BWW Review: A HARD DAY'S NIGHT a Must See at the KC Fringe Festival
Artistic directors for theaters in Kansas City should take a hard look at A Hard Day's Night currently playing at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City. Lot in Life Productions and Vicki Vodrey, the writer and producer for A Hard Day's Night, have produced an intricate, enormously funny 90-minute dark comedy that easily should fill any theater in Kansas City. Songs from the Beatles are sewn into the script with perfect precision and timing. The world premiere is performed in conjunction with the KC Fringe Festival.
Taylor St. John directs the elaborate production that will stick in the memory of the audience for some time. Every aspect of the play is held to the highest degree, from the writing, the acting, the direction, costumes, and scenery no small detail is over looked. This is one of the productions for the Fringe Festival that should go straight to the top of must-sees.
Kelly K. Kelly is a 17 year-old growing up in a dysfunctional family, with the ashes of dead pets everywhere and her dead grandpa's ghost living in the basement. On the night of her parents 20th wedding anniversary she decides to stop speaking and only sing responses using lyrics from songs made popular by the Fab 4. Her younger sister hates her, her mom starves for affection from her dad, her dad does not display affection, and worst of all her parents named her Kelly K. Kelly. What ensues is a riotous production of humor that keeps the audience laughing to the end. In this production, each actor gives such a high level of performance that the audience is drawn into the characters and their lives.
Melissa Fennewald stars as Kelly who discovers something on her parent's anniversary that will change her life forever. Fennewald gives one of the most magnificent performances that has graced Kansas City stages this year. Her interpretation of Kelly, sarcastic quips and bites of humor are so natural we forget that she is an actor playing a part and not actually Kelly.
Jen Mays portrays Kate, a Disney fanatic, mother of Kelly and Kirby and the woman who holds the ashes of her departed pets in the highest esteem. Is it any coincidence that the names of the pets start with K also? Before the play is over the audience may change their minds about whether she is crazy or is there an underlying reason for the ashes. Her performance is wonderful and flows evenly throughout the production. The infliction in her voice is superb and adds to the color of her character.
Jason, played by Chris Roady, is a 30 year-old man married to Kate's best friend Jenn. Jenn also has an obsession, not for dead animal ashes but as a middle-aged flirtatious diva. Roady is fabulous in the role of the man who helps Kelly learn that she is not the ugly duckling that she thinks she is. We wonder, is Jason a kindly, considerate, compassionate person, or wait . . . maybe just a dirty old man? For the answer and one of the best nights you can have at the Fringe Festival you must attend a performance of A Hard Day's Night.
Bryan Moses portrays the dad Ken, Shelley Wyche stars as Jenn, and Mariah Thompson as Kirby round out an A list of performers that are dazzling. Having already seen several of the productions offered by the KC Fringe Festival A Hard Day's Night by Vicki Vodrey is one that I would gladly see a second time.
A Hard Day's Night continues at the Just Off Broadway Theatre with performances on Thursday July 24 at 9 p.m. and Saturday July 26 at 6 p.m. Purchase tickets at the door or on the KC Fringe Festival website. Photograph courtesy of Vicki Vodrey.