They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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A Fine Evening's Entertainment

If you live in or near West Michigan, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre every summer. Operated by Hope College in Holland MI for thirty years, they pull off a number of outstanding plays, musicals and kid shows. We've been going steadily since about 1997 -- and kick ourselves for not finding them sooner.

They have Acting Interns from both Hope and all over, plus bring in Acting Company members and Equity Actors from all over -- and many come back year after year. They've done some amazingly creative stage constructions, and all the tech work is first rate. All told they'll do some eight shows, plus some Children's Theatre.

We've done two so far this year:

Bedroom Farce

The set is three different London bedrooms with a door at the back of each, and into this mix we have four couples moving around (except for one poor soul confined to a bed with a terribly wrenched back -- and you just know he isn't going to be left alone either). At one point a party "with 40 guests" is going on behind the door, and everytime it's opened, they manage to have hubbub and people passing by to make the magic work. It's a farce, of course, so it's funny and poignant. And one actress is trapped in her bed with nothing but a towel, as people keep coming in and out, and she manages to get dressed under the covers while the play is going on -- and never missing her English accent.

Now based on the last few years, I'd be talking here about the wonderful comedic talents of actor Dana Snyder (who also plays Master Shake on Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force), but alas, Dana recently got married and is busy elsewhere. But not to worry, they've brought back a previous HSRT alum, David Studwell, whom we saw in 1997 as Dr. Prospero in the wonderful Sci-Fi musical "Return to the Forbidden Planet".

Dana Snyder
Dana Snyder and "friend"

Seussical The Musical

"The Tony-award winning team of Lynn Arhens and Stephen Flaherty wrote the music and lyrics after creating the idea with former Monty Python writer and actor, Eric Idle."

We saw this last night and it was enchanting. We've seen and loved many musicals here, but for a production where we knew none of the songs (but pretty much all of the fourteen Dr. Seuss books amalgamated here), this was the most painless of musicals ever. Sets and costumes, oh my! The colors, the shapes! And playing a very kind and worthy Horton the Elephant was the same actor who had been bedridden and kvetching so much in "Bedroom Farce". This is what makes HSRT so much fun -- the breadth and range of performances from the same actors and actresses.

Another HSRT favorite, Brandy McClendon is absent this year, but Giorgia Cifani comes in to play Mayzie the bad bird mother who leaves poor Horton in the lurch in the tree (a lurch tree?). She has more than one show-stopping number -- the birds are done almost as Las Vegas showgirls (tastefully, of course, this IS Holland MI) with feathered headdresses galore. And we have a lovely and mildly wicked Cat in the Hat, who rappels down from the rafters in the opening on a rope. The major performers are all miked, including a small boy, and they've really got the sound balanced right.

There were many small children in attendance and I didn't see a one of them fall to sleep even though they had to stay up until ten. (double-grin)

Supposedly this is only the third production of the newly revised "Seussical the Musical", running slightly shorter and with a much more coherent merging of the various source materials. (So Horton is left holding the clover with the planet Who and sitting on the giant spotted egg in the tree.) (These things are important to keep straight!)

Some History

Both my wife and I had some connection to student theatre productions in the past. I guess she did some costumes and things, and as head photographer of the yearbook, I would sit through rehearsals and then dress rehearsals to get the feel of the show and capture the right moments on film.

So we both have a good idea what is involved to get so many productions off the ground and change the sets on an almost daily basis to keep the rotations going and the shows fresh.

We also get seats in the second row of the balcony (no foot room on the front row), because looking down we can see move of the tech and stage craft going on, and the lighting director sits nearby... Whatta buncha geeks we are. (grin)

Sigh... Mmmm...

Summer is a fine time to hang around the theatre.

Dr. Phil

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