Sister Act brings joyful fun to Centre Stage

“It opens in a seedy disco and closes at a papal mass. In between, there’s music, mayhem, and, just maybe, a little divine intervention.”

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My review of the new Centre Stage production of Sister Act: The Musical is now up on Broadway World.

 

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Review: Book of Mormon funny, offensive

Theatre review originally published February 2, 2017 in the Greenville News

“The Book of Mormon” is going to offend you.

Whether it’s a concept or an action or the explicit language, you are almost certain to be offended, or at least find yourself cringing, at some point during the show.

But, even more than that, it will make you laugh. And it will make you feel like dancing, and make you laugh some more, and, finally, make you rise to your feet to give it a well-deserved standing ovation.

Returning to the Peace Center this week after a sold out run in 2014, “The Book of Mormon” is top-notch entertainment and one of the funniest nights of musical theater you will ever see. Don’t make the mistake of missing it. Continue reading “Review: Book of Mormon funny, offensive”

GLT’s Miracle on 34th Street Affirms the Magic of Christmas

Theatre review originally published November 30, 2016 in the Greenville News.

For those of a certain age, Miracle on 34th Street is one of a handful of beloved holiday films that played in regular rotation each December. Others were such classics as White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, and various versions of A Christmas Carol. The dialogue and characters – and the actors who brought them to life – are as familiar as our own childhood living rooms.

Others may not have been so lucky. Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, now playing at Greenville Little Theatre, tries to capture both audiences. It sticks close to the original screenplay, about a Macy’s Santa who may actually be the real thing, while adding a few songs to help give it a more theatrical appeal. Continue reading “GLT’s Miracle on 34th Street Affirms the Magic of Christmas”

Magic’s Bad Boys: The Peace Center plays host to Penn & Teller

This interview was originally published in Creative Loafing.

“We have been doing magic together for twenty-five years, and are so sick of it we could spit. So, in the new show, we are moving into the field of religion and will be performing real miracles.”

Penn & Teller arrive in Greenville on January 18 for an evening at the Peace Center that promises, if not miracles, at least some brushes with death.

“There’s plenty of death,” Teller told me in a recent telephone interview. “Good, funny death.”

Teller is the shorter, usually silent half of the team. Penn, on the other hand, is tall and (as Teller puts it) “brilliantly articulate.” Together, they’ve been mystifying audiences for more than two decades. After catapulting to fame in the mid-eighties with fabled appearances on “Late Night With David Letterman” and their Obie award winning (“For Whatever It Is They Do”) Off-Broadway show, the pair have dabbled in books, television specials, their own movie (Penn & Teller Get Killed) and even an appearance in Walt Disney’s Fantasia 2000. But recently they’ve been focusing most of their attention on their live show.

Continue reading “Magic’s Bad Boys: The Peace Center plays host to Penn & Teller”

Sebastian Bach, Superstar: Former Skid Row lead singer plays Jesus at Peace Center

This interview was originally published in Creative Loafing.

When a replacement was needed to play the lead in the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde, theatre execs decided to look for someone from the world of rock and roll in hopes of attracting a different audience to the play, then in its fourth year. They turned to Sebastian Bach, former lead singer of the hard rock band Skid Row (who scored with hits like their Slave to the Grind album and the singles “18 and Life” and “I Remember You”). New audiences came to the show, pleasing the producers and creating a new career path for a rock and roller who was tiring of life on the road. But now that he’s starring in a revival of the “rock opera” Jesus Christ Superstar, Bach comes full circle.

“Right before Broadway,” Bach recalled in a recent telephone conversation, “I was on the road with my solo band, doing 90 dates across the U.S., and I was like, man, wouldn’t it be great if I could just play in one place and the crowds could come to me instead of all this traveling. Then I got on Broadway, so that came true. Then when I was on Broadway, I was like, man, what a drag it is that this is only in one city, I’d love to take this around to all the other cities. And now that’s exactly what I get to do.   I get to bring Jesus Christ Superstar, the Broadway show, to Greenville and I’m so excited about that.” Continue reading “Sebastian Bach, Superstar: Former Skid Row lead singer plays Jesus at Peace Center”

A Typical Day at Jim’s Garage: Flat Rock Premieres Endearing, Laid-Back Musical

Theatre review originally published in MetroBeat.

At Jim’s Garage, an auto repair shop in a small North Carolina town, you’re as likely to hear the mechanics singing as tune up your car. Jim, the amiable owner/operator, keeps a guitar on him at all times. As for the shop’s three mechanics, the laid-back ZZ burns up both an upright and electric bass, while Purvis, the town stud just back from the military, plays lead guitar and Dee usually sings back up. Dee is the newest mechanic, and she (yes, she) knows her way around a carburetor, sports an angelic voice and has a few ideas that might just shake up the auto industry. The shop’s receptionist, Ivy, also sings back-up and is certain that if she’s chosen as the pin-up girl for this year’s Jim’s Garage calendar, that’ll be her ticket to the big time. Merle, the straightlaced bookkeeper, takes his place on piano and mandolin. And if you’re really lucky, Purvis’ Aunt Ethyl may show up, eager to add her voice to the proceedings before inviting you to a pig-pulling.

That’s a typical day at Jim’s Garage, the endearing and “high octane” country musical now making its world premiere at Flat Rock Playhouse.

Continue reading “A Typical Day at Jim’s Garage: Flat Rock Premieres Endearing, Laid-Back Musical”

Razzle Dazzle at the Peace Center: Fosse- the Musical Snaps, Crackles and Pops

Theatre review originally published in MetroBeat

 

It opens quietly, the magnificent voice of Reva Rice singing that “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” then explodes into a fast-paced evening of dance excitement. Fosse-the Musical, quite simply, rocks. From the Stomp-like “Percussion 4” to the sex-drenched “Take Off With Us” to the electrifying finale set to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing,” Fosse never ceases to draw us into the magical world of one of Broadway’s all-time greats.

Fosse was conceived by Richard Maltby. Jr., Chet Walker and Ann Reinking as a tribute to and celebration of the choreography of Bob Fosse (1927-1987), the only person to win an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy in the same year, all for directing. Reinking in particular has impeccable credentials to stage such a piece: not only was she Fosse’s long-time lover, she also danced for Fosse both on stage and on film. Continue reading “Razzle Dazzle at the Peace Center: Fosse- the Musical Snaps, Crackles and Pops”

It’s Showtime, Folks: “Fosse” at the Peace Center

Theatre preview originally published in MetroBeat

It’s all in the fingers, held apart with hands outstretched, elbows tucked in, full of energy. Dancers call it Fosse hands.

Bob Fosse choreographed every detail of a dance routine — the drooping eyelash, the bowler hat cocked at a rakishly precise angle, the pinky finger curled at just the right moment. You don’t see a lot of big chorus lines and beauty pageant smiles in Fosse numbers. You do see a lot of skin.

Bob Fosse died in 1987, at age 60, but his work lives on in the musical tribute that bears his name. Fosse – the Musical premiered in 1998, won three Tony awards in 1999 (including Best Musical) and arrives in a touring production at the Peace Center, January 2-6. The show has no plot: it’s more of a journey, an evening of song and dance highlights from one man’s extraordinary career, work that encompasses theatre, film, television and even ballet. Continue reading “It’s Showtime, Folks: “Fosse” at the Peace Center”

Threads of Victory Documentary Script

Logo for the exhibit Weaving Our Survival: Upcountry Stories of World War II
Logo for the exhibit Weaving Our Survival: Upcountry Stories of World War II

One of my favorite projects involved writing the script for the documentary Threads of Victory: Upcountry South Carolina During WWII. I worked with Don Koonce of Ferncreek Creative, who did the real shooting and editing, and Dr. Courtney Tollison, a history professor at Furman University and staff historian for Upcountry History Museum. As she told me, I had to take her three years’ worth of research and interviews on the subject and condense it into a twenty minute documentary. I loved working on this and am still amazed by some of the wonderful material we got from local veterans. The finished film received a National Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History in 2008.

In 2009, I was asked by Dr. Tollison to write copy for the year-long museum exhibit Weaving Our Survival, encompassing more stories of the WWII era as it was lived locally. Once again, my role was to assimilate and condense her extensive research material into flowing, manageable, readable chunks. She published a lot of the material in a book, World War II and Upcountry South Carolina: ‘We Just Did Everything We Could’.