesive group of young actresses.  She skillfully integrates the cheerleading sequences with moments of personal reflection and confrontation.  Ms. Brigden adroitly balances the humor and seriousness of the work,

 

Scenic Designer Emmie Finckel has laid out a simple astroturf flooring, which easily covers the set of Athena (playing in repertory with Hysterical!).  Costume Designer Brenda Phelps has crafted distinctive cheerleading outfits.  Lighting Designer Adam Lobelson bathes the set with an intense quality and Sound Designer Jason Peck adds fitting background noises.

 

Hysterical!, playing through August 6 at Thrown Stone in Ridgefield.  Click here for information on dates, times and tickets.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Review of "The Kite Runner"

I attended a performance of The Kite Runner, based on Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, with my millennial daughter.  While I had just finished the book, she had not read it.   Besides having one of our many theatrical father-daughter bonding experiences, I was interested in her thoughts as someone unfamiliar with the source material.  At the play’s conclusion, she was full of rapturous praise.  My reactions were more muted.

 

The production faithfully follows the plot of the book in a sometimes choppy fashion.  We are introduced to Amir (Amir Arison) and his playmate, confident, servant Hassan (Eric Sirakian).  The two actors convincingly play their characters as young boys through manhood.

 

The story begins in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Amir comes from a family of wealth and influence.  Their home is well-appointed with lush gardens and opulent interiors.  He lives with his father, Baba (his mother having died at childbirth).  Hassan and his father, Ali (Evan Zes), live in a mud hut on the grounds and are their faithful servants.

 

Amir’s relationship with Baba (Faran Tahir) is tentative and lacking in warmth and concern.  He hopes to change the absence of affection by winning the yearly kite flying contest, where boys compete to bring down each other’s soaring constructs, leaving only one towering in the skies.  As each defeated kite plummets to earth, the young lads compete to capture the fallen object.  They are the kite runners.  The aftermath of the contest sets into motion a series of events which cause Hassan and Amir’s relationship to deteriorate and the decision by Ali to leave their employment. 

 

Soon, the Russians invade the country and Baba and Amir flee to Pakistan and then the United States.  Their lives, now totally turned upside down, are not easy, but they begin to settle into their adopted country.  Marriage, a blossoming writing career and some degree of contentment settle in until Amir receives a phone call from his father’s old friend, Rahmin (Dariush Kashani) who has settled in Pakistan.  He begs Amir to come see him to “make things right.”  While visiting the now dying man, revelations are brought to light which, much to his distress, bring Amir back to Kabul where old demons and secrets are revisited, changing his life forever.  There is more, but I don’t want to spoil the last part of the show for audience members that have not read the novel.

 

Playwright Matthew Spangler’s adaptation is dutiful and effectively covers the major plot points, twists and turns to the story.  Understandably, choices need to be made as to what is included and excluded in the work.  I found some of the leaps in the story wanting.  My daughter wasn’t bothered by them. 

 

Most of the major characters lack depth and fullness.  Baba, for example, is a powerful, complex individual, but there are only glimpses in the play.  The utter devastation, hopelessness and despair in Afghanistan is presented matter-of-factly.

 

One of the strengths of the novel are the sights, sounds, rituals and the description of the foods of the country.  Mr. Spangler incorporates little of these features into the show.

 

The character of Amir provides an extended narration throughout the 2 ½ hour production.  These descriptive passages provide necessary exposition, but consistently stop the flow of the play.  

 

The impressive cast is led by Amir Arison as the character, Amir.  He is on stage for the full length of the play and is required to show a wide range of emotions and character shifts.  Amir is a person of slight convictions, is somewhat of a coward, and has self-loathing tendencies.  Mr. Arison adeptly incorporates these characteristics into the most fully developed performance in the show.

 

Faran Tahir’s gives Baba a forcefulness and integrity, which the character needs.  He provides a vivid portrayal which, if he had more time on stage, I’m sure would have been even more striking.  Amir Malaklou, in the role of Assef, the childhood and adult nemesis of the character Amir, comes across more as a regular bully as opposed to the devilish tormentor and monster the character needs.

 

The most satisfying performer is Eric Sirakian as Hassan.  He superbly embodies the humble, pleasing servant with honesty and integrity.  His facial expressions and body movements speak volumes about the character’s devotion and sorrow.

 

Director Giles Croft keeps the production at a brisk pace, moving the story along quickly, albeit, not always satisfyingly. He succeeds in bringing out the playfulness of the story and, to a degree, is successful at portraying the numerous relationships, which are so central to the novel. The reliance on extended narrations is problematic.  It’s necessary to convey large swaths of the action, but comes up short from a theatrical standpoint.  The director’s incorporation of sound, from the musician Salar Nader’s ethereal performance to the use of wind-making instruments to mimic the sound of the air currents in the sky, add to the drama and the emotional undertones of the play.

 

Composer and Music Director Jonathan Girling has provided the atmospheric sounds of Afghanistan, which Sound Designer Drew Baumohl has expertly wrought.  The compositions are beautifully rendered by musician Salar Nader, an almost constant presence off to the side of the stage.  Barney George’s Scenic Designer is more utilitarian with few props and set pieces.  His Costume Designs suitably mix western and Middle East styles, adding a splash of color where appropriate as in the celebratory wedding scene.

 

The Kite Runner, playing a limited engagement on Broadway through October 30, 2022.

 

Review of "Once on This Island"

Staging a full-fledged musical outdoors has a lot to offer audiences - the fresh air, the night time sky, a festive atmosphere.  It can also be fraught with production issues and creative choices that can limit a show.  This is what faces the Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s production of Once on This Island, running through July 31 in .


The 90 minute, intermission-less production tells the fable of Ti Moune, a young girl from the impoverished part of a Caribbean island, who falls in love with Daniel, a handsome aristocrat. The four island gods - Mother of the Earth, the god of Water, the goddess of Love, and Death -  have contrived a test for the spirited woman to see which is a more powerful force – love or death.  They cause the injury of the young man in a car accident as a way for Ti Moune to meet and nurse him back to health.   Before he is completely healed he is whisked away by family members to the luxury of the family compound.  Heartbroken, Ti Moune transverses the island to his parent’s opulent hotel to convince him of her love.  Enamored by her goodness and dedication, he becomes enraptured with her before the reality of their star-crossed lives moves him, and their ill-fated relationship, onto a divergent, sorrowful path.


The strength of the musical is the choreography by Tony Award winner George Faison.  The dances are evocative of the Caribbean isles and fill the small portable stage with gaiety and liveliness.  Ti Moune’s high-spirited strutting at a fancy ball is a highlight of the show.


Faison also serves as director and he is less successful in this role.  The production seemed a bit rushed and cluttered.  Granted, the performing space is small and there is a sizeable cast, but shaping the actors and actresses into a coherent group proved to be a challenge.  The conclusion of the musical, a mystical and magical moment, was, unfortunately, muddled.


The music by Lynn Ahrens and lyrics by Stephen Lafferty, their Broadway debut as a composing team, is their best score outside of Ragtime. The songs are  evocative of the sounds from the Caribbean and buoyantly sung by the performers.  There are soaring ballads, joyful anthems, and feisty musical numbers.  They are strongly sung by cast members, but the lyrics are not always easy to hear or understand.  


The cast is full of strong performers, even though they are not always given the opportunity to flesh out their characters.  The cast is anchored by Zurin Villanueva as Ti Moune.  She is full of life and exudes a frisky playfulness which is infectious.  Xavier McKinnon’s Daniel, handsome and beaming with self-confidence, shades his performance with poignancy and sadness.


The Scenic Design by William P. Mensching Jr. is serviceable; the Costume Design by Arthur Oliver are bright and carnivalesque.


Once on This Island holds performances on Thursday, July 28 - Sunday, July 31.  Click here for ticket information.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Review of "Athena" - Thrown Stone

The use of sports and athletic competition as a vehicle to address teenage relationships has been presented on the theatrical stage many times over.  Female protagonists have been portrayed in such works as The Wolves, which revolved around a girl’s high school soccer team.  In Gracie Gardner’s play, Athena, the sport is fencing.  

We are introduced to Athena and Mary Wallace, two high school juniors that practice at a New York City fencing facility.  Athena is brash, self-confident and an indifferent student with no real friends.  She lives with her aloof father in a city apartment.  Mary Wallace, a product of the New Jersey suburbs, resides with her supportive mother and father and is someone who takes her studies seriously.  They meet during an after school practice one day and agree to become sparring partners.  Over the course of the one-act, 90 minute show, we learn about their lives, their fears and hopes.  The goal for each is to get to nationals as, hopefully, a springboard to a college scholarship.

The playwright, Gracie Gardner, has written two fully developed characters that talk and act like young high school women.  The dialogue comes across as real and unforced.  Layering in the world of fencing, a sport many audience members may not be familiar with, elevates the production beyond just two girls hanging out, conversing and commiserating.  

Shannon Helene Barnes, as Athena, is assertive and headstrong.  She also gives the character a vulnerability as she conceals her dispiriting home life.  Olivia Billings, as Mary Wallace, initially comes across as someone who is the exact opposite of Athena in every way.  While she is tentative, overly pleasing and somewhat naive, Ms. Billings imbues her portrayal with determination and moxie.  Both actresses are also very convincing fencers. 

There is one other actress in the show.  Julia Crowley is in the last scene, which is somewhat unnecessary.  Not to give away any spoilers, but I think the play would have been more powerful and satisfying if the show ended in the blackout before her appearance.  

Director Tracey Brigden skillfully turns what could have been an insipid and thriling exercise in teenage angst into an engrossing, highly satisfying exploration into the lives of two young individuals.  She incorporates a few distinctive flourishes, such as slow motion, that amplify the action on stage.

Fencing coach Michael Martin has readily prepared the actresses for Mark Silence’s fencing sequences.  They are convincingly staged and provide a heightened sense of drama to the production.

Set Designer Emmie Finckel’s raised platform set with white painted fencing lanes, is simple, yet appropriate  Lighting Designer Adam Lobelson’s blackouts are well-timed and his disco lighting a lot of fun.  The Sound Design by Jason Peck is effective without being obtrusive.  

Athena, another quality production from Thrown Stone, playing through August 6.  For information on dates, times and tickets, go to:  https://thrownstone.org/events

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Review of "The Nutty Professor" - Olgunquit Playhouse

The Nutty Professor, a new musical based on the 1963 Jerry Lewis film comedy, playing at The Ogunquit Playhouse through August 6, is having a rebirth.  Ten years ago, the show, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, book and lyrics by Rupert Holmes, and direction by Jerry Lewis, opened to very positive reviews in its Nashville debut and was most likely headed to Broadway.  However, Mr. Hamlisch unexpectedly passed away just before the first performance.  Jerry Lewis died a few years later, which left the show in limbo.  In an interview with Tony Award winner Mr. Holmes, he stated it took all this time in order to sort through a number of “issues.”



The reworked production, still eyeing a move to The Great White Way, has a lot to offer.  First, is the performance of Dan De Luca, who plays the dual role of Professor Kelp/Buddy Love.  The actor is a lovable, ingratiating nerd as the klutzy faculty member and a smooth, urbane lothario as Buddy Love.  He brings a confident, Rat Pack swagger to the role.  Second, is Klea Blackhurst as the dowdy, fawning Registrar, Ms. Lemon.  A holdover from the Nashville production, she just about steals the show.  I’ve been told her role has been expanded since its early days, which is a huge plus for audiences.  Third, is the scintillating, playful and highly creative choreography by Joann M. Hunter.  She plays homage to those crazy dance moves of the 1960’s, while also keeping the big production numbers fresh and updated.


The musical is Jerry Lewis’ zany version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Dan De Luca plays Professor Kelp, a socially awkward Chemistry Professor who is unpopular with the school administration and the student body.  Enter a new part-time English instructor, Stella Purdy, portrayed by Elena Ricardo, a go-getter who wants to shake things up at the college.  Smitten, Professor Kelp perfects a potion, which transforms him, for short intervals, to the suave, self-confident crooner, Buddy Love.  Everyone falls under his bewitching spell - the Dean of the Campus, Ms. Lemon, the undergraduates - except Ms. Purdy.  By the show’s climatic pre-football pep rally, truths are revealed and, surprise, a happy ending for all parties.

 


The book by Rupert Holmes is fun, engaging and often quite humorous.  Bullying and self-empowerment, such important, hot topic subjects in today’s world, are central plot points to the libretto.  Act I lays the groundwork for the shenanigans and hilarity of Act II.  I felt the beginning scenes, while entertaining, were more of a set-up for the latter part of the musical and delivered less memorable moments.  The interactions with the school’s major donor and his son fall flat and should be rethought or just excised from the script.  I know the character of Ms. Lemon is a featured role, but she disappears mid-way through Act I, reappearing a few scenes into Act II.  A few more scenes with the actress Klea Blackhurst delivering those delicious comedic barbs and double entendres wouldn’t hurt.


The music by Marvin Hamlisch, his last for the musical theater, and lyrics by Rupert Holmes are tuneful and show a workmanship quality missing in many of today’s musical comedies.  The score is powered by heartfelt ballads, stirring anthems, and sparkling comedic numbers.  Musical Director Matt Deitchman leads the tightly honed group of musicians.  You may not be humming the tunes as you leave the Ogunquit Playhouse, but you won’t depart disappointed.


The other two cast members of note are Elena Ricardo as the unflappable Ms. Purdy.  She brings a confident, self-assured quality to the role.  Jeff McCarthy, a seasoned theater veteran, makes the most of his portrayal of the obtuse Dean Warfield.  He does show his musical comedy chops as with the “Take the Stage” production number.

The ensemble, filled with young, vivacious performers, is a well-synchronized group, especially in The Purple Pit scenes.

Director Marc Bruni keeps the show humming at a fast-paced clip.  He gives the performers plenty of room to stretch their comedic muscles.  Mr. Bruni generously gives a significant amount of stage time to the dazzling choreography of Ms. Hunter.  There are a few times in Act II when Ms. Lemon is just standing around watching as another character sings and dances.  Giving her more to do in those situations would strengthen those moments.


Scenic Designers Wilson Chin & Riw Rakkulchon have crafted a number of outstanding set pieces such as Professor Kelp’s beaker-filled laboratory and the student hangout, The Purple Pit.  Mara Blumenfeld’s Costume Designs bring out the collegiate spirit of the show and, especially in the Purple Pit scenes, brightly colored garments reminiscent of the free-flowing outfits of the 1960’s.



The Nutty Professor, a cheery, upbeat musical worth a trip to picturesque Maine. 

Show dates, 8:00PM, Tuesday through Saturday; 2:00PM on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Ticket information at https://tickets.ogunquitplayhouse.org/2210.  Box Office - 207-646-5511 or boxoffice@ogunquitplayhouse.org.  Masking is encouraged, but optional.