Boling's recommendations among shows seen the week of 7 February 2003
Saturday 12 February 2005: Baseball Saved Us, 5th Avenue Musical Theatre Company's "Adventure Musical Theatre," Auburn Bravo Series (Auburn Riverside HS)
This is a 5th Avenue touring show for young audiences, with a program adapted by Ken Mochizuki from his own book, and with music and lyrics by Bruce Morris. The story is of a Japanese-American family that is evacuated from Seattle to Minidoka, and the every-day tribulations that they endure. Baseball is adopted by the kids as a way to relieve boredom and to assert their Americanism.
The piece runs only about forty-five minutes and looks a little rough compared to most 5th Avenue productions, but it serves to stimulate questions and discussion (at this performance the Q&A ran about fifteen minutes). The players are Joel Oanu, Matt Bariletti, Khan Doan, Emjoy Gavino, and Justin Cross, with Scott Hinckley on the piano. [My apologies for any misspellings or other errors - no program was provided.]
Saturday 12 February 2005: God Damn Tom at Theater Schmeater
Wayne Rawley turns in another script with nice surprises and a fair amount of humor, even while the story is pretty thin. Despite the heavy emphasis in the reviews I have read on the quantity of profanity in the piece, I found the language to be moderate and typical. The thin story is rescued by superb acting, with checkmarks to Nicole Boote and newcomer Erik Hill, and double checks to Alyssa Keene. Of the twenty or so credits listed for Keene in the bios, I have seen all but one; this is the best work I recall seeing her do. Honorable mentions to the other three cast members - John LoPresti, Teri Lazzara, and Rob West. MJ Sieber directed - a checkmark there, too.
Saturday 12 February 2005: Comedy of Eros IV: I'm with Cupid, D.A.M.N. at NWAS cabaret
This is at least the eighth production I have seen from Dramatists and Actors Meeting Now or A Theatre Near You (their pseudonym). It is the best program of one-acts I have seen from them, and probably tops the full-length pieces also. In this set we have six one-acts of varying success. Checkmarks to "Dopers' Laments" by Jorj (two prisoners sharing a cell discover that they also shared a girl friend) and to "Tug of Love" by Chris Mathews (a love triangle explores the afterlife). Honorable mentions to "For Whom the Bells Toll" by Donna van Norman (the Feds try to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act) and to "Constant Craving" by Christopher Bailey ("Life is not a box of chocolates - it's a box and chocolate").
Sunday 13 February 2005: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the Rep
I had never heard of Ma Rainey until I ran into the title of this play a few years ago, so she as a historical performer was all new to me. As it happens, the play does not allow one to form an opinion of her work - it is much more focused on the members of her backup band, and is marvelous in that examination. Checkmarks to Don Mayo and Alvin Keith, and honorable mentions to five of the eight others in the cast. In contrast to the Rep's Misalliance in October 2003, this time it was the out-of-towners who got the checks. One trivial complaint - since the piece is performed in near-real time, why can't the clock in the studio show that time?
If you like August Wilson's plays, this is a must-see. If you don't relish spending two hours watching people yell at each other, look elsewhere for a more pleasurable afternoon in the theater.