BWW Review: Redhouse Arts Center Now Streaming The World Premiere of the Virtual Sequel STILL WAITING a Play Created for Zoom
Syracuse's Redhouse Arts Center is back at it again bringing theater to audiences virtually with their now streaming production of the world premiere of the virtual sequel Still Waiting a Play Created for Zoom by Marc Palmieri and wonderfully directed by Hunter Foster. The play is of course part II of Waiting For the Host, which made its streaming debut at Virtual Redhouse on May 28, 2020. The sequel Still Waiting began streaming on Thursday, June 25, 2020 and is available for viewing through June 29, 2020.
The same group of parishioners are back together virtually via video conference as the coronavirus lockdown continues into the third month. In Waiting for the Host, the group was together to record a virtual performance of their annual tradition of performing The Passion Play, which they did thanks to Ben's (Brendan Didio) editing skills and it was posted to the church website for the church members to view. However, in Still Waiting we learn that the virtual performance was taken down due to the fact that the vestry was upset that they did not include the resurrection of Jesus in the performance; therefore, the Bishop asked for the recording to be removed from the church website.
Still Waiting opens with Ben (Brendan Didio) and Vincent (Robert Denzel Edwards) discussing relationships. Ben tells Vincent about trying to impress a girl he met at college that he had liked for a long time. To get the girl's attention just before the school shut down because of the pandemic he wrote poetry and signed it "Me." He then shares a piece of his poetry from his Poem Book with Vincent. Basically, the poems rhyme and are in no way perfection. However, something worked and he got a date with the girl but, it never happened because all of a sudden college was shut down and all the students had to return home.
We also learn about a past relationship Sara had with a man named Dodd (Jeremy Kushnier), the Artistic Director of a Shakespeare Company in Manhattan. The members of the church all come on the video conference and all seem to have caught the "acting bug" and the "professional director" friend of Sara's may be just what the group needs to launch a new community theater at the church. However, due to the problem with their Passion Play the group is met with resistance so they decide to do a showcase of their acting with an updated version of medieval Bible plays in hopes to win the support and approval from the vestry so community theater on the lawn can take place at the small church. The showcase of course is a virtual performance where each parishioner takes on certain biblical roles in their performance of The Creation and The Fall of Lucifer. Do they succeed and do they impress a certain guest that comes to the showcase via video conference?
Brendan Didio once again charms in his role as Ben as he delivers a consistent and memorable performance. Robert Denzel Edwards lights up the screen with his superb line delivery and chemistry. Marguerite Mitchell as Sara once again proves to be a true standout with her eloquent line delivery, charm, and chemistry. Mitchell is a true professional. Jen Cody brings the laughs as Effie who this time around seem more familiar with how to work the different features of the video conference. Effie once again has quite the mouth on her often saying whatever comes to her mind without a filter. Cody is a true character actress and literally gives her all in every moment on screen. Yarissa Tiara Millan returns as the carefree and often seemingly spaced out Grace and once again shows off her hysterical comedic chops. Don't take your eyes off of her little box on the screen because you will miss some seriously hilarious facial expressions. Steve Gamba returns as Father Theo and his final moments have to be one of the best parts of this relevant play. The returning actors all seem more confident in their roles.
There is of course a new character and that is Dodd portrayed by the always talented Jeremy Kushnier. Dodd is definitely a comedic character role and Kushnier was the perfect choice for the animated and confident role. Audiences of Redhouse recently saw him make his company debut in the recent production of God of Carnage and it was a real treat to see him once again for this virtual performance. Kushnier is a highlight of the show.
Production Manager Daniel Whiting, Video Editor and graphics Joshua Reid, and Production Stage Manager Margot Reed all once again contribute to virtual Redhouse as they take on the technical and artistic elements of this streaming production of Still Waiting.
Like many others I am missing going to the theater so I truly appreciate playwright Marc Palmieri, Director Hunter Foster, and all those at Redhouse for bringing a world premiere production to our homes. Still Waiting is worth the purchase especially if you saw Waiting for the Host. The play simply entertains. Go support local theater, see some familiar characters, and enjoy a little taste of theater in the comfort of your home.
Running time: One hour.
The World Premiere of Still Waiting a Play Created for Zoom is available for streaming through June 29, 2020 for a $15 purchase that benefits the Redhouse Arts Center located in Syracuse, New York. The play is available at the Virtual Redhouse. To view the play, click here.