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: ONCE is a Visually Beautiful and Lyrical Love StoryBWW Review: ONCE is a Visually Beautiful and Lyrical Love Story
Posted: Sep. 26, 2018


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
Posted: Sep. 25, 2018


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


BWW Review: MIDDLETOWN Crackles With Wit and Sparkles With StyleBWW Review: MIDDLETOWN Crackles With Wit and Sparkles With Style
Posted: Oct. 4, 2018


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
Posted: Sep. 22, 2018


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
Posted: Sep. 25, 2018


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
Posted: Oct. 5, 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: THE SEAFARER First Rate Irish Tall TaleBWW Review: THE SEAFARER First Rate Irish Tall Tale
Posted: Nov. 5, 2017


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: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Musical Rocks at Georgetown PalaceBWW Review: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Musical Rocks at Georgetown Palace
Posted: Sep. 2, 2018


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.

BWW Review: W;T Receives First Rate Production at Austin Scottish Rite TheaterBWW Review: W;T Receives First Rate Production at Austin Scottish Rite Theater
August 14, 2018

W;T is a 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning drama by Margaret Edson. The play also received the 'Best New Play' award for 1999 from the New York Drama Critics' Circle. Edson used her work experience in a hospital as part of the inspiration for her play. Functioning as both the narrator and a character in the play, the character of Vivian Bearing (Kristin Fern Jihnson) shifts between the present and the past, as she experiences stage four ovarian cancer through diagnosis to treatment with high-dosage experimental chemotherapy and finally, to her demise. Along the way, she also examines her life choices to discovers that she prefers kindness to intellectual detachment.

BWW Interview: Stuart Moulton and Eighteen Years of Austin Cabaret TheatreBWW Interview: Stuart Moulton and Eighteen Years of Austin Cabaret Theatre
August 4, 2018

One of Austin's best kept secrets is Austin Cabaret Theatre, which quietly brings in the best of the New York cabaret scene for one night only performances. This is all due to one man, Stuart Moulton. Stuart lives in New York City, but his love of Austin is unmistakable. We recently sat down with him to talk about their upcoming eighteenth season.

BWW Review: Georgetown Palace MARY POPPINS Delivers Disney MagicBWW Review: Georgetown Palace MARY POPPINS Delivers Disney Magic
July 22, 2018

P. L. Travers Mary Poppins magical nanny character was first published in 1934 and resulted in a series of eight children's books that ended in 1988. MARY POPPINS is a stage musical that uses the most iconic songs of the Sherman Brothers, with additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and a script by Julian Fellowes. The musical is a hybrid of Travers children's books and the 1964 Disney film, which fuses various elements from the two. I have some serious issues with the script, which I intend to discuss, but director Ron Watson and his talented cadre of technical artists produce pure 60's Disney magic.

BWW Review: THE ANTIPODES Whip Smart Superbly Performed Examination of Story TellingBWW Review: THE ANTIPODES Whip Smart Superbly Performed Examination of Story Telling
July 12, 2018

'The rest of the world might be going to hell, but stories are better than ever,' says Sandy (Tom Green), the boss and leader of the think tank in THE ANTIPODES, the newest play from Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker currently on stage at Hyde Park Theatre in what is the second production of this fascinating new work. Hyde Park has a history of producing her plays, most recently having staged both John and The Flick. In THE ANTIPODES, Baker examines the very nature of story telling and also has some fun with the concept of time and how it is perceived. It is also interesting to note that the definition of antipodes is 'the opposite'. Baker, in the very construct of the play, is giving us the opposite of traditional plot structure. Sandy reveals a great deal of what Baker is attempting to accomplish in his early remarks to the group: 'If you think about the greatest thinkers in world history: Jesus, Socrates, Confucius; None of those guys recorded anything or wrote anything down. And what we know about them we know through other people telling stories about their stories. Could we go back to the beginning? Could we remake our collective unconscious?'

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

MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers, is a musical theatre piece composed by Leonard Bernstein with additional lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and Paul Simon. Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy, it premiered on September 8, 1971. Bernstein originally intended to compose a traditional Mass, but eventually settled on this more innovative form. It uses the Tridentine Mass of the Roman Catholic Church as its basis. While the liturgical passages are sung in Latin, MASS also includes added passages in English written by Bernstein, composer Stephen Schwartz, and Paul Simon (who wrote the first quatrain of 'Half of the People'). Intended to be staged theatrically, it has also been performed in concert format. This production has the added bonus of subtitling above the stage, although it really isn't necessar y.

BWW Interview: J. Robert Moore on Sixty Years of the Zilker Summer Musical and ALL SHOOK UPBWW Interview: J. Robert Moore on Sixty Years of the Zilker Summer Musical and ALL SHOOK UP
June 27, 2018

Who hasn't been to one of the Broadway musical gems that play out in the open air amphitheatre during these blistering hot Austin summers? A gift to the community, the Zilker Summer Musical has been part of Austin for sixty years now. Always free to the public, this year's offering is ALL SHOOK UP, a jukebox musical from 2004 setting Elvis Presley's music to a book by Joe DiPietro. The story is based on William Shakespeare's 1602 play Twelfth Night. Since 1959, audiences have placed their blankets and lawn chairs under the stars at the Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater to be treated to such Broadway hits as Hairspray, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Oklahoma, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and L'il Abner to name just a few. Shows that, in many cases, no other theatre in town would produce. BroadwayWorld recently had the opportunity to sit down with J. Robert Moore, the Artistic Director of Zilker Theatre Productions to talk about the Zilker musical as well as the organization.

BWW Review: RUTHLESS! Unfortunately Misses The MarkBWW Review: RUTHLESS! Unfortunately Misses The Mark
June 18, 2018

RUTHLESS! is a musical spoof of show business with music by Marvin Laird and book and lyrics by Joel Paley that not only spoofs Broadway musicals, but is also a satire of non-musical movies about showbiz such as All About Eve. The musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1992. The show won the 1993 New York Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical.

BWW Interview: Peter Bay on Texas-sized production of 'MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers'BWW Interview: Peter Bay on Texas-sized production of 'MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers'
June 13, 2018

Leonard Bernstein is an American treasure. He was one of the first American born conductors to receive worldwide acclaim. His fame is derived not only from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, but also from his conducting most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his prodigious body of music as the composer of West Side Story, Peter Pan, Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, On the Waterfront, MASS and a range of other compositions, including three symphonies and many shorter chamber and solo works. Bernstein was the first conductor to give a series of television lectures on classical music, primarily aimed at youth, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. As a composer, he has created pieces that are, without question, part of the fabric of our lives. 'MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers' was composed by Leonard Bernstein with text by Bernstein and additional text and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy, it premiered on September 8, 1971. The performance was part of the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Austin will have the rare opportunity to experience this glorious piece as part of the Bernstein at 100 celebration this month. BroadwayWorld recently had the opportunity to talk to conductor Peter Bay, Musical Director and Conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra about the upcoming production.



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