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Women send “Company” soaring at Croswell (review) May 21, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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Aiyanna Fivecoat (Kathy), Lauren Goyer (April), and Sydney Bramlett (Marta) in Company at Croswell Opera House. Photo courtesy Croswell Opera House.

Opening the 2022 Broadway Season at Croswell Opera House, Stephen Sondheim’s Company is a great way to launch the summer season at Michigan’s oldest theater! Before reading further, get your tickets now at croswell.org — the show only runs through Sunday — and you should see it. 

Bobby is the sole single person among his circle of closest friends in NYC. In what was a daring departure in musical theater in 1970, the show doesn’t follow a straightforward storyline – rather it takes it’s time exploring the couples’ relationships as well as their ongoing urging for Bobby to couple up rather than continue to live the (gasp) single life at his 35th birthday. Of course, Bobby has daliances with other single women who enter and leave his life. There is not much more I am going to say about the script, since it’s up to you to discover who you relate to, who you don’t. and what you think as the show winds through it’s course.

But it’s the women in Bobby’s life that make this production soar — and I mean soar. Take, for example, Leah Fox who turns in the evening’s funniest performance as marriage-shy personally neurotic Amy in “Getting Married Today”. It’s the strongest performance I have seen from her already strong career in musical theater. And then there is Julia Hoffert as karate-wielding, “I can’t I’m on a diet” Sarah whose vocals and physical shtick shine throughout the evening (watch her delighfully munching on brownies in the background at times). Maya Gangadharan turns in a masterful performance as Joanne, and her “Ladies Who Lunch” is spot-on perfect. Lauren Goyer is delighful as flight attendant April (whom Bobby occasionally calls May, or June). 

You will have your favorites too – and it all looks great on the Croswell stage, with projections making for rapid and stylistic backgrounds as the show moves from apartment to apartment, club to bedroom. Meghan C Hakes returns to Adrian to direct and choreograph. The staging of “Side by Side by Side” and “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” is particulary good. The superb 13-piece orchestra is under the direction of musical director Adam P. Miller.

This is an adult show to be sure though there is nothing in it that would prevent you from bringing your mid-teens on up — though they might not be super invested in these adult relationships and there is a fair share of blunt sex talk, drugs, and language. It also has a fair smattering of 70’s lingo that adults will get but younger audiences might not. This was a show that was fairly shocking and controversial to it’s 1970’s audiences although the impact has all been watered down over the years. 

Very highly recommended.

Company continues at Croswell Opera House, Adrian, MI through May 22nd. croswell.org for tickets. 

Josh Gates Live! (Detroit) review May 9, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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It’s hard to say anything but nice things about the delightfully entertaining archeologist/adventurer/actor Josh Gates (host of Discovery’s Expedition Unknown). But the entire “Live” appearance is built around his charisma and his stories – believe them or not.

Ardent followers of his TV show (myself included) know that he is a highly enthused explorer in pre-scripted “expeditions” to find treasures and (lately) ghosts. And of course, he never finds much of anything, but he has a relaxed and involved style in presenting stories about historic figures and their (most often) lost treasures — DB Cooper, Captain Kidd, sunken ships and lost voyages, etc. Sometimes he finds nails or canisters suggesting the historical figure was there at one time — at others (a recent opening of an Egyptian crypt with a mummy inside!) are carefully orchestrated press releases for other archeological groups – and sometimes border on defiling the crypt/ruin (they drilled holes in a Mayan temple to “look for gold”). Josh is surrounded by a superb television team that makes it look like he himself is leading these explorations — when in reality he’s a talkative (and sometimes smart-alecky) narrator at best.

Still, when it was announced he would be appearing live, I put on my shepherd’s sundial neckless and sat rapt for 90 minutes at a packed Masonic Temple Theater to hear about his stories and adventures.

The first thing you notice is that he is taller and thinner than he appears on tv — of course, on Expedition Unknown he is usually the only (on-screen) American surrounded by thin Europeans or Egyptians. The next thing you notice is how his conversational style really is like that on the series. Over the course of the evening he tells stories about his adventures, close calls, boring month long trips that are edited down into exciting 40 minute episodes, and most recently his (bizarre) fascination with ghosts and supernatural. He was the impetus for the spinoff series Expedition X — “what was that!” — tv at it’s most unbelievable and hokum of the first order.

Unfortunately he spent too much time discussing his supernatural obsession, and he lost me for most of that section – though from the reactions around me there are clearly those who think that is more interesting than his actual archeological adventures. Different strokes for different folks.

I did have a VIP package and would have met him, were it not for the hundreds of other people at the VIP event, so no thanks, hero or no hero.

If you get the opportunity to see him live, do so! It’s rare that we get to see someone like Josh Gates in person, away from the tv screen, and away from the cameras — but he’s also an actor of the first order, so expect your evening to sound like a memorized script (because it is).

Expedition Unknown returns to Discovery Channel on May 25th.