I am an author, actor, and attorney living and loving in the DFW (metroplex) area. I love books, theatre, movies, and legalese. I've been in plays, short-films, feature films and when I am not working on my debut novel "Black Scorpion Trilogy Book 1: The Veil", I enjoy reviewing plays for The Column Online and representing the down-trodden in legal matters. Thanks for stopping by. If I can help you in anyway, just let me know. I'm your paraclete. -E-

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Been there....Done that

Hollywood has missed the mark.  I hate remakes.  To me, remaking a movie, screams "lack of originality".  I know I know.  Maybe you can make it better or place your 'stamp' on it.  Bottom line is, it is still a remake.  A copy.  A been there...done that kind of deal.  Today I read an article about Kate Beckinsale in a remake of 'Total Recall'.  It was actually an article about how her stunt double looks just like her.  Go figure.  Anyway, it mentioned it was for a remake of 'Total Recall'.  I like Kate Beckinsale as much as the next guy.  She is fairly hot.  But enough is enough.  Please, Hollywood, for the love of the '80s stop remaking movies.  So far I have heard that there is a remake of War Games in the works.  Shall we play a game?  Yea, it was cool the first time because we were in that, new age of computers thing where we could be duped into thinking that could happen with computers.  What young computer enthusiast, didn't run out and try to find a war-dialer so they could randomly call computers?  Or Red Dawn?  Wow.  Everytime we went camping after that someone would run through the woods yelling 'Wolverines!'  Now they aim to remake that as well.  Sigh.  Maybe it's about nostalgia.  Maybe they think that those of us that grew up in the 80's will rush with our kids in tow to watch a remake of a movie we were enthralled by.  I doubt it.  I for one see that it is a remake and I check the 'will wait for DVD box'.  Has the well of originality finally gone dry in Hollywood?  I saw a statistic that said that every year 300,000 scripts are submitted to movie companies.  And we get remakes of War Games, Total Recall, and Red Dawn to name a few? Sigh. (did I say that already?)  There are great movies out there to be seen...to be made...  Let's get to it.


I'm in the process of redesigning my blog.  I figured "Difficult Times" was a little oft-putting so I went with Legal E.  Let me know what you think.  Basically going to try and cover whatever suits my fancy. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Theatre Review - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels


Book by Jeffrey Lane, Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek
Runway Theatre

Director/Music Director – Byron Holder
Choreographer – Mallory Brophy
Stage Manager – Abel Casillas
Set Designer – Byron Holder
Set Artist – Jody Phifer
Set Dressing – Abel Casillas
Prop Design – Abel Casillas and Byron Holder
Lighting Designer – Chris Wyatt and Billy Sczcurek
Costume Designer – Christy Griser
Sound Designer – Abel Casillas


Keyboard – Byron Holder
Drums – Randy Lindberg
Bass players – Steve Cullen and Enrique Olachea


Lawrence – Malcolm Beaty
Freddy – Jack Agnew
Andre – Greg Kozakis
Christine – Laura Alley
Muriel – Liz Woodcock
Jolene – Mallory Brophy
Ensemble – Jack Bristol, Mallory Brophy, Andrew Burns,
Melissa Couture, Andrew Derasough, Ashley Fourcand,
Abby Hardy, Claire Stewart, and Wyatt Tackel

Reviewed performance on July 10, 2011

Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

______________________DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS____________________

Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Theatre Critic
for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Oh what joy the audience will see, when these characters practice to deceive!

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels by Runway Theatre is ALL about the CON. Lawrence is a suave, smooth talking con man with a pretty sweet set up in Beaumont Sur Mer in the French Riviera. With his sidekick Chief of Police Andre, Lawrence, with subtlety and charm, relieves various rich debutantes of their precious valuables. The year is going well for Lawrence until the vulgar American shyster Freddy steps off the boat. From the first meeting in the cafe between Lawrence and Freddy to the final reckoning, the two get along like oil and water.

Lawrence detests Freddy's crude attempts at conning women and would like nothing more than to see Freddy move on down the coast. Freddy, after discovering that Lawrence is much more of a successful con man than himself, desires to have all the "Great Big Stuff" that Lawrence has. Freddy blackmails Lawrence into teaching him the big cons. After a con goes awry Lawrence and Freddy decide that the town is not big enough for two con artists and wage a bet for the fate of Beaumont. The bet? Be the first to swindle $50,000 from Christine the "Soap Queen". Winner takes all.

From the opening act with Lawrence's (Malcolm Beaty) sly smile and finger snapping spotlight to the dirty rotten finale, Runway Theatre exploded with energy and taste. The red curtain split, slid back and the stage was set for some hilarious hi-jinks. The set design was artfully crafted – a two story stage with stairs descending in the back. At times during the musical the left wall was rotated perpendicular to the main set in order to block off a hotel room. Both the main set and the rotating wall were beautifully painted and masterfully designed. This was an elegant, tasteful resort.

The costumes added to the overall atmosphere of the musical. The costumes for the main characters were predictable yet remarkably done. Lawrence wore several suits that fit nicely. Freddy was clothed in shorts, sports coat and some tennis shoes. Appropriate for a shyster. Jolene was clad in a cowgirl type outfit, Muriel was adorned in fancy evening gowns and Christine was wrapped in a dress. Some of the ensemble cast played background extras and milled around during some scenes wearing appropriate attire such as suits or evening gowns, depending on the scene.

However, when the music started, the ensemble cast would burst forth in choreographed dance and swirl and sway across the stage. It was riveting. Sometimes the ensemble cast would be upstairs on the balcony or down front twirling and spinning. In some musicals the choreography and ensemble cast generally took a back seat to the main action but Runway Theatre co-mingled the two well. One of the more hilarious moments was when the door to the hotel room opened and the ensemble cast was standing there singing. It was priceless.

Malcolm Beaty gave a wonderful performance as Lawrence. His sly smile lit up the set. At first I wasn't sure if Beaty was going to be able to pull it off. I admit I was biased by Michael Caine's performance in the film version on which this musical is based on. All concern fell away the moment Beaty began "What They Want". His inflections and mannerisms set the tone for his character throughout the musical. His singing was artful and full of energy. There were a few times the music seemed too loud and the lyrics were lost but for the vast majority of the musical Beaty projected well and made the character his own.

Jack Agnew must have taken Beaty's performance as a personal challenge and gave a stunning portrayal as Freddy. Agnew played the comedic role well. Even when he was passed out on the floor as Ruprecht (Freddy in disguise) or sitting idly by watching Lawrence at work Agnew was fully engaged with the audience. It was remarkable watching Beaty and Agnew as they played off each other during the more comedic scenes.

Mallory Brophy was amazing as Jolene. Brophy put in a lot of work on this musical. She played Jolene, the rich debutante from Oklahoma, choreographed the dance routines, and she was also in the ensemble cast. Her rendition of "Oklahoma" was a blast. The energy was contagious and the moment the ensemble cast joined her on stage in their cowboy/cowgirl outfits it was a boot stomping, heel kicking good time. It was like watching Elly Mae Clampett dance across the French Riviera. Yee Haw!

On the other hand, Muriel, played by Liz Woodcock, was the epitome of opulence. Her songs were more subdued and emotional. Woodcock did an outstanding job. She brought a sense of charm and sophistication to the character.

Laura Alley played Christine, the "Soap Queen" and mark for Lawrence and Freddy's con game. Alley's singing was top rate and her acting was wonderful. She showed an incredible range and depth, from her comedic "Here I Am" where she knocked people over at every turn, to the more sincere "Nothing Is Too Wonderful To Be True".

Andre, the French Chief of Police played by Greg Kozakis, was both charming and humorous. Kozakis's French accent never seemed to falter. His songs were fluid and graceful. One of his most memorable songs was "Chimp In A Suit". However, Kozakis seemed unable to decide where to place his hands during dialogue. When he wasn't speaking or when someone was speaking to him his hands displayed a life of their own. They gripped the side of his sport coat and then down to his sides and back again.

Runway Theater put on an excellent performance of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. All the elements of a great musical came together for the enjoyment of the audience. The light hearted songs, quirky characters and a sound story pushed it all forward. The cast did an amazing job of singing, dancing and having fun. The joy with which they performed this particular musical showed on all their faces. If you are looking for a fun, fresh, lively and entertaining evening of music, don't get conned by other musicals. Go see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Theatre Critic
for John Garcia's THE COLUMN


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Runway Theatre, 215 North Dooley Street, Grapevine, TX 76051
Runs through July 31, 2011

Friday & Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm

For tickets and information, please call 817-488-4842 or go
to www.runwaytheatre.com


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Theatre Review - RENT


Book, Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre

Directors – Wendy Barrett & Wendi Brozek
Music Director – Margaret Miller
Choreographer – Brandon Harvey
Stage Manager – Cody Williams
Technical Director/Lights – John Damian, Sr.
Sound/Projection – Shawn Lundy
Costumes – Nancy Birkett
Costume Assistants – Katie Birkett & Bryan Carroll
Video Production – Kelvin Baugh & Kris Henderson
Set Artists – Ron Givens & Brian Scott Hampton
Set Crew – Adam Honore', Grant Williams
Spotlight – Chris Buras


Keyboard – Margo Dillard
Drums – Paul Jaso
Guitar – Jason Smith
Bass – John Macintyre


Mark Cohen – Brandon Ford
Roger Davis – Lance Morse
Tom Collins – Ecko Wilson
Angel Dumott Schunard – Michael McCray
Benjamin Coffin III, "Benny" – Rob Findlay
Mimi Marquez – Caroline Dubberly
Maureen Johnson – Kelsey Macke
Joanne Jefferson – Octavia Y. Thomas

Ensemble – Josh Bradford, Tony Capps, Lindsey Hall, Rhiannon
Houston, Danielle Martin, Matthew Purvis, Justin Reed,
Fatima Rodriguez, Dustin Simington, Maryann Williams

Reviewed performance on July 8, 2011

Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia's THE COLUMN


Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Theaer Critic
for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

"Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?" (Seasons of Love)

How do you measure a year? That's the question that Greater Lewisville Community Theatre (GLCT) answers with their production of RENT.

RENT is the story of a year in the life of a group of friends and artists living in New York City. A story of hopes and dreams. A story of friendship and of loss amid the chaos of AIDS in their community.

The story follows long time friends Mark Cohen and Roger Davis who share a slum apartment. They live in New York City and spend their days following their dreams. Roger Davis dreams of writing the one great song while Mark Cohen lives his life through the lens of a camera. The rent hasn't been paid in over a year and their one time friend Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III, after marrying into a rich family, buys both the building and the lot next door with hopes of tearing it down and building a recording studio. Meanwhile another long time friend Maureen Johnson, an eccentric performer, determines to save both the building and the make-shift tent city of homeless that are squatting in the lot next door.

RENT is a big production and challenge for any theatre. GLCT accepted the challenge. The set design was well crafted given the size of the venue. At times the stage seemed cramped with all actors and ensemble cast present. However GLCT made good use of the rows in between seats for actors to enter and exit the stage. The set represented the apartment, the lot and other locations with minimal alterations. A few pieces of furniture were moved on and off to give the impression of different locations. The set artists and crew did a wonderful job with painting graffiti. I especially enjoyed the giant creature painted on the back wall.

The costumes were great. The homeless had appropriately tattered clothing while the main characters were decked out in their traditional garb. Mark had a striped shirt, flannel jacket, scarf and a vintage camera. Roger had a long sleeve shirt, jeans, leather jacket and a guitar. A stand out was the clothing of Angel Dumott Schunard. It was outrageous and over the top, befitting that of an eccentric cross dresser.

RENT is traditionally a difficult musical to perform. The characters run a gambit of emotions through the year and need to show both the highs and lows with equal energy.

The cast did an admirable job. The musical was very energetic and the songs were sung with enthusiasm. Brandon Ford did a great job in his portrayal of Mark Cohen. His gestures and mannerisms worked well for the character. Ford had a talent for acting and did this part well. However, Ford's soft voice was difficult to hear over the orchestra. RENT had some powerful songs, with deep meaning. The words were important. As a main character, Mark was instrumental in bringing out that deep meaning. It was lost. Ford's soft voice was also overshadowed during the duets and ensemble pieces. It was as if during the songs the character just faded to the background.

Lance Morse put in a strong performance as Roger Davis. Roger was one of the more difficult characters in RENT due to his moodiness and his personal story arc of lost and then found love. Morse did it well. He gave a believable performance of angst and sorrow. Mournful yet hopeful, Morse displayed his emotions in both song and verse. There were a few times that his songs were off key but he projected well so it didn't impact the depth of soul.

From the moment that Tom Collins (Ecko Wilson) and Angel Dumott Schunard (Michael McCray) hit the stage it was magic. Wilson and McCray performed as if they were old friends. The characters' love for each other was a main point running through the story and it was felt. Every time Wilson and McCray sang a duet the audience held their breath in anticipation. McCray did a phenomenal job in his portrayal of Angel. He was outrageous when he needed to be and calm, patient and caring during the lows. His performance of "Today 4 U" was a pleasure to watch. The energy with which McCray filled the theatre was astounding. He was jumping up on tables and off the stairs - in heels. Wilson gave a stable performance throughout the musical but really shone in the final "I'll Cover You". With tears streaming down his face Wilson said goodbye to his love. Powerful.

Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III was portrayed by Rob Findlay. Findlay did well in the character. In a cast of deep, highly emotional characters, Benny just seemed like an afterthought. The other characters vilified Benny but I never got to the point where I saw him as the villain.

Caroline Dubberly played Mimi Marquez, the love interest addict of Roger Davis. Dubberly did an outstanding job. She was a sexy, provocative temptress. Dubberly got the point across well. There were a few times, as with Ford's singing, that her songs were lost to the orchestra. It may have been due to her placement on stage or concentration on dancing. The times that I lost her voice she was grinding on the back steps nearest the orchestra. However, the songs she shared with Morse were beautiful. The two shared a wide depth of emotion in their duets.

Kelsey Macke, who played Maureen Johnson, was a breath of fresh air. Her rendition of "Over the Moon" was one of the highlights of the musical. Macke's animated performance left the audience in stitches. She brought a much needed light-heartedness to an emotionally raw story.

An undersold character was Joanne Jefferson (Octavia Y. Thomas), the lesbian love interest for Maureen. Thomas played the character well but I don't believe she reached the peak. Thomas underutilized her range and depth. In the duet with Mark (Ford), "Tango Maureen", she was able to overpower Ford's soft spoken voice but her duet with Maureen, "Take Me or Leave Me", left me wanting more. The exchange between Maureen and Joanne was a one-sided domination by Maureen (Macke).

This musical would not be complete without the awesome energy of the ensemble cast. The ensemble cast added to the overall experience. From homeless people to drug addicts to police officers, the ensemble cast filled in the gaps to form a complete story. Their pace, projection and vocals were impressive.

RENT was a story about heart, passion and living your dreams. GLCT brought this story to life with its own passion. Should you see it? Definitely. The songs were passionate. The story was filled with emotion. You will leave GLCT with tears in your eyes and hope in your heart.

Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Theater Critic
for John Garcia's THE COLUMN


Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
160 W. Main Street, Lewisville, TX 75057

Runs through July 31st
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm

For tickets and information please call 972-221-SHOW (7469) or
go to www.glct.org.