Performed on the Main Stage of Thalian Hall.
Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon
Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wednesday, September 1 – Sunday, September 5
Friday, September 10 – Sunday, September 12
Schedule Change: Please note that we are running The Secret Garden for two weeks instead of the three we originally announced. Due to scheduling issues at Thalian Hall, we were not able to book the third weekend. Thanks for understanding.
After the death of her parents in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox is sent to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald. Still lost in mourning his wife, Lily, after ten years, Archibald has little interest in his new charge. Lonely and bored, Mary sets about discovering the secrets of the house, from the walled and locked garden to the crying that haunts the manor late at night. When spring comes again, the garden is brought back to life – and so are those who encounter it. The Secret Garden will enchant audiences with its cherished story told anew in an unforgettable musical all about the power of love and the miracle of rebirth.
All performances begin at 8:00 pm EXCEPT for ALL SUNDAY PERFORMANCES,
which are matinees and begin at 3:00 pm.
By John Staton
Of course, we probably wouldn’t care much about “Anything Goes” in 2010 if the songs hadn’t been written by the great Cole Porter. And it’s ultimately the songs, from the smooth and velvety melody of “It’s Delovley” to Kendra Goehring-Garrett’s soulful belting of the title tune, that we take away. It’s certainly not the silly and somewhat formulaic story line, even if it does make some satiric social commentary.
To dispatch with that story line before we get into the good stuff: An ocean liner is making the Atlantic crossing from New York to London, quite an event in its day, but one that lacks cache to the snobby Mrs. Harcourt (Michelle Reiff, perfect). She expects to see some celebrities, and not just the nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Goehring-Garrett), whom she dismisses as merely “notorious.” Mrs. Harcourt’s with her daughter, the sweet if not entirely innocent Hope, played with a sort of endearing blandness by Dorothy Cowan. Hope is engaged to the insufferable British fancy-pants Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Zack Simcoe), who even sniffs at an illuminated moon. (“It’s all right, for what it is”).
But things are about to get more interesting. Billy Crocker (Jason Aycock, likable and steady, as always) is there to see off his boss, the rich, feckless Elisha J. Whitney (Eric Paisley, his comic timing making him a well-deserved crowd fave). Billy had an enchanted evening some weeks back with Hope, so when he runs into her again he decides to stay on the boat despite his lack of ticket or passport, not to mention her impending nuptials.
Also illicitly on board are the gangster Moonface Martin (Dan Morris) and his loud but resourceful moll, Bonnie (Heather Setzler). Over the course of the evening, as Billy tries to hide from/blend in with the ship’s crew he gets mixed up with the gangsters and is later mistaken for their leader, while Reno develops a thing for the uppity Evelyn.
In the style of the day, the songs are only very loosely tied to the story line, but that helps keep things light. One of the big production numbers, “The Heaven Hop,” led by a wonderfully wacked-out Setzler and backed by Reno’s “Angels,” who ain’t exactly purity and light, is a feather-light confection of fun. Another big number, the catchy “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” is rousing and riveting, and speaks more directly to the show’s underlying theme of saints behaving like sinners and vice versa.
Given the religious undertones, which the show plays for laughs while holding up piety for the hypocrisy it often is, it’s instructive that the Act Two-opening “Public Enemy Number One” is done gospel-style. When the passengers and crew think Billy is a gangster named Snake Eyes Johnson (Snake Eyes Johnson!) it’s he whom they really worship.
Elsewhere, Porter, as he’s wont to do, jabs a thumb in the eye of conventionality with mischievous odes to breaking the rules, including “Let’s Step Out” (led, once again, by the effervescent Setzler) and “Let’s Misbehave,” delivered duet-style by Goehring-Garrett and Simcoe. And while they perform well individually and make a good comic team, with Goehring-Garrett playing Reno as a smoldering if somewhat nurturing sexpot, and Simcoe going ever-so-slightly over the top as the clueless English Evelyn, it would’ve been nice to see a bit more romantic chemistry (admittedly hard to conjure with Evelyn written as such a nincompoop).
Likewise, Aycock and Cowan don’t exactly make sparks fly either, even as they sing well individually. But it’s probably tough to get things going with another actress when your fiancée is right there with you on stage. (As announced in the program, Aycock and Setzler are engaged.)
Still, “Anything Goes” is rich enough in fine performances, legitimate laughs (much of the humor is corny, but a couple of moments are truly funny) and great songs that the romantic shortcomings don’t matter much. Morris in particular is a blast to watch as the meat-headed Moonface, and he adds some counter-intuitive panache to his big song, “Be Like the Bluebird” (make that “blue-boid”). Leading a mostly under-whelming chorus is the extraordinary Keith Welborn, adding humor to a couple of small roles and lending his lanky physicality to a number of dance sequences. (Chisholm choreographs as well, and while there’s an occasional energy to the dance numbers, they aren’t quite out of this world.)
Goehring-Garrett has a nice duet with Aycock in the song of superlatives “You’re the Top,” but she really nails her two big tunes, letting her extraordinary voice soar in the moody “I Get a Kick Out of You” and belting out “Anything Goes” with a controlled, emotional abandon.
It’s impossible to kill these songs, but musical director Lorene Walsh’s well-led band can sound a bit thin at times and could probably use a few more members (not likely in this economy). Likewise, The Scenic Asylum’s set is so basic as to be practically minimalist, another outcome that likely stems from a budget this side of blockbuster.
But no matter. For Chisholm and Opera House to come as close as they do to the glamour depicted in “Anything Goes” is an achievement in itself, not to mention that the performers generally capture the decadent, fun-loving spirit of the material.
It might not be 1935 anymore. But watching this show makes one occasionally wish (aside, perhaps, from some unfortunate Chinese stereotypes) that it still was.
By John Staton
Published: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:09 a.m
It’s possible to do the right thing by accident.In “The Music Man,” that’s pretty much what traveling salesman Harold Hill does until, at long last, he finally does the right thing on purpose.
Of course, Opera House Theatre Co.’s entertaining and moving production of the 1950s Meredith Willson classic is no accident. It’s just that director Suellen Yates and company’s earnest efforts make the proceedings appear…READ MORE HERE
Photo by Paul Stephen
By John Staton
Review: 3 stars (out of four)
When: 8 p.m. June 18-19 and 25-26, 3 p.m. June 20 and 27
Where: Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., downtown Wilmington
Details: 632-2285 or www.ThalianHall.org
These days, it seems like our culture changes traditions every few weeks. That’s just the fast-paced world we live in. One hundred years ago, however, change was much slower to happen and people were far more resistant to it, and that’s the world captured in Opera House Theatre Co.’s funny, often moving and occasionally problematic production of musical theater classic “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“Love, it’s the new …READ MORE
By John Staton
As an audience member, I’m not the biggest fan of audience participation. I don’t want to get drug up on stage, be pressured to sing along or be told to throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care.
Which makes my positive feelings for Opera House Theatre Co.’s excellent, entertainment-packed production of “Five Guys Named Moe” that much harder to reconcile with my own basic personality. “Five Guys” is, simply put, a great show. READ MORE HERE
By: MJ Pendleton – May 4th, 2010
FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE
Scottish Rite Temple May 7th-9th, 8pm Sunday matinees, 3pm Tickets: $18-$20 • (910) 343-3664
F“Five Guys Named Moe” is simply spectaculaR! Director Ray Kennedy conducted the orchestra, played the piano, and choreographed the production assisted by Tracy Byrd—and he did it all with astonishing brilliance. This show is so professional it might as well be on Broadway. Kennedy cast the show perfectly; the five Moes are incredibly adorable. Not only are they beautiful, sexy and sensational, they are drop-dead talented.
The women in the audience were literally begging to be brought onstage, which, by the way, is part of the production. Since there are no females in the cast, they have to be recruited from the audience, and songs like “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie” and “Look Out, Sister” entirely depend on audience participation. On Friday night the audience was game—those Moes are difficult to resist! They are so damn cute. These five guys blast off the stage—they can act, sing, dance—they are really all that.
When they put on tap shoes to dance and… READ THE REST HERE
By: MJ Pendleton – February 23rd, 2010
Scottish Rite Temple • 1415 S. 17th St.
Tickets: $20 • (910) 343-3664
The magic in Opera House Theatre Company’s latest show, “Nunsense,” is in the casting, so director Sue Ellen Yates deserves a lot of credit for the standing ovation the musical received on Friday night. Each actor perfectly portrayed and never for a moment stepped out of character. In keeping with the setting of a fund-raiser, held in a Catholic school theater, Kendra Goehring-Garrett (Sister Mary Leo) and Joy Gregory (Sister Mary Hubert) glided serenely through the audience with greetings, smiles, and blessings before the show. The show itself had hilarious stops…READ MORE