Archive for April 2015

Legally Blonde review   Leave a comment

Theatre Review: Legally Blonde

The Riverbend Youth Company, which usually does their shows at the Amato Center at the Boys and Girls Club Souhegan in Milford, New Hampshire, performed Legally Blonde for April. The plot of the musical was adapted from the 2001 Novel by Amanda Brown & the movie by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. The musical score and lyrics were written by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Elle Woods is the blondie and main character for the musical, and it tells the story of her going from a laid back Southern Californian to a Harvard law school student in an attempt to win back her boyfriend named Warner. It’s not easy for Elle due to other people mocking her. Along the way she finds how her knowledge help others in need and in a murder trial, she defends successfully against Brooke Wyndham, the exercise queen. True to her own self, Elle’s pink clothes and attitude makes this musical something to look into.
Robin Lacroix has directed several shows in the past at the Amato Center, so credit goes to her for this production. Kim Whitehead, the chorus director for the Souhgean Valley Chorus, also was music director for the show. She was one of three piano players along with Karina Bertrand & Blake Leister. The cast of Legally Blonde consisted of all teenagers from high schools around the area such as Souhgean and Milford. Most of the main characters were seniors, and for them it would be their last show at the Amato Center for Riverbend Youth.
Alyssa Lederhos made a good role model for the main character. She wore her blonde wig she used for when she was Miss Adelaide for Guys and Dolls a couple weekends earlier at Souhgean, her high school. She singing voice was good in songs such as So Much Better, Legally Blonde, and a few others. When she had to act surprised, her reactions weren’t quite as strong as heard in the soundtrack version of the musical. Both Liam Conway and Michael Robicheau were good fits for their characters Warner and Emmett, and Megan Hammes was seen as a stubborn foil named Vivienne. It was the first time she played a bad character instead of loving, because Megan is a lovely brunette girl with good taste in clothes no matter what the occasion. But in addition to those four who stood up, Hannah Whitney’s character as Brooke Wyndam, the fitness queen, wasn’t quite as fit and in shape as a real health guru, but her voice was all right. She wore orange prison pants and a T-Shirt, along with a sparkling top during the Whipped into Shape song. The Greek Chorus made good back-ups while Elle was singing, and they consisted of girls who have been in ensembles and back-ups in previous shows. Hannah Cohen is one of them, while her older sister Naomi, who played the Judge, sings at the Souhgean Valley Chorus along with Bryan Whittier, who portrayed DA James Riley. Paulette, played by Anastasia Feraco, looked like a hipster, but still made her voice strong in singing roles. The ensembles in the musical numbers danced and sung very well.
The set for Legally Blonde was not much, even in the way of how the Riverbend Youth Company designs it. Mostly it was extra neon lights that have been used when the Amato Center has done other dance shows, and the Pumpkin Fest Talent Show, along with bleachers in front of a changing screen for different sets. There were a few added features such as Elle’s bed, the hair salon, and the trailer used for Dewey’s role. A couple songs, including the finale, had the main cast dancing to the beat of the piano and bass music pop style, while on the screen there were some flashing circle patterns that looked like something during the psychedelic era from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Instead of changing sets to look realistic from Harvard school and where Elle was, the stage looked more like something seen on a dance show or Disney Channel. Overall, Legally Blonde is still worth seeing, especially since Elle wears pink and loves to carry her little dog around, and the dogs used weren’t real, but mechanically moved and there were some barking sounds used. The seniors will move on to bigger and better things in the future, but hopefully will be seen around again in the near future.

RATINGS:
Music: 9: Kim Whitehead’s directing the orchestra makes good vibrating sound during the songs, and the different tones on the keyboards can make for different timing and scene changes. The songs from Legally Blonde all have good taste. Favorites: Omigod You Guys, What You Want, Ireland, Chip On My Shoulder, So Much Better, Take It Like a Man, Legally Blonde, Find My Way
Dance: 7: Basic, a few good dancers dressed as exercisers and cheerleaders had good bending power, but overall not too bad for everyone
Set Design: 5: Not a whole lot of props for different scenes, bleachers facing the audience during law class and the trial, too many neon lights and a projection screen for different scenes, music scenes sometimes had the screen with changing circle effects like psychedelic 60’s and 70’s era. Alyssa’s father did the set design
Acting: 7: The whole cast consisting of high school students, Alyssa Lederhos, Megan Hammes, Michael Robicheau, Liam Conway, Katy Osterholtz, the Cohen sisters, and Bryan Whitter, were among the most well-known, but other teenagers made for good roles. Most of them wore basic modern clothes in public places, and Alyssa’s pink outfits set off her blonde wig very well.

Overall: 8: Good choice for a musical to send the seniors a fond farewell, along with the younger teenagers because for some, it’s their favorite.

Review by Matt Smith 


Side Note from Janine:  I have worked on many shows through out the past couple years through both PTA and Riverbend Youth Company with quite a few of this years seniors. OMG you guys I am going to miss doing shows with you but have no doubt in my mind you are off to do fabulous things in college. Love to Megan, Alyssa, Mike , Hannah, John & Annie. 

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Posted April 20, 2015 by theatretechdiva in Riverbend Youth Company

cATS review   Leave a comment

Thank You to my boyfriend Matt Smith for writings these guest reviews for CAtS and Legally Blonde. Legally Blonde review to follow

       

Theatre Review: CATS

The 2015 Amherst PTA’s selection was challenging, but they eventually chose a very unique longtime running musical that ran for twenty-one years at the New London Theatre in London, England, and eighteen years at the Wintergarden theatre on Broadway in New York City. Cats is based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry, telling a story about the annual gathering of the Jellicle cats. It’s called the Heavy Side Layer, but for unknown reasons. Each one would describe in his or her own words about what they like to do best in song and dance during the evening of the Jellicle Ball, and then one special cat would be likely chosen by Old Deuteronomy, to ascend to the Heavy Side Layer. 

The setting for Cats is at an old junkyard, made up on stage of piles of wood and trash, and the background is a starry night sky with a moon. It’s the same setting from start to finish. The overture at the beginning, features on the big screen an informal setting where cat’s eyes pop up one after another while the audience finds out what role each cast member plays. The screen went up a little early before the credits finished rolling, but once the stage curtains opened, there were more cat’s eyes staring all around. A moment later, each cat starts to appear one at a time before the Prologue of Jellicle songs begins.

After the Prologue, the cats go from their world of their own type of behavior, to turning their heads to the audience, as if they wonder who humans are. The Naming of the Cats is where they speak in unison to the soft rhythm of keyboard music shining in the dim light. They describe their names being unique, and mostly in three parts. When they invite the audience to the Jellicle Ball, the music beat picks up, and then Victoria, the white cat, is doing a ballet type dance with Quaxo. The other cats perform a song based of their type of behavior and trait.

The music on each of the songs, the Old Gumbie Cat, The Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, Bustopher Jones, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, Old Deuteronomy, The Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles, all are based on the character’s moods, and the tone of the music is based on character’s movements and improvisation. The music consists of a mix of jazz, pop, and the tone of the keyboard blends well with Cat’s club style, even though it’s a little off key with the orchestra sometimes. The piano/keyboard player is the music director named Ken Grinnell. The Jellicle Ball is where the cats dance to the light of the moon, and after Old Deuteronomy describes in song which cat will be ascended to heaven, Grizabella returns to conclude the first Act, hoping she can have rebirth by singing Memory, one of the musical’s favorites, and sung by Jonatha McCarthy.

In Act II, Old Deuteronomy mentions Moments of Happiness, and there are some additional stories from other cats named Asparagus (Gus), the theatre cat, played by Rich Sparks, and Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat, portrayed by Russell Arrowsmith. When the mystery cat, Macavity comes out of the blue and kidnaps Old Deuteronomy, the sound effects and lightning comes into play. There are fog and strobe effects, followed by when Macavity pulls the plug to leave the cats in the dark. All seems lost until Mr. Mistoffelees, played by Dan Merriman, comes to restore order with his magic show, and eventually makes Old Deuteronomy reappear. The song is where the cats dance around in a couple big circles as they are happy to be together while the audience is pleased also. When Grizabella returns and sings Memory again, she’s the one chosen to ascend to heaven, and then Old Deuteronomy explains the importance of relationships between humans and cats as the cast sings The Ad-dressing of Cats to close the show.

Cats is a challenging musical for several reasons. First, there is no actual plot or analysis for the audience to understand what the main reason is. Second, the dancing and chorography is challenging. Each character wears a cat hood, except those with long, bushy, hair, gets a coating of cat-make up on their faces, and wears a costume to blend with their faces, so they look like real cats. They have to play a role of a cat’s behavior, and do stuff similar to what real cats like to do, such as play a ball of yarn, roll around, and meow and hiss, when necessary. It looks easy when the audience sees the performance on stage, but the cast understands they had to practice music numbers heavily and they were challenging period. Thanks to chorographer, Vouli Anthimidou, her dance classes would be established with such precision. Some of the dancers were real talented ballet and stage dancers, which were very special to look at.

It is mostly singing and dancing, and the actors/actresses who gave stand out performances were people such as Jonatha McCarthy as Grizabella, singing Memory, and Russell Arrowsmith as Skimbleshanks and the ensemble singing Skimbleshanks  The Railway Cat. Since this musical was originally from England, It came as no surprise as people would sing in British ascents, and Russell is originally from England, so he fits in with his singing tone. Mark Crowell played the Rum Tum Tugger, and his song made the audience laugh during his performance, especially his end piece. Roger Hurd, who’s been the director of a couple of shows at the PTA, and the Amato Center for It’s a Wonderful Life, portrayed the Old Rumpus Cat and the Fiend for the Pekes and the Pollicles, and his acts always make a crowd pleaser, so this show for him was no exception.

The musical has only a few sound pieces, which might be the easiest part of the whole show, but the stage design goes from boring looking, since it’s a junk yard, to a magical place with lots of storytelling and special effects. Some of the cats work with props whether arriving on stage, or descending into heaven, such as Grizabella did at the end. Guiding through the process and learning mostly was difficult itself, but if anyone sees Cats in his or her lifetime, there would be mixed reviews about people’s thoughts just like the cats in the show. It’s probably one of the nine lives utilized for theater.

Ratings:

Music: 7: A little off beat sometimes, but good piano playing by the music director. Favorite Songs: Memory (Grizabella by Jonatha McCarthy), Mr. Mistofflees, Skimbleshanks, Rum Tum Tugger, Pekes and Pollicles, sung and performed by Fiend, Roger Hurd

Dance: 9: Challenging, but very well practiced, choreographed by Vouli Anthimidou

Set Design: 7: Mostly Basic, but some good lightning and strobe effects

Acting: 8: Good job always from Roger Hurd, Jonatha and Patrick McCarthy, Russell Arrowsmith, Rich Sparks, Robyn  Holley, Sarah Vasques, and the Fichera family. Always enjoy meeting you all. Nice to also meet other beautiful cats.

Overall: 7.5

Posted April 20, 2015 by theatretechdiva in Amherst PTA

Throwback   Leave a comment

Moving to New York  may be a big future aspiration that I may work up to but it’s  good to start small. I really want to move to Portsmouth just for a change of scenery.”

I came across an old post I wrote the week before I graduated from NEC the other day. It’s interesting to see how much my thought process has changed since then. One notable thing that I said in the post was that maybe my paths away from college would lead me to living in New York City. I don’t know what my exact thought process was at the time but I would assume it had something to do with Broadway musicals and wanting to live  in the center of it all. Perhaps that was too overly ambitious or lofty thing to achieve. Moving to Portsmouth is a somewhat less lofty goal and seems more achievable.  I hope to do that eventually once we save up enough money to move out there.

Theatre remains my biggest passion as most people know and I hope to find a job where I can do what I love..which is actually consitent of three things theatre, writing and working with kids.  Right now I am doing  subbing in the Nashua School System on a per diem basis but I hope that will turn into something with  part or full time hours.   I often get frustrated when an audition for a play doesn’t go my way.  Michelle Emmond gave me advice awhile ago that said something about finding my theatre path which I try to keep in mind when an audition does not go my way.  I try to keep that in the back of my mind and also apply it to my job search which can get equally as frusturating and at some points discouraging. 

I suppose in theatre and in life it is important to keep trying and moving forward. The right role and the right job will fall into place at one point or another at which point the stars will be in perfect alignment. 😀

Happy Easter friends! 🐰

Posted April 4, 2015 by theatretechdiva in Non-related ranting, Uncategorized