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Review: INTO THE BREECHES! at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Review: INTO THE BREECHES! at North Coast Repertory Theatre

Playing through November 13th

Behind-the-scenes antics, a play within a play, and costumed comedy are well loved because they work, and INTO THE BREECHES! combines them in wartime for a fun night at the theatre. INTO THE BREECHES! is playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre through November 13th.

It's World War Two and all the able-bodied men are off at war, including the beloved Artistic Director of the Oberon Playhouse. His wife Maggie (Melanie Lora) wants to stage a show so the theatre doesn't go dark and her husband's dream of producing the Henriad (a group of Shakespeare's history plays, in this case, Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V) this season. Since all the male actors are off fighting, Maggie wants to bring in females to play all the "breeches" (or male) characters.

Review: INTO THE BREECHES! at North Coast Repertory Theatre

First, she approaches Celeste (Katie MacNichol) the seasoned celebrated actress of the community. Next, she asks Winnifred (Shana Wride) the wife of the theatre's Board President Ellsworth (James Newcomb). Ellsworth loves his wife and wants to make her happy, so he unhappily complies with this production.

As Maggie and stage manager Stuart (Geno Carr), and costume designer Ida (Taylor Henderson) observe auditions, they cast two young military wives. June (Mikaela Macias) and Grace (Rosemarie Chandler) are interested in finding things to do besides work on war effort drives and worry about their husbands.

Review: INTO THE BREECHES! at North Coast Repertory Theatre

As Maggie and her group of plucky thespians work on the show, there is a lot of backstage hilarity as they rehearse, try to understand what exactly they are saying, and end up finding their truest selves while playing these Shakespeare characters.

Directed by Diana Van Fossen, the cast is fun and funny, which doesn't hit too hard on the sentimentality of it all. The show really shines once they get to Shakespeare, including the St.Crispin's Day speech from HENRY V.

Lora is lovely as Maggie, who is sweet, smart, and warm even as she starts to show more of a steel backbone as she stands up for her artistic ideas, her cast, and their production. This is a wonderful contrast to her excellent portrayal as the cool and sharp Ruth in THE HOMECOMING at North Coast Rep earlier this year.

MacNichol is endearingly dramatic and funny as Celeste, the talented performer who refuses to acknowledge that her Juliet years may be behind her. Wride is delightful as the shy Winnifred who blossoms into a funny and ballsy Falstaff. Ellsworth is loveable as her loving husband who supports her and the show in increasingly outlandish ways and is sometimes confused about how he got to that point.

Carr plays a pleasant and competent stage manager, who finds speaking his truth helps him find his place onstage. He and Wride have a rehearsal scene in act two that is silly, and effervescently fun to watch.

Macias and Chandler bring nice contrasts as military wives who are coping with their husband's absences in different ways. Henderson as Ida the costume designer really blossoms when she integrates the theatre when taking the stage as Hotspur.

The costumes by Renetta Lloyd and Roz Lehman are cute and period-appropriate, but are especially striking as the Shakespeare costumes in modern-day 1940's dress, with beautiful wigs by Peter Herman to complete the look. The scenic design by Marty Burnett, along with Marty Novotny's lighting, and sound design by Ryan Ford bring it all together.

The play was written in 2018 by George Brant and feels a bit unfocused at times as it tries to fleetingly touch upon a variety of ideas (from equal opportunity, gender roles, racism, wartime worries, and more...) all at once.

INTO THE BREECHES! is a funny show that is an ode to the theatre, and that no matter what is going on the world is always better with art in it, and the show must always go on.

How To Get Tickets

INTO THE BREECHES! Is playing at the North Coast Repertory Theatre through November 13th For ticket and show time information go to www.northcopastrep.org

Photo Credit: Aaron Rumley



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