Frank Benge

Frank Benge A Kansas native, Frank Benge has been involved in the Austin area theatre scene as a Director, Designer, Writer and Performer for the past 20 years. He holds a double BA in Theatre and English from Washburn University.


MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS An Engaging Nostalgia FestBWW Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS An Engaging Nostalgia Fest
Posted: Dec. 6, 2018


BWW Review: GREAT EXPECTATIONS Delivers Great CharmBWW Review: GREAT EXPECTATIONS Delivers Great Charm
Posted: Dec. 1, 2018


BWW Review: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD Misses a Lot of Opportunities But Still Highly EntertainingBWW Review: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD Misses a Lot of Opportunities But Still Highly Entertaining
Posted: Dec. 6, 2018


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Razor Sharp Black Comedy THE SECRETARY Turns the Gun Debate On Its HeadBWW Review: Razor Sharp Black Comedy THE SECRETARY Turns the Gun Debate On Its Head
Posted: Mar. 24, 2018


BWW Review: MASS a Towering Achievement That Soars, Lifts and InspiresBWW Review: MASS a Towering Achievement That Soars, Lifts and Inspires
Posted: Jun. 30, 2018


BWW Review: RAGTIME a Work of Great Power and Beauty Brilliantly ExecutedBWW Review: RAGTIME a Work of Great Power and Beauty Brilliantly Executed
Posted: Apr. 20, 2018


BWW Review: CABARET Dazzles at Texas StateBWW Review: CABARET Dazzles at Texas State
Posted: Nov. 17, 2018


BWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME Dazzles in ZACH Texas PremiereBWW Review: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME Dazzles in ZACH Texas Premiere
Posted: Feb. 7, 2018


BWW Review: ENRON Engaging and Thought Provoking High Tech EntertainmentBWW Review: ENRON Engaging and Thought Provoking High Tech Entertainment
Posted: Feb. 27, 2018


BWW Review: Cirque du Soleil's CRYSTAL A Visual Frozen TreatBWW Review: Cirque du Soleil's CRYSTAL A Visual Frozen Treat
Posted: Feb. 16, 2018


BWW Review: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD Misses a Lot of Opportunities But Still Highly EntertainingBWW Review: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD Misses a Lot of Opportunities But Still Highly Entertaining
December 6, 2018

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (or, as it is sometimes called, the much shorter, 'Drood') is a 1985 musical based on Charles Dickens unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Written entirely by Rupert Holmes, it was the first Broadway musical with multiple endings determined by the audience. Holmes received Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score. The production won five Tony Awards out of eleven nominations, including Best Musical. The musical is derived from both Dickens' final unfinished novel and British pantomime and music hall traditions that reached the height of their popularity in the years following Dickens' death. Produced originally by Austin Playhouse in 2005, it was nominated for six B. Iden Payne awards including the winner of Best Director for Musical Theatre (Don Toner). Jill Blackwood, Rick Roemer, and Jacqui Cross reprise their roles from that 2005 production.

BWW Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS An Engaging Nostalgia FestBWW Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS An Engaging Nostalgia Fest
December 6, 2018

Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS is a 2000 musical based on Paramount Pictures 1954 film of the same name featuring the songs of Irving Berlin. The film itself was a remake of the film Holiday Inn. The new book is by David Ives and Paul Blake and features all of the songs from the 1954 film, along with some trunk songs, all by Irving Berlin and hews remarkably close to the plot line of the film, with a few exceptions. It premiered in St. Louis in 2000 at The Muny, after which it opened in San Francisco in 2004. This new stage musical played a limited engagement of 53 performances on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in 2008. It received two 2009 Tony nominations and seven Drama Desk Award nominations.

BWW Review: GREAT EXPECTATIONS Delivers Great CharmBWW Review: GREAT EXPECTATIONS Delivers Great Charm
December 1, 2018

GREAT EXPECTATIONS is Charles Dickens' thirteenth novel and depicts the personal growth and development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. It is Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes. It has been adapted into a multitude of films, television programs and stage productions. The adaptation by Barbara Field is currently on stage at The Vortex as produced by Different Stages.

BWW Review: CABARET Dazzles at Texas StateBWW Review: CABARET Dazzles at Texas State
November 17, 2018

CABARET is a 1966 musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff, based on John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am a Camera, which was adapted from the short novel Goodbye to Berlin (1939) by Christopher Isherwood. Set in 1931 Berlin as the Nazis are rising to power, it focuses on the nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub, and revolves around young American writer Cliff Bradshaw (John Fredrickson) and his relationship with English cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Logan-Rae). The musical was also made into a 1972 film.

BWW Interview: Sean Thompson on Touring LOVE NEVER DIESBWW Interview: Sean Thompson on Touring LOVE NEVER DIES
November 5, 2018

Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to one of Broadway's longest running musicals, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, is his show LOVE NEVER DIES; which is currently touring across the United States. The tour staging is inspired by the reworked 2011 Australian production of the musical. To give Austin audiences an inside look into the show, we talked with Sean Thompson who plays hero turned flawed husband and father, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny.

BWW Review: Penfold Remount of Doctuh Mistuh's NEVERMORE Still WowsBWW Review: Penfold Remount of Doctuh Mistuh's NEVERMORE Still Wows
November 5, 2018

NEVERMORE: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe is a Canadian musical that was written and composed by Jonathan Christenson which follows the rather dismal life and internal struggles of Edgar Allan Poe that later on inspired his work as an author. The script contains references to both his poems and short stories. While most of the script dramatizes true events in his life, other aspects are entirely fictitious. The musical was originally produced at the Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta and went on to be performed across Canada, and at the Barbican Theater in London, and the New Victory Theatre in NYC. The current production now playing at Ground Floor Theatre is a remount of the original Doctuh Mistuh production, produced in conjunction with Penfold Theatre, and features most of the original cast.

BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is Brilliant Slapstick ComedyBWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is Brilliant Slapstick Comedy
October 25, 2018

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is a comedy by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre Company that won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards. Mischief Theatre Company have also written Peter Pan Goes Wrong which opened at London's Apollo Theatre in December 2015 starring the same cast. They have also done a spoof of Dickens A Christmas Carol, all with the same frenetic pace and trademark extreme physical comedy. It's like the hyperactive child of Noises Off gone off their meds.

BWW Review: Great Performances Abound in THE ADDAMS FAMILYBWW Review: Great Performances Abound in THE ADDAMS FAMILY
October 25, 2018

The characters in The Addams Family were created by American cartoonist Charles Addams. The characters traditionally include Gomez and Morticia Addams, their children Wednesday and Pugsley, close family members Uncle Fester and Grandmama, their butler Lurch, the disembodied hand Thing, and Gomez's Cousin Itt. The characters are a satirical inversion of the ideal American family: odd, wealthy, macabre and unaware that other people find them, at the very least, bizarre. They originally appeared as single-panel cartoons, about half of which were originally published in The New Yorker between their debut in 1938 and Charles Addams' death in 1988. They've been adapted to multiple forms of media: television, both live action and animated, and a series of films. The most recent adaptation is the musical THE ADDAMS FAMILY with a book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, Music & Lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

BWW Review: YOUR MOTHER'S COPY OF THE KAMA SUTRA at The Museum of Human AchievementBWW Review: YOUR MOTHER'S COPY OF THE KAMA SUTRA at The Museum of Human Achievement
October 5, 2018

YOUR MOTHER'S COPY OF THE KAMA SUTRA begins rather sneakily, with Amber Quick singing in an informal hootenanny with Michael Ferstenfeld, Howard Burkett and San Patrevito who function as a sort of house band for the play. They sing a collection of 80's and 90's songs in the old warehouse venue known as the Museum of Human Achievement and what they achieved, quite by accident, was a moment where they transported me back to old 1980's Austin. The setting itself is clever, feeling like an old coffee house, a couple of books on your table as a centerpiece, topped by a fake flower in a simple glass vase. On closer examination, the books were vintage self-help sex manuals, like The Joy Of Sex.

BWW Review: MIDDLETOWN Crackles With Wit and Sparkles With StyleBWW Review: MIDDLETOWN Crackles With Wit and Sparkles With Style
October 4, 2018

MIDDLETOWN is an essentially plotless play by Will Eno, which was the winner of the 2010 Horton Foote Award for Most Promising New Play. Like Thornton Wilder's Our Town before it, MIDDLETOWN looks at our existence between life and death, or, the middle. What MIDDLETOWN achieves that Our Town doesn't, at least for me, is that it succeeds through a crackling wit and the usual Eno word play to remind us that it is the every day minutiae that make us all human. It also is a refreshing reminder that we all need to stop and take the time to appreciate just how achingly painful yet weird and wonderful life here as a human truly is.

BWW Review: ONCE is a Visually Beautiful and Lyrical Love StoryBWW Review: ONCE is a Visually Beautiful and Lyrical Love Story
September 26, 2018

ONCE is an eight-time Tony Award-winning musical from 2012, based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning film of the same name by John Carney. It is running now on ZACH Theatre's Topfer Stage in the first Texas regional theatre production. ONCE is a contemporary love story about a complex and decidedly odd relationship that is driven by the power of music to connect people. ONCE is the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant who are drawn together by their shared love of music. Their surprise friendship and eventual collaboration, heightened by the raw emotion of the music they create together, evolves into a powerful but extremely complicated romance. What makes this musical even more unusual is the fact that the cast also serves as the orchestra.

BWW Review: SOME HUMANS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS SHOW a Sharp Satire With a Deep MessageBWW Review: SOME HUMANS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS SHOW a Sharp Satire With a Deep Message
September 25, 2018

SOME HUMANS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS SHOW is a difficult show to describe as it is all over the map...and that is in no way a bad thing. This new work, by C.B. Goodman, was inspired by the 1903 public execution of Topsy, the elephant, and although there are clear echoes from the beginning, the inspiration never really becomes clear until the final moments, yet it never telegraphs the surprise ending, which takes a huge turn from the riotous belly laughs of the great majority of this highly entertaining and though provoking production.

BWW Interview: Devin Finn and Katie Bender on the Theatre Synesthesia Production of THE FAULTBWW Interview: Devin Finn and Katie Bender on the Theatre Synesthesia Production of THE FAULT
September 25, 2018

Theatre Synesthesia has only been on the scene for a few short years, yet in that short time, they've managed to get on several award lists and have even walked away with a few of those awards. Their work has been exclusively dedicated to producing the writing of playwright Casey Wimpee... until now. On October 11th, they venture into new territory by producing Austin playwright Katie Bender's play THE FAULT. We recently had the opportunity to talk with founder and director, Devin Finn and playwright Katie Bender about this upcoming production from Theatre Synesthesia.

BWW Review: STELLA AND LOU A Sweet Tale That Speaks To Those With Life ExperienceBWW Review: STELLA AND LOU A Sweet Tale That Speaks To Those With Life Experience
September 22, 2018

STELLA AND LOU is a 2015 play by Bruce Graham. It's set in Lou's Bar, the kind of joint where daylight is about as welcome as a penniless alcoholic who wants to run a tab. On one quiet night, two long time friends navigate small talk that begins with how things change with time and soon deepens as the topic comes around to past relationships. STELLA AND LOU is an intimate look at how friendships and the longing for companionship changes with the passage of time. It is also about how time affects the need for forgiveness.

BWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY Inspiring Story of Hope and HealingBWW Review: THE WHO'S TOMMY Inspiring Story of Hope and Healing
September 20, 2018

THE WHO'S TOMMY is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Pete Townshend and book by Townshend and Des McAnuff, based on The Who's 1969 rock opera Tommy. There are several plot differences between the album, the film, and the stage production, though the general storyline is largely the same. The biggest difference in the story is the new finale, which was rewritten in 1993. Originally, Tommy instructs his followers to become deaf, dumb, and blind themselves in order to achieve enlightenment. In the 1993 rewrite, Tommy instructs them to not emulate him, but to live their own lives. In both versions, the crowd rejects both him and his message. Inspiration for the stage show came from the 1969 concept album, Tommy by The Who. It was the first album ever billed as a rock opera. The album has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and, before becoming a stage musical, it was also the basis for an all star recording that paved the way for the 1975 film of the same name. It first premiered on Broadway in 1993. Acclaimed director, Des McAnuff, and Pete Townshend sculpted the concept album into a stage show that won five Tony Awards including Best Original Score.

BWW Review: MONROE A Work of Great Heart With An Important MessageBWW Review: MONROE A Work of Great Heart With An Important Message
September 10, 2018

MONROE, a world premiere production, directed by Lara Toner Haddock, is the latest play by Lisa B. Thompson. The script is a heart warming and funny look at a Southern family. What makes it a remarkable evening of theatre is that it also shows how racial terror affects the minds and lives of these African Americans and their great strength that allows them to maintain their faith in a better tomorrow.Thompson has created some wonderful characters in this new play and shows that she has a deft hand at creating dialogue that leaps off the page. There's great wit here as well as heart. The scenes between the three women in the cast are absolutely delightful and the three actresses wring every possible laugh out of the audience with ease. MONROE reveals Thompson be a writer of great range as this new work is worlds away from her award winning play Underground, which won the 2017 Austin Critics' Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award.

BWW Review: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Musical Rocks at Georgetown PalaceBWW Review: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Musical Rocks at Georgetown Palace
September 2, 2018

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET is a jukebox musical that uses the recording of an impromptu jam session that involed Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash as its basis. The recording was discovered in the vaults at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee in 1981. The recording itself was made on December 4, 1956. This session is considered a seminal moment in rock and roll. The musical opened on Broadway in 2010, after several tryouts and regional productions, and spawned a 2011 West End production. It uses 23 songs,not all of which are from the Sun Records catalog.

BWW Review: Rebecca Robinson Delivers Remarkable Performance in Albee's THE GOATBWW Review: Rebecca Robinson Delivers Remarkable Performance in Albee's THE GOAT
August 31, 2018

THE GOAT (or Who Is Sylvia?) is a Tony Award winning play by Edward Albee which opened on Broadway in 2002. It also won the 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In it, Albee uses a married couple and their son to give audiences the opportunity to examine and hopefully question their own moral judgments on what society has labeled as taboo. Martin (Robert Pierson), his wife Stevie (Rebecca Robinson), and their son Billy (Preston Ruess), find their lives crumbling when Martin reveals he has fallen in love with a goat...the Sylvia of the title. Sylvia is a reference to the song 'Who is Sylvia?' from Shakespeare's play The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Proteus sings this song, hoping to woo Silvia. It was also referred to in Finding the Sun, a work by Albee from 1982.

BWW Interview: Lisa B. Thompson and Her New Play MONROE at Austin PlayhouseBWW Interview: Lisa B. Thompson and Her New Play MONROE at Austin Playhouse
August 30, 2018

Lisa B. Thompson burst onto the Austin theatre scene in a big way last season with her play UNDERGROUND, which was not only nominated for most of the awards given in Austin, but also managed to walk away with a few. She capped off the season by winning the New Play award from Austin Playhouse's annual playwrighting contest. The contest winning play, MONROE, is opening at Austin Playhouse on September 7th in a World Premiere production. Thompson, besides these two plays, is also the author of the book Beyond The Black Lady: Sexuality And The New African American Middle Class (University of Illinois Press, 2009) which received Honorable Mention in competition for the Gloria E. Anzaldua Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association. Her work has appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Finding A Way Home: A Critical Assessment Of Walter Mosley's Fiction (University Press of Mississippi, 2008), and From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances (Wayne State University Press, 2011). Her plays include Single Black Female (Samuel French, Inc., 2012) which has been produced throughout the U.S. and Canada. BroadwayWorld recently had the opportunity to sit down with Thompson to talk, in depth, about her new play MONROE, right before it makes its World Premiere at Austin Playhouse to open their season.

BWW Review: TexArts THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is Great Adult FunBWW Review: TexArts THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is Great Adult Fun
August 21, 2018

If you've ever wondered what the home life of the guests on Jerry Springer was like, you're in luck! THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL, written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, is an adult musical romp about the tenants of Armadillo Acres, Florida's most 'exclusive' trailer park. It was first performed at the very first annual New York Music Theater Festival in 2004 and made its Off-Broadway debut in 2005. When Pippi (Emily Villarreal), a stripper on the run, becomes the newest tenant, she comes between the agoraphobic Jeannie (Julie Foster) and Norbert (Jarret Mallon) her tollbooth collector husband. What ensues is a hilarious whirlwind tour of a world filled with adultery, strip clubs, flan, spray cheese, ex-boyfriends, permanent marker sniffing, storms, press-on nails and the Ice Capades. There's no deep message here, but there are plenty of laughs, winning performances and great singing voices.If you've ever wondered what the home life of the guests on Jerry Springer was like, you're in luck! THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL, written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, is an adult musical romp about the tenants of Armadillo Acres, Florida's most 'exclusive' trailer park. It was first performed at the very first annual New York Music Theater Festival in 2004 and made its Off-Broadway debut in 2005. When Pippi (Emily Villarreal), a stripper on the run, becomes the newest tenant, she comes between the agoraphobic Jeannie (Julie Foster) and Norbert (Jarret Mallon) her tollbooth collector husband. What ensues is a hilarious whirlwind tour of a world filled with adultery, strip clubs, flan, spray cheese, ex-boyfriends, permanent marker sniffing, storms, press-on nails and the Ice Capades. There's no deep message here, but there are plenty of laughs, winning performances and great singing voices.



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