Posts Tagged Randall K Lum

The 39 Steps – Play Review


The 39 Steps is a theatrical spoof on the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. Authors of the parody, Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon envisioned the theatrical spoof in 1996 and was later rewritten by Patrick Barlow, with four people playing many roles. At Theatreworks, Lance Gardner, Ron Campbell, Cassidy Brown, and Annie Abrams do a fabulous job of quick role changes as the fast paced spoof moves on, drawing the audience into the murder mystery, with a twist. 

Image result for the 39 steps, theatreworks

As the story evolves, Richard Hannay, a man with a boring humdrum life meets an exciting woman who confides in him that she is a spy and requests him to take her to his home. Soon she is mysteriously murdered at his home, leaving the bewildered and scared Hannay to go on the run, both from law enforcement and the people who murdered the spy woman. As Hannay expected, he is accused of murder. As he goes on the run in search of the murderers, Hannay has encounters with constables, spies, village farmers, traveling salesmen, inkeepers, newsboys and he crosses streams, assumes false identity, meets a blonde and even dangles from the bridge.  All this makes for lavishly theatrical and hugely hilarious production. 

Image result for the 39 steps, theatreworksImage result for the 39 steps, theatreworks

The 39 Steps at Theatreworks, mixes an engrossing masterpiece with juicy characters and hilarious role changes with exciting staging by Leslie Martinson, perfect scenic designs by David Lee Cuthbert, and all the excitement unfolds inside a fast paced whodunit murder mystery, brilliantly directed by Leslie Martinson. This play has been extended to run through September, 22 and tickets are available at www.theatreworks.org .

 

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Fun Home – Play Review


It’s remarkably powerful, it’s touching, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it’s intimate, it’s deeply personal and political at the same time. Based on autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, the play Fun Home focuses on the theme of sexual identity. Through very powerful and familial context of father-daughter relationship, the musical explores the cost of living in the closet and the possibilities that open up, on coming out. Fun Home has won several awards including Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Obie, Award, and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and has garnered five Tony Awards including “Best Musical”.Image result for fun home, theatreworks
Image result for fun home, theatreworks
While prejudice remains as a dark and ugly presence in the world today, Fun Home helps us see the costs that societies, families and generations bear due to hidden and overt biases. Born in 1930s, a husband and father, Bruce Bechdel
(James Lloyd Reynolds) lives a closeted life.  A caring husband and father, Bruce hides a big secret that diminishes his accomplishments, at least in his own mind. He channels his frustration into an obsession with cleanliness, obsession with dressing his daughter in girlie attire and looking for secret avenues to fulfill his desire. He has built a beautiful family with his wife, Helen Bechdel (Crissy Guerrero), his sons, Christian (Jack Barrett, Dylan Kento Curtis), John (Billy Hutton, Oliver Copaken Yellin), and his daughter Alison. The play mainly centers on his relationship with his daughter, Alison.  Moira Stone (as narrator Alison), Lila Gold (as young Alison), and Erin Kommor (as older Alison) are all super fabulous in their roles and vividly bring out the complex father-daughter dynamics at various stages in the story.  When Alison grows up and goes away to college, she meets Joan (Ayelet Firstenberg) and experiences love’s first stirrings. Terrified and excited, Alison tries to quosh the feelings at first and later explores them and comes out as a lesbian.
Image result for fun home, theatreworksImage result for fun home, theatreworksImage result for fun home, theatreworks

Special kudos to scenic designer, Andrea Bechert, fabulous stage manager, Randall K. Lum and assistant stage manager, Emily Anderson Wolf for beautiful staging and scenes. Robert Kelley is a brilliant director and in Fun Home, the story of impact of prejudice is brilliantly told.

Somewhere between the father who felt compelled to live a lie his whole life, and a daughter who finds the environment and courage to seek fulfillment on her own terms, lie the simple truths about both the suffering and cost of having to hide who you truly are, and the joy of embracing your whole self. Great kudos to Alison Bechdel for embracing her whole self and finding to courage to share the story. It was Lisa Kron who was an early fan of the story and with Bechdel’s blessing, teamed up with composer Jeanine Tesori and adapted the graphic novel for the stage, as a musical. In blending this beautiful human story told through pictures with stirring lyrics, the trio has carved a straight path to the human heart.

This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season. Tickets are available at www.theatreworks.org .

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“The Lake Effect” – Play Review


As an immigrant from India, it was a special treat to see “The Lake Effect”, centered around an Indian immigrant family, by Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, at www.theatreworks.org .  Randall K. Lum has done a fabulous job with staging, where the softly blowing snow outside the window not only gives an idea of the frigid temperature outside, but serves as a prelude to relationships gone frigid with years of grief and animosity.

Snow blowing from a roof in Ottawa, Ontario, C...

Snow blowing from a roof in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, “The Lake Effect” captures confused notions around immigrant attitudes towards race and struggles between two generations growing up very differently, but without overly dwelling on these issues.  On the contrary, the primary focus of the play is on human issues broadly applicable; complex sibling relationship between Vijay (Adam Poss) and Priya (Nilanjana Bose) and their mixed and unresolved feelings towards their deceased father and mother.

Vijay and Priya meet after a gap of several years, on a snowy, cold wintery day, after their father, a small restaurant owner in New York, passes away.  I did not find it challenging connecting with their characters.  Under their seemingly shallow characters, there is a deep, lingering pain from unresolved issues, that makes them very real.  The play does not dwell on the grief and the pain enough for the audience to build empathy with them.  The focus instead shifts to Bernard (Jason Bowan), an African-American bookie, who had developed a strong friendship with their father, during the children’s long absence from the scene.  Bernard is a simple man.  Having lost his memory in a freak accident, Bernard has little baggage, literally and figuratively.

Bernard talks to his dead mother, shares his pain and his blessings, carries no animosity towards anyone, and forgives easily.  The beauty of Bernard’s character is that it quenches the audience thirst for deeper understanding of why other characters feel the way they do, how they will find resolution of their unresolved feelings of grief, pain and rivalry.  Bernard’s ease in coming to terms with what life dishes out, makes it feel perfectly ok for any distance to be bridged with a simple hug, even with ambiguities hanging in the air.  After all, grief and ambiguities are part of life and complex to unravel, but forgiveness and resolution can be very simple and happen when someone takes an initiative.

“The Lake Effect” is a beautiful play and will be on at www.theatreworks.org till March, 29.  

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Once On This Island – Play Review


Theatreworks Artistic Director, Robert Kelley has done a stunningly job in directing the musical, “Once on this Island”, originally from the Tony Award winning creators of Ragtime.  This musical springs from a Caribbean legend about a little orphan girl, Ti Moune (Khalia Davis), whose parents die in a horrible storm that she survives.   She is adopted by the peasant couple, Mama Euralie & Tonton Julian (Dawn L. Troupe & Berwick Haynes) and raised in the village where everyone dances with abandon, sings with everything they’ve got, uses herbs to heal, lives in harmony with nature, and seeks to appease the Gods of death, earth, water, and love (Max Kumangai, Safiya Fredericks, Omari Tau, and Adrienne Muller).  Entire cast is superb and performs beautifully.  I, particularly loved Adrienne Muller.theatreworks 1

Ti Moune grows into a gorgeous and spunky young lady (Salisha Thomas).  She continues to be haunted by the death of her parents and wonders what her purpose in life might be for which the Gods might have meant for her to live.  She rescues a wealthy aristocrat from a near fatal car crash.  She cleans his wounds, applies ointments, and keeps steadfast vigil, for him to recover.  She regards him as the love of her life and comes to believe that the Gods kept her alive, so that she may help him heal and survive.

This timeless tale is filled with joy, romance, adventure, entrenched prejudices, and heartache.  All human feelings find expression in amazing lyrics (by Lynn Ahrens) with heart pulsating, irresistible Caribbean drum beats, (by Stephen Flaherty).  William Liberatore is the Musical Director.  He was also musical director for absolutely fabulous production of “Little Women” http://bit.ly/1cmVLl6 at Theatreworks, in December, 2013.

The credit for making this musical a spell binding on-stage performance, goes to the Stage Manager Randall K Lum, Assistant Stage Manager Jannette Cote, Scenic Designer, Joe Ragey, Costume Designer, Cathleen Edwards, and Lighting Designer, Pamila Z. Gray.  Together they have created magic, on stage.  The scenes come alive with ferocious storm, enchanting jungle with frogs and trees, and beautiful village with little lanterns that contrasts with the life of the aristocrat lover, in the city.  For tickets, go to www.theatreworks.org

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