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Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 02/23/2009 12:52 PM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 02/25/2009 12:34 PM
Expires: 01/01/2014 12:00 AM
:

This Week on "The Standing O" Blinded by the Moonlight~by Noella Eastlake


Murphys, Ca… “Sexting. Have you heard of this?” A great way to start an evening full of laughs at the Blackbart Playhouse is to engage the relatively young audience in the hilarity of current events. It has always been one of the more endearing touches of the local theater to actually come out and communicate with the audience before you unleash them into the fantasy world you have created. It was especially nice this time for unknown reasons, though one could speculate it has something to do with the snazzy new lobby out front. ....


For those of you a little behind, Murphys Creek Theatre and the Black Bart Players have recently merged, and it seems like things have already headed in the right direction. While the lobby is missing the trophy posters of past seasonal successes, it has been replaced with a touch of home, and welcoming lighting that instantly makes the old Bart feel like a comforting friend. It was a great way to set the mood before MCT took the stage in what is now to be their new home, (though truth be told they’ll still have a place at Stevenot Winery this summer).
Director Graham Greene welcomes everyone into this new inviting atmosphere as he covers all the bases, while easily setting the mood for a light-hearted evening out at the theater. Our play centers on the story of the oldest Soady son, Rueben, on his quest to finally shoot his first prize. At 35, Rueben is a bit of a shame (and a curse) to the family at being the only member never to bag a big one. Actually, he’s never even managed to bag an anything-at-all. So, out comes Albert Soady, to tell the tale of his son’s first successful hunt. Albert, played by Mike Crich, is an instantly likable fellow. Although he was a bit hard to hear in the opening monologue, his voice tense in points, and yet light-hearted in others captivated the audience with his first appearance. As the storyteller throughout the play, Crich easily flowed between being a part of the action and being on the sidelines recalling it. You can easily see the pride (and shame) he shares for his two… not so bright …sons, Rueben and Remnar.

Playing Rueben Soady, our dejected, never-shot-anything ‘hero’ is Eric Owens. While Owens facial expressions at times lingered on the edge of brilliance, he often fell flat on the deliverance of his lines. Lines that should have produced a laugh or two left the playhouse awkwardly silent. Still, when he relaxed and went with the flow things seemed to pick up.

The same can equally be said about his brother, Remnar Soady, played by David A. Betts. When doing their own thing, the pair seemed to spark, but when playing off each other it’s safe to say the chemistry was lacking and the scene often fizzled. All the same, when these two were on, all eyes were on them, and you couldn’t help but wonder what would come next.

Still, the star of this show was easily the “Jimmer” played by the always memorable Tom Vannucci. Bursting into the scene holding a rifle and screaming about how his Chevy took a… well, you know, Vannucci easily had the audience rolling with laughter. His rampant, hard-to-understand speech was captivating and his facial expressions, emotions and body language reflected the very essence of a crazed, once-abducted man halfway to the other side. As if this particular role wasn’t evidence enough of Vannucci’s brilliance on stage, you also get a glimpse of the more refined man in the second half as Vannucci also plays the long-dead grandpa Soady. One can easily see two different people, through the eyes of one man.

Also appearing in small, but still poignant roles is Stephan Daly playing a rather interesting spot as Ranger Tom. T. Treado, a man apparently bewildered by the sight of God out on the ‘ridge’ and Krissi Krob as Rueben’s wife, Wolf Moon Dance.

While the story of ‘Escanaba’ at times seems to slow, it overall leaves the audience basking in the warmth of laughter through a variety of simple jokes. If you are in the area, it is certainly well-worth your time, and this reviewer urges you to go and support your local theater. Escanaba can be seen through March 8th, with Friday and Saturday showings at 8pm and Sunday matinees at 2pm.


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