Writing a review of Primal Force’s Villainous Company, which has more plot twists than a Christmas corkscrew, is going to be hard because we wouldn’t dare to give away any spoilers. Suffice it to say that nothing but nothing is what it seems and no one but no one is whom they seem – and there are layers under layers in this 80-minute chamber crime thriller.
There’s a scene of pure hallelujah in Slow Burn Theatre’s A Christmas Story the Musical in which adults and children dressed in sparkly costumes echoing the fabled Major Award leg lamp are in a kick line in a RKO-worthy production number. You won’t remember that from the holiday film. But that’s the key to enjoying this adaptation: Each edition makes the most of its genre’s strengths with little worry that it’s significantly different than its predecessors.
If you’ve never seen the Broadway production of the charm-infused musical Once or missed the Actors’ Playhouse version (or just want to see it again), this national touring version currently at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center is as faithful a reproduction as you could ask for.
City Theatre’s production of The Cake, about a baker who refuses to make a cake for a lesbian couple, digs deep below stereotypes to examine the contemporary clash between sincerely held principles that threaten to cripple relationships among people who care for one another – or at least have to live in the same world.
The world premiere of Joseph McDonough’s Ordinary Americans needs more work but it has enough promise and fine performances at Palm Beach Dramaworks that it’s worth the effort. The story of indomitable broadcast icon Gertrude Berg fighting the plague of the blacklist in the 1950s carries a clear warning to audiences today.
Exuding a lushness, attention to technical detail and an overarching sense of fun, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a prime example of its skill. Proof is that the mid-week opening night patrons were happily clapping along to the tunes, even singing along when prompted.
How we deal specifically with the inevitability of death, whether we let it inhibit us or inspire us, is at the heart of Michael McKeever’s comic fantasy Charlie Cox Runs With Scissors now enjoying a wryly funny production from the West Boca Theatre Company.
As we get older, the reality of loss becomes an inescapable fact of life. How we deal with that is the core of Stephen Brown’s Everything is Super Great at Theatre Lab (subtitled “a comedy about what’s missing”). Brown’s look at four troubled lonely people struggling to cope is quietly mordantly funny, but the humor is infused into underlying poignancy and compassion.
There may never be as great a production of The Music Man as the lightning-in-a-bottle original with performances of Barbara Cook and Robert Preston. But the Wick Theatre edition led by Norb Joerder and starring John Tartaglia and Julie Kleiner is as satisfying and entertaining a holiday treat as you could ask for.
Awe is not a quality you usually hear in the voices of theater pros when they describe the central character in a work. But that is the sense listening to director William Hayes, playwright Joseph McDonough and actress Elizabeth Dimon talking about Gertrude Berg, the heroine of their world premiere this month, Ordinary Americans at Palm Beach Dramaworks.