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A reminder on reviews October 25, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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I am usually overwhelmed with requests to review shows in SE Michigan. I can only review a limited number per month. Just a rundown on reviews:

I review primarily musicals, but occasionally plays are not out of the question. In general I need to want to see the show, so that usually excludes smaller works that have not been produced on Broadway or hold some unique quality.

I am happy to accept a pair of comps but I traditionally pay for my own tickets. Attendance does not guarantee a review.

If you are a professional theater I will review the show good or bad. If you are an amateur theater I will review it if it is of top quality and deserves a review. I will traditionally not review amateur theater that is not of top quality. I will rarely if ever review educational theater unless it’s a college theater preparatory program.

Finally, I will neither attend nor review productions where masks are required as neither the CDC nor AEA require them at this time. This impacts only a small handful of theaters still enforcing antiquated protocols.

Catch a lovely Peter and the Starcatcher at Croswell (Review) October 15, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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Ben Bascuk as Peter leads the cast in a scene from “Peter and the Starcatcher” at the Croswell Opera House. Next to him is Reed Schwieterman; surrounding, from left to right, are Virginia Atkinson, Kai Mattoon, Conner Raymond, Meg McNamee, Aaron Treadway, Peter Crist, Kylie McElrath, Terry Hissong, Luke Gorsuch, Molly Humphries, Eric Stone, Gage Sterling and Ella Flumignan.Photo courtesy Ashlee Sayles Croswell Opera House c 2022

Peter and the Starcatcher, winner of 5 Tony awards in 2012 and oft-produced nationwide opened last night at the Croswell Opera House and it is a lovely evening of theater, music, color, storytelling, and maybe a slight tear in your eye. 

Based on the 2004 children’s book, the story tells of two ships crossing the sea to deliver something of rare value in a chest. What follows is story theater of the highest order as tale after tale spins out a quick succession of backstories for Peter Pan, Mrs Darling, Captain Hook, the crocodile, the lost boys, Neverland, and even Tinkerbell. 

There’s lovely stagecraft in this production, and star-stuff sequences are particularly pretty. But stagecraft is all secondary in this show to the performances themselves, and they are terrific here. Julianne Dolan directs, Todd Schreiber musical directs, and Dean Shullick choreographs a terrific cast of 15 actors of all ages and two musicians. 

While it’s not a musical, there is a lot of music, both songs and underscoring. While it’s not a dance show, there is dance. While it’s not a drama, there is drama. While it is not a pure comedy, there is a tremendous amount of comedy. There’s a reason this show is staged nationwide by casts of all ages and experience levels. 

Ben Bascuk (Peter), Kylie McElrath (Molly), and Peter Crist (Black Stache) are tremendous leads of power and talent. They are supported by a who’s who of Croswell Opera House performers (only one of whom is making their Croswell debut) and they are all fantastic. 

I was particularly fond of Crist’s Black Stache, as he chews the scenery, his fake mustache, and ultimately, well you find out why Captain Hook has an, um, hook. Always fantastic to see Terry Hissong onstage and his Smee is funny and touching. 

If you have seen Starcatcher before, do not hesitate to see it again – this production is noteworthy for its great performances but also the color and splashes of whimsy created by scenic/lighting designer Crosby Slupe, and costume designer Alexandria Szczotka.  If you have never seen Starcatcher before, by all means check it out and find out why it has quickly become one of America’s favorite plays.

Peter and the Starcatcher continues through October 23rd at Croswell Opera House, downtown Adrian, MI. Tickets at croswell.org

Lyle Lyle Crocodile, and Amsterdam October 7, 2022

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
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Lyle Lyle Crocodile (4/5 stars) is a terrific, tuneful, and fun family movie that all ages will enjoy. They sort of hide the fact that it is a musical in its trailers. The songs (sung by Shawn Mendes) are by Pasek and Paul and they are catchy and you’ll find yourself buying the album after the movie. I really enjoyed Lyle. (note: no crocodiles or cats were harmed in this movie, because no real crocodiles or cats appear — the CGI is remarkable). It’s not a great film, but it’s a good one, and its just the kind of thing I wish we had more of right now.

Amsterdam (4/5 stars) is a love-it-or-hate-it star studded murder mystery from director David O Russell, who loves broken people and you get lots of that here. It takes place between the world wars, and I loved this film, which plays out like a novel – alternating voices from character to character, and introducing a huge variety of actors (everyone wants to work with O Russell). If you are not a fan of slow-moving, character driven stories, this won’t be for you, and critics overall are divided. I loved it. It looks magnificent in IMAX and everything feels larger than life. Christian Bale is magnificent. If you are a fan of Taylor Swift she appears in the film. If you are not a fan of Taylor Swift, you’ll enjoy the scene about 10 minutes in. This is a great movie weekend! Go out, see something, and have fun at the movies!