REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Two men con their way into the heart of women to get money and jewelry and great big stuff. The French Riviera has been brought to Michigan with Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

A2CT’s production included impressive props, set designs, and scene changes, with the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater providing vibrant color backgrounds. The French accents were sometimes hard to understand, and it was difficult hearing the lines over the pit at times. For the most part, the choreography was rather simple, but the vocal performance made up for it. The orchestra rocked the French jazz musical score that David Yazbek, who just won the Tony Award for The Band’s Visit, wrote, which stylistically added to the comedic vibe of the entire musical.

Dominic Seipenko dominated the stage as Freddy/Ruprecht, embodying the crass character greatly in his grand numbers “Great Big Stuff” and “All About Ruprecht.” He owned the role of the sleazy pupil in every moment. “Oklahoma” was stereotypically Southern, but it fit the comedic edge of the musical. Christine, portrayed by Hannah Sparrow, brings a glimmer of hope into the world with her beautiful performance of “Nothing is Too Wonderful to be True.” Though a microphone difficulty interrupted the reveal of the biggest scam in the musical, it was easy to figure out what happened (if you hadn’t called it already), and the ever-changing chemistry between the con artists onstage was certainly appealing.

Overall, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a fun show, and it looked like the cast had a fun time performing. The highlight was definitely Seipenko’s performance, who brought life to the stage and delivered his role perfectly. The audience seemed to love it, particularly among the older crowd, even receiving a couple standing ovations at the end. Now, I have to watch the 1988 comedy film to see where it all originated from.

PREVIEW: Autumn Fest – Performance with a Purpose

Where can you find ComCo, Angels On Call, Groove, the Compulsive Lyres, the Michigan Magician Society, Arabian Dance Ensemble and the Violin Monster all sharing the same stage? Autumn Fest, of course!

What: The second annual variety show put on by Appreciate + Reciprocate, a University of Michigan student organization which raises money for the LSA Emergency Scholarship Fund.

When: Wednesday, October 22 at 8:00 pm

Where: Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League

How Much: $3 in advance and $5 at the door

Buy your tickets at the Mason Hall Posting Wall, October 16-17th and 20-22nd 9am-4pm, and join the Facebook event for a reminder.

All of the profits from the show will go to support Appreciate + Reciprocate’s newly established scholarship, which benefits Michigan students who suffer from financial crises, so no student has to drop out due to costs! For the price of one ticket, you can sample many great local talents, as well as treat yourself to a dose of good karma.

For more information about Appreciate+Reciprocate, check out http://www.umichappreciate.org.

REVIEW: The Magic Flute

I’d like to take a moment to freak out about the brilliant lighting scheme of “The Magic Flute”. This opera is, I think, about finding a compromise between dark and light, between pure disorder and pure order, but doing so through the eyes of a child. This might not make any sense to you, but I thought that the lighting portrayed that beautifully. There was a particular circle that was useful in telling me the time of day and how I should feel about it by the color that was lighting it up.

Anyway, now for a quick summary:

“The Magic Flute” begins in the bedroom of a young girl. Her parents are fighting, it’s thunderstorming in the night, and her wardrobe doors are forced open by a young prince running away from a dragon. The Queen of the Night sends this Prince Tamino on a quest to save her daughter from her kidnapper, Sarastro (who didn’t actually kidnap her because Pamina is the daughter of the Queen of the Night and Sarastro). Pamina and Tamino fall in love while Tamino’s friend, Papageno, can’t learn to keep quiet, but in the end they manage to stop to the war between Sarastro (who appears to be a kind of lord of light) and the Queen of the Night.

That was very quick and will probably have Emanuel Schikaneder rolling in his grave, but I wanted to get that out of the way to talk about the cast. Jacob Wright and Jonathan Harris, who played Tamino and Sarastro, respectively, have outstanding voices that I remembered from “The Barber of Seville” last semester. Katy Clark’s soprano was thrilling as Queen of the Night, and Natasha Drake performed a beautiful Pamina. All of the leads were phenomenal, and I am amazed to think that there is another set of entirely different Michigan students who are equally as talented.

Although at times this show was a little slow and heavy, it was also fanciful and sentimental, and I especially enjoyed the ending. After all of their hardships, so many circumstances vying to tear them apart, Pamina and Tamino find a way to be together in the light of day, away from the chaotic Queen of the Night. As an audience we find ourselves again in the long-forgotten little girl’s bedroom where her parents are bringing her a tray for breakfast. Day has dawned over night just as it always will, but I do wish we could have seen the dragon again.

PREVIEW: The Magic Flute

Presented by the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, students studying opera will be performing “The Magic Flute” on Thursday, March 27 at 7:30pm; Friday, March 28 at 8:00pm; Saturday, March 29 at 8:00pm; and Sunday, March 30 at 2:00pm.

This performance of Mozart’s opera at the Mendelssohn Theatre is sure to be terrific, and tickets may already be sold out! For up-to-date information, you can contact the League Ticket Office at 734-764-2538.

REVIEW: Hay Fever

In their delightfully funny and entertaining production, The School of Music, Theatre & Dance brings Noël Coward’s comedy Hay Fever, full of eccentric characters, witty dialogue, and intriguing plot, to life. Set in the English countryside during the 1920s, Hay Fever is centered around the Bliss family, Judith, David, Sorel, and Simon, a somewhat bizarre cast of characters who have a very theatrical lifestyle. The play takes place over the course of a weekend, when each member of the Bliss family has invited a romantic interest to stay at the house without telling any of the other family members. Unsurprisingly, numerous misunderstandings and hilariously awkward situations ensue.

One of the best features of the performance was the strength of the cast. Although the portrayals of the Bliss family were all wonderful, Liz Raynes’ portrayal of mother Judith, a retired actress longing for drama and a return to the stage was particularly great. The cohesiveness of the group and the ease with which they interacted with each other created a great family dynamic which let all of the members shine. Not be overlooked though, were the strong portrayals of the four houseguests, Richard, Sandy, Myra, and Jackie. Arguably just as eccentric as the Bliss family, the houseguests’ distinct characters highlighted the outrageousness of the Bliss family and added humor to all aspects of the play.

Although great separately, when the Bliss family and the houseguests came together, the result was spectacular. One such moment was during the second act when after a series of misunderstandings and accidental run-ins by Judith, half of the houseguests find themselves engaged to members of the family, while the other half are being held responsible for breaking up a marriage. As the houseguests look on in horror, Judith alternates from dramatically accusing everyone of hurting her to accepting the turn of events. Matching her theatricality, the rest of the family gets in on the fun and plays along. The highlight of the scene, however, is when, to the confusion of the guests, Judith and the children seamlessly break into a scene from one of Judith’s plays. As the audience roared with laughter and the houseguests cowered in the corner, the Bliss family took center stage and showed just how hilariously outrageous they could be.

Overall, Hay Fever, was a wonderfully entertaining production filled with great acting and lots of laughs. I highly recommend seeing it. Hay Fever runs through Sunday 2/23. Tickets can be purchased at the Michigan League Box Office.

PREVIEW: Hay Fever

 

 

WHO: The Department of Theatre and Drama

WHAT: Hay Fever a comedy by Noël Coward

WHERE: Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

WHEN: February 20-23

COST: $10 for students

Set in the English countryside, the play focuses on the eclectic Bliss Family. Unbeknownst to the others, each member of the family invites a romantic interest to spend the weekend. As things take a turn for the outlandish, the guests become caught in the middle and must decide if they are willing to stay. Described as a cross between high farce and a comedy of manners, Hay Fever is sure to be entertaining.