Rocky Horror Show at Croswell Opera House is a blast (Review) October 20, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Community Theater, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals.
Tags: Croswell Opera House, Eric Parker, Rocky Horror Show
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The Rocky Horror Show, that bizarreness of a stage musical that became a cult hit in London in the early 70′s and a midnight-movie cult in the US, returns to the Croswell Opera House for its third incarnation in recent years, and its a big, sprawling, hilarious blast of musical theater mess.
Once again directed by Eric Parker, and including many of the original cast (albeit in some new roles) as well as some newcomers, the show begs to ask the question, “why?”….well, why not?
Paul Manger makes for a terrific new Frank ‘n’ Furter as he sashays around the large open set in heels and corset, spitting out the lines and songs with the best of them; Katy Kujala is a great-voiced Janet, and Scotland Mills a fine furry boyfriend Brad. Zane Dickerson reprises the role of Rocky in all his body building glory; Eric Parker is a hilarious Riff Raff, and Kyrie Bristle nearly steals the entire show from all of them as Magenta in the waning minutes of the musical.
To be sure, there are ups and downs in the cast — but everyone is solid in their roles, and everyone has a blast and it shows. Stephanie L. Stephan provides some terrific dance movement and she is wise: she understands who can move, and who less so and she makes the most of that knowledge (a skill required by the best choreographers working with non-professional casts at various level of skill). It all looks terrific on the Croswell stage.
Keith Holloway’s set is serviceable, and projections hilarious. Lighting by Tiff Crutchfield is colorful and appropriate to the mood of the show. Cindy Farnham’s costumes range from decent to spectacular. The one problematic tech area in this production is sound: and in this instance, NOT the Croswell’s system, but the actual sound design. The orchestra (under the sure direction of Todd Schreiber) is located backstage, and they sound muffled. When the ensemble joins them for off-stage background vocals, the vocals can barely be heard. While some of the cast use body mics, the other leads use wireless handset mics. While it ads a great touch of “70′s” style kitsch, it results in vocal inbalance throughout. When the entire ensemble is onstage, with leads using mics, the ensemble becomes a vocal afterthought and they can not be heard clearly. The result is some great looking ensemble numbers that have no vocal “pop”; i.e., it doesn’t sound like a rock score should. There were also some missed soundboard cues, that I am sure will resolve themselves as the show gets further into its run. If ever a show deserved better sound design, this is it.
Of course, Rocky Horror is only as good as its audience participation — and there is a lot of it here. You an purchase a participation goody bag at the concession stand before the show, and join in — and if you have never seen a production of Rocky Horror, take a few minutes to peruse the many websites that give you audience shoutback suggestions. At the friday night opening performance, those who knew the show clearly had a better time than those who did not — and to the audience (and cast) surprise, some of the best ShoutBack audience members were in attendance in the first row. They made for a rollicking (if profanity-laced) evening. You’ve been warned — Rocky Horror itself is kind of a 70s throwback-edgy show, lets rate it PG-13…but throw in that awesome audience participation, and it becomes R-Rated instantly.
If the Friday night audience was any indication, this is one of those shows that will need some extra word of mouth to sell tickets — the audience was about half full. BUY TICKETS. The show is terrific and fast-paced, the cast is hilarious, and you will have a wonderful time at this Rocky.
The Rocky Horror Show continues through October 27th at the Croswell Opera House, Adrian MI. Tickets at croswell.org, or by phone at 517-264-7469. There is also a costume contest during intermission every Friday and Saturday night.
Croswell’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is one of their best summer shows ever (Review) August 11, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Community Theater, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
Tags: Adrian, Croswell Opera House, MI, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers musical, Summer 2012 musical theater
I am starting with ticket information for Croswell Opera house — online at croswell.org, or by phone at 517-264-7469. Quit reading — go order tickets — then come back.
Erin Satchell Yuen as Milly, and Steven Antalek as Adam (photo copyright Croswell Opera House)
Croswell Opera House opened one of their finest musicals ever last night — the adapted-from-the-movie musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The show pinpoints exactly everything that Croswell does right — a great cast with a pitch-perfect full orchestra, a fine set and costumes, more talent on stage and behind than the Pontipee boys could shake a rope at, and a rousing standing-ovation audience pleaser to boot.
Based on the favorite 1954 Hollywood musical, the show follows the Pontipee clan brothers as they seek out wives for themselves in 1850′s Oregon. How they go about getting those wives is the tale that is told in the brisk two and a half hour production. There is no definitive script/score for 7B47B, only the one that MTI provides in the moment — and this one is the 2007 revised version (because it sure isn’t the original early’80′s version which I was in almost thirty years ago).
The star of the evening is Jodi Adkins Hissong’s athletic choreography the likes of which the Croswell stage has not seen in many a moon. The Brothers, the Brides, and the supporting cast fly (sometimes literally) through many many numbers, favorites being “Goin’ Courtin’” and the spectacular “Challenge/Cut in Dance” at the harvest social. The latter received extended applause not heard in the house for years.
Erin Satchell Yuen as Milly and Steven Antalek as Adam Pontipee turn in solid performances, and both seem born to play these parts. The Brothers are played by David Blackburn (Benjamin); Ben Andre (Caleb); Ryan Chang (Daniel); Zane Dickerson (Ephraim); Joshua Moller (Frank); and Matthew Pettrey (Gideon). Their camaraderie on stage is equal to their singing and dancing, and they are a joy to behold. Equally at ease on stage with singing and dancing requirements are the Brides: Samantha Bretz (Alice); Caitlin Christenson (Dorcus); Mary Hofmeister (Ruth); Jocelyn Near (Liza); Emily Kapnick (Martha); and Allison Steele (Sarah). Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.
The large (but never cluttered) ensemble supports the action, and together with the leads turn in some of the most charismatic and entertaining performances ever at Croswell. The audience was positively abuzz throughout the production, and the standing ovation was well-deserved.
The performers are wrapped in lovely packaging in the form of Rachel Buechele’s colorful costumes; Terrence Hissong’s Scenic Design; and fine efforts in lighting, sound, and technical design. (Note that on opening night, there were both mic-related glitches as well as spotlight-mess that will surely resolve over the coming performances). Stage Manager Kent Sprague has his hands full to be sure, and he keeps things running at a brisk and comfortable pace throughout. Snow falls (both onstage and in the audience); wood splits; crashes resound; the unit-set works perfectly; and it all serves to entertain. Music Director Wynne Marsh keeps everything onstage and in the pit sounding remarkable.
Brian Hissong directs the entire affair with a sure hand, and he gets marvelous things from his performers. Choreography and Directing often overlap, and it appears seamless.
Go see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and enjoy an evening out in beautiful downtown Adrian, MI. Get your tickets immediately before they are all gone — buy them now, thank me later. Its one of the best things I have seen onstage regionally in many years — professional or non-professional.
Tags: Croswell Opera House, Les Miserables Student Edition
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Having now seen two high school versions of LES MISERABLES, it begs to ask the question, is this the best High School musical ever?
25 years ago, I don’t think any of us would have ever thought that high schools might be doing this musical today. In fact, it seemed so “adult” and so “current” that it was hard to imagine anyone but professionals doing the show. Yet here it is.
Pioneer High School did a decent version a few years ago. Croswell Opera House did a whiz-bang knock-out version of it this past two weekends. Both casts had decent singers and mediocre ones — and yet both versions worked equally well.
Cut to 2.5 hours instead of the 3 hour running time, most audience members will be unaware of the cut material unless you are a true Les Mis expert. Some of the detail is gone, but its barely missed.
What is evident is that this is a show that features dozens of “parts” and the stronger performers are cast in leads while your average high school dramatists are equally happy playing the many many different ensemble parts. The parts fall directly into the vocal ranges of 16 – 18 year olds.
The music is not difficult to perform. Throw in a great orchestra and some straight-forward sets, and you have what might easily become the best current high school musical on the market for those schools tired of Bye Bye Birdie and Hairspray.
That brings me to special kudos for Croswell’s production. Musical Director Jonathan Sills has done a superb job with his (large) high school cast, and the orchestra was simply stunning. No cut-down orchestrations here; the full orchestra sound is lush and glorious.
Doug Miller designed a beautiful set, complete with detailed barricade. If the staging was a bit similar to the recent 25th Anniversary tour of the show, it can only be said that most shows without a turntable are pretty much going to look like that.
In short, I love youth theater and have directed a lot of it — but I was a bit green with envy at the stagecraft (and budget) on display at Croswell Opera House.
One caveat: if you are planning to do the show in your high school, make sure that you have plenty of men. Like most musicals of the last twenty years, its male-centric and you need plenty of them that can act, sing, and (kinda) dance (or at least move to the beat).
Marlena Hilderley’s Elle Woods is superb in Legally Blonde (Croswell Opera House) – Review June 17, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
Tags: Croswell Opera House, Legally Blonde, Legally Blonde the Musical, Marlena Hilderley
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It seems you can’t turn a corner without running into Legally Blonde The Musical this summer/fall in Michigan — in fact, there are 11 productions slated in just a 30 mile radius of each other, several of them playing on the same weekend. But it would be hard to find a better Elle Woods than Marlena Hilderley in Croswell Opera House’s current production.
Uncanny resemblance to Paris Hilton aside, Hilderley grows the character from sorority girl to lawyer with believability, and singing chops to spare, which is a good thing since she is onstage nearly the entire performance. Even more surpisingly, if you have seen the Broadway production, or the tour, or the MTV airings ad-nauseum of the Broadway production, Hilderley (who is still studying theater and voice at Michigan) gives any of the professional Elle’s a run for their money.
Nicely matched here is Natasha Ricketts’ Paulette, whose “Ireland” brings down the house in the show’s second funniest number (the funniest is “Gay or European”, though not apparently to the elderly couple who sat next to me). She has acting and singing skills that help her convey both loud and intimate, sometimes at the same time. Also superb is Darin DeWeese as Emmett. The ensemble is strong throughout (although there were missed dance steps by some at Sunday’s performance); although there are also a couple glaring miscasts: one involving a male who can sing but not act (and who has zero chemistry with Hilderley), and one involving a fine actor with weak vocal support (turning one of the better-written Act I songs into not much of anything).
Jen Letherer directs a fast-paced comic-driven production that has few gaps, and a strong sense of heart. Dave Rains’ orchestra sounds great, and his musical direction is excellent — the diction and tone are very good in this cast, even if they at times are overwhelmed by the orchestra (particularly in large ensemble numbers).
The set by Justin Lang is serviceable, and projections are fine throughout. One really great gimmick is the scrolling Facebook page pre-show and intermission…Elle has 2698 Friends on Facebook! Lighting is generally good. The costumes by Natalie Kissinger are hit-and-miss; her designs for the women look great — the designs for the men are another story altogether, and particularly glaring is a suit for Warren early in the show which makes him look neither handsome nor manly.
Overall, this is a great production at the Croswell Opera House. Also coming down the pike are the student version of Les Miserables (with countless high school kids) and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. Legally Blonde continues through next weekend.
Tags: Avenue Q, Croswell Opera House
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There are those of us who have already been initiated into the cult of Avenue Q on Broadway (where it is still running, Off Broadway); or on tour; or one of the sit-down productions across the country…and Croswell Opera House should be extremely proud of their current production onstage in Adrian as it ranks right alongside those professional productions of the show. This is a slick, great-looking, and very funny adult musical.
Directed by Eric Parker (who also plays human character Brian), the show races along the many Sesame-Street-For-Adults-Only type scenes exploring challenges facing humans and monsters alike: work, roommates, relationships, sex, homelessness, and finding your “purpose” (with a side-visit to the world of internet porn which ranks among one of the funniest songs ever written for a stage musical).
Matthew Bowland (Princeton/Rod) and Kelly Fandrey (Kate Monster/Lucy) are excellent in difficult roles that keep them onstage virtually the entire time. Erik Wright-Olsen turns in a terrific performance as both Trekkie Monster and roommate Nicky. Natalie Kissinger is a hilarious Christmas Eve (in a role into which she stepped only a few weeks ago — kudos!) and Jamie Lynn Buechele, Joshua Mohler, Jesse Montie and Rebecca Craig are great in their many supporting parts (and limbs!) throughout the production. Melissa Paschall takes on the role of Gary Coleman.
The set design by Janine Woods-Thoma recreates the intimacy of the Broadway production. Jonathan Sills musical direction and orchestra are super. Sets, lights, costumes,sound and projections all work well here (including my favorite moment in the show — I won’t give it away, but it involves nightstands).
There is very little to distinguish that this is not a touring company, the production is that good (although there are a few mis-steps here and there that remind you that not all of the performers on stage are professionals). My sole gripe — the overuse of blackouts that stop the proceedings in a few places, rather than allowing the natural flow of scene to scene. Since most scene changes involve little more than the opening or closing of a flap or door on the set, it would have been more entertaining to allow the audience to watch that happen, especially the times that it was clear that the stage had been reset and the actor was waiting in darkness onstage for their light to come up. A minor quibble in a spectacular production.
And of course, the disclaimer needs to be made….NO YOUNG ONES AT THIS SHOW PLEASE!…which presents a challenge in itself. Audience members unfamiliar with this Tony-Award-Winning-Best-Musical (it surprisingly won over Wicked!) see the puppets in the advertisements and think it is for kids….then you see the disclaimers that it is NOT for kids, and it makes for a difficult sell. Well let me shout it from the internet to your house: GO SEE THIS SHOW. Leave the kids at home, but by no means should you miss this production at Croswell Opera House. It is stunningly good.
Tickets can be ordered online at Croswell.org, by phone at 517-264-7469, or at the Box Office, 129 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221.
Tags: Adrian, Betsy Lackey, Croswell Opera House, Frankenstein, MI, Michael Lackey, Obsession the musical
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First, let me say right off the bat, it’s hard to review a workshop of a new show, even if it is fully staged. Because that is exactly what the production of OBSESSION, the musical (loosely based on Frankenstein) was this past weekend at the Croswell Opera House.
Fully staged and realized, the production was a fascinating look at a new musical in progress — originally written as a symphony and presented in Adrian, and now adapted as a stage musical, Betsy and Michael Lackey’s lyrical and tuneful musical takes risks not often seen at the local level. And how fortunate that Croswell Opera House was willing to take that risk to help develop this show.
I am not going to comment too much on the production itself, because if I did, I would end up in a long diatribe about how poorly directed it was, but how lovely it all looked and sounded. Let future directors find the humor and nuance in the script and score, and better manage the stage action.
What I will comment on are the tremendous performances, and the very strong musical score. Top to bottom the cast was top-notch and demonstrated excellent vocal technique. Michael Lackey (Henry/Monster); Eric Parker (Victor); Katy Kujala (Elizabeth); and Mackenzie Dryer (Justine) sang strong, confident roles. Deeply rooted in opera, the score demands a tremendous amount from the cast, and this group of performers delivered.
The score is particularly tuneful and sometimes outright stunning: “What I’d Give” has a lyrical line that ranks with the best Broadway-type pop ballads, but the entire score is lovely to listen to. The lyrics are clever and have a subtle sense of humor (not captured well in this production). The Croswell sound system made it difficult to understand some of the lyrics, particularly in the choral numbers. The show leans more toward the style of “Jekyll and Hyde” than more serious poperettas.
Is the show ready for prime time? No. Is it well on its way, yes. I would love to see the show again, after some tweeks have been made. My own thoughts as to improvements:
- There is too much music; scene changes occur rapidly (seconds) but musical rifts run for minutes with no action on stage. Some of this could be covered with better direction, but there is still too much of it. Standardize scene change music so that it cuts off once the scene has been changed, not continue just for the sake of continuing.
-The Entr’Acte is too long. Pull the main theme, add a countermelody, and roar to a quick finish. Two mintues is great. 5 minutes is too long.
-Eliminate the narration by the lead (Victor). Either incorporate it into the choral numbers, or eliminate it completely. With the exception of one or two short moments where action can be identified otherwise, the narration is superfluous and repetitive.
-Pay attention to the choral action: too many maids and butlers on stage just to sing choral backup is never a good idea. Put the chorus into the orchestra pit and let them sing backup. Find a better way to incorporate your ensemble onstage without just putting them on, and pulling them off. Its getting there –but its not there.
Overall, this was a fascinating and very well performed production that hopefully will lead to the necessary tweaks and future productions. I’d love to listen to this score over and over again, it’s sumptuous. But listening to versus seeing a show are two different things. It needs work, but it shows beyond tremendous potential — it deserves to be fixed and developed. Congrats to all involved — and keep working at this piece: there is really good here. It just needs some TLC.
Singin’ in the Rain — Croswell Opera House — Review August 6, 2011Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals.
Tags: Croswell Opera House, Singin' in the Rain musical
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Now is as good a time as most to get tickets for Croswell Opera House’s SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. The production which opened last night is an example of Croswell at it’s finest — when all the pieces click (technical, musical, and performances), and the qualities that make a show at this fine theater stand out from any other local theater company are on full display.
From the first orchestra chord to the last, the musical direction by Jonathan Sills is top notch. The vocal work throughout the show is noteworthy, from leads to ensemble.
Joseph Dennehy (from Toledo) dances a fine Don Lockwood, and Marlena Hilderley (University of Michigan) is simply marvelous as Kathy Seldon. K.C. Kenney (Toledo) is a funny and very gifted young singer/dancer/actor as Cosmo Brown. The age difference between himself and stage “best pal and childhood friend” Mr. Dennehy, however, is obvious.
Director Brian Hissong keeps things generally moving along at a leisurely pace (maybe a bit too leisurely given the shows long running time) and choreographer Jodi Adkins Hissong adds her own touches to the fine dance sequences, while preserving the “essence” of familiar pieces. “Broadway Melody” cuts the tap sequences in favor of a story-line dance, but it works well in this production. Bravo to her staging of “Moses Supposes” for Don and Cosmo, as they tap their way around the diction coach’s office – and even on top of tables, chairs, and each other. It’s the single best dance sequence in the show — but there are many of them.
The rain comes….and it comes on beautifully designed sets by Janine Woods Thoma. Nancy VanOver has designed some wonderful costumes (nobody does those better than Croswell!), and in fact, I’m hard pressed to think of a single theater in the area that has the financial and technical resources to do a show like Singin’ in the Rain the way that Croswell does.
My one quibble — the rain sequence, for all it’s splendor, is mislit. In order for rain effects to work on stage, they must be hung under the strip lighting, and lit with plentiful side and downlight. That is just not possible in Croswell’s limited fly and backstage space. As a result you hear the rain more than see it — it becomes obvious only when umbrellas are opened and water splashes off of them, or Don Lockwood taps around the splash pool that develops onstage. It would have been nice to let the audience see this splendid effect with better lighting.
There are several stage versions of Singin’ in the Rain, and in my opinion, MTI’s current version is not the best stage version available, but it is certainly more assessable for most theaters. That being said, it’s a crowd-pleaser from beginning to end.
Get your tickets now — this is a hot seller already. Nobody does shows like this better than Croswell — and it’s the best you are going to see there this summer.
Croswell Opera House tickets are available online at croswell.org, or by phone at (517) 264-SHOW.
HAIRSPRAY at Croswell Opera House (Review) June 19, 2011Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals.
Tags: Adrian, Croswell Opera House, Hairspray, MI
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Hairspray, the Tony winning musical with book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Music by Marc Shaiman, and Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman has quickly become the most overproduced musical in the current amateur musical circuit — at last count, this is the 28th or 29th production of it in the state of Michigan alone, with 14 more productions scheduled in the state through the end of the summer – And it’s no surprise that the show has become the darling of the community theater circuit: it has a large cast, more parts for younger folks than adults; and a peppy, upbeat 60′s infused pop score. It’s the Bye Bye Birdie of the new era.
But I can bet that none of them are as super as the production currently onstage at the Croswell Opera House in Adrian.
Leading the way are superb performances by every lead in this production. Bridget Harrington is a fine Tracy Turnblad. Lucas A. Wells a pitch-perfect Link Larkin. Eric Swanson is hilarious as Edna Turnblad, and every other supporting player here is in top form.
The set and lighting design are colorful, professional, and everything moves quickly under the direction of Chris Sancho-Beckman and dances appropriately under the choreography of Debra Ross Calabrese. There are a few minor quibbles — the turnbald household platform is a bit too large and a bit too downstage for several large numbers, making things a bit cramped. The sound varies depending on where you sit in the house — too far right and too far left, you’ll primarily hear the orchestra through the side proscenium speakers at the expense of the vocals. The center seems just about right.
The entire production sparkles and you’ll leave not only remembering the songs, but also the messages behind the show: and that is what has made this show work since its early days, and why it won those Tonys to begin with.
Hairspray continues at the Croswell Opera House through June 26th.
Damn Yankees strikes out at Croswell Opera House (Review) August 22, 2010Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Theatre.
Tags: community theater, Croswell Opera House, Damn Yankees, mark DiPietro
In the past, Croswell has been the sole not-fully Equity regional theater that I have reviewed in this blog. I do so for a reason — they quite simply present the best musical theatre being produced on a non-professional (or educational, read University of Michigan) basis in the area.
I can’t do a full review for Damn Yankees because I left before intermission. This is sloppy work, and screams community theatre from the getgo. The continuity mistakes in turning the Washington Senators into the Detroit Tigers are consistent and the concept here does not work. I’ve seen this concept work once at the Huntington Playhouse in Bay Village, OH many years ago. It doesn’t work here in Adrian.
Costuming is poor, the sets passable at best, and the production numbers have no life. The (very small) men’s ensemble tries. It tries hard. It does not succeed. The women fare better overall. The sound, as it has been all summer, was poor.
The show comes to life only when Mark DiPietro appears, He is superb as Applegate. Sorry, Mark — I couldn’t make it through this (long) show.
Damn Yankees strikes out. It’s a cliche. But its an apt cliche for this production. Looking forward to future performances at Croswell, but I can’t recommend this one.
Tags: A Chorus Line, Croswell Opera House, Debra Calabrese, Jonathan Sills, Matthew Bowland, Michael Bennett, summer stock
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I have to preface this review by stating that A Chorus Line is probably my favorite musical of all time. Its written perfectly: it hits the jugular for musical theater performers like no other show ever had before it’s initial run, and none has since. The choreography is pointed, clean, familiar and fast paced. And the entire evening holds together in a way that was groundbreaking at the time. It is also dated, but forgivable when done as a period piece (oh, to say that about this show!)
Croswell Opera House is currently presenting a decent production of the show, and for non-Chorus Line fans, probably a more assessable production than many. But it is not without its problems.
The Ensemble is generally good — there are better performers and there are weaker performers, but they are both directed and choreographed appropriately to form a blended ensemble unit. Since this show is a true ensemble piece, I will not pull out any individual performances for comment, except for the exceptional Lindsey Denham in the difficult role of Cassie. Her performance is equal to any professional Broadway performer in the role. Other featured roles vary from fantastic to average.
Everything looks great set and costume wise, and the lighting is effective and well-timed to the performance.
The sound is poor. Microphones pop, crackle, and even sputter out. In this instance, it is NOT the fault of the soundboard, who do a very good job of making sure no sound cues are missed. Rather, it is the elements in the body mics themselves — problematic in every Croswell show the past year or two, and very problematic here when you add near-constant body-movement to the mix. I know elements are expensive, but good ones are invaluable to your sound design. Someone please donate a few thousand dollars to Croswell so they can fix this.
Jonathan Sills has done his usual methodical and professional job with the vocalists and with his terrific orchestra.
Director Matthew Bowland does a serviceable job of moving everyone about the stage and creating stage pictures that are reminiscent of the original production while having his own style. Where things go wrong is the pacing of non-musical portions of the show. The pacing is too slow. Line pick-up is terrific in some segments, and not so in others. Characters are given too much time to think and reflect on stage, not a part of this show. The show should clock in at 1:50 without an intermission. Here it clocks in at 2:20 WITH an intermission (more on that appalling intermission later).
The choreography is well done. Debra Calabrese has done a good job of recreating original steps for the show, while keeping the flavor of the more difficult original choreography. Nobody looks terribly out of step, and the better dancers blend well with the weaker dancers. (There are a few weaker dancers, but only a trained choreographer would really spot that). I applaud her work.
Now onto that appalling intermission. A Chorus Line is written to be performed without an intermission. It is done that way on purpose. Michael Bennett directed/choreographed his shows so that they flew at lighting pace, and in the instance of A Chorus Line, so that the audience could not catch its breath fully as one number and scene follows the other. There is no time for reflection intended in the script. Just like the auditioners, the audience is swept along in the drama without time to fully ponder what they have just seen — rather to experience that same movement that pushes the auditions along. Individual thoughts and experiences are heartfelt and resonate with some audience members. Others do not. But no matter what, the show needs to barrel along like a locomotive building up speed until that final stage tableux when the chosen rejoice. That is the magic of A Chorus Line.
That magic is ruined here. In the middle of the show, Zach announces “a 15 minute break”, and viola, intermission. This completely kills the integrity of the piece and ruins the pacing. It also allows the audience too much time to reflect on what they have seen, ruining the theatrical experience. There is already an intermission written into the show for the performers and musicians during the extended Paul sequence. That was deliberately built into the show at that point.
I blame this totally on the member/s of the production team that decided that the misbegotten idea of adding an intermission was a good one. Since I do not know who made that decision, I can only place the blame on Croswell. This can be salvaged by eliminating that intermission from the remaining performances.
Overall, the show is generally well-done; if not perfect. It continues through July 18th at Croswell Opera House, Adrian Michigan. Tickets: 517-264-7469, or online at croswell.org