Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Live Stage was SOOOOO much better than the silver screen...

Well, the movies were took up far too large a suckage quota for 2013, so let’s talk about something a little bit nicer and let’s look back at the year in live theater around our local area. This’ll come off as a bit biased since I usually only attend shows at the Paper Wing Theatre on a regular basis, but I’ll try to touch base on other shows that I’d either seen or heard about throughout the course of the year. There were plenty of shows vying over my hard-earned entertainment coin and I don’t want those efforts to go to waste without mention. And since I have a soapbox set off in a little private corner of the World Wide Web, I may as well shout a bit. Right? I mean I’m no different than any other ranting lunatic blog.

So let’s cut to the quick: I was broken, shattered, peeled open, exposed, and forced to laugh while soaking in a puddle of tears when the Paper Wing Theatre presented “Mr. Bruce, Do You Swear?” and Jodi Gilmore’s performance left me with plenty of thoughts, opinions, vulgarities, and a desire to express myself as vividly as possible. The play was a look back at Lenny Bruce and the struggle he faced when performing all those years ago with all those terrible words. Rob Foster’s script is available through Amazon and is a terrific read, but the live performance is where it’s at for absolute certain. This show is what live theater is all about- the human experience and the conflicts we face in the world.

Later in the year, Paper Wing again tackled some controversy when they opened Macbeth with a decidedly non-traditional approach that incorporated gothic-punk fashion and music. Several strong performances and direction from Jourdain Barton brought Shakespeare to life and made it accessible for a different audience than the Bard would usually attract. My wife also made her own theatrical debut with this show, and I did get a program credit for helping with some of the special effects.

And following up his performance as the title character in Macbeth, Patrick Golden once again delivered a strong performance as Grant Mazzy in Stardust Theater’s production of “Pontypool”. This bizarre twist on the zombie apocalypse delivered the frights for the Halloween season and made for one of a few outings to the theaters outside of Paper Wing.

Beyond the shows I saw, there were also the shows I didn’t see- Spamalot and Les Miserables fell outside my price range but were two big productions in the local area that I really wanted to see. I heard nothing but great things about them so I wanted to make sure they got little mentions. There was also the Wharf Theater’s production of “Pirates of Penzanze” that I also missed, but more because of scheduling conflicts and my inability to find the time and the money for that period of time. I’m extremely lucky in that the local theatrical performances in my area are really starting to battle over my patronage coins. Well, not JUST mine, but you get the idea.

Returning to Paper Wing and the performances I /did/ get to see, I could be wrong but I felt like the theater opened their season with a bang in “9 to 5: The Musical” with some terrific performances and an ambitious moving set. Their Gallery theater presented  a variety of shows, from the sadomasochism comedy of “Big Baby” to heart-wrenching disolution of a marriage in “The Last Five Years”, the aforementioned “Mr. Bruce”, “Macbeth”, and their Halloween crowd-pleaser “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” of which I was in the audience a number of nights throughout the run. LJ Brewer continues to drop jaws and thrill the blood system with his performance of Doctor Frank N Furter- and then I got to help close the year with by performing in their production of “Bob’s Holiday Office Party”, my only performance in the year but one many are going to find hard to forget. 

Here's to 2014! 

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