Crazy for You
Let me give you the lowdown. Triple threat Joey Kennedy dances up a storm in director Joe Deer’s infectiously feel-good production of the 1992 Tony Award-winning Gershwin extravaganza Crazy for You at Wright State University.
With high-kicking agility and debonair flair, Kennedy dazzles as cheerful Bobby Child, a New York banker’s son whose dreams of showbiz and true love is realized in the sleepy town of Deadrock, Nevada. In timeless numbers such as “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” splendidly choreographed with good old-fashioned razzmatazz by Teressa Wylie McWilliams, Kennedy brings effortless gusto and sweetness to the stage. He’s also blessed with a fantastic partner in Taylor Patrick, whose no-nonsense interpretation of Polly Baker, Bobby’s object of affection, contains graceful elegance (“Shall We Dance?” is a lovely throwback to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) and a fine country twang (her tender rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me” recalls current country star Kacey Musgraves).
In addition to the top-notch attributes of Pam Lavarnway’s set, costumer Elizabeth Bourgeois’ period costumes and Scot Woolley’s orchestra, first-rate featured performances are offered by Will Graber as flamboyant producer Bela Zangler (the mistaken identity of “What Causes That?” opposite Kennedy is a hoot), Celia Arthur as Bobby’s girlfriend Irene Roth, Sam Maxwell and Dana Bixler as the chipper Fodors, David Emery as routinely perturbed Lank Hawkins, Joe Green as Polly’s devoted dad Everett Baker, Madeline Musico as Bobby’s uptight mother Lottie Child, and Jeremy Farley as comical Moose.
If you’re looking for surefire entertainment, don’t miss this show.
Crazy for You continues through Nov. 18 in the Festival Playhouse of Wright State University’s Creative Arts Center, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Fairborn. Performances are 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. The production is performed in 2 hours and 30 minutes including one intermission. Tickets are $15-$25. Call (937) 775-2500 or visit wright.edu/tdmp.
Composer Henry Krieger and lyricist/librettist Bill Russell’s poignant and heartbreaking yet dark and disturbing 1997 musical Side Show receives a terrific staging by Dare to Defy Productions in the PNC Arts Annex under the astute direction of Mackensie King.
Allie Haines and Abigail Land respectively shine as Daisy and Violet Hilton, the conjoined twins who surfaced on the traveling freak show circuit to become stars during the Great Depression. Bolstered by passionate vocals and warm sincerity, Haines and Land are a wonderful duo possessing the acute ability to be unified while individually unique. Haines’ playful sarcasm and Land’s introverted sensibilities are just some of the elements serving them well as the Hiltons fascinating tale of love, fame and the quest for acceptance leaps forth (and unfortunately becomes mired in overlong backstory in Act 1).
Noteworthy performances extend to Zach King as conflicted promoter Terry Conner (“Private Conversation” is a knockout), Garrett Young as Terry’s closeted business partner Buddy Foster, the deliciously sinister and surly Skyler McNeely as Daisy and Violet’s guardian/manager Sir, Jamal Caan as devoted Jake (“You Should Be Loved” is a very touching highlight), TC Schreier as Harry Houdini, Emily Shafner as Fortune Teller, and Lindsey Cardoza as Auntie.
In addition, lighting designer Richard Waldeck notably utilizes the technical capabilities of the newly opened Arts Annex to striking degrees. It’s great to see the emotional velocity of the material winningly executed in a variety of lighting landscapes ranging from soft and clean to fiery and volatile. Jessica Tate’s energetic choreography (“Ready to Play” and “One Plus One Equals Three” are standouts), Ciera Bierbaugh’s period costumes, and musical director David McKibben’s orchestra are also notable.
By and large, Dare to Defy skillfully takes on one of the most challenging musical theatre pieces significantly accented with a timely lesson in tolerance and inclusion.
Side Show continues through Nov. 17 in the PNC Arts Annex, Second and Ludlow Streets, Dayton. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. The production is performed in 2 hours and 30 minutes including one intermission. Tickets are $22.50-$33. For tickets or more information, call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Overwhelming regret, detestable lies, biting dysfunction, and sexual desire are just some of the core themes fueling the Southern heat within Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, currently receiving a strong staging by Clark State Community College in its intimate Turner Studio Theatre.
Intriguingly bookending the play within the context of renewal, specifically washing away one’s sins or the past as a whole, director Kristofer Green keeps the spirited, flavorful action compelling and intense. His commendable cast (attractively clothed by N. Lynn Brown) firmly propels the illusion of a close-knit family gathering joyfully when in fact they’re on the verge of total meltdown.
Without question, the broodingly handsome Brandon Maldonado is a key component of the show’s success as the emotionally battered, alcoholic Brick, the former football hero consumed with memories of his old friend Skipper. As numerous characters try to pull Brick out of his deep depression, including his frustrated wife Maggie (a committed Aleksandra Kozlova), devoted Big Mama (a hearty Paula Arter) and larger-than-life Big Daddy (an excellent Saul Caplan), Maldonado provides mesmerizing layers behind the eyes, behind the booze, behind the guilt. His exceptional performance, volcanic when provoked and captivating when silent, is a powerful character study of a man unable to own up to what might have been, surrendering instead to a stagnate, trapped existence of endless conditions and fatigue in a marital cage of which there is no escape.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof concludes Sunday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Turner Studio Theatre of the Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 S. Limestone St., Springfield. The production is performed in 2 hours and 30 minutes including one intermission. Patrons are advised the show contains adult themes. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call (937) 328-3880 or visit facebook.com/clarkstatetheatre