BWW Review: THE BISHOP'S WIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY at Taproot Theatre Is a Perfect Blend of Freshness and Nostalgia
Taproot Theatre breathes some fresh air into the holiday season with their production of THE BISHOP'S WIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY. While other theater leans on the old standards, Taproot is rolling the dice and presents a new adaptation of a lesser-known work. Their gamble is already paying off with smiles, cheer, and holiday spirit. THE BISHOP'S WIFE is a perfect blend of nostalgia and freshness.
In addition to the usual holiday rush, our story finds the Bishop also busy with planning and fundraising for a new cathedral for the community. The monumental effort of this task has the Bishop (Henry), weary and worried as the never-ending demands pull him further away from his family, friends, and community. His wife, Julia, is also feeling the pressure and longs for a simpler time when they could spend more time together. Just when they have all reached a breaking point, help arrives in the form of an angel, Dudley, who signs on to be Henry's assistant. With his quick wit and few minor miracles, Dudley sets out to help everyone find their way to what's really important.
Chelsea LeValley (Julia) brings a big heart, bright eyes, and old-school ingénue flair. She gives an earnestness to Julia that prevented her from becoming a one note side story. Jenny Cross (Miss Cassaway, Debby, Rupert) is a jack-of-all-trades and immensely fun to watch as she switches from character to character. Kevin Pitman (Announcer, Miller, Stevens) has a voice made for radio. Even without watching him, the rise, fall, and roll of his voice told you everything you needed to know. However, if you didn't watch him, you missed out. His whimsical expressions and dead pans added another level to a great performance. An angel with a devilish edge, Richard Nguyen Sloniker (Dudley) brings heart and humor to every scene. Foley Artist Andrew Eric Davison not only brings the sounds of the show to life but also manages to do so with flair and never misses an opportunity to add some humor.
Karen and Mark Lund's adaptation is a perfect fit for Taproot audiences. In a season of repeats and well-worn holiday regulars, their update of THE BISHOP'S WIFE provides a refreshing treat while maintaining the feel of a classic holiday show. Original music by Michael Nutting is a charming addition to the show that also showcases the vocal prowess of LeValley and Claire Marx. Scenic Design by Mark Lund is simple but provides means of movement and ways to highlight the action that keeps the audience engaged visually. Karen Lund's direction integrates and highlights the story while allowing moments for all to shine. It is a fluid show which clips along at a nice pace, never rushed or stalled.
THE BISHOP'S WIFE at Taproot Theatre is a holiday treat. During a season where traditions reign supreme, it might be time to try something new. It's quite possible that this show will become a new holiday tradition, especially for those who need to take a moment, slow down, and listen to a well-told tale of what really matters this season.
THE BISHOP'S WIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY is playing at Taproot Theatre now through December 28th. For tickets or more information, visit www.taproottheatre.org.