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-

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