BWW REVIEW: Oklahoma City University's Department of Theatre Brings Life to IS HE DEAD?
Jess here. This weekend I had the opportunity to see Oklahoma City University's production of "Is He Dead?" a play written by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives. This show, set in France, follows Jean-François Millet, a struggling painter with plenty of talent, but no customers. It isn't until his friends Chicago, Dutchy, and O'Shaughnessy hatch the brilliant idea to "kill" Millet off that he finally reaches stardom and receives the recognition he deserves. After his "death" he assumes the persona of a Miss Daisy Tillou, his faux twin sister, and creates mayhem as he tells lie after lie to keep his identity a secret.
The role of Jean-François was portrayed by BFA Acting Sophomore, Jordan Kilgore. His quick-witted nature entertained the crowd, and he was especially gut-busting when he took on the role of his eccentric alter-ego, Miss Daisy Tillou. I loved the stark contrast between his characters, and I know the audience members were also duly impressed. The trio of actors sharing the stage and majority of the plot with Kilgore were absolutely hilarious, and perfectly cast. Erik Hamilton (Chicago), Kaden Mahle (Dutchy) and Andrew Tompkins (O'Shaughnessy) took advantage of the script they were given and lit up the room with their outstanding comedic timing. The Leroux family also had their fair share of bizarreness, and their distinct relationships with the characters around them made the production all the funnier. Mary Taylor Hesterberg (Marie Leroux) presented an out-of-this-world hilarious ingénue, which perfectly juxtaposed her headstrong, yet equally hysterical sister, Brooke Moltrum (Cecile Leroux). The family was tied together by Harrison Langford (Papa Leroux), whose performance was 100% dedicated to the show, which made his role all the more entertaining.
The dynamic duo of Mercedes Arndt (Madame Bathilde) and Kirby Crosbie (Madame Caron), brought life into every scene they were involved in. Their humorous character work showed them off nicely and helped to bring the much-loved zaniness to the production. I actually ended up seeing two actors portray the role of Bastien André: Brandon Elder and Matthew Lavery. Each of them did a wonderful job of playing the villain, and I appreciated their ability to find comical moments for "the bad guy" which made the character more likable in the audience's eyes. And if it were even possible, this hysterical masterpiece had two incredible comic reliefs. Janna Schmid (Thorpe/ Riviére) presented two show stopping characters and had the audience in stitches with her hilarious physical comedy and comedic timing. Finally, Owen Whitham (Charlie) was also uproarious in his role in Act 2 as the seemingly innocent assistant to Miss Daisy Tillou, and used his ability to execute small nuances to get the audience's attention.
The show, directed by Junior BFA acting major Katy Yates, flawlessly presented the perfect classic comedy. The chemistry and talent of the actors onstage was a pleasure to witness, and I'm happy that I had the opportunity to see it twice. Thank you to the cast and crew for giving myself, and the audience a much-needed laugh, and escape from reality.
"We offer you jokes and insults, we offer you paeans and pageants, we offer you Bacchanals and social comment. Bless our play and smile." -Stephen Sondheim