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Super Summer Theatre Season 2012 Oliver!             *** Produced by the British National Theatre of America, this Dickens classic proved to be disappointingly uninspiring.  I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why this so popular and readily revived musical just did not measure up to my expectations. Maybe in was the change of setting, so that instead of the 19th century the story unfolds during the II World War (presumably the Blitz)? Maybe it was the fact that even though this tale does promote hope and perseverance, it still contains some very disturbing elements like desperate poverty, criminality, prostitution, extortion and murder. In this production the darkness overshadowed the optimistic aspects, making it a rather depressing experience, which just did not go well with the beautiful, light and breezy atmosphere of Spring Mountain Ranch and the serene beauty of Red Rock visible from every angle. Whatever it was, I left the theatre that night unfulfilled and with a feeling of missed opportunities, somehow it just failed to all come together. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat          ****** This biblical tale courtesy of Stage Door Productions was a real delight from start to finish. A much rockier and edgier version of this so well-known musical, it turned out to be exactly what the doctor ordered to breathe some new life into it. The cast was simply magnificent, with strong, seasoned voices and excellent acting skills.  The female narrator especially had the vocal qualities and charisma of a true rock-star. The whole show was done so well that it’s hard to point out the highlights, since it seemed like a whole long highlight to me, but if I had to pick something I would choose the performance of “Close Every Door” and the character of the Pharaoh, who instead of the usual Elvis type persona, here debuted as a gentleman very much resembling Ozzy Osborne, complete with his helpless dependence on the wife, Sharon.  The studded leather and denim costumes complemented the musical vibe of the production perfectly, transforming the audience to a place where rock is king and the King is Ozzy. A very upbeat, energy-laden and funny show indeed. Leader of the Pack                 **** The Neon Jungle production of this musical about the life and career of the famous song-writer Ellie Greenwich had some incredibly good and incredibly bad elements in it. The incredibly good bits were the songs, most of them known and loved by generations. To mention just a few, among Ellie’s creations were such hits as: “Be My Baby”, “Chapel of Love”, “Leader of the Pack” or “River Deep, Mountain High”. The performers did an excellent job conveying the different energy and happy-go-lucky style of the earlier songs in particular. Even the numbers written especially for the musical were well integrated and did not negatively stand out from the established hits. The costumes looked fabulous and were a great homage to the fashion and atmosphere of the era. The bad part, however, was the plot. It failed to convey any depth or even any interesting storyline to be honest. Girl meets Boy, Girl loses Boy and is heartbroken, Girl decides life goes on and things will be fine at the end. It really was that simple, no twists or even slight variations to the theme. A good example of the writers relying so heavily on the quality of the music alone that they made absolutely no effort to create a decent book. A pity, because it could have been a spectacular show instead of just average.

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Super Summer Theatre Season 2012 Oliver!             *** Produced by the British National Theatre of America, this Dickens classic proved to be disappointingly uninspiring.  I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why this so popular and readily revived musical just did not measure up to my expectations. Maybe in was the change of setting, so that instead of the 19th century the story unfolds during the II World War (presumably the Blitz)? Maybe it was the fact that even though this tale does promote hope and perseverance, it still contains some very disturbing elements like desperate poverty, criminality, prostitution, extortion and murder. In this production the darkness overshadowed the optimistic aspects, making it a rather depressing experience, which just did not go well with the beautiful, light and breezy atmosphere of Spring Mountain Ranch and the serene beauty of Red Rock visible from every angle. Whatever it was, I left the theatre that night unfulfilled and with a feeling of missed opportunities, somehow it just failed to all come together. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat          ****** This biblical tale courtesy of Stage Door Productions was a real delight from start to finish. A much rockier and edgier version of this so well-known musical, it turned out to be exactly what the doctor ordered to breathe some new life into it. The cast was simply magnificent, with strong, seasoned voices and excellent acting skills.  The female narrator especially had the vocal qualities and charisma of a true rock-star. The whole show was done so well that it’s hard to point out the highlights, since it seemed like a whole long highlight to me, but if I had to pick something I would choose the performance of “Close Every Door” and the character of the Pharaoh, who instead of the usual Elvis type persona, here debuted as a gentleman very much resembling Ozzy Osborne, complete with his helpless dependence on the wife, Sharon.  The studded leather and denim costumes complemented the musical vibe of the production perfectly, transforming the audience to a place where rock is king and the King is Ozzy. A very upbeat, energy- laden and funny show indeed. Leader of the Pack                 **** The Neon Jungle production of this musical about the life and career of the famous song-writer Ellie Greenwich had some incredibly good and incredibly bad elements in it. The incredibly good bits were the songs, most of them known and loved by generations. To mention just a few, among Ellie’s creations were such hits as: “Be My Baby”, “Chapel of Love”, “Leader of the Pack” or “River Deep, Mountain High”. The performers did an excellent job conveying the different energy and happy-go-lucky style of the earlier songs in particular. Even the numbers written especially for the musical were well integrated and did not negatively stand out from the established hits. The costumes looked fabulous and were a great homage to the fashion and atmosphere of the era. The bad part, however, was the plot. It failed to convey any depth or even any interesting storyline to be honest. Girl meets Boy, Girl loses Boy and is heartbroken, Girl decides life goes on and things will be fine at the end. It really was that simple, no twists or even slight variations to the theme. A good example of the writers relying so heavily on the quality of the music alone that they made absolutely no effort to create a decent book. A pity, because it could have been a spectacular show instead of just average.
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