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-

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

THE 7 - Theatre Review


THE 7-An Original Creation by Sundown Collaborative Theatre


Erysichton/Ensemble – Jerome Beck
Daphne/Ensemble – Candace Cockerham
Persephone/Ensemble – Marti Etheridge
Sisyphus/Ensemble – George Ferrie
Marigold/Ensemble – Kelsey Macke
Eurydice/Ensemble – Tashina Richardson
Phaethon/Ensemble – Nicholas Ross

Stage Manager – Jessica Dunkley
Lighting Design – Natalie Taylor

Reviewed performance on September 15th, 2012

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

_____________________________THE 7_______________________________

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

Unlike other plays where the audience sits back and watches a story unfold, The 7 by Sundown Collaborative Theatre is an emotionally, visceral experience that demands intellectual attendance. The 7 is an original creation by Sundown Collaborative Theatre based on the 7 deadly sins set against a backdrop of Greek mythology.

The set design and costumes were minimalist in nature, keeping the heart and soul of this production grounded in the performances of the actors and ensemble. The performance was held in the Green Space Arts Collective building. The stage encompassed the entire dance studio giving the performers ample room for display.

The set consisted of a few black curtained areas and a large white curtained area. During the performance the cast would enter the large white curtain area with a back light allowing their shadows to be cast on the white curtain. This often times represented the underworld or the gateway to the underworld.

The costumes consisted of black outfits in various forms (shorts, pants, skirts, etc.) with one colored piece of clothing denoting the main character of each segment. As the segments changed the "new" main character would don a colored item such as a red scarf or purple shirt. The simplicity of it was remarkably well done and allowed the audience to easily follow who the main character was.

The first segment, Wrath, involves the Greek story of Persephone. In the story, Persephone is aggressively shielded by her mother from the world. Persephone is not allowed to love, laugh or live. This sheltering sends Persephone into a wrathful rage resulting in death and destruction. Marti Etheridge did an excellent job portraying the wrathful Persephone. Marti's angry outbursts and high energy conveyed the frustrations of Persephone well. The ensemble cast performed well in their roles of love interests and supporting characters. The only downside to the segment was the god of the underworld played by Candace Cockerham. The god of the underworld part was down played and the impact was lost on the audience. It resulted in the god of the underworld becoming just another face in the endless parade of characters on stage.

The next segment, Gluttony, revolves around Erysichthon, played by Jerome Beck, who is cursed with insatiable gluttony for cutting down a sacred tree. Beck was at top form in his portrayal. His anguished cries and pleas at his plight were intense. You could feel the frustration of his character at not being able to satisfy his hunger. You could see the intensity in Beck's arms as he clenched his fists in outrage at his situation. For the most part this segment was a monologue for Beck, but one stand out ensemble moment was when the cast formed a moaning, whispering tree with gnarled branches that was simply outstanding. It was elegant and creepy at the same time. As the branches swayed and the whispering moans echoed throughout the theatre you could feel a sense of sad humanity as Beck extolled, "It was just a piece of wood…right?"

The third segment, Sloth, is an interpretative dance piece centered on the Greek story of Daphne, played by Candace Cockerham, and Apollo, played by Nicholas Ross. The story, as told, involves Daphne, who is shot with the arrow of apathy, being pursued by Apollo, who is shot with the arrow of love. The opposing feelings drive Daphne to avoid the situation by transforming into a tree. The ensemble cast in this segment played trees that beckoned and swayed for Daphne to join them while blocking Apollo from his goal. The dance routines were fair and unpolished. The facial expressions of both Cockerham and Ross were performed admirably. In each embrace with Ross, Cockerham's face expressed true apathy while Ross's face portrayed only desire. The segment is akin to a battle for one woman's soul. As Apollo attempts to win the love of Daphne, the trees block and counter each attempt. The frustration builds until the final culmination of Daphne becoming a tree. Ross did an excellent job of conveying his loss as he bestowed one final kiss and consigned himself to becoming part of Daphne's tree.

The fourth segment, Lust, is the Greek story of Eurydice played by Tashina Richardson who sheds her lustful past when love is bestowed upon her by Orpheus, played by Kelsey Macke. When Eurydice is dragged to the underworld, Orpheus attempts to save her. In this segment the ensemble cast played agents of the underworld who spirit away Eurydice. Richardson did an amazing job portraying the lustful Eurydice. At the end, when she is extolling her love for Orpheus you could see the tears and anguish on her face as she attempts to climb from the underworld to once again relish in the true love bestowed upon her. Kelsey Macke did a wonderful job playing the guitar and singing. Nicholas Ross' bongo drums added a moody rhythmic component to the segment that only seemed to increase the intensity.

The fifth segment, Envy, was the story of Phaeton, played by Nicholas Ross. Phaeton is the son of the sun god and his only desire is to drive his father's chariot. His father, played by George Ferrie refuses. The ensemble cast portrayed the chariot. Nicholas Ross did an excellent job at portraying Phaeton as the envious youth only wanting what he wanted without realizing the consequences. Ross's facial expressions and youthful exuberance in trying to convince his father to let him drive the chariot were often times comical. In fact, this segment was the only one to receive any laughter during the entire performance. The performances were exaggerated and fit well within the framework of the story. The style, along with flash cards for dialogue, mirrored an old black and white silent film era.

The sixth segment, Greed, is the story of King Midas' daughter Marigold, portrayed by both Marti Etheridge and Kelsey Macke. In this segment the ensemble cast portrayed the king's loyal subjects as well as the surrounding landscape. The most memorable being that of the stream that the king and Marigold walk next too. The stream was complete with rippling water made real by the undulating arms and fingers of the ensemble. Etheridge played Marigold as Kelsey Macke voiced Marigold through narration. The king was portrayed by Jerome Beck. Macke did an amazing job as Marigold. She started out slowly, as if telling a story about someone else, and then peaked at her rage at being turned back into "normal". The facial expressions and body language was perfectly attuned to the character. When she was gold and amazed at her beauty, Macke's eyes gleamed bright-eyed with a childlike innocence. When she was returned to normal her voice saddened and she became disgusted at her father's "selfishness" at wanting his daughter back only to be denied once again. Her character ran the gambit of emotions and Macke was strong every step of the way. This segment, compared to the others, went a little too long and the impact of the finality was lost.

The final segment, Pride, was the story of Sisyphus played by George Ferrie. According to the notes, Sisyphus was a king that took pleasure in tricking, torturing and killing people. Upon his death, because of his pride, he was forever forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill and watch it roll back down. In this segment Ferrie portrayed Sisyphus well. His facial expressions changed with each victim he came in contact with. The ensemble cast played the victims of his killing rampage. Ferrie was a gifted expressionist and was able to convey with a mere glance the intention of his character. Whether it was lust or murder, Ferrie did an admirable job portraying that feeling without uttering a word. The story was basically Sisyphus torturing and killing people over and over again. The story culminated when the dead grappled onto Sisyphus and attempted to pull him down. The issue with the boulder was lost during the story and I was left feeling that the segment was somehow incomplete.

The performance included a finale where each actor came forward and gave a brief monologue regarding the sin that he or she portrayed. The finale was definitely worth listening too and invited the audience to look harder at sins and look deeper into their own souls.

The performance was only about an hour long but the impact, if allowed, could last a lifetime. The performers were spent and you could tell that all their energy was left on the stage. As the audience left it felt as if we had been there for days. Fighting. Loving. Languishing. Performance art is designed to inspire. It is designed to peak curiosity and engage the senses. The 7 by Sundown Collaborative Theatre did exactly that.

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


Sundown Collaborative Theatre
Green Space Arts Collective, 529 Malone, Denton, TX 76201
8pm September 14th – 16th and 20th-23rd, 2012

$8.00 students $10.00 General Admission
For reservations and more information, call 940-220-9302
Or go to www.sundowntheatre.com.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Egypt & Libya

I usually don't get mainstream or political but correct me if I'm wrong.  I think we could just scale back the scope of things and view everything from a small town neighborhood perspective.  So, on 9/11 Muslims "protesting" attacked US Embassies and killed 4 Americans.  They attacked embassies in Egypt and Libya.  I read an article that said the protests were because an Israeli film-maker made an anti-islam film and talked smack about Mohammed.  This may or may not be true.  It seems convenient that it happened on 9/11.  Looks more like an attack calculated on the day of the previous attacks as a violent remembrance...a sort of candle light vigil with rocket propelled grenades.  Either way here is my issue:

Say you had a neighbor.  This neighbor was difficult to deal with and at times confrontational.  This neighbor has never really been the "ideal" neighbor and sometimes you wonder why you have any dealings with them at all.  This neighbor lives in part of the neighborhood that you would like to have more "friends" in so you tolerate their outbursts.  Ok.  So you decide you need to store some stuff at this neighbors house.  They let you put it in their garage and offer to take care of it. 
Thieves break in and trash your neighbors house.  You offer to help clean it up. 
The following week the Cowboys lose (or any pro, college or whatever team) and this neighbor goes into the garage, takes a baseball bat and smashes your stuff.  Then the neighbor calls you and tells you that you suck, you are evil and they never wanted your help in the first place.
Is that too simple?  Am I getting this wrong? Oh wait...thats right...there is probably something in there about oil reserves or stuff like that but come on people...4 dead. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Theatre Review - You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown


Books, Music and Lyrics by Clark Genser
Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer
Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
ONSTAGE in Bedford

Directed by Lon D. Barrera
Musical Director – Kristin Spires
Choreographer – ReEtta Roever
Stage Manager – Amanda Arnold
Costume Designer – Derek Whitener
Additional Costumes – Marcus Lopez
Wig Master – Heather Permenter
Lighting Designer – Cris Blake
Set Designer – Alex Krus
Properties Master – Amanda Arnold


Linus Van Pelt – Connor Thompson
Charlie Brown – Derek C. Whitener
Sally Brown – Kim Borge
Lucy Van Pelt – Leah Clark
Schroeder – Wes Cantrell
Snoopy – Zak Dacus Reynolds
Miss Othmar – Melissa Spell

Reviewed performance on August 10th, 2012

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

________________YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN_________________

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

Good Grief! The musical, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown by ONSTAGE in Bedford was fantastic. Admittedly, at first I was fairly skeptical
on whether a comic strip would make a good musical. In fact, I remarked to my wife on whether or not it would be any good. After the performance, I was sold. ONSTAGE in Bedford made a believer out of me. The musical, which is based on the Peanuts comic strip, was incredible.

The moment we stepped into the theater to take our seats it was like stepping into the comic strip. The set design by Alex Krus was amazing. Krus was able to capture the simplistic artistic style of the comic strip. Charles Schulz would have been proud. The seats that the actors sat upon were boxes painted in similar fashion to their costumes. It was a nice touch to brighten up what might have otherwise been bland boxes. The right side of the stage had a revolving wall that supported Snoopy's doghouse and several signature pieces were moved on and off the stage, including a picture perfect replica of Lucy's psychiatric help desk and Schroeder's mini-piano. Just the look and feel of the set screamed Peanuts.

The costume design by Derek Whitener was well done. The moment each character stepped on stage it was apparent who they were. From Charlie Brown's signature yellow and black shirt to Lucy's iconic blue dress, each character was a living embodiment of the comic strip.

The acting and singing was phenomenal. Derek Whitener gave an amazing
performance as Charlie Brown. He seemed very capable of channeling the whining and down trodden spirit of Charlie Brown. His facial expressions were often tell-tale signs of his angst and frustration at his situation. However, Whitener was also able to get across Charlie Brown's indomitable, never give up attitude.

Connor Thompson, as Linus Van Pelt, did a remarkable job. The slight lisp with which he spoke and the shy way he carried the character was a perfect representation of the immature and youthful naiveté of the character. Thompson's song "My Blanket and Me" was one of the better songs in the musical. It felt heartfelt and sincere and you could feel how important a blanket might be.

Kim Borge, as Sally Brown, also did a wonderful job. Sally is quite possibly the youngest character in the musical and Borge performed the role well. Between her high-pitched voice and the constant twitching motion with which she stood, it was easy to imagine a 4 or 5 year-old child. The highlight of the musical was the "Rabbit Chasing" song. The interaction between Sally and Snoopy during this number was very entertaining and performed with a high amount of energy.

Leah Clark did an outstanding job as the crabby Lucy Van Pelt. Lucy was probably the only other character, aside from Charlie Brown, that really ran the gambit of emotions. From her love for Schroeder to the acknowledgement that she was a crabby person, Lucy was on an emotional roller coaster. Clark performed each high and low well.

Wes Cantrell portrayed Schroeder very well. He kept accurate time on his piano with the orchestra and his performance of "Beethoven Day" was inspired. Cantrell did a wonderful job interacting with Lucy and her constant unwanted advances, and his "Book Report" was priceless.

Zak Dacus Reynolds' portrayal of Snoopy was inspired. Reynolds had the audience laughing at every turn. Whether in song or just making faces in the background, Reynolds played the character with energy and exuberance. "Suppertime" was a truly inspired musical number and I could imagine that this is my dog's exact reaction when he is fed. The only downside to the musical was the way too long "Red Baron Fight". As Snoopy sat atop his doghouse and fought the Red Baron in his plane the scene seemed to drag on and the dialogue was difficult to hear over the sound effects and music.

Last but not least, I have to give a nod to Melissa Spell who did the voice of the teacher Miss Othmar. The voice was spot on from the television show and a perfect addition to the classroom scene with Sally.

Lon D. Barrera did an amazing job directing this cast. The actors seemed to know exactly where to stand and maintained good eye contact with the audience. They were able to converse with each other and still engage the audience. However, a downside to the direction was when Snoopy stood upon his dog house or when Lucy stood upon the large wooden chair their faces were often times obscured from view and lost in the darkness.

ReEtta Roever did a superb job choreographing the dances. The actors danced and careened across the stage with elegance and poise. There were a few who even attempted the signature Charlie Brown dance which was a humorous addition.

The whole musical was filled with energy and laughter. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown by ONSTAGE in Bedford is family friendly and a perfect way to spend an evening.

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


ONSTAGE in Bedford
Trinity Arts Theater, 2819 Forest Ridge Drive, Bedford, TX 76021
Runs through September 2nd

Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm
Tickets are $15.00 regular, $12.00 seniors, students and
Bedford residents.

For reservations and more information, call 817-354-6444
or go to www.onstageinbedford.com.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Global Alien Apocalypse....

I hope it happens.  That's right.  I put it out there.  I'm hoping for a Global Alien Apocalypse...not the kind that comes from Obama legalizing thousands of illegal immigrants (which is, according to some, what will happen).  No.  I'm talking about the kind like V or Falling Skies.  True, born on another planet extraterrstrials coming to Earth to slap our silly culture around.  Why you ask?  Why would I be hoping for that?  Unity.  I watch those shows (fan of the original V not the remake) and there we are...bands of freedom fighters trying to save the Earth and all humanity from some impending destruction.  We are not squabbling over this or that...we are fighting, together, as one force.  A force to be reckoned with.  Imagine if, as a whole, the world came together to battle a destructive force bent on destroying Humanity and all of Earth...  You would fight.  You would fight hard.  You would fight to the end.  You would fight shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you and it would never occur to you that that person was black, white, red, muslim, hindu, atheist, christian or whatever other negative label you put on them.  They would simply be someone covering your a$$  Why?  Because it wouldn't matter.  Those things don't matter when facing extinction.

Live as if you are facing extinction.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Theater Review - BLUE MAN GROUP

Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:35 am (PDT) . Posted by: "John" thecolumnbyjohngarcia

John Garcia's THE COLUMN-Friday June 29, 2012


follow The Column Awards - @thecolumnawards Get up to the
minute information about The Column Awards and other
arts organizations in the DFW metroplex!





Sten-Erik Armitage
Heather Alverson
Kayla Barrett
Chad Bearden
Richard Blake
Charlie Bowles
Mary Clark
Cheryl Cory
Bonnie K. Daman
Jenna Doran
David Hanna
Lyle Huchton
Chris Jackson
Grant James
Shelley Kaehr
Laurie Lynn Lindemeier
Danny Macchietto
Eric A. Maskell
Jeremy W. Osborne
Ashlea Palladino
Elaine Plybon
Christopher Soden
Mark-Brian Sonna



Created, Written and Directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton
and Chris Wink
Bass Performance Hall

Directed by Marcus Miller and Blue Man Group

Production/Lighting Design – Joel Moritz
Costume Design – Chase Taylor
Sound Design – Matt Koenig
Video Design – Caryl Glaab and Blue Man Group
Blue Man Character Costume – Patricia Murphy
Recorded Sound Design and Music Supervisor – Todd Perlmutter
Associate Creative Director – Michael Quinn
Production Supervisor – Kori Prior
Music Director – Byron Estep
Associate Director – Michael Dahlen
Production Manager – Jason Juenker
Production Stage Manager – Lizz Giorgos
Head Carpenter – Dan Sylvia

Blue Man –
Kalen Allmandinger
Kirk Massey
Peter Musante
Michael Rahhal
Bhurin Sead
Brian Tavener

Julian Cassanetti
Jerry Kops
Michael A. Petrucci
Chris Reiss
Ramsey Roustom
Clement J. Waldman, III

Reviewed performance on June 26th, 2012

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

_________________________BLUE MAN GROUP_______________________

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

Incrediblue…..simply Incrediblue.

I know it is not a word, but there is simply no other way to describe the incredible performance by the Blue Man Group. If you have ever been to a Blue Man Group concert then you understand what I'm talking about. If you haven't been to one….What are you waiting for? The Blue Man Group is an awesome, intoxicating feast for the senses and there is simply no better venue than the Bass Performance Hall.

There are no bad seats in Bass Hall. The design of the theater allows a differing vantage point from every location but maintains the closeness and warmth of local theater. Additionally, the acoustics in Bass Hall are superb. The music envelops you in a sea of sound that literally comes from everywhere.

The Blue Man Group was originally founded in 1987 by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink. In its most simplistic form, it involves a trio of Blue Men playing drums, games and PVC pipe musical instruments of their own creation. The energy level of the theater is high the minute the lights go down and the music starts. Each Blue Man, while being clad in the same attire as the rest, still maintains their personality and their own on stage persona. Sometimes the funniest reactions are based on a Blue Man's facial expression of awe and wonder at something as simple as a purse.

The music is a mixture of techno and rock with some heavy drum beats. The musicians, while not dressed in Blue Man costumes, are every bit a part of the performance as the Blue Men. The costumes worn by the musicians are colorful and react well with the black lights used in the performance, giving the musicians an other-worldly glow.

The entire performance is more akin to a party than anything else. The Blue Man Group plays heavily to the audience and encourages group participation at certain points in their performance. They cover a vast range of performance art, from painting to different musical styles. The set was a scaffolding array that had large movable screens that allowed the Blue Men to interact with their electronic personas in what can only be described as mesmerizing.

I agree with the advertisements that state "Experience the Phenomenon". There is only one way to truly get a feel for the Blue Man Group and that is through experience. The worst part about the performance is the short run. This phenomenon only lasts through July 1st, 2012 so you better get your Blue on…fast.

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


Bass Performance Hall, 4th and Calhoun Streets
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Runs through July 1st

Tickets are $38.50 - $99.00.

For further information, go to www.basshall.com. To purchase
tickets by phone please call the Bass Hall Box Office at
817-212-4280 or toll-free at 1-877-212-4280.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012



Circle Theatre

Director – Harry Parker
Stage Manager – Sarahi Salazar
Set Design – Clare Floyd DeVries
Properties Design – Meredith Hinton
Costume Design – Drenda Lewis
Lighting Design – John Leach
Sound Design – David H.M. Lambert
Puppet Design & Fabrication – Pix Smith


Felix Artifex – Steven Pounders
Esther – Lana K. Hoover

Reviewed performance on June 9th, 2012

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

_________________________MISTAKES WERE MADE________________________

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

Mistakes Were Made by Circle Theatre was a high energy romp through a theatre producer's day from hell. If it could go wrong for Felix Artifex, then this was the day for it. Mistakes Were Made, written by Craig Wright, essentially follows a day in the life of Felix Artifex - a bad day. Felix is a New York-based, Broadway producer who is attempting to produce "Mistakes Were Made", a brand new play about the French Revolution.

The play opens with Felix Artifex attempting to finalize a deal with a popular movie actor. In Felix's mind, if he can sign the mega-star to the Broadway play then the play's success is virtually guaranteed.

There would just be a few "minor" hurdles to overcome, such as financing the project and the actor's demands. The problems, like a pressure cooker, slowly begin to mount as Felix attempts to put out one fire after another. Can Felix get the actor, get the financing, and finish the production or will the house of cards all come crashing down around him?

Clare Floyd DeVries set design was well done. The play took place in Felix Artifex's office in New York. The office was very well detailed
with a desk, sofa and some chairs. The back wall was covered with books as well as a window. Circle Theatre did an excellent job of utilizing their space. At first glance I was concerned that the large black pillars that supported the theatre would be a hindrance to viewing. However, the choreography and movement was well staged and Steven Pounders played to the audience at every turn.

The costume design by Drenda Lewis was excellent. Felix Artifex wore a suit with suspenders, and when you finally saw Esther; her costume was appropriate and believable as a receptionist. Pix Smith's puppet design for Denise was very good and the puppetry was well choreographed.

Steven Pounders was superb in his portrayal of Felix Artifex. The play was ninety minutes with no intermission and Pounders had energy every step of the way. His performance was like a slowly building symphony of destruction. As each new problem arose, Pounders performance got more and more animated until finally peaking with him standing with his pants around his ankles, raging into the air. It was inspiring to watch as Pounders masterfully juggled several phone calls with different levels of agitation and discomfort. His tone brilliantly switched from compassion to utter disbelief as he fielded problem after problem in his quest to put on a Broadway production.

Lana K. Hoover did an excellent job as Esther. Her constant interruptions via the intercom felt genuine and when she appeared on stage her compassion for her boss was heartfelt.

Denise, the goldfish, was another excellent addition to the cast. The puppetry was well done and Denise appeared to follow the flow of conversation even during dialogue that did not involve her.

Circle Theatre did an excellent job of putting on Mistakes Were Made. The set, costumes and energy of the actors meshed together into a very enjoyable performance.

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



Circle Theatre, 230 West Fourth Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102

Plays through June 30th

Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays-Saturday at 8:00pm and Saturday
at 3:00 pm

Tickets are $20.00-$30.00. Students, seniors, military and
groups of 10 or more receive a $5.00 discount. High school
and college students with valid school ID may also purchase
tixs for half price 30 minutes before curtain, if available.

For reservations or more info call 817-877-3040
or go to www.circletheatre.com.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Theatre Review - DAMN YANKEES


Book By George Abbott and Douglass Wallop
Words and Music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Onstage in Bedford

Director – Chris Robinson
Choreographer – Eddie Floresca
Musical Director – Richard Gwozdz
Co-Choreographer/Assistant Director– Michael Anthony Sylvester
Stage Manager – Shavai Hopkins
Set Design – Charlotte Newman
Lighting Design – Chris Robinson
Costume Design – Carol Anderson
Sound Designer – Alex Krus
Wig Master – Kris Hightower


Joe Boyd – Ozzie Ingram
Meg Boyd – Kimberly Smith
Mr. Applegate – Tom Dewester
Sister Miller – Deborah Dennard
Doris Miller – Gayle Ormsby Hargis
Joe Hardy – Michael Pricer
Henry – Robert Molina
Sohovik/Guard – Ryan Ataide
Smokey – Andrew Chard
Bouley/Cleveland – Austin Buckner
Benny Van Buren – George Redford
Rocky/Postmaster Hawkins – David Cook
Gloria Thorpe – Diane Powell
Cherry – Kristina Bain
Jackie/Miss Weston – Sarah Dickerson
Lynch/The Commissioner – Gale McCray
Mr. Welch – Randy Sarver
Lola – Gina Gwozdz
Ensemble – Ryan Ataide, Kristina Bain, Austin Buckner,
Andrew Chard, Sarah Dickerson, Robert Molina

Reviewed performance on March 31, 2012

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

_________________________DAMN YANKEES________________________

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

Damn Yankees by Onstage in Bedford is devilishly good fun. The musical is based on the novel The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop.

The musical opens with Joe Boyd, a die hard Washington Senators baseball fan, watching yet another game, much to the lamentations of his wife Meg. After yet another loss to the New York Yankees, Joe Boyd announces that he would gladly sell his soul for a winning season. Upon hearing the outburst, Mr. Applegate appears and offers Joe the chance to lead his favorite team, the Washington Senators, to the pennant for a small price; his eternal soul. Joe, realizing that this is his life-long dream, agrees to the deal but only after Mr. Applegate allows an escape clause.

Joe can back out any time before the last game of the season, otherwise he forfeits his soul. With the deal struck the game was on. Mr. Applegate transforms Joe Boyd into Joe Hardy, a dashing champion baseball player and gets him a shot with the Washington Senators. Joe quickly starts to get homesick for his previous life with Meg and starts the murmuring of backing out of the deal. Mr. Applegate, not being one to lose graciously, attempts to keep Joe in the deal by stacking the deck against him with the beautiful temptress Lola.

The costumes were appropriate for a 1960ish era. I particularly enjoyed the hairdo and makeup design for Sister Miller and the eyebrows of Mr. Applegate. The only problem with costuming that I saw was the W for the Washington Senators was falling off the hats on some of the players. It was only noticeable during some of the dance routines so it didn’t really distract from the musical.

The lighting was well done. There was a warning on the door to the theater that a strobe light would be used. No one was noticeably affected by it and it was weaved well into the story. I did notice that during the production number “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO” the lights went dark a tad too early and the audience was deprived of the finale stance that the players and Gloria Thorpe were posed in.

The set design was good as well. The stage converted from the Boyds house to the Washington Senators locker room with the ease of sliding some old time wooden lockers onto the stage which looked vintage. They reminded me of old news footage that showed black and white baseball interviews in the locker rooms. Charlotte Newman did a wonderful job designing the layout of the stage.

Meg Boyd, played by Kimberly Smith belts out a wonderful version of “Six Months Out of Every Year”. When the play first started it was difficult to understand Smith’s dialogue over the television background noise but as soon as she started singing the scene took on a whole different tune. The words were masterfully sung and the ensemble choreography was beautifully performed. Smith not only sung well as a solo but also did an awesome job with her duet with Michael Pricer who played Joe Hardy. The reprise of “A Man Doesn’t Know” with Smith and Pricer was endearing and heartfelt. “Near to You” was another tearjerker between Joe Hardy (Pricer) and Meg Boyd (Smith) in which the emotions could be felt in the song.

Michael Pricer did a wonderful job as Joe Hardy. He maintained the connection to Joe Boyd well. It felt as if he was just a younger version of Boyd. Additionally the duet with Lola, “Two Lost Souls” was superbly performed and a joy to watch.

Gina Gwozdz as Lola gave a stand out performance. She was sultry and sexy. Everything you would want in a devilish temptress. Her rendition of “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” was superb. Additionally, her duet, “Who’s Got the Pain”, with Smokey played by Andrew Chard was energetic and exciting. I was
exhausted just watching her dance around the stage. It seemed that in every song Gwozdz sang she was twirling and pin-wheeling across the stage with energy and enthusiasm. She was definitely a marvel to behold.

The ball players were another dancing force to be reckoned with. The energy that they gave in each performance was astonishing.

One of the high-lights of the evening was George Redford’s rendition of “Heart”. Redford played Benny Van Buren the coach of the Washington Senators. Redford’s performance was perfect and the song continued to be sung by my daughters who attended the musical with me. It was truly an inspired and heartwarming moment.

Finally, Tom DeWester as Mr. Applegate was worth the price of admission. DeWester is a wonderful character actor and always a joy to watch. He displays great comic timing and a wonderful charismatic attitude. He made it possible to both like and despise Mr. Applegate. His rendition of “Those Were the Good Old Days” was superb. He had the audience laughing and rolling in the aisles.

The choreography was incredible and I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Eddie Floresca on a job well done. The dancing was wonderful and each musical number received applause.

Damn Yankees by Onstage in Bedford is what great musicals are all about. The songs were enticing, the actors were superb and the feeling in the air at the end was one of Hope. This is one musical that should not be missed.

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


Onstage in Bedford
Trinity Arts Theater, 2819 Forest Ridge Drive, Bedford, 76021
Through April 22, 2012

Friday and Saturday 8:00pm– Sunday Matinee 3:00pm
$15 Adults - $12 Seniors, Students and Bedford Residents
For reservations or more information call 817.354.6444 or
visit www.onstageinbedford.com


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Theater Review - EMMA


EMMA by Jon Jory. Adapted from the novel by Jane Austen
Stolen Shakespeare Guild

Director – Illana Stein
Stage Manager – Timothy Betts
Tech Director & Lighting Design–Logan Ball
Choreographer – Amanda Merrill
Dance Captain – Becca Brown
Master Carpenter – Keith Glenn
Costumer Designer – Lauren Morgan
Head Seamstress – Peggy Jobe
Seamstresses – Janelle Lutz and Sasha Truman-McGonnell
Back Drop Painter – Judy Cherry
Assistant Choreographer – Becca Brown and Karen Matheny
Dialect Coach – Jule-Nelson Duac
Scenic Crew–Boy Scout Troop 188, Kierstin Curtis, Allen Walker,
Sara Stritmatter and Phillip and Becky South


Emma Woodhouse – Janelle Lutz
Mr. Woodhouse – Delmar H. Doblier
Harriet Smith – Porcia Bartholomae
Mr. Knightly – John Tillman
Mr. Elton – Michael Shane Hurst
Miss Bates – Hazel Murphy
Mr. Weston – Jason Morgan
Mrs. Weston – Ester Selgrath
Mrs. Elton – Karen Matheny
Frank Churchill – Billy Betsill
Jane Fairfax – Amanda Gupton
Party Guest – Becca Brown
Mr. Martin/Party Guest – Sergio L. Rodriguez

Reviewed performance on March 24, 2012

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


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

Simple elegance.

The Stolen Shakespeare Guild puts in another top rated performance. Emma is a play by Jon Jory, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen, and the Stolen Shakespeare Guild does a phenomenal job of bringing the book to life. The story involves a precocious twenty something woman who, after swearing off marriage, embarks on a series of matchmaking endeavors towards the inhabitants of Highbury. Deluded by past "success", Emma makes it her mission in life to find a suitor for Harriet Smith, a friend of hers that lacks the same social standing. But as Emma becomes involved in the romantic lives of those around her she falls in love with a most unexpected bachelor.

The single stage setting served both as the streets of Highbury and several residences. The design of the hanging picture frames in order to introduce characters was a wonderful idea. As Emma and Mr. Knightly discussed the inhabitants of Highbury, the residents would appear and pose within the picture frames. It was an ingenious way engaging the audience.

The costumes were period authentic and well made. The men wore waistcoats and top hats and the women had long flowing dresses and, at times, bonnets. The costumes were wonderfully tailored and fit all performers rather well. I was a little taken back by the lack of wardrobe changes however. Some of the women had additional dresses but it appeared that the men wore the same outfit day in and day out. The play covered a span of several months but it appeared that the men never actually switched outfits.

The lighting was done as well as could be expected in the theater. The Guild deserves a better theater for their performances but alas they must make do with what they have. The overhead lighting was difficult to deal with when the performers wore hats or bonnets because the shadows made it hard to see their faces.

The actors did a phenomenal job in their performances. The accents were old Victorian and wonderfully crafted. The scenes did not feel rushed and the interactions between characters felt genuine. Janelle Lutz did a wonderful job in her portrayal of the precocious Emma Woodhouse. She had the perfect blend of inquisitiveness and stubbornness that would be found in the self-absorbed Woodhouse.

Porcia Bartholomae as Harriet Smith gave an inspired performance as the target of Emma's matchmaking. Bartholomae believably portrayed Harriet as a truly naïve and socially awkward woman whom Emma could manipulate into different social situations. The chemistry between the two seemed genuine and affectionate. Bartholomae portrayed the feeling that Harriet put those above her social standing on a pedestal. She seemed happy with her standing in life but was easily talked into aspiring for a higher status by Emma.

Hazel Murphy as Miss Bates was truly a joy to watch. Her mannerisms and ramblings provided some comedic relief. Out of all the actors, her character seemed the best suited for comedy, and she played it well.

John Tillman did a superb job as Mr. Knightly. He had the mannerisms of an old Victorian gentleman, staunch, stodgy and stuffy, yet conveyed his feelings through his many facial expressions. His performance was one of the ones that seemed the most damaged by the overhead lighting. Tillman had a wonderful way of performing facially
and it was a shame that the shadows from the hat took away from that.

Billy Betsill's performance as Frank Churchill was a pleasure to watch. He was animated and lively when he came on stage and conveyed his feelings for Emma masterfully. The only issue I had concerning this performance was that his hat seemed a little big for his head and sat, in my opinion, too low.

Michael Shane Hurst did a great job as Mr. Elton. The way he projected his feelings towards Emma and the manner in which he carried on as Emma tried to match him with Harriet was perfect. You could tell he was interested in Emma even if everyone else around seemed oblivious to the matter. The way he glanced at Emma as he greeted her or the way in which he sat towards her was truly masterfully performed to give focus to his feelings. Hurst's costume was also well done for his character and really resembled a vicar's uniform.

Jason Morgan as Mr. Weston and Ester Selgrath as Mrs. Weston performed well. They had on stage chemistry and carried their parts well. Emma's former nanny and confidante, Selgrath, had more stage time which she carried admirably. Whereas Emma was quick to action, Mrs. Weston was more reasoned and logical in her pursuits.

The two seemed against each other and yet maintained the familial relationship of a nanny and her charge. Selgrath was able to convey Mrs. Weston's deep feelings for Emma both vocally and physically.

Another joyful performance to watch was that of Karen Matheny as Mrs. Elton. Mrs. Elton seemed to put the other characters on edge. It was as if an intruder had entered their sleepy little town and stirred up trouble. Her boisterousness and overbearing personality was just the shot in the arm the old town needed and Matheny played it wonderfully.

Amanda Gupton as Jane Fairfax seemed an underrated character in this play. Fairfax seemed sickly and out of sorts during much of the play. Without providing any spoilers, the character had her reasons for being sickly and demure. However, I got the impression that Fairfax was supposed to be a rival of Emma and I didn't feel that the character achieved the necessary depth to be anything more than an afterthought for Emma. Gupton did well in the part but I felt the character should have had a stronger role.

Delmar H. Doblier as Mr. Woodhouse was another character that seemed to steal the show as comically as Miss Bates. Doblier's performance as the aging Mr. Woodhouse was believable. Doblier did an amazing job projecting his voice during his scenes. The impression was that of an old man with slight hearing impairment. A kindly old gentleman settled in his ways.

Becca Brown and Sergio L. Rodriguez comprised the supporting roles of party guests. Additionally, Rodriguez played Mr. Martin, the initial love interest of Harriet Smith. Both Brown and Rodriguez did well with their supporting characters and were really the highlight during the party dancing scenes with their spirited revelry.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen and solid theater performance you should catch this play. The costumes were impressive and the acting was amazing. It's a shame this play has a very limited performance schedule. Everyone should see it at least once.

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


Stolen Shakespeare Guild
Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Hardy and Betty Sanders Theatre
1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Limited run Friday–Saturday, March 30th and 31st at 8:00pm
Saturday, March 31st at 2:00pm, Sunday, April 1st at 2:00pm.

Evening tickets are $17.00, $16.00 for seniors and students,
and $10.00 for children 7 and under. Matinee tickets are
$15.00, and $10.00 for children.

For individual tix call 1-866-811-4111. For info & subscriber questions: www.stolenshakespeareguild.org

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Theatre Review - ROOM SERVICE (GLCT)


ROOM SERVICE by John Murray & Allen Boretz
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre

Director – Harry R. Friedman
Assistant Director – Sherrie Wollenhaupt
Stage Manger/Props – Luis Lujan
Costume Design – Connie Salsman
Set Design – Ellen & Jeff Mizener
Lighting Design – John Damian, Sr.
Set Construction – Charles Beachley, john Damian, Sr., John Fierke, Travis Fierke, Harry R. Friedman, Luis Lujan, Jeff mizener, Ellen Mizener, Tom Moore, Bill nolte, George Redford, bob Shapiro
Light Board Operator – Chris Buras
Costume Assistant – Alisa Dunn


Sasha Smirnoff – Bill Nolte
Gordon Miller – Nelson Wilson
Joseph Gribble – Craig Boleman
Harry Binion – Tom DeWester
Faker Englund – Charles Beachley
Christine Marlowe – Amber Quinn
Leo Davis – Michael McCray
Hilda Manney – Noelle Fabian
Gregory Wagner – Tom Moore
Simon Jenkins – Bob Shapiro
Timothy Hogarth – Jordan Pokladnik
Dr. Glass – Andrew Burns
Bank Messenger – Daniel Elmen
Senator Blake – George Redford

Reviewed performance on Friday, February 10th, 2012

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

___________________________ROOM SERVICE___________________________

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

Greater Lewisville Community Theatre's rendition of Room Service by John Murray & Allen Boretz was truly a joy to watch. It was such a good performance I left the theatre wanting to go watch the 1938 movie version starring The Marx Brothers to see if it was performed as well. The play takes place in 1937 New York and follows the adventures of Gordon Miller, played by Nelson Wilson, a down on his luck Broadway producer trying to find a backer for his newest play “Godspeed”. Miller and his group are about to be locked out of the hotel they have been staying in if they can't find the means to cover the hotel bill within the next couple of hours.

The tension increases when the regional hotel director, Gregory Wagner, becomes bent on throwing out the entire cast and crew immediately. The confusion mounts as Leo Davis, the playwright for “Godspeed”, joins the fray. Naïve Davis is duped into believing that everything is all right and that the play will go on. The play culminates as a backer is finally obtained and the manager closes in. Miller, as the leader for the group, only has to hold out long enough in order to get the money from the backer before the manager pitches them to the street.

The entire play takes place in Gordon Miller's hotel room in the White Way Hotel. The set design was wonderful. The walls were painted in a gold color reminiscent of a grand hotel in the 1930's. However, the set designers added a few touches such as a dirty outline of a missing picture to show that the hotel had seen better days. I felt that the hotel room was symbolic of Gordon Miller's character. A wondrous hotel that had seen better days struggling for renewed glory.

The costuming was well done. Each piece fit well and reflected the time period, with men in three piece suits, fedora and the women clothed in flowery dresses.

The most remarkable part of this play was the acting. The actors timing was impeccable and the play was only better for it. The jokes and gags flew with precision. The result was a perfectly choreographed comedic performance. Nelson Wilson gave an inspiring performance as Gordon Miller, the down but not out producer. The sly wit and dry humor with which he carried the character reminded me of Moe Howard, Groucho Marx, or William “Bud” Abbott.

Tom DeWester, as Harry Binion, was a great casting choice. DeWester's zany antics and expressions were perfect compliments to the straight man Wilson portrayed. DeWester did a masterful job when called upon to act crazy or weird.

To round out the main three characters, Charles Beachley played Faker Englund. Faker Englund is the go to man for getting things done, but at times seems a little slow and yet whimsical, like a good natured, kind hearted thug. Beachley was spot on with his portrayal and added volumes to the play. When he showed up and removed his jacket only wearing a tie and collar cutout for a shirt it was priceless.

Craig Boleman played Joseph Gribble, the brother-in-law to Gordon Miller and the current hotel manager. I got the impression that Gribble is a good hearted helpful man but with no backbone when it came to standing up to his boss, Gregory Wagner. As the tension mounts between Wagner trying to collect the hotel bill and Miller trying to avoid the confrontation until he has a backer, Gribble begins to slowly breakdown from stress. Gribble is caught up in the age old battle between family and work. Boleman did a great job with his inflections and erratic mannerisms to get the point across of Gribble's imminent breakdown that culminated in him hiding under a blanket muttering to himself.

Michael McCray did a superb job portraying the naïve, Oswegonian playwright Leo Davis. When he spoke to his mother on the phone about how he possibly broke her heart, he sounded very sincere and apologetic. His longing glances to Hilda Manney as a love interest were very small town boyish, and his charm seemed to scream “take advantage of me New York”. I was very impressed with his subtlety and the nervous, inexperienced way the character viewed the world.

Tom Moore, as Gregory Wagner, was another powerful performer. Gregory Wagner was the hotel director that showed up in order to drag the hotel back into the “black”. I left the theatre thinking Wagner reminded me a lot of Mr. Spacely from the Jetsons. Of course Moore was a great deal taller than Mr. Spacely, so the feeling that I got was more based on the attitude. Wagner ran around yelling, cursing and basically steamrolling over anyone that got in his way. He was the stereotypical blow hard boss that yelled more than he talked. Moore did an outstanding job.

There were a few supporting parts that carried the play forward, and all the actors did a wonderful job. Bill Nolte, as Sasha Smirnoff the waiter/actor, did an incredible job. His Russian accent never wavered. Amber Quinn as Christine Marlowe, Gordon Miller's actress girlfriend, was another supporting character with a very good accent that felt true. Noelle Fabian as Hilda Manney, gave a wonderful performance as a fellow Oswegonian small town girl living in the big city. Her coy smiles towards Leo Davis lent a small town charm to the play. Bob Shapiro as Simon Jenkins, the agent for the backer Zachary Fisk, Jordan Pokladnik as Timothy Hogarth, the collection agent for the We Never Sleep collection agency, Andrew Burns as Dr. Glass and George Redford as Senator Blake all put in great supporting performances.

In fact, the entire play from cast to costumes was incredible. I would feel remiss if I did not give deserved kudos to Director Harry Friedman, for pulling this cast together. I left the theatre feeling upbeat, positive and thinking that it would be fun to see the play again. Greater Lewisville Community Theatre did an outstanding job with their performance of Room Service. The play felt fresh, lively and inspired.

The cast worked like a well oiled machine. The play has a short run through February 26th so get to the theatre quickly...GODSPEED!

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
Plays through February 26th

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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Theatre Review - Murders in the Rue Morgue (PST)


Pocket Sandwich Theatre

Producer and Director – Dennis G.W. Millegan
Lighting Director – Phil White
Set Design – Rodney Dobbs and Robert Stribling
Lighting Design – Emilie Buske-Ferman and Jeremy Ferman
Properties – Vicki Booker
Costume Design – Phineas Bennett
Sound Design – David H.M. Lambert
Stage Manager – Frances Seman
Piano – George Gagliardi and Timothy Flippo


Matthew Allis – Auguste Dupin
Mike Bacon – Willie Byrd
Allegra Denes – Isadora Muset
Patrick H. Douglass – Dr. Moreau
Valerie R. Horna – Miniette Roux
Michael Murray – Barnard
Caleb Ouku – Janos
Bill Otstott – Professor Henri
Shannon Rasmussen – Camille L'Espanay
Matthew Stepanek – Bongo
Jennifer Stoneking – Madame Donnier
Kevin Thrasher - The Emcee

Reviewed performance on Saturday, January 8th , 2012

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

___________________MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE__________________

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

Who but Pocket Sandwich Theatre would think that popcorn and Edgar Allan Poe would go so well together?

I had heard great things from my wife about Pocket Sandwich Theatre and to my delight I was not disappointed. The theatre was a marvel of design tucked into the corner of a modern day shopping center. Due to the fact that food and beverages were available 1 ½ hours before curtain, my wife and I got there early in order to eat dinner before the show. The seats were arranged in such a way as to fully utilize the space for the play and yet still allow servers to walk around. The food was reasonably priced and the service was well done. I would suggest making reservations in advance because the shows sell out rather quickly.

The play is based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe and centers on a series of murders in Paris around "La Rive Gauche" of the Seine River, 1890. The mysterious Dr. Moreau is conducting experiments on unsuspecting women while Auguste Dupin and Professor Henri pursue him and attempt to stop his nefarious plans, with the aid of the bumbling Prefect Barnard. The program touts the play as "A Popcorn Tossing Comedy Thriller" and Pocket Sandwich Theatre delivers.

The set design was a one piece minimalist exterior view of the Rue Morgue that allowed the actors easy access on and off the stage. There were stairs, a balcony and several doors that facilitated the story. The color scheme was impressive. The subdued blues and grays painted on the walls added to the creepy, dark mood.

The music, while well choreographed, at times drowned out the actors and made it difficult to hear dialogue. At the beginning of the play the theatre stated that certain musical cues would allow the audience to participate vocally by cheering for the hero or booing the villain.

Unfortunately I did not feel the musical cues were well defined or sufficiently different to allow for audience participation.

Additionally, it was difficult to ascertain who of the main characters the hero truly was in order to cheer. What should have been a musical aid in fostering audience participation just devolved into the audience booing the villain whenever he entered onstage.

For the most part the costumes were well tailored and reflected the time period in which the play was set. However, the costumes for the Prefect Barnard and Camille L'Espanay seemed a bit out of sorts. Barnard's costume was a little lackluster and barely resembled that of a policeman or gendarmerie. Camille's costume was a bit revealing in my estimation. The character had a back story of being a doctor of veterinary medicine and sported a corset that revealed a bra most of the time. The dress fit the character's persona as Camille spent most of the play complaining about the lack of intimacy between her and Auguste but it did not seem to fit my definition of a doctor of veterinary medicine in the 1800's.

In any campy comedy of this sort it is the actor's job to maintain the character even through the absurdities that lie around every corner. Actors are often called upon to maintain a straight face as the audience around them erupts into laughter. These actors did a superb job. Many of the funniest moments in the play centered on the actors' response to the audience.

Matthew Allis as Auguste Dupin and Bill Otstott as Professor Henri performed their parts well. Allis was a little more outgoing and outspoken than the quiet Otstott but the team worked well together onstage. It was unclear if this duo was considered the heroes of the play or if that title went to the bumbling police chief Barnard played by Michael Murray. At times it seemed like police woman Isadora Muset played by Allegra Denes was the heroine of the story but then near the end when she was investigating it became apparent that the police force in Paris was inept. Inept, that is, at everything except completing crossword puzzles. It was like watching Mr. Magoo meets the Scooby Doo Gang, and then try to solve a mystery.

As in most comedies of this type the villains were a little easier to spot. With the exception of Bongo played by Matthew Stepanek, the villains were large, creepy dark figures. Caleb Ouko did a wonderful job as the henchman Janos. Whether by design or not, Caleb was the only actor not speaking with a French accent. As odd as it seemed, it worked well for the part. Patrick H. Douglass performed well as Dr. Moreau. His sheer size gave an imposing quality to the doctor. However I would have liked to see a more sinister nature performed. He didn't seem like an evil person that warranted booing or the throwing of popcorn; he was more like a misunderstood scientist. Matthew Stepanek as Bongo had the best role of the play. Bongo was the intelligent monkey experiment created by Dr. Moreau. Stepanek seemed to revel in the physical aspects of the role and played them up for the audience.

There were a few characters that supported the play well. Camille L'Espanay, played by Shannon Rasmussen, was the main supporting character. The girlfriend of Auguste Dupin, Camille was the lust focus for Bongo. Rasmussen played the part well. Her French accent was well done and didn't seem to waiver. Valerie R. Horna as Miniette Roux, however, had a difficult time with the accent. Her voice got louder as she spoke and her accent waivered quite a bit.

Mike Bacon did an admirable job in his performance as Willie Byrd, a character in my opinion that was in the wrong play. Based on the outfit and accent that Byrd sported he was an American cowboy. Either I missed it or it was never mentioned what exactly an American cowboy was doing on the Seine River in the 1800's but it seemed out of place.

Jennifer Stoneking played both a murdered dancing girl and Madame Donnier, the landlord for August Dupin at the Rue Morgue. Stoneking did a great job portraying the drunken dancing girl kidnapped by Bongo. She did an even better job as the bitter landlord Madame Donnier. Her one-liners and sarcastic comments were delivered well and received a laugh from the audience each time. Kevin Thrasher did a wonderful job as The Emcee.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre is not just offering a performance but an experience. To truly appreciate the play you will need to go with an open mind and an upbeat attitude. While there are a few issues that will probably be ironed-out over time, the play is very entertaining and the experience enjoyable.

I recommend going early and eating there prior to the performance. If you are only expecting to come watch a play, then this is not it. If you are interested in engaging in a theatrical experience complete with booing, cheering and the throwing of lots of popcorn then this is the theatre for you. Reserve early, go often and throw hard.

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


Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird, #119
Dallas, TX 75206
Through February 18th

Food and beverage service available 1 ½ hours before show
time. Performances at 8:00pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday;
7:00pm Sunday

Tickets $10.00 Thursday, $15.00 Friday, $18.00 Saturday,
and $12.00 Sunday ($2 off any night for seniors 60+ and
juniors 12 and under)

For tickets and information please call 214-821-1860
or go to www.pocketsandwich.com.