Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shrek's Spectacle Delivers Smiles

by Rachel Korach Howell
photos by Shannon Struttmann

Nathan Nelson as Shrek;
Lovar Davis Kidd as Donkey
Cedar Rapids - Shrek the Musical, based on the beloved animated movies, maintains the moral lessons through a lens of infectious humor, well-crafted music, and all around fun.

As I was watching the musical, one thing that became clear to me was the difficulty in putting a new spin on something so cemented in the media - unless the new artist is willing to forego the recognizable qualities that are the purpose for the show’s creation. If one were to make new choices, it wouldn’t be the same story, with the same characters, and the audience would not be getting what they expect and desire to see when purchasing tickets for a show based on their favorite animated film. Imagine if Shrek had a French accent, if Lord Farquaad was on stilts instead of his knees, if Fiona was a brunette. Absolutely shocking and all wrong!

This is most difficult with the character of Shrek. The audience expects Mike Myers and anything short of him is automatically compared to that highest standard. So, what I looked for was if that guy was having fun. The good news? He was. Nathan Nelson (Shrek) had sporadic moments of jerky gesturing, and his voice wasn’t a powerhouse, but his presentation was more than adequate and the character the audience knows and loves was evident in his portrayal. His delivery was honest and you could tell Nelson had a lot of love for his character. However, my favorite song, “Who I’d Be,” which closes the first act, fell a bit flat for me. I love the poetry of it, the honesty within it, the simple dream of acceptance… but the song was rushed and Shrek seemed uncomfortable at times, unable to reach the power I crave in those moments when the character is so vulnerable, self-consciousness, and the rest of the world, just goes away.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Clue Is Madcap Fun, Despite Missed Opportunities

by Matthew Falduto
Photos by Joel T. Lahey

Elijah Jones as Wadsworth;
Zhen E. Rammelsberg as Mrs. Ho
Cedar Rapids - The last time I was in the Scottish Rite Temple, I saw a fantastic production of Waiting for Godot. That was nearly nine years ago. As I found my seat to the preview performance of RHCR's production of Clue: The Play, I noticed that the performance space remains much the same, and it's a bit of a shock more theatre isn't done there, with its raked seating and excellent stage.

Clue: The Play is based on the movie of the same name. The movie, while not very successful commercially, became a cult classic. I approached the play version with some excitement - I consider the movie one the funniest films I've ever seen. It's based on the board game, so as characters we have Mr. Green and Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard. There are a few additional characters not in the game - the butler Wadsworth being the most instrumental to the evening. He guides the action as we learn that all of the guests are there because they're being blackmailed by Mr. Boddy. And then - no surprise - Boddy is murdered and what follows is madcap mayhem as the guests try to figure out "who done it."

A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol Opens November 20

Michael Sheridan, David Q. Combs, and Carrie SaLoutos.
Photo by Lily Allen-Duenas. 
Amana - A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol opens November 20 and runs through December 14 on the Old Creamery’s Main Stage, with shows on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 2:00 pm and on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm. There are three special matinees Friday, November 21, Saturday, December 6 and Saturday, December 13. All special matinees are at 2:00 pm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Christmas Carol Opens November 28

Tim Budd. Photo by James Caldwell.
Iowa City -This holiday season actor Tim Budd will perform Paul Morella's solo adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, November 28 to December 14 at Riverside Theatre. Ron Clark will direct. Audiences will get to experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery of this ghost story through Dickens’ own words in the style that was originally intended. The experience will be made complete with live music by fiddler Tara McGovern (of The Beggarmen).

A Christmas Carol runs Thursday–Sunday, November 28 – December 14, 2014. Tickets: Adults, $28-30; Riverdog Pass Holders, $25; Youth, $18; Student Rush, $20. Details at riversidetheatre.org, or by phone at 319-338-7672. Riverside Theatre is located at 213 N. Gilbert Street, Iowa City, Iowa.

A Christmas Carol is the fourth show of Riverside’s 34th season of professional theatre.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Red Opens November 13

Waterloo/Cedar Rapids - Fourth Room Theatre, in collaboration with Waterloo Community Playhouse, Theatre UNI and UNI Department of Art, presents Red, John Logan’s Tony Award-winning drama about the legendary painter, Mark Rothko.

UNI Acting Professor Richard Glockner portrays Rothko
Matthew James is his assistant, Ken
Angie Toomsen directs with scenic design by Scott Olinger

Crimes of the Heart at Mt. Mercy

Cedar Rapids - Mount Mercy University presents its fall drama production: Crimes of the Heart, Nov. 7-9 in McAuley Theatre on the university’s main campus.

Friday and Saturday’s performances will take place at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday’s performance will be held at 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Volunteers Needed at City Circle

Coralville - Our volunteers are working hard to comb through, purge, sort, catalog and move our enormous supply of costumes and costume-making supplies. We need to be out of our current space and into our new space this weekend, so we'd love to have anyone and everyone pitch in on Saturday [November 8]. Volunteers will be at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. If you have an hour or more to spare, please consider coming by and lending a hand. BONUS: There are many yards of fabric that will be given away to whoever wants them, so if you're a tailor, a quilter, a crafter or a costume creator, or you know someone who is, come claim some part of our fabric surplus! Thanks to all who have already donated time and effort to our cleaning, purging, sorting and moving endeavors!

Source: City Circle newsletter

Auditions for Love and Marriage

Iowa City - OPEN AUDITIONS: Saturday, November 15th 1:00-4:00pm and Sunday, November 16th 4:30-8:00pm.

***Auditions will be very casual. Sides will be provided for Cold Reads***

PERFORMANCES: January 16-25 2015

Dreamwell Remembers Kristallnact

Iowa City - Iowa Hillel and Dreamwell Theatre present The Value of Glass, a special performance remembering Kristallnact, The Night of Broken Glass. The performance will includea short, staged reading based on minutes taken during a meeting of Nazi officials in the days after Kristallnacht. The performance will be followed by a guided discussion with University of Iowa professor Lisa Heineman and a short reception. This free event will take place on Sunday, November 9 at 2:00. The performance will be at Hillel House, 122 E. Market St., Iowa City. The event is also sponsored by the Iowa City Jewish Federation and Agudas Achim Congregation.

Source: Dreamwell Theatre newsletter

Special Performances of A Year with Frog & Toad

Coralville - City Circle's holiday musical A Year With Frog & Toad is well underway, and it's going to be very popular with theatergoers of all ages! Read more about the show on our website. There will be a Student Matinee on Wednesday, December 17 at 12:30 p.m., so if you're a teacher or a school administrator, look into booking seats for your students. Tickets to the Student Matinee are only $5.00. For all other performances, we currently have a discount available: $5.00 off all non-premium tickets purchased before November 14. Use the discount code TREAT to save, but only for ten more days [until November 13]! You can buy tickets here.

Source: City Circle newsletter