BWW Review: Premiere of FLOWERS IN THE WARDROBE is Hilarious Romp Into Land of Talking Animals & Witches
The premiere of Flowers in the Wardrobe currently is playing at the Arts Asylum at 1000 E. 9th in Kansas City, Mo. Produced by Whim Productions and directed by Steven Eubank it is the first full-length production by the theatrical company. Eubank brings his flamboyant comedy style to the show, giving the audience an abundance of humor and wit. "We're so excited to have Steven on board! His campy aesthetic is a perfect fit for the crazy story I've written," Kevin King said.
An original work by Kevin King is a combination of Flowers in the Attic and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Flowers in the Wardrobe is reminiscent of Saturday Night Live and the movie Airplane in the campy antics that take the audience to a higher plane of humor. To get all the comedy built into these very humorous pieces the audience members would have to see it at least twice. What goes on behind the focus of the dialogue is hilarious, but possibly missed by some of the audience members.
Flowers in the Wardrobe is the tale of four children forced to live in the attic of their grandmother's house. Poorly fed they are left to their own devices to survive in a loveless atmosphere, which throws the two oldest into incestuous temptations. Their only treat are the cookies left by the eccentric and judgmental grandmother. Entering a magic wardrobe, they find a land of talking animals, June and Ward Beaver, and a wicked queen.
Stefanie Stevens plays Cathy Dollanganger the oldest daughter of the mother that abandons them. Her performance is superb as she guides her siblings and turns to her brother for comfort. Stevens has appeared with Egads! Theatre Company in Godspell and The Rocky Horror Show. She appears at the Coterie in their final production of the season, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Matt Sweeten portrays Christopher Dollanganger magnificently. Sweeten plays the protective brother who tries his best to watch out for his brother and sisters, giving a little more attention to Cathy than he maybe should. Sweeten has appeared in The Importance of Being Earnest with Journeyman Theatre Company, Romeo & Juliet with She and Her Productions, and Avenue Q with Lakeside Summer Theatre. He will appear in the joint production of Journeyman and KC Melting Pot, Behind the Veil, Next to the Water Cooler.
The youngest sister and first to find the magic wardrobe is Carrie Dollanganger, played by Alisa Lynn. Lynn's youthful appearance is deceiving as she is an undergrad at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Lynn is wonderful in the role and convincing as a child much younger than her actual age. She has previously appeared with Fishtank Performance Studio and the Kansas City Actors Theatre.
J. Will Fritz plays Corey Dollanganger the youngest male who appears to be quite tall for his age. He gives a delightful performance, which ends tragically with his only vice, the cookie. Fritz has appeared with Fishtank Performance Studio, the Kansas City Actors Theater, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and Starlight Theatre.
Amy Kelly plays the evil mother Corrine Dollanganger and the White Witch in the wardrobe. Corrine takes the old adage; "children should be seen but not heard" one-step further with children should neither be seen nor heard or acknowledged. Kelly is fantastic in the duo roles, making it hard to determine which of her characters you should hate the worst. She recently appeared with the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre production of M. Butterfly and has appeared at The Lawrence Arts Center in The Nervous Set.
Other players in the production include Genewa Stanwyck as the grandmother, Andy Perkins as the dad, Mr. Tumnus and Bartholomew, Pete Bakely as Mr. Beaver and the male servant, Diane Bulan as Mrs. Beaver, Lady Cop, female servant and Dora, and Philip blue owl Hooser as the Asian and priest.
Flowers in the Wardrobe continues through May 31. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m. and twilight performances on May 11, 18, and 25 begin at 6 p.m. Whim Productions also provides a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on May 24 and two late night performances at 11 p.m. on May 30 and 31. Purchase tickets through Brown Paper Tickets or at the door before each performance.