Show stopper

Sugarcoating is for suckers. And this isn't a candy store.

A little preview. . . August 29, 2010

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Get ready for a plethora of playbills to hit because Belmont University’s Theater Department is in full swing getting ready for the 2010-2011 theater season, and there are additional highlights from local to international artists. For all you theater lovers and goers here’s a preview of a few things Belmont stages have to offer.

Tartuffe, written by the 17th century comedic playwright, Jean Baptiste Molière, is about an impostor who claims to be a zealous, pious man while boarding at the wealthy Orgon’s home. Instead, he’s a deceiver who tries to swindle Orgon out of the deed of his house by winning the respect of his wife and attempting to marry his daughter. Evening performances, all in Troutt Theater, are at 7:30 p.m . Oct. 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9; matinees are at  3 p.m. on Oct. 2, and at 2 p.m. Oct. 3 and Oct. 10.

Troutt Theater will host an entirely different production Oct. 30 when the Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe offers the extravagant Japanese puppet theater known as “ningyo joruri” or bunraku. The troupe trained in Japan with artists who are part of the puppetry troupes that date back to 1684. The Asian Studies Program sponsors this event. Performance time and ticket information will be announced..

The week before Thanksgiving break will be the performance of 33 Variations in the Black Box Theater. 33 Variations is about two different stories that occur 200 years apart in two far off places: America and Austria. It is a dramatic American play written by Moisès Kaufman about what motivates someone to create. Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12, 13, 18, 19, 20 and 21; matinees are at 3 p.m. Nov. 13, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 and 20.

The Nashville Ballet will grace the Troutt Theater’s stage with their new ballet based on Anne Frank’s life story. Dr. Mark Volker, a Belmont music faculty member, composed the music. Performances will be Nov. 19-21; times and ticket information will be announced.

The Actor’s Bridge Ensemble and perform Eurydice, playwright Sarah Ruhl’s re-telling of the classic myth. The play presents the story of Orpheus, a popular Greek musician, through the eyes of his wife. The golden ticket of this play? Eurydice “will have an amazing raining elevator and water pool on the set,” said Paul Gatrell, department chair of the theatre and dance department. Evening performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 24, 25 and 26; matinees will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 20, 26 and 27.

The Government Inspector will be on stage in the Black Box Theater in April. The Government Inspector is a satirical play written by Russian and Ukrainian playwright Nikolai Gogol about corrupt officials in a Russian town. They get into a tizzy when they hear an undercover inspector will visit to investigate them. They scramble to make their work seem decent and punishments necessary. Their attempts are interrupted when a mysterious visitor has already checked into the inn.The visitor is not an inspector but a civil servant, Khlestakov, who has a wild imagination. It should be a high-spirited and witty play, the perfect way to end the theatre season. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 8, 9, 14 and 15; matinees are at 2 p.m. April 9, 10, 16 and 17.

The dance department will round out the theater and dance department’s season with their annual Dance Production where students will showcase their talent and new techniques. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 29 and 30 and May 1.


Colorful “Butterfly” Captivates in Troutt’s Black Box April 17, 2010

A small space makes for a small play. Right?

Definitely wrong.

Well, at least not when it comes to the Troutt’s Black Box Theater. Though, the theater is considered small, the set designers know how to work the space.

So was the case for “The Butterfly” an Iranian children’s play written by Bijan Mofid. The story was simple enough. A butterfly, helplessly caught in a spider’s web in a barn, makes a deal with the black creature she will find another suitable meal for him. But along the way, as she meets the Grasshopper, Auntie Beetle and her five little ones, the Fly, Lightning Bug and Honey Bee, she realizes she can’t force them to succumb to the fate she so easily escaped. She returns to the Spider who surprises her by setting her free once again, allowing her to return to the sunlight. There is a twist to the story which leaves the audience on the edge of their seats until the stage fades to black.

Though the story was simple, the set was not. In one corner, boxes haphazardly were placed with strips of cloth hanging from the ceiling. In another corner a tall rectangular construction with the sign “Termites Grasshopper’s Carpentry”. In yet another, a foreboding roped spider web, where the play begins and ends, a full circle. In the last corner, a hovel of a home where the beetles reside.

“Someone’s going to come out of the hobbit door,” Ashley Lehenbauer, an audience member said.

The set contributed greatly to the play. Although, Nathan Lee, Spider, did get a little hung up on the ropes a few times. He pulled through and gave a wickedly exciting performance with his hollowed voice. Though, his dance was a little awkward.

Kristin McCalley, Butterfly, was just okay. It seems with every play she over acts. She emphatically says each word to where it’s unnatural. Actors must be understood, we get it. However, let’s get some natural voice variation, shall we?

Luke Hatmaker, Grasshopper, was great. He was dramatic, but not too much, and fun to watch.

I didn’t know beetles could have Russian accents. Apparently, they do according to Joanna Rolan who played Auntie Beetle. Though the accent threw me off a bit, she held her own and was consistent with the pronunciation, making sure the accent gave each word some spice.

The beetles were fun. They were full of energy and really committed to their parts which was refreshing.

The Lightning Bug, played by Matthew Rosenbaum, was reminiscent of someone who took a hit of a bong way too often. He sounded stoned!…but in a good way. Rosenbaum made the Lightning Bug more interesting. A peculiar profession calls for a peculiar personality.

Ben Stonick was sweet as honey as the Bee. He was cute, portraying the pathetic life of a trapped bee beautifully.

John Pickard Creek played the flamboyant Fly. Even though his costume sparkled, his acting ability outshined all the razzle dazzle.

“The Butterfly” was one of the better plays performed at Belmont. Though it was meant as a children’s play, the audience was entertained. The costumes were practical but still interesting to keep the audience engaged. The actors did a great job and the set was truly something to “ooh” and “ahh” about. If you have time, catch a performance of “The Butterfly” before it flutters away.

Performances run through April 25th with tickets $8 for non-Belmont students, faculty/staff $4 and free for Belmont students.


Suspenseful “Wait Until Dark” opens in Black Box October 28, 2009

Filed under: theater — amandastrav @ 10:05 am
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The audience was on the edge of their seats. Their eyes glued to the spectacle unraveling before them. Sometimes they would laugh. Sometimes they would clap. Sometimes they would sit in stunned silence, gripping the knee or arm of one of their viewing buddies who tagged along.

Such was the audience at the Troutt’s Black Box Theater as it made its second showing of ‘Wait until Dark’, a play by Frederick Knott, adapted by Laura Skaug, the director.

‘Wait until Dark’ is a suspenseful comedy about a blind woman who is in possession of a doll that happens to have heroine inside of it. Three good-for-nothings try to con the woman into giving the doll to them. When she refuses, the play takes on a wickedly nail-biting turn that had some audience members shrieking.

The play throughout has some funny scenes that had the audience cracking up. For instance when Mike Talman, played by the comedic and sensitive Ben Stonick, Sgt. Carlino, played by Daniel Hackman who dons a great New Yorker accent, and Harry Roat, Jr., played by Barrett Anderson who gives Roat a sinister side, are caught inside the house as Susy Hendrix, played by the talented Joanna Rolan, feels her way around her familiar environment, not noticing the three who have trespassed into her home. The men’s faces were priceless in this scene as they tried so hard to keep still. Hackman hid behind a rolled up carpet before he knew the person entering was blind; he was ridiculously funny.

Ben Stonick played Talman terrifically. He was smart, sensitive toward Susy at the end, and just all around a great guy. You could tell he was apprehensive about making the deal with Roat and you could see his questions throughout the play, even if he didn’t verbally voice them. The con idea was a complete struggle for the character and Stonick executed it flawlessly.

I’ve seen Daniel Hackman play in Belmont’s productions like “Biloxi Blues” and “Galileo”. He always gives a top-notch performance and with “Wait until Dark” I was not surprised with the fact he lit up the stage with his on-going energy and put-on accent. He has this way of being serious but totally candid and alive. You can tell he sinks his teeth into every character he plays and delves deep into their psyche, developing the character and bringing Sgt. Carlino to life.

Like Daniel Hackman, I have also seen Zack McCann act before. He has an air of sophistication that gives an extra boost to any play he is cast in. As he played Sam Hendrix, the loving yet somewhat critical husband of Susy Hendrix, he would walk back and forth, completely comfortable with his character. If he did have stage fright, it definitely did not show.

Joanna Rolan as Susy Hendrix made the hearts of the audience go out to her. Though Susy was blind, she was tough and Rolan portrayed that spot on. She stumbles and feels around the walls. The audience became concerned for her. In the end, when she is struggling against Roat and his plot to kill her in order to get the doll, the audience was silently cheering her on.

Barrett Anderson shined in this play. His languid but evil sound of his voice was haunting and disturbing. He had the audience clutching each other in fear in the end as everyone though he was dead because Susy stabbed him but as the stage was cloaked in darkness, he crawled from the bedroom. Anderson was amazing and gives a new meaning to the term “bad guy”. He showed Harry Roat Jr. as an authentic, 100 percent creeper. Anderson did a great job.

The play is definitely worth seeing. The comedic relief in this suspenseful play is great. With Halloween around the corner, this play is just the right dosage of fear to get the fright back into your veins.

The show runs until November 1 at 2 p.m. at the Troutt Black Box Theater.

Tickets are $4 for faculty, staff, and non-Belmont students. Belmont students get free admission.