Posts Tagged Will Springhorn Jr.
The Toxic Avenger – Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on June 19, 2017
Musical comedy “The Toxic Avenger” based on Lloyd Kaufman’s film of the same name, originally derived from book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music and lyrics by David Bryan, is currently playing at The stage (www.thestage.org) in San Jose. It is a silly show tackling a serious subject and features a talented cast that performs zillion roles. Addressing the issue of climate change, the show shies away from becoming preachy or depressing. It begins with the lyrics
Global warming’s up ahead
The experts think we’ll all be dead
But they don’t know we’re here to fight
It is a story of heavily polluted New Jersey town where Melvin Ferd III (Will Springhorn Jr.) resolves to get to the bottom of the cause of pollution and is pitted against town’s greedy, power-hungry and seductive mayor Babs (Allison F. Rich) and her gang of thugs. The mayor’s for-profit corporation is the cause of town’s growing pollution but the mayor is entirely focused on growing her bottom line.
Here’s a place between heaven and hell
Don’t need a map, just follow the smell
A place filled with filthy air
A place full of dark despair
A place you have no prayer
A place called New Jersey
Jersey, the Garden State
Ther’s an exit called the thirteen gee
Right off the turnpike where it smells just like pee
An exit no one dares get off:
An exit where the children cough
When the mayor’s thugs and Melvin engage in a fight, Melvin falls into a vat of toxic waste and emerges as a heroic green monster with superior strength. Melvin’s nagging mother (also played by talented Allison F. Rich) does not the express slightest shock and instead reiterates her disappointment with her son. Her lack of shock at the sight of her son is shocking in itself and at the same time her superb acting makes it feel like a natural response of a nagging mother to a child not rising up to his talents. It is all hilarious. Melvin also reconnects with his blind love interest, Sarah (Courtney Hatcher). Sarah does not know that it is Melvin and falls hopelessly in love with who she believes is the superhero who saved her from the town’s thugs.
He’s strong and sweet and lives with his mother,
He saved my life so there is no other.
Such a man and man is he macho
Spicy cool like a bowl of gaspacho
Someday he’s ganna be my big, my big french boyfriend!
But Sarah soon gets an opportunity to touch Melvin’s ugly and scarred face and her love abets with the same speed as it had begun to overflow. When scorned by his sweetheart, broken hearted and depressed Melvin goes from being a town hero and a legend to a town pariah. However, Sarah soon changes her mind after she gets a talking-to by Melvin’s mother who explains “If blind people don’t like ugly people, than who will” and she and Sarah’s friends make a practical point that – after all
All men are freaks
It’s a burden every woman shares as she travels down life’s roads
Superbly directed by Jonathan Rhys Williams, the play is hilariously funny and witty. Cirby Hatano’s set is eye catching wasteland with scattered drums of toxic waste. Video design by Vijay M. Rajan occasionally fills the gap in the narrative and adds fantastically funny comic touches. When the fight ensues between the hero and the thugs, blood is scattered or limbs are severed on the projected screen rather than on the set. The 80s style rock style songs are played by an onstage rock band directed by Brian Allan Hobbs.
The Toxic Avenger is produced at San Jose Stage at a critical time in our history, when depressing developments on the issue of climate change makes us feel both upset and helpless. Toxic Avenger is just the hero we need to transport us for a short while, to a place where we are not entirely helpless, and our righteous commitment enables us to find love and perfect solution for the cause of climate change. The Toxic Avenger will be playing at the Stage in San Jose until July 16, 2017 and tickets are available at www.thestage.org .
Reefer Madness – The Musical —— Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on June 8, 2013
“Creeping like a communist, it’s knocking at our doors
Turning all our children into hooligans and whore”
Originally released as “Tell Your Children”, Reefer Madness is a 1936 anti-cannabis moralistic propaganda film that depicts, through a series of melodramatic events, the effects of cannabis. It was so over the top and ridiculous that it made a great cult topic for originally unintended subject. The film became an item of unintentional comedy among advocates of legalizing marijuana and cannabis policy reform. The musical satire had a challenge to make it even more ridiculous.
The musical, currently playing in San Jose, is based on a book by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, with music by Dan Studney. Giulio Perrone, Michael Palumbo, Stephen Massott, Lydia Lyons, and Jean Cardinale deserve major kudos for fantastic set, lighting, stage, and costumes design. And hilarious lyrics by Kevin Murphy, steal the show.
“someone’s got to dare to take a stand
Can’t ignore any more, it could be your son or daughter
With a deadly stick of reefer in their hand!
They’re heading straight for
Reefer Madness! Reefer Madness! Reefer Madness! Reefer Madness!”
As high school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana and one unintentional puff gets them addicted, their lives go on a downward spiral. It starts with giggles and a pretty woman walks the stage with a board that says “reefer makes you giggle for no good reason.” But the decent into madness continues, as Mae and Jack (superbly played by Allison F. Rich and Gabriel Grilli), lure high school students. Mae however, prefers to sell to customers her own age but is not able to contradict or leave Jack, who is controlling and abusive, because it’s “the stuff” that makes her stay. Ralph (Will Springhorn Jr. and) and Sally (Jill Miller) help sell cannabis to young students, and they get Jimmy Lane (Barnaby James), a young college student with a sharp mind and in love with a young woman, get hooked on cannabis. Story of Jimmy’s decent into madness, and later of his girlfriend, Mary (Courtney Hatcher), who comes to the “cannabis headquarters”, looking for Jimmy, is a tale of manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, murder, electric chair, and finally redemption, by Jesus himself.
As the ridiculous story unfolds, despite the divine call, “Just say no to the marijuana! (Listen to Jesus, Jimmy!)”, Jimmy refuses to listen. The warnings are uncanny, from relatively benign to extreme, “reefer gives you potty mouth”; “reefer makes you a pathological liar”; “reefer kills poor old men”; “reefer makes you sell your babies”;” and more. Finally, destined to go to hell, from his electric chair, Jimmy appeals to Jesus, “if you save me, I will heed the words you gave me” only to be reminded by Jesus (Gabriel Grilli), “You didn’t (Listen to Jesus, Jimmy) It’s too late for absolution, I’m just here to watch the execution”. But all’s well that ends well and there comes a last minute, Presidential pardon, forgiveness by Jesus, and the play ends with these lyrics.
“Now you’ve learned the truth about the menace dark and dread
Take a stance or there’s a chance that God may strike you dead
For putting up with Reefer madness! Reefer madness!
This satirical comedy is certain to throw you in uproars of laughter at how far the society can go and whip up the frenzy, in the name of righteousness. Reefer Madness is currently playing at The Stage in San Jose www.thestage.org .
Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” – Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on April 8, 2013
Persuasion by Jane Austen – Play Review
Beginning April 3, San Jose Stage Company is showing Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”, adapted by local Bay Area playwright, Jennifer Le Blanc and directed by Kenneth Kelleher. In the words of Randall King, Artistic Director of the San Jose Stage Company, “The intimate setting of The Stage venue is the perfect environment to revel in Miss Austen’s characters, who must negotiate a complex code of conduct in order to survive, much less achieve their ends. The story is indicative of Austen’s great talent, razor sharp, laced with irony and wit, and remarkably phrased.”
Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, who allowed herself to be “persuaded” to end her engagement with Captain Wentworth, a man she loved, but one without fortune. Maryssa Wanlass, in the role of Anne Elliot, is beautiful, calm, cerebral, poised, and graceful. In the opening scene, she second guesses her earlier decision about Captain Wentworth, and confides to her guardian, Lay Russell, “But I am now persuaded that in spite of the disapproval at home and the anxiety attending his prospects that I… I should have been happier, had I…” Jane Austen was unhappy about the level of persuasion employed by the society, on young people, particularly young women, regarding their marital choices. It is ironical that matronly and kind Lady Russell (played by Susan Gundunas), appears to be the only voice of maturity and reason, in the family, while she was in fact the reason Anne had first rejected Captain Wentworth.
As for Anne Elliott’s father, “Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation.” Paul Myrvold does a superb job in the role of Sir Walter Elliot and later as Admiral Croft. Mrs. Mary Musgrove, (played by Halsey Varady), Anne Elliot’s younger sister, is nervous, fretful woman, fortunate to marry Charles Musgrove (very well played by William J. Brown III). While Anne was looking after her sister Mary, Captain Wentworth (superbly played by Will Springhorn Jr.), reenters her life. Everyone around Anne and Captain Wentworth, including Charles Musgrove, his sisters Louisa and Henrietta (Juliet Heller & Allison F. Rich), and his mother (Donna Federico) are completely unaware of their earlier relationship and the emotional turmoil brewing inside Anne and her love. While Captain Wentworth is occupied by attentions of Louisa Musgrove, Anne is also pursued by her wicked cousin, Mr. Elliot (played by Paul Stout).
Circumstances have given Anne a second chance to marry for love. Will Anne now follow her heart? Austen makes fine arguments about women as “rational creatures”, whose stories would take different turns, but for the fact that the women’s stories are recounted “through history and books, nearly all of which have been produced by men, and many of which castigate women’s inconstancy and fickleness”. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, for women, marriage was the only ticket out of the class they were born into. Practicality dictated that they use reason, over emotion. Despite these constraints, Austen’s heroines demonstrate that they can think rationally, display a fair measure of autonomy, and crave independence. Jane Austen’s heroines marry for love, not practicality. And it just happens that guided by love, their chosen path leads them to the man who is worthy of their love, is well regarded in society and very wealthy. Isn’t it every woman’s dream, even today? Not surprisingly, time does not dim the popularity of Jane Austen.
Persuasion is playing at The Bay Area’s Premiere Off-Broadway Theater, The Stage www.thestage.org , in San Jose, from April 3 to April 28, 2013.