Monday, October 29, 2018

Dreamgirls—Stumptown Stages—Downtown Portland


     Impossible Dreams?

    This dramatic musical has book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, music by Henry Krieger and directed and choreographed by Roger Welch, and musical direction by Adam Young.  It is playing at their space at The Brunish Theatre (4th floor), 1111 SW Broadway, through November 4th.  For more information go to their site at www.stumptownstages.org

    This is from a Tony award-winning play, which was made into quite an excellent movie.  What performer(s) hasn’t thought of making it to the top of their profession, with all the fame and fortune, glitter and glamour that seems to go with it.  It is a dream, devoutly to be desired.  Or is it just so much smoke and mirrors…an illusion for hungry artists?   Trappings all.  For all the glitz, there is the gutter, for all the peaks, there are the pits, always evident for those who slip.  And for all the gain, there is the pain.  It’s rarely ever easy and in the end, sacrifices must be made, which could include your friends, family, self-esteem, health and even, your Soul.  So, you must ask yourself the hard question, is it worth it?!

     In the case of the Dreams, Deena (Shahayla Ononalye), Lorrell (Kristin Robinson) and Effie (Julianne Johnson), they will take that journey down the “yellow-brick road” to find their great and powerful dream coming true, or is it just a silly, old man behind a curtain.  Time will tell.  And, perhaps, one should not forget the true treasures offered at the end of that rainbow:  Brains, Heart, Courage and no place like Home.  But to discover their importance, it is necessary to journey beyond and behind the rainbow, as the Dreamgirls do.

     These three, with their ever-faithful, but na├»ve composer, C. C. (Blake Stone), Effie’s brother, “ease on down” that road from humble beginnings to lofty expectations (and back again).  Their lowly desire is to win a contest at the famed Apollo Theatre and be booked for a week there.  The end result is they get is 10 weeks on the road as back-up singers with the huge star, Jimmy Early (Jarvis Sam).  The golden gates open a crack for them.

     They are welcomed with open arms by Jimmy and his sensible manager, Marty (Amber Cobb).  But into the fray struts the wicked, Curtis (John Devereaux).  His smooth talk and oily ways convince the ladies that he can make them stars.  All they have to do is submit to his control of their lives, both personal and financial, it turns out  In the beginning it is all an innocent Garden of Poppies but, with a snake loose, it will not last long.  Affairs, heartbreak, the replacement of one of the members by Michelle (Jalena Montrond) and betrayal, eventually leads this trio’s triumph into a spiral of sadness.  The end result will be for you to discover.

    The musical road they journey down goes through R&B, Pop, Soul and Disco…from easy listening tunes to hard dancing ones.  And some of the dialogue is sung, much like in an opera.  My favorite numbers were Cadillac Car, Steppin’ to the Bad Side, Dreamgirls and all of Effie’s solos, One Night Only, I Am Changing, and the show-stopping, …I’m Not Going.

    The music (Young) was intense, without overpowering the actors.  And the costumes (designer, Margaret Louise Chapman) were especially exciting, reflecting the changes in color and styles through the years.  Welch was smart in letting the actors and songs carry the story without a lot of elaborate sets, and the dance numbers were reflective of the times.  Well done.

    The performers are all excellent as singers and actors.  But two that stood out for me were Sam as Jimmy, who was a dancer (acrobat?) beyond all expectations and a terrific singer and actor, as well.  A too true character in the fight for the brass ring, never realizing you have to hold onto to it forever, or risk being outshone.  A bravo performance! 

    And one must give a lion’s share of the praise to Johnson in the key role as Effie.  She is extraordinary!  An icon herself as a performer and director, and she shows you why, here.  Her singing in all her numbers was a standout and she’s a pretty damn good actor, too.  And she also does a nice job of layering her performance, so that one does feel sympathy for her but sees her tough side, as well.  She deserved the roar of the crowd after her show-stopping numbers.  She is the heart of this well-conceived production…long may she pulsate!

 I recommend this show, if you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Shivers—Young Professionals Company—NE Portland




              Buried Secrets

    This World Premiere musical, ghost story is written, directed and choreographed by Matthew B. Zrebski.  It is playing at the Y/P Studio of Oregon Children’s Theatre, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., through November 11th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org/yp-company

    One’s “salad days” are full of discoveries and angst now, especially with the conventions of social media.  Personal relationships are done from afar, via texting, e-mails, cell phones, and the many other distracting ways of communicating, preventing us from actually touching another human being, or even the outside world, for that matter.  We are, perhaps, like the characters in this play, existing in a Hell of our own making.

    For those of you that might want to put this in some context with familiar surroundings, it does have some common elements to the musical, “Rent,” with a band of like-folks railing against their smothering atmosphere; or, the short story/play, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” with a child’s descent into madness, perhaps; or, the thriller, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” about a group of teens that are hiding a tragic secret.  All relevant, in some ways, to this story.

    A girl, Vix (Averyl Hartje) is seemingly trapped in a closet in a school by an unknow intruder and her lifeline to the outside world is her cell phone, or is that the purpose of her calls?  An outcast student, Gailen (Isaac Ellingson), is seemingly trying to make contact with each member of this band of brothers/sisters but for what purpose?  And three sets of teens are trapped in a snowstorm and all getting mysterious messages and phone calls, revealing intimate secrets of their lives.  Who’s responsible…and why?

    The pairing of the students are Tala (Ella Carson), a very determined girl, who has a boyfriend, Lionel (David VanDyke), who wants to take their relationship to the “next level.”  Then, there is the gay drug dealer, Shea (Xavier Warner), who has a budding relationship with, Brock (Asher Ross), an emotionally, fragile individual.  And, finally, there is Ravyn (Julia Meyers), a popular girl in school who has formed a bond with Mindy (Kai Tomizawa), a girl going through more than one personal crisis in her life.

    In the end, they will all confront their fears, and secrets will be unearthed.  But, I cannot tell you more without being a spoiler.  Zrebski has written an extraordinary play with songs that give each person their moment to shine…and the do sparkle beautifully!  This is a story that could easily be sent to other educational institutes to be performed, as well as having a life as an Off-Broadway production.

    The set is simple but effective and the visuals (Lucas Welsh) add much to the production.  The acting and singing is first-rate (after all, they are Y/P students, who are always at the top of the class, in my book!).  The women, Carson, Meyers, Hartje and Tomizawa, especially, have powerful voices and nailed their songs.  This is a production with some very heavy material, zeroing in on the modern teens, so be aware of the frankness of these situations.

    And a special shout-out to Dani Baldwin, Education Director at OCT and Y/P, and her staff.  Her students, because of the learning they get here, are the most prepared, in my opinion, for not only a possible career in the Arts, but also Life itself.  They learn to work as a team and build self-confidence, all while groping and grasping for the Gold in a safe environment.  Even the far-off stars are not beyond their reach!

    I highly recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Map of Virtue—Theatre Vertigo—SE Portland




          Bird-Speak

    This Halloween-appropriate story is written by Erin Courtney and directed by Emilie Landmann.  It is playing at the Shoebox Theatre, 2110 SE 10th Ave., through November 17th.  For more information, go to their site at www.theatrevertigo.org

    We all have memories of past events we wish we could erase, and choices we’ve made that we wish we hadn’t.  We have all come to those Crossroads in Life where we look back and wonder…what if….  The elusive Frost enigmas, The Road Not Taken, emerges.  But the fact remains, we are who we are today Because of those choices, not in Spite of them.  And so, as we near that time of year once again, when evil is strongest, this story fits right in.

    A warning, though, this has elements in common, I believe, with the masking in Texas Chains-saw Massacre, the enigma of Blair Witch Project, and even the non-sense verses of Dr. Seuss.  It is not for everyone, as there are many adult situations and scary scenes involved.  But, again, Tis the Season….

    The tale is told from a Bird’s (Jacquelle Davis) perspective, as she appears in their lives from a dramatic event and continues to influence their stories until, perhaps, like the Phoenix, she’s consumed by fire (to rise again from the ashes?).  The Bird passes from Mark (Samson Syharath), in an odd way, to Sarah (Paige Rogers), then starts appearing in some of her paintings.  And Mark keeps reappearing in her life and she and her husband, Nate (Joel Patrick Durham) form a friendship.

    Before long they all party together and meet up with a strange woman, June (Kaia Maarja Hillier), who takes them to her house in the woods, where they meet her very strange friend, Ray (Gary Strong), a child-like man and many ugly things occur there (like in any good horror film).  But will Victor (London Bauman), who has a connection to one of these folks, be able to find them in time and save the day?  You’ll just have to see it for yourselves…if you dare!

    I haven’t been able to tell you much of the story without being a spoiler but, believe me, if this is your sort of genre, you’ll enjoy it.  In fact, the story has all the elements of making a good thriller film.  The set (Kyra Bishop Sanford) is simple but very effective for this tale and director, Landmann, has varied the suspense with some meaningful pauses, which only heightens the terror.  And she has chosen a very good cast, all of whom are enough to creep you out at the appropriate moments.

    I recommend this play but, as mentioned, only for the most discriminating tastes.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Monday, October 22, 2018

Deathtrap—Bag & Baggage Productions—Hillsboro, OR

          Playing For Thrills


    This classic thriller by Ira Levin is directed by Scott Palmer (B&B’s Founding Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space in The Vault Theatre, 253 E. Main St., in Hillsboro, through October 31st.  For more information, go to their site at www.bagnbaggage.org

    Levin is not a stranger to this genre, having been most famous for “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Stepford Wives.”  My own personal favorite of his, though, is the little known, “Veronica’s Room,” (which I directed some years ago).  Levin had his own share of failures, too, and so Sydney, the main character, does have the same haunting problems but, gratefully, not with the same solutions.

    Mystery, Horror, Thrillers are all genre’s I’m fond of because, as Ray Bradbury put it best when he said, that those kinds of books/films deal with the Unknown, our Fears and, if we can conquer them, through these literary means, then we can survive anything.  “Deathtrap” is more of a very dark comedy or melodrama then it is an outright thriller, but it does have its share of twists and turns and downright shocking moments.  And so, sit back and relax (if you dare) and enjoy…er, experience, this Halloween mayhem offering.

    Sydney (Lawrence Siulagi) was a successful Broadway playwright of thrillers but now seems to be in a slump.  With his candle dimming, he just can’t seem to come across an idea for another blockbuster.  His wife, Myra (Morgan Cox), has long stood by his side.  Finally, an idea arrives…in the mail, from a former student, Clifford (Andrew Beck), with a play called, “Deathtrap.”  It’s his first play and he has hopes of his mentor liking it but who, it turns out, not only likes the script, but is hoping to collaborate on it with him, possibly leading him back to the limelight.

    But just when things seem to be going swimmingly for this union, his next-door neighbor, Helga (Mandana Khoshnevisan), a psychic, shows up with predictions of gloom and doom for these artistic folks.  And, sure enough, one of them does meet their demise.  Not only that, but the couple’s own lawyer and a friend, Porter (Eric St. Cyr), shows up unexpectedly with news that their financial situation also may be in jeopardy.  I’ve had to be very sketchy because the spoilers could run rampant if I gave away any more information, so come see it for yourselves for the payoff(s).

    One of the first things I noticed when entering the theatre was the terrific set (Tyler Buswell), which was pretty amazing, as it contains many artifacts from various methods of murder over the years.  First-rate!  And Palmer, always a visual and organic director, has used the space well.  He also understands character and has a super cast, always playing the characters slightly off-key, which is appropriate for a thriller.

    Siulagi is terrific as the aging writer and Beck, as the novice, is equally as good, both playing off each other to dramatic conclusions that are quite effective.  Cox and Cyr are fine as supporters of Sydney’s.  And Khoshnevisan is perfect as the eccentric, nosy neighbor.  She always lights up the stage when on and is, again, a marvel here, too.

    I recommend this play but, be aware, there are some brutal scenes.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ella Enchanted—Oregon Children’s Theatre—Downtown Portland




            A Celebration of Me!

    This lovely, family musical, based on the Cinderella fairy tale, is adapted for the stage by Karen Zacarias, with music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, from the book by Gail Carson Levine.  It is directed & choreographed by Jessica Wallenfels and music direction by Darcy White.  It is playing at the Newmark Theatre space, 1111 SW Broadway, through November 18th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org

    This classic fairy tale has been widely adapted from, among others, the animated Disney classic, to the live musical from Roger & Hammerstein, to the likes of Jerry Lewis.  My own special favorite is “Ever After,” a non-musical version with Drew Barrymore.  It is a timeless tale that promotes that, even an ordinary citizen might aspire to the guarded royalty of a kingdom (al la recent events in England). 

    But in this version, it hinges also on the coat-tails of the MeToo Movement, as well, giving more weight to a woman standing up for her rights and not being bullied around.  Also, it touches on the need for understanding different languages in order to begin to embrace other cultures.  A grand and entertaining learning experience for all.

    The story begins its downward spiral when Ella’s (Sophia Takla) daffy fairy god-mother, Lucinda (Sam Bangs), arrives at her birth and bestows upon her the gift of Obedience, to anyone and everything she is ordered to do.  Her sensible Mother (Claire Rigsby), is not quite so please with this “gift” but her autocratic father, Sir Peter (Christopher Kehoe), is very impressed. 

    The tale goes from bad to worse, as her mother dies in Ella’s childhood and her father takes up with the unscrupulous, Dame Olga (Rigsby, again), who has two bratty daughters, the scheming Olive (Riley Holmes) and her sister, Hattie (Samantha Garcia).  They are sent to a Finishing School where her step-sisters use her “gift” to bully her and when home, she becomes a mere servant in the household.

    But her life is not all misery, as she has met a friend in Prince Charmont (Skylar Derthick), who is a nice enough lad and is glad to have a friend.  Together they encounter Ogres and Giants and eventually become closer.  I think you know the rest of the story about The Ball, and the transformation of Ella, and the errant slipper.  But the ending does have an unusual twist (which I can’t reveal, of course) but let me say that it is very topical in these times.

    The songs are all quite pleasant and fit the story, but nothing you’d be humming to yourself afterwards.  The cast is exceptionally good and, as singers, even a notch higher.  Rigsby and Bangs have very expressive voices, as well as characters.  Kehoe has a great comic bit as the Prince’s Squire.  And Takla, as the lead character, has a voice that would raise the roof and her acting, in some complicated scenes, is amazing.  A gold star for this young lady!

    Also kudos should be given to the creator of the Ogres and, especially, the Giants, which, I assume, was the creation of, in part , Wallenfels, who did a super job with directing this epic, and Emily Horton, who managed the costumes and puppets.  Also, praise for the stagehands that keep the numerous scene changes flowing smoothly.

    I recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Saturday, October 20, 2018

¡alebrijes! dia de muertos—Milagro—SE Portland



  Raising Spirits

    This original production, for the Day of the Dead celebrations, is written and directed by Georgina Escobar and is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St., through November 11th.  For more information, go to their site at www.milagro.org

    All cultures have their own ways of respecting those that have passed on.  Some believe they pass on to a type of Heaven; others hold onto the thought that we will be reincarnated into another life; some feel their presence is always around us, et. al.  The American Halloween is an off-shoot of that, as we disguise ourselves with costumes and masks to fool evil spirits that roam the night.  As a kid, the most potent image I had was the classical piece, “Night on Bald Mountain,” that was animated by Disney in “Fantasia.”  Very scary.

    But now, to this story, presented as an adult fairy tale, and so we begin:  Once Upon a Time…there were three guardian spirits (or, perhaps, Muses, in the artistic vernacular) that were searching for their master, Pedro (Robi Arce), an artist, who was in love with the elusive, Lillian (Yesenia Lopez), who was betrothed to another. 

    But, back to his totems, or spirit guides…they consisted of Florinda (Tara Hershberger), a dedicated duck, whose duty was to keep him grounded; Bartolome (Matthew Sepeda), a crafty cat, a symbol of his mortality; and Felipe (Giovanni Alva), a restless rooster, reminding him that another day will always dawn.  Just one little hitch in their plans—Pedro is trapped in the world between life and death, and Le Muerte (Patrica Alvitez), Death, has her own plans on keeping him in her domain.

    How this all turns out, of course, you’ll have to discover for yourselves when you see it.  But, like all good fairy tales, they lived…hopefully…ever after.  “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”  Passion, Hope, Imagination, Love, Artistry…all important aspects of a well-realized Life.  You notice that Fame and Fortune never appeared in this missive, so take that to heart.

    This is truly an enlightening show, considering the elements going on in our present world situations.  And, although the language and situations may seem different from this fellow’s “gringo” culture, it is good to know there is much to learn about this wide world, in which one should embrace other perspectives.  Or, as my friend, Dave, who came with me to see this show said, “I’m not sure I understand it, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it, anyway  And so say I.
The production is a whirlwind of excitement in song, music, puppets, masks, stylized movement, dance…a magical embrace that goes beyond cultures to reach the heart and soul of the dreamers still left in this chaotic atmosphere.  “There is nothing to fear, but Fear itself.”

    There is many to thank for this imaginative piece, beginning with the director and writer, Escobar, flinging ideas, like stardust, onto an unsuspecting crowd to add to their lives.  The cast is all first-rate, having to be versatile in many mediums but up to the task in all their glory.  Original music by Luis Guerra, scenic design by Emily Wilken, Lighting by Trevor Sargent, costumes by Jessica Bobillot, Props by Sarah Andrews, Puppets by Mindy Escobar-Leanse, et. al., all pros in their fields, who added greatly to the success of this production.
I recommend this show.  

    If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Small Mouth Sounds—Artists Rep—SW Portland


“Silence is Golden”


     This rather unusual premise for a story is written by Bess Wohl and directed by Shawn Lee.  It is playing at their space, 1515 SW Morrison St., through November 4th.  For more information, go to their site at www.artistsrep.org

     “Noises compete, grasshopper, as silence retreats.”  Sometimes silence can be deafening, as it is in this story.  We are so wrapped up in our worlds of computers, texting, and artificial noises, that we fail to communicate through a simple hug or smile, or a knowing look of encouragement.  Our world may have been created with a (Big) Bang and it’s likely it will end the same way.  What we have wrought, so shall we reap…unless we find that Quiet Place, not only on the outer crusts of this planet, but in the inner stillness of our being.

     This play explores Silence in unusual ways.  The one who expounds the most, the Teacher (Mary McDonald-Lewis), really may have the least to impart to her students at this retreat, all there to take a break from the world and/or find some sort of peace.  The main element to be adhered to is silence in this EST-type of surroundings. 

     The verbose, Joan (Susannah Mars) and her lover, the more refined, Judy (Ayanna Berkshire), seem to be there to work out some personal issue.  The gregarious, Alicia (Kelly Godell), is a product of words but seems intent on translating them into some forgotten knowledge that has escaped her to this point.  Ned (Darius Pierce) is a socially awkward individual, trying to find inroads to adapting socially to an unfamiliar world to him.

     Rodney (John San Nicolas) is a video guru of finding one’s path through yoga, but senses there is something important he has yet to learn.  And Jan (Michael Mendelson), a quiet person to begin with, but is reaching out to try and encompass a larger world he is not familiar with.  All searchers, and their journeys will conflict, connect and invade their very psyches before this trip is completed.  More I cannot tell you without spoiling the discoveries.

     This is almost completely a who’s who of the Artists Rep’s family and a talented ensemble they are as a cast.  Godell, as a bit of a flake, is perfect in her utter unawareness (I know people like her).  Mars is wonderful as a well-meaning friend who acts before she thinks about it.  Berkshire has a noble stillness to her being, pent up inside but wanting to expand.  San Nicolas is perfect as the smirking know-it-all until the mask begins to fall.  Mendelson is a gem as his character displays a quiet intensity as the newbie who yearns for understanding and acceptance.  McDonald-Lewis is a great voice actor who is so good you can almost see her, as she muddles through the “lessons.”  And Pierce is amazing in his naturalness in his monologue, as he exposes himself, and you truly feel for all the pained people in this world who are struggling to just be heard and understood.  It is an insightful trek for all of us and Lee has carefully led us successfully on this safari.

I recommend this play (nudity in one scene) and if you choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Marat/Sade—Twilight Theater Company—N. Portland



Tiptoe Through the Crazies

     This psycho-drama/dark comedy/musical is written by Peter Weiss and directed by Dorinda Toner (Twilight’s Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space, 7515 N. Brandon Ave. (corner of Lombard, small parking lot across the street), through October 28th.  For more information, go to their site at www.twilighttheatercompany.org

     There should be a disclaimer (of sorts) in the program to the fact that “any resemblance to real life situations or people is purely…intentional!”  To say this is topical is truly an understatement.  Of course, this story is set in the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s in Paris, the time of the guillotine, French Revolution (Jean-Paul Marat, dissenter), the Inquisition, the Marquis de Sade (and his unique take on pleasure and pain) and Napoleon. 

     As you can see, it was not the romantic era of the 1920’s, when Paris was the hub of such artists/writers as Hemingway, Dali, Fitzgerald, Toklas, et. al.  These were revolutionaries of a different ilk…or were they?!  The most lasting kind of change comes with evolution over time, such as the young folks now opposing gun violence and pollution, and the MeToo Movement demanding respect and equality for women.  “Times, they are a-changin’.”

     This story, though, takes place in an asylum, where the new regime, Coulmier (Stan Yeend) and company, believe that play therapy will make inroads to understanding the mentally disturbed.  De Sade (Randy Patterson) being an inmate and writer, takes on the task of directing this band of misfits into an important saga of Marat (Greg Prosser) and the French Revolution, before he is stabbed to death in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday (Eva Andrews).  Among Marat’s followers are an ex-priest, Roux (Samuel Alexander Hawkins), his nurse Simonne (Jennifer Madison Logan), as well as, at one time, Corday and her horny boyfriend, Duperret (Skye McLaren Walton).

     To enable things to blaze along, there is a type of Greek Chorus (Kaitlynn Baugh, Maddy Gourlay, Jeremy Abe and Blaine Vincent III), singing ditties to enlighten us to the guts of the tale.  And to keep us all on track, (in verse, no less), is the Herald (Jeff Gibberson), a type of Host/Narrator/Jester.  Put this all together with ribald songs, stylized dance/movement, grizzly humor, lusty situations, murder, a touch of depravity, a dose of despair…shake it all about and you have this…Marat/Sade.  If this sounds like a show for discriminating adults only, you’d be dead right!

     This is not an easy production to produce, even for the most seasoned of troupes, but Toner and cast have done a pretty amazing job with it.  The set is simple but effective, as is the mood lighting, and the 20 plus roles, all are quite well handled.  The major roles mentioned, give a chilling account of incidents in history that echo even today in our current situations.  This is a timeless piece and is given a very good showing by a talented group, especially Toner.  Standing a notch higher in acting, is Gibberson, as our guide.  His use of timing, pauses, and subtle nuances are quite remarkable.  I’ve touted him in the past and he is certainly a talent to be reckoned with.

     I recommend this show but heed the subject matter.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hurl—Corrib Theatre—New Expressive Works


Photo by Adam Liberman
“The Game’s Afoot”


     The U. S. Premiere of this serio-comedy is written by Charlie O’Neill and directed by Tracy Cameron Francis.  It is playing at their current space, 810 SE Belmont, through October 28th.  For more information, go to their site at www.corribtheatre.org or call 503-389-0579.

     We are all our brother’s keepers and the earth is jointly our home.  With all the controversy now as to immigrant issues, not only here but world-wide, this is a very timely story.  Why a government would choose to foster violence and poverty in their own country, and have their own people fleeing from their homeland, is beyond me.  But it seems to be a growing epidemic on this good earth.  The solution should be to stamp out the root causes of such disruption but, until then, we need to be a comfort and refuge to those seeking asylum.

     This story takes place in the present day in the west of Ireland.  It seems that immigrants from Eastern Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, etc. have also arrived on the shores of Ireland.  Besides being driven out of their own countries, they all feel the need to make themselves indispensable to their adopted homeland.  Enter a one-time priest, a bit of a tippler, Lofty (Clara-Liis Hillier), who may have lost his way in God’s Eyes, but still has the love of a game called Hurling (a type of hockey on a field).

     And so, it seems his destiny may be to lead this band of misfits into the arena, in which they might be able to show their mettle and determination.  In this motley crew is Musa (James Dixon), Fatmata (Falynn Burton) and an assorted ensemble of rainbow-colored individuals (Kenneth Dembo, Heath Hyun Houghton, Wynee Hu and Alec Cameron Lugo) that may create history and be allowed to shine their true hues on the turf.

But not everybody is happy with such an explosion of color in this country, mainly Rusty (Cynthia Shur Petts), who does everything possible to block their progress.  But when these noble vagabonds begin to make some headway at the games, he is willing to try any sort of devious methods to stop their progress.  The story has elements from the films, Hoop Dreams, Rocky, Hoosiers, et al.  But it also embraces the more universal issues of self-worth, humane behavior and respect for the individual, regardless of background, color or beliefs.

     The show has been located on an essentially bare stage, a playing field, with only some benches and hurling sticks as props, which had to have been a nightmare to choreograph for the cast, and director, Francis, who shines as well.  The cast also plays multiple characters, as well as their own team and the opposing side!  Quite a feat but these actors are all pros, as I have seen them in other incarnations before, always successful. 

     Also, kudos to the lighting designer, Sarah Hughey, who had to create mood and setting with a handful of lights and did it very well.  An exciting show, boosted a notch upward by cross-gender and cross-cultural casting, which is as it should be.  
     I highly recommend this ensemble work and, if you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS