BWW Review: Café Nordo's Spell Goes a Bit Awry in THE WITCHING HOUR

BWW Review: Café Nordo's Spell Goes a Bit Awry in THE WITCHING HOUR
The cast of The Witching Hour at Cafe Nordo.
Photo credit: Bruce Clayton Tom

I'm certainly a fan of the creepy and the crawly and the things that go bump in the night which is one reason Halloween is my favorite holiday. So, a spooky Café Nordo show entitled "The Witching Hour" should be right up my alley. And while it is and there's still all the delicious food and fabulous music and fun one would expect from a Nordo show, the story felt a little tentative and unsure of itself and where it needed to go.

In Terry Podgorski's story we meet magic practitioner and teacher William (Ronnie Hill). It's the evening of the Blood Harvest Moon and so William is having his students over to perform a ritual to bring forth the spirits to do their bidding. Problem is William is not very good at magic, but he's managed to con his students; the clean freak Algernon (Tom Dang), the vain Florence (Opal Peachey), the meek Aleister (Cody Smith), and the type A, controlling Justin (Jesse Parce). But when William's assistant Steven (M. Keala Milles Jr.) shows his own aptitude for magic and conjures of the spirit of Loneliness (Tatiana Pavela), it opens a door for all the fears to come through and they have a plan of their own.

Now this may sound like a solid story, but it had a few things going against it, at least the night I saw it. It picks up by the end but in the beginning the dialog meandered about both in structure and in delivery like they weren't totally sure where they needed to go or how to get there. Further hampering things are some spooky sound effect and voice modulations which at times made it impossible to understand the dialog leading to further confusion. And finally, and this is just my own personal preference, but there wasn't as much music in this one, at least not incorporated into the story. In other Nordo shows they've had the songs as part of the whole thing but here it was much more of an interlude kind of thing and while still fantastic as lead by Anastasia Workman, it didn't have the same punch when just part of the background.

The cast looks to be having some fun but also seemed to be having an off night. Dang and Hill fell into the trap the most of not being able to be heard even when sound effects weren't obscuring them. Milles and Pavela come through as the heart of the story quite nicely. And Smith, Peachey and Parce were the most fun especially when their demon alter egos took over. Particularly Parce who's constant battle between his human and demon side was quite fun.

The food from chef and director Erin Brindley is, as always, on point and even had a fun little twist with the theme in that we got to cast a bit of a spell with one of the courses. It was the show itself that felt a little lacking for this production. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Café Nordo's production of "The Witching Hour" a slightly disappointed MEH+. As I said, it could have been an off night but at these prices they can't really afford an off night.

"The Witching Hour" performs at Café Nordo through November 18th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.cafenordo.com.

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From This Author Jay Irwin

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