BWW Reviews: Creede Reperatory's Presents Fantastic Whimsy Mark Twain's IS HE DEAD?

The Arvada Center is proud to host the Creede Repertory Theatre production of IS HE DEAD? a comedy by Mark Twain playing now through October 28th. Jean-Francois Millet, a young painter of genius, is in love with the beautiful Marie Leroux but in debt to a villainous picture-dealer, Bastien Andre. He forecloses on Millet, threatening debtor's prison unless Marie marries him. Millet realizes the only way he can pay his debts and keep Marie from marrying Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune. Millet fakes his death and prospers, all the while passing himself off as his own sister, the homely Widow Tillou. Now a rich "widow," he must find a way to get out of a dress, return to life, and marry Marie. The romp is on in this delightful farce as he pursues his passion for painting, his fortune and the woman he loves.

First I have to commend David Ives on his genius adaption of this unknown Mark Twain work that transformed this story into leisurely conversational speak with great ease. This show as a whole was just fantastic and had a great energy throughout with just the right amount of melodrama. I knew this was going to be a good show when I saw each other the actors concentration in the painting scene and their melodramatic reactions. I loved the irony of the dead artist - you cannot become a famous, rich artist until you are dead; but when you are dead, you cannot reap the rewards of being a famous artist. Aside from being a physical comedy, the show was also filled with naughty humor and nothing is funner that a cross dressing disguise. The show truly was all about the timing and the audience absolutely ate it up. At the end of Act I, you wondered where in the world Act II could go and could it get any funnier. When you see 5 doors in the beginning of the act, you knew you were in for a good time and felt like an episode of laugh-in.. Daisy/Millet was facing an identity crisis being trapped as a woman and away from his true love. The kings were over the top funny and the grand reveal at the end of the show was just fabulous. I say this with all sincerity, you do not want to miss the curtain call that will have you on the floor in laughter and then on your feet in applause!

I have to say that this cast interacted so well together, it look like they have been doing this show for years wit great ease and care. I love that they reacted to everything that was happening which showed great concentration on their part while only the comedy prevailed. Jean-Francois Millet Steven Cole Hughes as Jean-Francois Millet and Daisy was magnificent in this diverse role. He showed great contrast for both roles and was so funny in each one. His entourage was also marvelously comedic. John DiAntonio as Chicago was dynamic and carried the show while not stealing the spotlight. Patrick DuLaney was the right amount of gay in his hilarious interpretation of the lovable German. Chad Afandor as the energetic Irishman Phelim O'Shaghnessy has a spot on accent and was fun to watch. Marie Leroux (adorably played by Caitlin Wise) was bubbly and lovely. Her sister, Cecile Leroux (played by Adrian Egolf) was sarcastic and melodramatic. Their father played by John S. Green, was tenderly delightful from destitute and old to his more flirty side. John Arp was deliciously menacing in his role as Bastien Andre. Anne Butler as Madame Bathilde and Christy Brandt as Madame Caron were so sweet and played off each other so well. Finally, Graham Ward was charismatic as Master of Hats, giving each of his many roles their own humorous character with their own quirks.

Scenic Design Jon Young and Hana Goff was absolutely wonderful form the run down artists loft to the Parisian penthouse, both sets showed great contrast vibrant with color. The thoughtful lighting by designer Ryan Wentworth further enhanced this gorgeous set. I loved sound designer, Steve Stevens colorful play list for the show (Tom Jones - She's a Lady, Aerosmith - Dude Looks Like a Lady, etc). The costumes by designers Tatyana De Pavloff and Nina Silfverberg were marvelous rich with color. Each costume fit the characters personality to a t. Director Michael S. Pearlman found the best talent for these roles and really pushed them to bring out the funny in each line and his concentration to those many reactions from the entire cast should also be noted and praised.

The Arvada Center hosts the critically acclaimed Creede Repertory Theatre’s presentation of IS HE DEAD? adapted by David Ives from an unpublished story by Mark Twain in the intimate Black Box Theater now through October 28th. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. For tickets or more information contact the box office by calling 720-898- 7200 or go online to Pre-Show talks will be offered for all preview performances, and the following dates closing weekend: October 25, 26, 27, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 28 at 2:00 p.m. Designed to immerse audiences in the world of the play before the curtain rises, these entertaining talks explore the historical context of the play, essential themes, significance the play holds for Creede Rep, and challenges faced during production. Talks are free of charge, will begin 30 minutes prior to these select shows and last approximately 15 minutes. Audience Talk Backs with the cast will be offered Wednesday, October 17 after 1:00 p.m. show. Is He Dead? will be American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted for the hearing impaired on Friday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Creede Repertory Theatre (CRT) is an award-winning theater company located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The Company presented the world premiere of Is He Dead? as part of its recently completed 2012 summer season. The comedy marks the third collaboration between the Arvada Center and CRT.

Caitlin Wise as Marie and Steven Cole Hughes as Millet

L-R: Anne F. Butler (Madame Bathilde), Steven Cole Hughes (Millet) and Christy Brandt (Madame Caron)

John Arp as Bastien Andre

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From This Author Michael Mulhern

Michael Mulhern has lived in Denver and been active in it's theater scene for over 10 years. He is originally from Wiesbaden, Germany and graduated (read more...)