Monday, May 19, 2014

"Camelot" Entertains but Does Not Excel at Ocala Civic Theatre

Guenevere (Joanna Bauernfeind) and Lancelot (Patrick J. Stanley)
                                                                                                    Photo Provided
A young King Arthur of England watches a distant carriage approaching his castle which carries Princess Guenevere, his betrothed.  His mentor, Merlyn, foretells of Arthur’s greatness but has done little to prepare him for dealing with women.  The apprehensive King  (Alex Pinkston) takes a step forward, and the legend of the Knights of the Roundtable begins to unfold in the musical “Camelot,” now playing at the Ocala Civic Theatre.

The ancient tale of Excalliber need not be repeated here.  The theme is that even the best, most righteous plan can be set asunder by passion and human emotions.  Arthur’s dream of knights doing deeds of right and the roundtable where all are equal is crushed by an unfaithful wife and a best friend.

Pinkston does a reasonably good job of selling his story.  His voice easily carries the opening song.  Joined by Joanna Bauernfeind (Guenevere), their duet of the title song “Camelot” is on the mark. 

To make this play click, however, the chemistry between Guenevere and Lancelot (Patrick J. Stanley) must be high voltage electric.  Guenevere’s script lines are of no help, so the burden falls on Bauernfeind’s emotions to show a magnetism for Lancelot that would have her break her wedding vows to a king.   Lancelot’s script lines are more directed, yet his stature even during the potentially show-stopping power of “If  Ever I Would Leave You,” does not spark unbridled passion between them.
Alex Pinkston as King Arthur

Musical numbers “Simple Joys of Maidenhood”, “How to Handle a Woman”, and “What do the Simple Folk do?” are favorites well done accompanied by the magnificent nine piece orchestra conducted by Matthew Wardell in the pit.

Hats off to the cast for some believable swordsmanship choreographed by Jim McClellan.

Standouts in the secondary roles are Villager Richard L. Behrendt (Pellinore), Scott Proctor (Merlyn), and Daniel DeCola (Mordred).

Scenery is questionable.  It was a choice by director Katrina Ploof , but did not challenge the design and construction capabilities of OCT.  The bare stones edifice lacked sufficient greenery in the opening and May Pole scenes.  The stone slabs could never be imagined as the boudoir of the Queen where her assignation with Lancelot takes place.

On the technical side, the spotlight on the audience left wall depicting the presence of Nimue was split by the wainscot strip.  Also temporary black spray is needed to subdue a distracting bald spot.

“Camelot” at Ocala Civic Theatre is entertaining, but falls short of expectations.  It needs some serious tweaking to  reach the high standards set by OCT’s past musicals.

The show runs through June 8.  For ticket availability, prices, times, dates, location click on icon on the left.

Trivia Answer:
None of the principals reprised their roles in the movie.

Duck Hunter's Dilemma is Bait for Checkout Counter Tabloid at IceHouse

Sandy (C) (Patrick Zala) and Lester (Rick Breeze) recount their last hoax Half Man/Alligator ( Hector de Leon)
                                                                                                              photos by Scott Hodges
News reporter, Sandy, begins by telling us he writes crap.  In case there is any misunderstanding he reads the definition of crap from a dictionary.  His articles appear in the Weekly World-Globe, a bi-weekly scandal sheet in New York.  Sandy (Patrick Zala) is not proud of writing half-truth stories to lure the checkout counter readers, but he has no problem in taking a nice pay check from his Editor, Lester (Rick Breese) in the current production of “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” at the Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse in Mount Dora.

Duane (Adam Cornette), Duwell (James
Simson) agonize over  saintly error
When Lester hears about a rumor that an Alabama hunter might have shot an angel, he dispatches Sandy along with photographer Lenny (Lavonte Rogers) to get the story.  Sandy has been to Alabama before, but New Yorker Lenny, a black man, has some misgivings.

The team from the World-Globe meet up with Duane and Duwell Early (Adam Cornett and James Simpson) a pair of unemployed back-wood bunglers who believe they may have downed an angel.  Other tabloids plus CNN arrive to challenge World-Globe for the story, and the laughs come tumbling down.

What happens next is a mix of fact, fiction, foolery, flashbacks and folklore.  Tim Akers does a voice over filling in the back-story and introduces ‘The Woman’ played by Erica Sines.  The GasMart clerk is alternately by Allie Novell and Logan Creasman.

Scenic Design has David Clevinger written all over it.  The multilevel forest scene is surrealistically believable.

Watching the fun on stage was a group from The Villages Single Club.

If reading this reminds you of  “The Sugar Bean Sisters,” you would not be far off.  Good acting and fine ensemble work make this seldom seen show a sure bet for a pleasant visit to  the theatre.

For dates, times, prices, and directions click on icon on the left. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rarely Seen LITTLE FOXES Well Played at Melon Patch in Leesburg

Greed is good’ not only on Wall Street, but also good as the focus of conflict in the turn of the century  southern family drama “Little Foxes” which opened last Friday at the Melon Patch in Leesburg.  The Hubbards: Benjamin (Michael Winternheimer), Oscar, (Derek Wallman, Sr.), and married sister Regina (RuthAnn Proch) duke it out for wealth that comes from cotton raising and a future cotton mill. In those days, the women were expected to be subservient to the men in business, but here Regina is equal to the task of challenging her brothers even at the cost of the love of her daughter Alexandria (Jessa Dodds).

Director J. Scott Berry is fortunate in being able to amass a quality cast of eight for this period piece.  Set construction and furnishing are the best seen at The Patch this season thanks in a large part to the efforts of Jonalyn Berry and Leah D. Conner.  Costuming under the aegis of Kate Campbell is outstanding.

There are no small parts in this show, so congratulations go to first timers at The Patch Ze’Carter, Tim Simpson, and Colin D. Foran.  Veterans Cliff Barrineau, Jason Young, handle their parts well with Charlotte Jardine taking top honors for her monologue as Birdie, Oscar’s beleaguered wife.  However, some of Wallman’s well directed anger is lost to the audience by upstaging himself.

“Little Foxes” has few light moments, but interest is kept alive anticipating the next turn of events.  There is some overall tedium which is broken by two well placed intermissions.

Playwright Lillian Hellman selected the play's title from an Old Testament passage concerning destructive avarice.

The Melon Patch Theatre’s concluding play for the season is a chance to see a rarely seen show that touches on issues that are still relevant today.  For show dates, times, and prices, click on icon at the left.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

VMT Picks "Music Man" Cast

The Villages Musical Theatre has announced the cast for “The Music Man” scheduled for March 24-27, 2015.

Harold Hill                   John Rogerson
Marian Paroo              Jill Marrese
Marcelius                    Gerry Sherman
Mayor Shinn                John Dew
Mrs. Shinn (Eulalie)    Martha Manning
Mrs. Paroo                  Bonnie Williams

ON GOLDEN POND Now playing at Warehouse Theate in Clermont.  Moonlight Player's show runs through May 25.  Summer shows by the group include:
THE SHADOW BOX.....opens June 20\
BEYOND THERAPY.....opens Aug 6

GLENGARY GLENN ROSS presented by the Bay Street Players opens Jul 6
LEGALLY BLONDE.....opens Jun 27

Moonlight Players
Jan 13 - Jan 29