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BWW Reviews: Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre's Clever STUPEFY! THE 90 MINUTE HARRY POTTER

You'd have to have been a hermit living in a cave the past few years not to be aware of the cultural impact of J. K. Rowling's seven best-selling Harry Potter books. Not to mention the eight blockbuster movies that they spawned. The last couple years may have seen the "Twilight" series overshadow them slightly, but Harry still has a huge following that's not going away any time soon. The Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre takes full advantage of this following by presenting the fun and funny Stupefy! The 90 Minute Harry Potter.

I'm not even going to try and sum up eight movies and seven novels worth of plot. Suffice to say, Harry Potter is a bona fide cultural icon. Along with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, he fights the good fight against evil forces that would not only prefer to see him and his friends dead, but also witness the balance of their magical power tipped toward the dark side. Naturally, that doesn't happen.

Jaysen Cryer (who also plays Ron), does nice work condensing these mammoth works into a frenetic 90 minutes of laughs. Even if you're not familiar with the original works, and I can honestly say I haven't read any of the books, or watched the entire film series, you'll still find plenty to chuckle about as characters come and go in the blink of an eye.

A large cast is necessary to take on all the roles, and they do a great job of representing all the characters you know and love. Michael Pierce is properly stalwart as Harry, and Betsy Bowman and Cryer do fine work as his faithful cohorts. Most of the rest of the cast plays multiple roles, and they all seem to be having a blast. Robert Ashton is good as Dumbledore, while John Foughty brings an Elmer Fudd accent to his portrayal of the evil Voldemort. Blaine Adams, James Enstall, Roger Erb, Max Knocke, Andrew Kuhlman, Carl Overly, Jamie Pitt, Sarah Porter, Rob Suozzi, Tasha Zebrowski, Morgan Hatfield and Jaiymz Hawkins take on all the other roles and do a wonderful job in the process (with cute and clever cameos from Amy Kelly and Ben Ritchie).

Suki Peters directs with an eye toward lunacy, and that serves the material well. Juan Schwartz does nice work designing the set, and also contributes the cool projections that accompany the show and set up each consecutive movie parody. Katie Donovan's costumes fit the various characters, and Jaime Zayas keeps the spastic action in clear focus with a smart lighting scheme.

Stupefy! The 90 Minute Harry Potter is doing so well they've added additional seating and another show on the 13th. This crazy quilt of madness continues in the black box theatre on the campus of Lindenwood College through December 15th. Tickets are going extremely fast!

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From This Author Chris Gibson