Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Lakewood


Olio
by Michael Dresdner

   Photos by Kate Paterno-Lick

At the outset, you need to know that The Mystery of Edwin Drood , the final show at Lakewood Playhouse this season, is not, as its name would imply, a dark, Dickensian piece, or even, for that matter, much of a murder mystery. It’s a campy, boisterous romp of a musical with elements of vaudeville, Gilbert and Sullivan operatic melodrama, English Panto, and old style music hall.

For instance, there’s a lead male played by a female (touted as a renowned “male impersonator”), a set of “identical twins” of different genders who could not possibly look less alike, and magnificent flashy costumes, all of which are common Panto elements. There’s a classic vaudeville “set” consisting of word play insults, a thousand-word-per-minute song a la Gilbert and Sullivan, and lots of music hall flummery.

Heather Malroy
In other words, it’s jolly, exuberant, in-your-face gaiety with a completely crumbled fourth wall. That’s right; expect the cast to talk to you, beg your participation, and all but climb into your lap in an effort to get the audience to be part of the show.

The basic conceit is a play within a play; the regulars of The Music Hall Royale are going to put on a murder mystery, so all the diverse and wacky characters who populate the venue will try to put aside their competition, squabbling, and insults for long enough to mount a semi-serious play. Obviously, that’s doomed to comic failure. Oh, they manage to eke out a bit of the story in between scene stealing, ego trips, and unrestrained song and dance, but when they come to the unfinished part of the story, they ask the audience to vote on who the killer is and who should play the various roles needed to finish the performance.


Before I get into individuals, let me say that the entire cast is excellent, though too big to name them all. All the ensemble singing and dancing was top notch, and the exuberant dance hall girls particularly compelling. The music hall troupe launched into their numbers with the eagerness of a tumble of puppies being let out into a dog park whenever they got their cue, and sometimes (intentionally) before. Ditto for the acting, and though there are too many for me to name them all, I will say that the entire cast deserves kudos before I indulge myself and call out a few of my favorites.

Steve Tarry 
First and foremost there’s Steve Tarry, who plays the role of The Chairman of the Music Hall Royale, the chief fourth wall violator. Smooth, glib, and funny, with the perfect demeanor and a snarky mien, he blithely insults both audience and fellow troupe members with his slick, non-stop patter. He is the quintessential music hall emcee, and does such a bang-up job of the role that it’s hard to imagine anyone else ever doing it as well. 

There are solid leads who play characters who, in turn, play other characters in the play-within-a-play. They include Gary Chambers as John Jaspers, Allyson Jacobs-Lake as Rosa Bud, and Brynn Garrett as Edwin Drood.

However, some of the color roles were so enchanting they caught my eye and my heart. Christopher S. Cantrell plays an absolutely delightful reprobate and sot named Durdles, while his other persona does a perfect vaudeville-style insults-with-word-play routine with Tarry in his emcee role. Jed Slaughter is wonderfully understated as the reserved Reverend Chrisparkle, while Derek Hall is charmingly pitiable as Phillip Bax, who desperately wants some day to be cast in a lead.

                   L to R: Derek Hall, Steve Tarry 

Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson did a hilarious turn full of innuendo and bawdy charm as Miss Angel Prysock (who then plays Princess Puffer.) DuWayne Andrews Jr, and Heather Malroy play the thoroughly unlikely set of  “identical” twins from Ceylon. Since no one in the cast or audience is supposed to know what someone hailing from that part of the world is really like, they are free to endow their characters with clueless absurdity. He tended toward the lead in The King and I, and she reminded me of Princess Caraboo, with her self-described comic accent of “unidentifiable geography” and the constant gyrations of a Balinese dancer.

And the production values? Amazing. Costumes too good to be believed were, not surprisingly, thanks to the redoubtable Alex Lewington. A superb orchestra was led by Deborah Lynn Armstrong and paired with excellent choreography by Heather Malroy. Lighting by Jerry Clausen and sound by Nena Curley (who is also the stage manager) blended beautifully. Lex Gernon’s elaborate set included an entire theater view with wings, curtained proscenium, audience boxes, and a stage that slid to and fro.

Incidentally, this production, directed by Chris Serface, the artistic director of Tacoma Little Theatre, is the other half of the director swap between him and John Munn, who directed Cabaret at TLT. 

Here’s what you need to take away from this: Forget the title, and forget that it is (very loosely) based on an unfinished but typically grim Dickens tale. Go expecting a no holds barred, flashy, high-spirited musical comedy with more than enough audience participation and you won’t be disappointed.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
May 29 to June 28, 2015
Lakewood Playhouse

http://www.lakewoodplayhouse.org/

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cabaret at Tacoma Little Theatre

Everything… is beautiful.
by Michael Dresdner

   L to R: Kathy Kluska, Mauro Bozzo           All photos by DK Photography

For their last major show of the season, Tacoma Little Theatre has pulled out all the stops to mount an absolutely magnificent production of the musical Cabaret. With brilliant directing by John Munn and jaw-dropping performances by what can only be called the perfect cast, a packed house watched an opening night presentation so flawless you’d swear they’d been doing it for weeks. I’ll bet once the word gets out, tickets will be rare as hen’s teeth, and that’s just as it should be.

From the very second Mauro Bozzo steps out onstage and opens the show as the Emcee, he grabs the audience in the palm of his hand and never lets go. Looking glorious, his singing, acting, and movement is pure perfection, his oversized personality reaching everywhere like the tentacles of an octopus. You can’t ignore him, and you can’t avoid loving him as he gets under your skin and drags you into the seedy reality of his haunt, The Kit Kat Klub. It’s Berlin’s hottest nightclub in all possible definitions of the word, where every iteration of hedonism is indulged, its patrons largely oblivious to the dark shadow of Nazism creeping through the rest of 1931 Germany.

   L to R: Amanda Jackson, LaNita Hudson, Elise Campello, KathyKluska, Haley Kim
Backing him up are the no less amazing Kit Kat girls (Amanda Jackson, LaNita Hudson, Haley Kim, Kathy Kluska), whose stunning singing, dancing, posing, and gyrations go beyond hot, beyond sexy, and deep into titillatingly lewd. With terrific voices, downright athleletic dancing, and barely-there costumes they provide the supremely talented flesh in this fleshpot of a night spot that sets the stage for all that follows.

What follows is a group of interwoven tales of diverse denizens trying to cope. Clifford (Niclas R. Olson) is an aspiring writer from Pennsylvania, naïve and sweet, with an equally sweet singing voice. He’s soon befriended by two very different characters. First there’s Ernst (Kyle Sinclair), an affable and outgoing smuggler willing to adapt to the changing political tide like one changes his shirt, as long as it is to his advantage. 

                   Elise Campello 

Then there’s Sally Bowles (Elise Campello) the gorgeous, talented, singing and dancing headliner of the Kit Kat Klub, who pushes Clifford’s comfort zone by moving into his flat and offering more than just friendship. Campello creates a Bowles who is sizzling hot on stage and yearningly needy off; a soul adrift seeking sex and admiration to buoy her.

     L to R: Rosalie Hilburn, Joseph Grant
   
Their digs are owned by landlady Fraulein Schneider (Rosalie Hilburn), who along with her adoring suitor, Herr Schultz (Joseph Grant), make absolutely the sweetest old couple imaginable. But like so many human relations in this dark time and place, they, too, will be affected by the hot Nazi breath on their necks. Rounding out the tenants is Fraulein Kost (Rachel Fitzgerald), a sassy, delightful, and completely endearing prostitute who, shall we say, patriotically gives her all to the Navy.

   L to R: Rachel Fitzgerald, Rosalie Hilburn

The rest of the cast (Stephen Nishida, Addison Daniels, Derek Wisher, Jeremy Thompson, Charlie Stevens) play a variety of roles, all expertly executed. To a person, this is an amazing ensemble of triple threat actors, with more than admirable singing, dancing, and acting chops to their credit.

John Munn’s directing choices are also brilliant; variously chilling, extravagant, sizzling, and heartfelt. The final stunningly powerful scenes in both the first and second acts will take your breath away.    
This is a Kandor and Ebb musical, so of course the songs are beautiful, meaningful, and elucidating. Musical director Pamela Merritt Caldwell also leads the excellent onstage Klub band consisting of Robbie Marx, Keely Freudenstein, Tommy Hawthorne, Benjamin Marx, and even Mauro Bozzo, when he’s not onstage as Emcee.

Credit for the amazing choreography, which deserves a bow all by itself, goes to Lexi Barnett. Both the wonderful set and sound design are thanks to Blake R. York, with props, set dressing, and wigs by Jeffery Weaver. Lighting design is by Niclas R. Olson (Clifford in the cast) and a superb array of dazzlingly perfect costumes comes from designer Michele Graves. And for such a flawless opening night, we need to get stage manager Bethany Bevier and assistant Abby Lund to also take a bow, even though these jobs usually hide in the background.  

As part of a “Director’s Exchange Program” to reinforce the cohesiveness of the theatre community, Munn, the artistic director of Lakewood Playhouse, swapped places with TLT’s artistic director Chris Serface. While Munn directed Cabaret here, Serface is directing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which opens next week at Lakewood.

There you have it; an amazing musical perfomed by a devastatingly talented cast and backed up with equally top notch production values. You’d be an utter fool to miss this show.

Cabaret
May 22 to June 14, 2015
Tacoma Little Theatre


Saturday, May 2, 2015

For All That at Centerstage

Somme time
by Michael Dresdner



For All That, which debuted last night at Centerstage, is an epic musical as judged by a host of criteria. Written by the theatre’s artistic director Alan Bryce, it is big, bold, and evocative, with strong musical support, powerful technical backup, and a gripping subject.

Set during WWI, the story revolves around a small group of  Seaforth Highlanders from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. Andrew (Joshua Williamson) has been away at school, a rarity, and returns to his homeland of simple farmers with eyes for Mairi (Katherine Jett) only to see her marry his brother, Donald (Cooper Harris-Turner.) The wedding celebration is cut short as all the men are called up to fight in the war. Only Andrew, as a conscientious objector, refuses to go, an act that earns him the distain of both is brother and Mairi.

We go with the men/boys as they head to basic training, then to the war. There’s bravery, comeraderie, desperation, breakdown, and ultimately, widespread death at the battle of the Somme. One by one they come to see something quite different than the superficial patriotism they reveled in at the outset. Ultimately there’s the realization that the other side is also human, that your own leaders lie, and that the war itself  brings little more than pain and destruction. Those still living, largely the women of the island, are left with the task of  picking up with life after such stunning futility and loss.

The production values, from the dramatic raked stage (Craig Wollam) and varied period costumes (Janessa Styck) through eye-popping lighting (Christina Barrigan) and copious choreography (Amy Johnson) are all outstanding. And though I mentioned only a few of them, the talented triple-threat (singing, dancing, acting) ensemble cast was more than worthy of this grand production, with almost all responsible for convincingly covering a range of varied characters. They, to a person, deserve kudos for a tough job well done.

This is a true musical in the sense that songs are varied, new, appropriate, and are demanded by the story, as opposed to being tacked on as an afterthought. From the upbeat folk songs danced to at the opening, through a range of patriotic, dark, heartfelt, and resolute offerings as the story progresses, the music is consistently excellent. Billed as by Many Hands, the program lists Joshua Zimmerman for musical direction and arrangements, and John Forster for additional music and lyrics, arrangements, and musical supervision. Live musicians are credited (Joshua Zimmerman, Ian Hughes, Andrew Pang, Matthew Goodin), paired with a complex, realistic, and varied sound track (Andy Swan.)  

By now you should have concluded that this is an excellent production that will drag you through mood changes and emotional responses, but not the sort of musical that ends with upbeat happiness. In fact, it rather leaves one with more questions than answers. Generally, with something so moving, one expects a message; some strong theme or statement that helps make sense of the experience. I’m at a loss as to exactly what Bryce means that to be.

Though billed as a love story, it is really not. Yes, there’s love, but is hardly the dominant theme, and is left largely undeveloped. So, too, is the brotherly love aspect; alluded to but again never really evolved. Sadly, the inner humanity of several key characters, the sort of thing that makes you really bond to and root for a person, is often left undeveloped and unrevealed until right before they die, or until the end of both the war and the play.

If anything, the strongest emotions one comes away with are cynicism about war itself and an overarching sadness over what we do in the name of honor and patriotism. Perhaps that’s the point.

At any rate, Bryce and company have given us a new musical that is both a moving experience and something truly worthy of  its existence. I hope it sticks around, and like most properties, goes through development and refinement as others pick it up and interpret it. At very least, it’s worth your time. Do go see it.  
  
For All That
May 1 to 24, 2015
Centerstage












Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fox on the Fairway at Tacoma Little Theatre

Teed off
by Michael Dresdner

    L to R: Russell, Fry, Bolek, Ferguson, McClure, Torwick      photo by DK Photography

Farce, as its etymology suggests, is forced; over-the-top characters in similarly exaggerated situations. Fox on the Fairway, now at Tacoma Little Theatre, is unabashedly billed as such, and true to form, absurdity clings to both the plot and characters.

Playwright Ken Ludwig has written a lot of farces, but this time he left no cliché unturned, rehashing all of the elements that, when taken in moderation, provided welcome chuckles in his other plays. The convoluted plot is heavily larded with low-brow sexual humor, unlikely mood swings, and ridiculous clothing, all peppered liberally with excess shouting and frenetic physicality. Add a laugh track and you might be watching one of those lamentable yet inexplicably popular 80’s TV sitcoms like Three’s Company.   

All the action takes place in bar at a golf country club. Rival golf club presidents Henry Bingham (Andrew Fry) and Dickie Bell (George McClure) make an excessive bet on the upcoming yearly match, each believing he has an ace in the hole. Bell’s brashness extends to his outlandish clothing, consistently misquoted phrases, and a penchant for fornication, and he goads the more upright Bingham in more ways than one.

Meanwhile, new employee and secret golf whiz kid Justin Hicks (Rodman Bolek) is in love with club factotem Louise Heindbedder (Tracy Torwick). When he’s pressed into playing the tournament, he shines, until he is emotionally derailed by a glitch in their engagement. Adding to the tumult is libidinous club VP Pamela Peabody (Stacia Russell), who has a schwarm for Henry Bingham, and Henry’s wife Muriel (Shelleigh-Mairi Ferguson) who conveniently feels the same way about Dickie Bell. After a few surprises, a lot of sturm und drang, and an excess of hideous golf outfits, everyone ends up, as is often the case in Ludwig plays, happy and heterosexually paired off.

The set by Burton K Yuen and scenic artist James Venturini, with stage dressing and props  by Jeffery Weaver, was elegantly spot on; beautiful and convincing. Intentionally outre outfits by costumer Michele Graves were both eye-catching and thoroughly appropriate. The same can be said for lighting (Pavlina Morris) and sound design (Darren Hembd.)

Say what you will about this genre and style but the audience on opening night spent an appropriate amount of time laughing it up. I suppose that’s a recommendation all by itself.

Fox on the Fairway
April 17 to May 3, 2015
Tacoma Little Theatre


Friday, April 17, 2015

The 39 Steps at Lakewood Playhouse

Thank you, Mr. Bones
by Michael Dresdner

    Bryan Bender, Deya Ozburn                                               All photos by Kate Paterno-Lick 

You can accurately describe The 39 Steps, currently at Lakewood Playhouse, in just two words: madcap romp. I’ve reviewed iterations of it over the years in three different theaters and this one, directed by John Munn, is by far the best.

Steps is loosely based on Hitchcock’s famous 1935 “chase” thriller of the same name, but is given the extreme comic treatment a la Shakespeare Abridged. In other words, the plot – a man is roped into being both fox and hounds while trying to prevent a secret formula from getting out of the country – is almost completely irrelevant. It is nothing more than a platform on which to haul out and deliver every comic tableau you can imagine.

   L to R: Deya Ozburn, Bryan Bender, Frank Roberts, Paul Richter 

Along the way there are homages to Hitchcock in words, music, and images that are far too numerous to mention. You’ll probably pick up on Vertigo, Psycho, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window (as a curiously portable prop) and North by Northwest (as a shadow puppet show,) but that barely scratches the surface. Chances are you won’t catch them all, which may be a damned good excuse to see this play more than once.

Though versions vary, this one had a decidedly vaudevillian flavor, and Munn has resurrected almost every piece of comic shtick that’s ever graced the old time stage. Thus, it requires a flawless comic cast supported by innumerable (and excellent) costumes (Diane Runkel), clever props and set pieces (Virginia Yanoff and Lex Gernon), lighting (Kristin Zetterstrom) and sound tricks (Nena Curley.) Even the booth gets into the act with gags like intentional sound cue screw-ups, so here’s a tip of the hat to stage manager Jenifer King.

    L to R: Frank Roberts, Paul Richter 

Mostly, though, a property like this requires an ideal cast, and this one has it in spades. The leading man, and the only actor who plays only one role, must first be as charming a heartthrob as Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, and Bryan Bender, who plays hero Richard Hannay, is just that. From the moment he steps out on stage and flashes a winning grin you can almost see that cartoon trick of a flashing glint of light off his teeth. That’s not all, though. He also brings flawless timing,the athleticism for very physical comedy, and a finely tuned annoyance when things (intentionally) go wrong on stage. Thus his perfectly nuanced glances at the booth when phones keep ringing after being picked up or lights that refuse to turn off and on, and his impatience when he tires of the slow-motion staging of an elaborate fight scene well before his fellow actors. In short, he’s the perfect Hannay.

His three primary female counterparts are played by Deya Ozburn, who morphs from exaggerated Germanic vamp Annabella Schmidt, through sweet but back-stabbing Pamela, to unsophisticated but helpful Margaret. As with all the roles, there are tons of physical demands along with the comedic ones, and Ozburn can keep up with the rest of this talented cast just fine, thank you very much.

L to R: Bryan Bender, Frank Roberts, Deya Ozburn 

Anchoring all the other 100-odd parts are the two rubber-faced, loose-jointed clowns, who switch personas, voices, costumes, and even genders faster than a nymphomaniac can drop her dress. Frank Roberts and Paul Richter do the honors here, and they are superb, creating wildly different and hilariously bizarre characters in the blink of an eye, flashing both tirelessly and seamlessly from one to another. These four make up the entire cast, and believe me, they make this show.

It’s spring, the sun is out today, and this is the perfect accompaniment to the mood. The 39 Steps is as pure a night of goofy, easy-to-swallow fun as one can divine. As the song says, pack up all your cares and woes and let these four delightful comics treat you to a couple of hours of mindless, non-stop hilarity.

The 39 Steps
April 17 through May 10, 2015
Lakewood Playhouse
http://www.lakewoodplayhouse.org/

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shipwrecked! at Centerstage

Foley, Fanfare, and Fantasy
by Michael Dresdner

   L to R: Elinor Gunn, Chris Shea, Terry Edward Moore   Photos by  Michelle Smith Lewis

Imagine, if you will, sitting in a Victorian theater in fin de siecle England being regaled by a man who took to sea as a youth and emerged three decades later with a swashbuckling tale that defies belief. That, in a nutshell, is the premise of the fulsomly titled SHIPWRECKED! An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself) now playing at Centerstage.

Directed by Roger Curtis, who also directed Jack and the Beanstalk and Aladdin, it’s not surprising that it has some of the upbeat feel of a Panto.

The action begins with Louis de Rougemont himself stepping out on stage and introducing himself to us, the audience. Adroitly crafted by Terry Edward Moore, he graciously welcomes us to the story of his life, then launches into the tale, acting it out as he goes.

    Terry Edward Moore (center). L to R: Chris Shea, Elinor Gunn 

Moore does a superb job of becoming the charismatic and picaresque de Rougemont. Starting from his sickly childhood at his mother’s side, his story drags us along through a stint on a Coral Sea pearl hunting boat and a storm induced shipwreck in which he and the captain’s dog are the only survivors. Left washed up on a deserted shore, he eventually saves three lost aboriginals, bonds, and returns with them to their homeland, where he, of course, becomes something of a hero.

Through it all, his story is amplified by two fellow actors. As good as Moore was, his two sidekicks quite litterally ran circles around him.

Watching the amazing Elinor Gunn and Chris Shea spin through a dizzying array of characters, both human and canine, was captivating. In the space of a second or two they’d change gender, personality, action, and voice, go up and down levels and ladders, and grab (and discard) a staggering stream of clever props, costume pieces, and headgear. Think of the character changes of Shakespeare Abridged or 39 Steps coupled with the gaudy energy and splashy accoutrements of a Panto and you’ll have some idea of what they offer.

  L to R: Terry Edward Moore, Elinor Gunn, Chris Shea 

Gunn went smoothly from mother to publisher to waif to ship captain, and dozens of others, all without a flaw. Ditto for Shea, who took on tars, gents, suffed shirts, primatives, and a variety of femmes, both fatale and elegant. His repeated appearance as Louis’ trusty canine companion, coupled with short shots of him as either a fetching or prim woman, were alone worth the price of admission.

Together they filled the stage with all the sounds, characters, and props needed to flesh out de Rougemont’s tale and make it come to life audibly and visually. In short, they were wonderful.  

But wait; there’s more. In spite of the heavy and atheletic character load, they find the time to also provide all the play’s elucidating sound effects. Armed with an array of gizmos and period machines, they create sea gulls, waves, rain, thunder, falling masts, and all the sounds of London, Australia, and an island of primatives. They’re living proof that fancy sound programs in use today have nothing on a pair of skilled Foley artists.

A huge range of innovative, often makeshift, costumes by Rachel Wilkie, including an ungodly number of hats, helped the actors transform roles, often using as little as one item of clothing or gear. Cunning lighting changes by Amy Silveria offered everything from the suble change in an oil lamp being blown out indoors to dark skies, hot sun, and even an underwater scene. It’s all done on a clever set by Benjamin Baird that works as home, theater, ship, island, and street scene, replete with trapdoors for fire pit, buried treasure, and a hot bath. There’s even a shadow puppet screen that, among other things, let’s us watch a giant octopus take down a sailing ship.  

Of course, if you shy away from bombast, high energy exposition, frivolous folderol, and “squash-buckling tomfoolery,” this may not be your cup of tea. Even so, you’d miss some of the finest performaces I’ve seen from three incredibly tallented actors.

For those who love the tall tale told first hand, cast off the present and let Centerstage plop you into a seat anchored firmly in the late 19th century. Sit back while de Rougemont’s thoroughly implausible tale washes over you in all its breathless glory.

SHIPWRECKED! An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself.)
March 20th through April 4th, 2015
Centerstage


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Tacoma Little Theatre


Diamond in the rough

by Michael Dresdner

   L to R: Rodman Bolek, Jacob Tice, Bryce Smith             Photos by DK Photography

Written by comedian Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, now at Tacoma Little Theatre, is a seriously funny play. The lines are brilliantly comic, the concept interesting, and the characters, if not wholly fictional, are certainly charismatic.

The conceit is that it’s 1904 and we’re eavesdropping in a bar visited by both Einstein and Picasso as young men, just before either of them made his first big breakthrough. Other characters come and go primarily for comic value, and there’s plenty of that. As for the plot, what little there is has slim import. For the most part it’s all about setting up funny characters in funny situations and giving them even funnier lines.

Director Rick Hornor’s pacing was briskly satisfying, and the ensemble cast was solid. Yet, I had a nagging feeling that there was a spark of eclat that was missing. What was good could have been greater.

That’s not to say it was not sprinkled with some great moments. The opening absinthe/vodka exchange between barkeep Freddy (Jacob Tice) and Einstein (Rodman Bolek) was perfect in both timing and delivery, one of many humorous gems that sparkled in this play. An amazing piece of brilliance from Tara Jensen as a gorky fan was another all too brief shooting star of comic perfection. Then there was Dan Lysne in a bit part, rushing through like a bracing breeze as an inventor with delusions of adequacy. Add in the stolid, sensible foil Germaine (Colleen Bjurstrom) and you have my personal handful of on-stage favorites.

  L to R: Colleen Bjurstrom, Jacob Tice 

As usual, the production values were very much up to par. Blake York’s set, dazzlingly dressed and propped by Jeffrey Weaver and superbly painted by Maggie Knott, is both beautiful and clever. In what has become eerily familiar at this theatre lately, it not only stood out, but at times, especially during the last scene, damned near stole the show from the actors. Costumes by Michele Graves and lighting by Pavlina Morris were smoothly integrated and had their own moments in the sun, the latter particularly obvious in the closing sequence.  

So, then, what’s the problem? Often, when doing Shakespeare, directors will tell you to let the words do the work. While Steve Martin is definitely not Shakespeare, his strength resides not in the physical acting, but in his finely tuned comedic lines. In this case I feel the best way to let the humor shine through is to take a more subtle, less-is-more approach as far as the acting is concerned.  

To be fair, it was only opening night, and these things have a way of ripening with age, so don’t let that hold you back from coming to see this more than pleasant gaggle of onstage oddballs. Focus on what is, rather than what could have been, and you’ll still have a very funny, very lighthearted evening of pure entertainment.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile
March 13 to March 29, 2015
Tacoma Little Theatre