BWW Reviews: Rhubarb Celebrates Its 10th Season With Revival of BIRDS IN CHURCH

Other vignettes are less successful in presentation-perhaps due to Pintauro's heavy-handed writing, a lack of focus from the actors or Crist's staging and direction-including the opening vignette "Lightning," performed by Deanna Glasser and Paige Glasser. I have no idea what it was about because I understood about one in every five words uttered by the two actresses. "Uncle Chick," in which a nephew (played by Michael Welch) confronts his uncle (Anthony Just) about his homosexuality-the nephew's gay and hopes to console his uncle who's mourning his lover's death and the uncle thinks the younger man is coming on to him. Pintauro's scene just doesn't ring true, nor do the two actors.

Some judicious editing would do wonders for Birds in Church and considering the fact that the 14 scenes are selected from among Pintauro's collection of Metropolitan Operas, it's particularly galling that restraint seems non-existent.

Adams choreographs six dancers (besides Adams, the uncredited dancers are Nichole Forde, Faith Kelm, BranDon Johnson, Caleb Reynolds and Dominique Hawes) who are onstage between vignettes to move various set pieces, adding a certain flair and proving that Adams should start her own modern dance company. However, after we learn how many dancers it takes to move two chairs and a box (and it's no joke here-there's never enough lightness in these kinds of things), it becomes distracting.

Jim Manning provides the production's most intriguing component: a beautifully designed backdrop (beautifully lighted by designer Paul Cook) built of various-sized boxes and drawers which, if taken too literally, obviously represented the compartmentalization of the lives of all of Pintauro's characters, each of whom are hiding something of themselves from those around them.

  • Birds in Church. Written by Joe Pintauro, from Metropolitan Operas. Directed by Trish Crist. Presented by Rhubarb Theater. At Darkhorse Theater, Nashville. Through November 17. 

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.


 
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