Show stopper

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

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.

 

Mixed Bill VI: Once More, With Feeling! April 11, 2010

Jazz, tap, ballet, modern.

The Troutt Theater exploded in a riveting display of coloring lights and graceful individuals. Some were theatrical, others were strongly soft, making sure every movement was shown with poise.

The dance department at Belmont hosts a mixed bill every year. It’s a chance to display the talent and show just how great the dancers are. And how great they were!

As the house lights dimmed, the show started with a slinky, modern/jazz/ballet performance entitled “Little Bit of History”. Pirouettes and hip rolling were popular. The dancers wore sparkly black and white costumes. The audience went wild and settled into their seats for a great show.

Every dance, whether it was fabulous or just so so, was perfectly executed. There were some favorites that need to take a bow for its exceptional choreography and performance.

“Little Bit of History” was one of the favorites. After the lights dimmed to black, there was a feeling the mixed bill was going to be one to remember.

“Look Ma, No Hands!”, “Back to the Boondocks”, “Unrest”, “Church” and “Dream Boogie” were no doubt resonating in the minds of the audience.

“Look Ma, No Hands!” opened with the curtain only showing the feet of the dancers and their whimsical knee-high socks. It was adorably creative. The audience was very amused. Audience members commented on how they loved the concept. Simply brilliant.

Dancers were clad in plaid for “Back to the Boondocks”, a tap number. Little Big Town “Boondocks” set the mood for a good time. It floated to the rafters, getting onlookers swaying in their seats. The number fit Nashville perfectly. The dance was a great tribute to South.

“Unrest” was a bit of a turn after the first intermission. It was a very modern dance; you could see the energy pulsating from the tendons all the way to the fingertips of the dancers. Strong movements made for a strong performance. Bravo!

The company came together for the performance of “Church”. This was another favorite among the audience. Laughter sparked as the audience was captivated and engaged. “Church” was the equivalent of a Southern Baptist Church. The preaching gets too long and church members get restless. People need spiritual as well as nutritional food. Gotta eat! Claire Warner, the reverend, was exceptionally comical.

The finale was the best part of the show. “Dream Boogie” featured every dance from “the Juba” to the “Jitterbug, “Doowop” to “Disco”, the “Hustle” to “Hip Hop”. Whoops and cheers exploded in the theater. Words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech were featured on a projection screen.

We cannot turn back.

Whether it be societal acts or dance’s evolution, we cannot turn back.

Overall, Mixed Bill VI was a huge success. If you get a chance to catch a performance, please do! You certainly will not be disappointed. I’ll bet ya you’ll be dancing in your seats and out of the theater.