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Theatre Reviews

Suspiciously well done!

When Something’s Afoot opened on Broadway in 1976, critic Walter Kerr pronounced the musical mystery fundamentally flawed.  Because music relaxes, he said, it’s incompatible with suspense. Obviously Kerr wasn’t a fan of Hitchcock. But his question remains: Can a suspense murder mystery sustain itself as a musical? We’ll see. Does Something’s Afoot give us memorable music? No. Does it hold great suspense? No.

There’s a lot to like in the midshipmen’s roots journey to Oklahoma

Green Grow the Lilacs is a love story set in a community on the brink of change: farmers crowding cowboys, Indians assimilating with settlers and Oklahomans pondering the controversial question of the territory’s statehood. In 1931, Lynn Riggs, part Cherokee himself, wrote about people whitewashed by Rogers and Hammerstein for 1940s’ audiences in their musical adaptation, Oklahoma!, which eclipsed the original.

This dysfunctional family comedy makes for a terrific season opener.

  The dysfunctional family comedy Keeping Faith is a terrific choice for Twin Beach Players’ season opener. When well-meaning parents kidnap their own daughter to frustrate her May-September romance, it’s high-stakes drama in a low-rent motel. The plot, inspired by a 2007 news sensation, requires only four solid actors and a simple space that lends itself well to cheapening. The Holland Civic Center fills the bill beautifully, and the cast is nearly there.

Film noir takes the stage.

Murder, mayhem, lies and double-crossing; good gals, bad guys, gangsters, thugs, hard-boiled detectives and hapless bartenders — Earth and Sky has all the elements of film noir. But can the atmospheric genre translate to the stage? Do the intricate and often confusing plot lines of the mid-20th century film style make sense in live theater? Yes and no. Colonial Players goes after noir atmospherics with dark lighting and dramatic musical flourishes. Sometimes, however, it is simply too noir. When actors can’t be seen, atmosphere has trumped storytelling. 

The title’s a metaphor; this play’s a triumph

We hear a lot these days about relationships. There’s the romantic kind, and then there are other kinds: husband/wife, brother/sister, parent/offspring as well as the illicit kind, among others, some of which migrate from one form to another. In Bay Theatre’s fine new production, Lips Together, Teeth Apart (we’ll discuss the title later; stick with me), we see relationships that are stretched to the breaking point. Two married couples are spending a holiday weekend at a beach house on Fire Island. Here’s a broad summary of the relationships in play:

Don’t miss this burnished Dignity Players’ production

Many of us studied The Crucible in high school. Arthur Miller used the Salem Witch Trials of America’s 17th century to tell a pointed cautionary tale about Red Scare fears and McCarthy Hearings of his own America in the 1940s and 1950s. The Crucible proves itself resilient for our times as well.

Noel Coward’s wit seldom shows its age

Noel Coward was witty, erudite, classy and provocative. His playwriting gifts continue to make Private Lives — a play he wrote in four days 80 years ago — compelling.

This 1992 Neil Simon comedy was a snoozer in the 1996 film adaptation, and it remains drowsy in this productions.

Jake’s Women, 2nd Star Productions’ fall season opener, presents an attractive setting for some fine local talent. But despite a valiant effort on the company’s part, this 1992 Neil Simon comedy fails to grab the audience by the collar and draw them back for more. It was a snoozer in the 1996 film adaptation, even with an all-star cast headed by Alan Alda, and it remains drowsy in this production.

Expect great music — if not great theater

Buddy Holly was a remarkable music innovator; he heard disparate influences and blended them to expand the limits of the newly named rock and roll musical genre. He was so remarkable that his short three-year career and his short 22-year life span are both still being celebrated and appreciated today, 51 years after his death in a plane crash.

Saved or damned? You’ll have to book a seat to find out.

Salvation or damnation? Thumbs up or thumbs down? Sounds like heavy stuff, but the trial of history’s most notorious traitor, Judas Iscariot, is the funniest show of the summer: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, playing through August 14 at Dignity Players of Annapolis.