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Irene Crist News - Page 2

 
BWW Review: Playhouse Plays MATCHMAKER
by Joseph Baker - Oct 5, 2015

Interestingly, Playhouse on the Square has opted to produce Thornton Wilder's THE MATCHMAKER rather than HELLO, DOLLY, the legendary musical that it spawned - and therein lies both the blessing and the curse: There are so many lines here that served as song cues that the specter of Jerry Herman's 'ear-candied' score keeps hovering over the play. To add to the dilemma, the ever-arranging 'matchmaker' herself is none other than that talented musical performer Ann Sharp (surprisingly making her theatre debut at Playhouse): Because she doesn't have the opportunity to use that particular talent, and because those darned Herman songs keep popping up in the mind, THE MATCHMAKER might prove frustrating for those familiar with its melodic offspring. That's too bad, as Herman's score is rather like some pushy first grader who breaks in line; without it, the audience is left with . . . a fine romantic comedy, filled with mistaken identities and matches and mismatches - and more than just a touch of Wilder's warm , incisive writing.

Playhouse on the Square to Present THE MATCHMAKER
by BWW News Desk - Sep 15, 2015

Playhouse on the Square is proud to present the classic American comedy, TheMatchmaker. The Matchmaker follows the exploits of Dolly Levi, a widow who arranges marriages for New Yorkers at the turn of the 20th century. Hired by a local merchant to find a wife, Dolly sets her sights on the eligible bachelor herself! Slapstick, mistaken identity, and secret rendezvous ensue in this uproarious comedy from the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, Thornton Wilder. 

Playhouse on the Square to Present THE MATCHMAKER
by BWW News Desk - Aug 27, 2015

Playhouse on the Square is proud to present the classic American comedy, The Matchmaker. The Matchmaker follows the exploits of Dolly Levi, a widow who arranges marriages for New Yorkers at the turn of the 20th century. Hired by a local merchant to find a wife, Dolly sets her sights on the eligible bachelor herself! Slapstick, mistaken identity, and secret rendezvous ensue in this uproarious comedy from the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, Thornton Wilder. 

BWW Reviews: MOUNTAIN VIEW Offers a Pleasing Escape
by Joseph Baker - Jul 20, 2015

It's hard to reconcile the name of the title character in MOUNTAIN VIEW with that of its author. 'Jocate' seems a variation on Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' (when will Appalachian characters have names like 'Sue' or 'Nancy'?), while author 'Teri Feigelson' suggests a world entirely alien to cabins and mountain ledges. Yet, everything seems to come together in Playhouse on the Square's production of the winner of the 2013 NewWorks Playwriting Competition, currently being staged at TheatreWorks. In fact, with its gentle, wistful tone and incorporation of original, tonally related songs, MOUNTAIN VIEW evokes a film from some years ago, the little-seen but much-lauded SONGCATCHER, with turn-of-the-century musicologist Janet McTeer finding substance and artistry in Appalachian music (along with a romantic interlude with a hirsute Aidan Quinn in one of his last leading man roles). It even reminded me of (now nearly forgotten) Bobbie Gentry's concept album DELTA SWEETE, with the artist's songs depicting the characters and area she knew as a girl.

MOUNTAIN VIEW Runs Now thru 8/2 at TheatreWorks
by BWW News Desk - Jul 10, 2015

When her father leaves unexpectedly, Jokate must take care of her younger brother while navigating the minefield of her mother's grief. Both independent and fiercely loyal, she tells the story of her kinfolk and her survival in the mountains of Appalachia. Mountain View is a world premier production and a winner of the 2013 Playhouse on the Square NewWorks@TheWorks playwriting competition and is written by local Memphian, Teri Feigelson.

MOUNTAIN VIEW to Run 7/10-8/2 at TheatreWorks
by BWW News Desk - Jun 26, 2015

When her father leaves unexpectedly, Jokate must take care of her younger brother while navigating the minefield of her mother's grief. Both independent and fiercely loyal, she tells the story of her kinfolk and her survival in the mountains of Appalachia. Mountain View is a world premier production and a winner of the 2013 Playhouse on the Square NewWorks@TheWorks playwriting competition and is written by local Memphian, Teri Feigelson.

POTS@TheWorks to Present World Premiere of MOUNTAIN VIEW
by BWW News Desk - Jun 8, 2015

When her father leaves unexpectedly, Jokate must take care of her younger brother while navigating the minefield of her mother's grief. Both independent and fiercely loyal, she tells the story of her kinfolk and her survival in the mountains of Appalachia. Mountain View is a world premier production and a winner of the 2013 Playhouse on the Square NewWorks@TheWorks playwriting competition and is written by local Memphian, Teri Feigelson.

Summer Stages: Dancing in the Streets and Dancing and More in the Theatres in Memphis
by Joseph Baker - Jun 1, 2015

Now that Memphis in May has finally bid adieu to the Sunset Symphony, crowned the winners of the barbecue contest,and trod well the welcome mat to the magnficent new Bass Pro Shop, Memphians can look to its theatres, old and new, for diversions of a histrionic nature.

BWW Reviews: Circuit's SEMINAR Should Be Required Viewing
by Joseph Baker - Jun 1, 2015

There's something intrinsically dramatic about a formidable artist/instructor who, because of whatever circumstances, finds that he or she has to step down a rung on the ladder of fame in order not to slip from that ladder altogether. It isn't necessarily a new theme that Theresa Rebeck tackles in the acid-etched comedy SEMINAR, directed by Irene Crist and currently running at Circuit Playhouse. While watching it, I was reminded of other works dealing with artists who, out of necessity, must share their genius (and sharpen their verbal talons) on eager, ambitious upstarts. Not too long ago, there was a production of John Logan's RED, about the artist Mark Rothko and his fictional assistant. Nor should we forget Terrence McNally's MASTER CLASS, with diva Maria Callas holding a voice master class with students trembling under her aura. Other, similar (if fictional) titles leap to mind: Consider that holy terror from THE PAPER CHASE, 'Professor Kingsfield' (John Houseman), intimidating Timothy Bottoms' frustrated law student. To these master instructors we can now add the imperious 'Leonard' (deliciously played by Michael Detroit, who, as a real-life instructor, has an innate understanding of the interplay between teacher and student), a famous novelist who has been to the well of inspiration once too often and is now (for $5000 per student) reluctantly willing to train his weary eyes on material that more often than not elicits blistering barbs of criticism; and a varied and pretentious lot they are - the affluent 'Kate' (whose spacious and expensive apartment furnishes the setting for the seminar meetings, and whose six-year struggle with a story is rather like a plane that bumps along a runway and can't quite take flight); the name-dropping 'Douglas,' who has written something fit for THE NEW YORKER (ordinarily an impressive feat - except when Leonard derides its 'detached intelligence'); the opportunistic 'Izzy,' who isn't beyond parlaying her particular affinity for sex into a form of self-promotion; and, finally, the disproving 'Martin,' whose intellectual probity causes him to roll his eyes at the pretentiousness of people like Douglas.

The Circus Playhouse Presents SEMINAR, Now thru 6/21
by BWW News Desk - May 29, 2015

Four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing lessons with Leonard, a once celebrated literary figure. Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon, and hearts are unmoored. The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious, as innocence collides with experience in this sharp comedy.

The Circus Playhouse Presents SEMINAR, 5/29-6/21
by BWW News Desk - Apr 28, 2015

Four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing lessons with Leonard, a once celebrated literary figure. Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon, and hearts are unmoored. The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious, as innocence collides with experience in this sharp comedy.

BWW Reviews: Dia-TRIBES at Circuit
by Joseph Baker - Apr 21, 2015

David Morgan's detailed set design for Circuit Playhouse's production of Nina Raine's TRIBES 'speaks volumes' (no pun intended) for the noisy, ego-driven family the audience is about to meet: Piano, stage left; 'intellectual' clutter scattered about; books everywhere; and - oh, yes - a liquor bottle on the table. The members almost immediately begin to descend on stage, chattering away with the kind of overlapping, hyper-intense dialogue that would make the late Robert Altman smile and put fingers in both of his ears. Nothing seems in harmony hear -- everything is a cacophonous, confused kind of roar. At the center, as a kind of eye to this verbal hurricane, is 'Billy,' sweetly casting his gaze from one pair of lips to another, as that is the only way he can absorb the conversations that are colliding about him.

TRIBES Begins Tonight at The Circuit Playhouse
by BWW News Desk - Apr 10, 2015

Billy is a young man born deaf and raised in a loud, opinionated family where his parents and siblings never bothered to learn sign language, requiring him to adapt to the hearing world. When he meets Sylvia, a young woman from a deaf family who introduces him to deaf culture, Billy suddenly feels confidence and a sense of belonging to a 'tribe' he's never known before. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Tribes is a poignant new drama about love, family, and finding one's voice.

Circuit Playhouse Presents TRIBES, Now thru 5/3
by BWW News Desk - Apr 9, 2015

Billy is a young man born deaf and raised in a loud, opinionated family where his parents and siblings never bothered to learn sign language, requiring him to adapt to the hearing world. When he meets Sylvia, a young woman from a deaf family who introduces him to deaf culture, Billy suddenly feels confidence and a sense of belonging to a 'tribe' he's never known before. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Tribes is a poignant new drama about love, family, and finding one's voice.

TRIBES Begins 4/10 at The Circuit Playhouse
by BWW News Desk - Mar 26, 2015

Billy is a young man born deaf and raised in a loud, opinionated family where his parents and siblings never bothered to learn sign language, requiring him to adapt to the hearing world. When he meets Sylvia, a young woman from a deaf family who introduces him to deaf culture, Billy suddenly feels confidence and a sense of belonging to a "tribe" he's never known before. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Tribes is a poignant new drama about love, family, and finding one's voice.

BWW Reviews: Playhouse's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE Would Make Chekhov Giggle
by Joseph Baker - Mar 23, 2015

I wonder if Jackie Nichols is providing on-site psychiatric help for those involved in the repertory presentations of Anton Chekhov's THE SEAGULL and Christopher Durang's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE at Playhouse on the Square. Surely the veteran Irene Crist, performing double duty as Director of both the uber-heavy Chekhov piece and the giddy Durang parody, is on a schizoid seesaw as she veers from the serious to the silly - and the same might be said from the cast members who swap costumes and take their characterizations from one play to the next. Having just seen THE SEAGULL last week, I was eager to see how Durang's TONY-winning play would parlay all that Chekhovian talk about artists and pseudo-artists into something more laughter-inducing. However, rest assured that the talents involved in both plays rise (or fall, as it were) without any difficulty.

BWW Reviews: PLAYHOUSE Gets Serious With THE SEAGULL
by Joseph Baker - Mar 16, 2015

Staging a play by Henrik Ibsen or Anton Chekhov poses certain problems for theatre groups. On the one hand, there is a commitment to 'the classics' - and there is an opportunity for actors (especially young ones) to examine their talents and extend them in directions they have not gone before. The 'downside' is the reputation such plays have as 'talkfests,' for they are often deliberate and detailed in their construction of characters and relationships. I was reminded of this during both the performance and the intermission of Playhouse on the Square's production of Chekhov's THE SEAGULL (which, literally, follows on the 'heels' of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW). During Intermission, two couples stood next to my seat and discussed the play. With a hint of apology, one lady stated, 'The actors are very good, but I really prefer the musicals.' Yet, as I watched and listened to the play, I glanced at one audience member, leaning forward and rapt in concentration; and further down my row, another could audibly be heard gasping at the insensitivity of 'Madame Arkandina' toward her son.

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE Runs Now thru 3/29 at Playhouse on the Square
by BWW News Desk - Mar 13, 2015

Humorist Christopher Durang pays homage to Chekhov's classic themes of love and loss in this 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play. Vanya and Sonia have frittered their lives away in their family's Pennsylvania farmhouse full of regret and angst. When their self-absorbed movie star sister Masha visits with her prized 20-something boy toy Spike, the stage is set for an absurd weekend of general hilarity and sibling scorekeeping.

THE SEAGULL Runs Now thru 3/28 at Playhouse on the Square
by BWW News Desk - Mar 12, 2015

Famous, but aging, actress Irina Arkadina is obsessed with a callous younger lover, dismissive of her son the frustrated playwright, and suspicious of an admiring ingenue. Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's 1895 play lays bare its comedy and its cruelty in a household overflowing with creativity, fantasies of fame, jealousy, and unrequited love.

Circuit Playhouse to Present TRIBES, 4/10-5/3
by BWW News Desk - Mar 11, 2015

Billy is a young man born deaf and raised in a loud, opinionated family where his parents and siblings never bothered to learn sign language, requiring him to adapt to the hearing world. When he meets Sylvia, a young woman from a deaf family who introduces him to deaf culture, Billy suddenly feels confidence and a sense of belonging to a 'tribe' he's never known before. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Tribes is a poignant new drama about love, family, and finding one's voice.

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