Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Year With Frog and Toad is Simply Delightful

By Leah Gehlsen Morlan

Coralville - Produced by City Circle Acting Company, A Year With Frog and Toad is a darling show suitable for all ages. The production is based on the much-loved books by Arnold Lobel and adapted for the musical stage by Willie and Robert Reale. It comprehensively tells the story of besties Frog and Toad over the course of one year, opening and closing with the end of their winter hibernation and including daily interactions with a host of animal friends.

A Year With Frog and Toad is a run-down of the ultra-simple lives of some super-quiet folks, which translates to a full-length song about Toad looking ridiculous in his bathing suit, entitled "Getta Loada Toad" (a number led by the charming Katherine Boothroyd – cast her in your next show, folks), a song about the merits of spending time by oneself, "Alone," and a song about a delicious batch of sweets, expertly entitled "Cookies" (beautifully-timed at the end of Act I, directly before releasing an audience-full of children to wander about the snack-filled lobby during intermission). Frog is the measured and sweet foil to Toad’s curmudgeon with a soft heart. The slice-of-life, day-to-day elements of this play are further strengthened by the way that Frog and Toad navigate them. This is, essentially, a play about two dudes hanging out and living life. And it’s lovely.

Friday, December 12, 2014

ICCT Holding Auditions for 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Iowa City - "Iowa City Community Theatre is holding auditions for:

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Directed By Ken Van Egdon
Musical Direction by Wes Habley

OPEN AUDITIONS: Monday, December 15th 7:00-10:00pm and Tuesday, December 16th 7:00-10:00pm.
Callbacks: Wednesday, December 17th 7:00-10:00pm.
Location: Iowa City Public Library

Monday, December 8, 2014

Camo! Is a Clever Collaboration

By Sharon Falduto
Photos by Emily McKnight

L-R: Kalvin Goodlaxon, Rip Russell, Iver Hovet, Bob Shaffer
Iowa City - Iowa City Community Theatre’s Camo! The Musical is a snapshot of a time in our recent past when men were the men who hunted and wore camouflage, and women were the women who kibitzed and crocheted. It is a joint effort with Combined Efforts Theatre, “Iowa’s only theatre company with a mission purposefully to include individuals with disabilities in compelling and entertaining performances.” CET and ICCT both serve the mission well with this seriocomic piece.

The musical was written by local talents Janet Schlapkohl and Chris Okiishi. How lucky are we to have such world class song and story writers in Iowa City? Camo! dips into many topical subjects — the role of women and men in a changing word, the disconnect between brothers who have different goals in life, racism, the wounds of childhood, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Meet the Crew for WCP'S Seussical

Waterloo – "The Waterloo Community Playhouse has secured several local citizens as crew members to work behind the scenes during its upcoming production of Seussical™.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Camo! The Musical

Mike Wilhelm and Rip Russell. Photo by Emily McKnight.
Iowa City - "Camo! The Musical opens December 5th at ICCT. ICCT is very proud to be collaborating with CET, Iowa’s only theatre company with the mission of purposeful inclusion of individuals with disabilities in compelling and entertaining performances. This fun and original new musical is written and co-directed by CET founder Janet Schlapkohl, with co-director Krista Neumann, and music written by Chris Okiishi.

Free Opera Performances

Coralville - UI School of Music Opera Scenes Program at the CCPA

On Saturday, December 6 at 8pm, The UI School of Music presents an evening of performances from Don Giovanni, HMS Pinafore, Der Rosenkavalier, The Coronation of Poppea, Les Pecheurs de Perles, and A Little Night Music. Free and open to the public.

Source: CCPA press release

A Suessified Christmas Carol

Coralville - "Young Footliters presents A Seussified Christmas Carol

Friday, December 5 at 7pm
Saturday, December 6 at 2pm & 7pm
Hoover Library, 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch

Free Children's Tickets to A Year With Frog and Toad

Coralville -"City Circle Acting Company's holiday production is the delightful family musical A Year With Frog and Toad, adapted by Willie and Robert Reale from the beloved books by Arnold Lobel.

This heartwarming production, directed by Liz Tracey, tells the story of a year in the life of forest neighbors Frog and Toad and their many woodland friends.

To help families share this experience, ACT is sponsoring 100 free children's tickets for the Friday, December 12 performance! These tickets are available to youth under age 18 with the purchase of at least one full-price adult or senior ticket in each party. (Not applicable to previously purchased tickets; not available for premium seating; may not be combined with any other discounts or offers; subject to availability on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Red Is a Work of Art

By James E. Trainor III
Photo courtesy Fourth Room Theatre

L-R: Richard Glockner, Matthew James
Cedar Rapids - There's a small print of an old Rothko hanging near the circulation desk in the library at West High. Whenever I walk past it, I find myself trying to imagine what the students think of it. Do they feel drawn in, madly curious about who the man was and what he meant by this? Or do they merely give it a cursory glance while Facebook loads, and then go back to their phones? To me, the carefully arranged rectangles of color seem out of place, archaic, desperately alone, in need of perhaps a paragraph of text off to the side explaining, giving them context. I often feel this way with the Abstract Expressionists: I feel left out, like I missed the joke, like I'm not smart or sensitive enough to "get" it. It makes me wonder: are we losing something irreplaceable when a great master dies and his work begins to fade? Or are the next Rothkos wandering the halls of our high schools this very moment, thinking in movements and forms we can't even dream of?

In John Logan's Red, which deals with the death and birth of art movements, we have Rothko resurrected to explain his work to us. In Fourth Room's production, directed by Angie Toomsen, Rothko (Richard Glockner) sets his assistant Ken (Matthew James) center stage and explains to him how the paintings work. It's through James' character work that we see the effect of Rothko's paintings and his pontifications; Ken, bored and irritated at the onset, grows first tense, then excited, then chatty and enthusiastic as the master describes his masterpiece. Through Glockner's work we see that Rothko is equally excited; as he ages and watches the world outgrow him, he desperately needs someone to understand why art matters. This theme of the passing of the torch, and the push and pull of different generations, is very prevalent in Red, and some careful relationship work from Glockner and James makes it effective here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Start the Holidays Right with A Christmas Carol

By Genevieve Heinrich
Photos by Bob Goodfellow

Tara McGovern; Tim Budd
Iowa City - You would not be wrong to call me a curmudgeon. Every year, I struggle a bit more with the onset of the holiday season: I wrestle with expanding and contracting faith, I rage against super-sales and unrealistic wish lists, I fight the impact of sad memories (and moreso, sometimes, of happy ones). 'Tis the season of recalling that I am imperfect - that I likely will never buy my daughter the laptop she requests every year, that I will never bake as many Christmas cookies as my mother did, that I've abandoned my family's tradition of elaborately decorated presents in favor of my partner's habit of writing Tos and Froms directly on the wrapping paper, in Sharpie. In short, it's not easy for me to get "into the Christmas spirit."

A Christmas Carol can do it, nearly every time. Charles Dickens' tale of remembrance and redemption can, in its best incarnations, cut through my carefully honed cynicism and remind me to lighten up, already, because we are each of us filled with light. Riverside Theatre's current production is one of these best incarnations. The show is a performance of Paul Morella's adaptation of the story, framed as Dickens himself (Tim Budd) telling us the tale. It is, ostensibly, a one-man show - although, the clever and lovely ways that musician Tara McGovern is woven into the action belie that claim. Riverside's holiday offering is simple and effective: truly fine storytelling.