Sunday, December 2, 2007

Three Hits (No Strike!) and We're In

Posted by Bruce Miller
Last Thurs, Nov 29, the strike ended and all of Broadway returned to work. The following evening, Fri, Nov 30, Theatre IV opened A Christmas Story at the historic Empire Theatre, the third mainstage opening in 15 days for the Barksdale/Theatre IV team. Today, Sun, Dec 2, the first Christmas Story review came out in the T-D, and, just as with the first two openings of our holiday trifecta, it looks like another winner coming out of the gates!

To paraphrase a song from Swingtime Canteen, “Praise the Lord and pass the approbation!”

Under the headline: “Caution: This Play Could Lead You to Fits of Laughter,” Susan Haubenstock writes, “Theatre IV’s holiday show A Christmas Story may be too funny for children. Well, too funny for them to fully appreciate. The adults who bring them to the Empire Theatre will be laughing out loud.”

Technical glitches aside (see my Opening Night coverage), Susie basically loved the whole thing: “Off Center and Always Hilarious!” “Clever Theatrical Devices!” “Incredibly Funny!” She loved our director and designers: “Director Chase Kniffen hits every laugh.” “The house set designed by Mercedes Schaum looks like it’s laughing.” “Matthew Landwehr’s lighting contributes mightily to the scene transitions.”

She especially loved our cast: “Eric Pastore has the charisma to keep our focus throughout the play’s 2 ½ hours.” “Michael Thibodeau and Eric Evans play his buddies with thorough 1938 credibility. Chandler Hurd is delightful as a coonskin-cap-wearing bully; and Lillie Izo and Lyla Rossi are wonderful as the neighborhood girls.”

“Above all, tiny R. Cooper Timberline is hilarious as Randy, whether whining, hiding, waiting for Santa, or needing to wee-wee.”

“Tony Foley plays the narrator (the adult Ralph) with heart, and Gordon Bass is perfect as the cursing, growling Old Man. Julie Fulcher’s long suffering Mother is great, and costume designer Sarah Grady even provides her with the requisite pink chenille bathrobe. And Jacqueline Jones puts in another of her high-octane performances as Ralphie’s teacher.”

If you and your kids would like a good laugh this Christmas, and who wouldn’t, please call for your Christmas Story tickets ASAP. If you’d like to revisit comic hijinks associated with the screen-writing of Gone with the Wind, please call for tickets to Moonlight and Magnolias at Barksdale Willow Lawn. And if you’d like to tap your feet and sing along to the boogie woogie hits of the 40s in a colorful recreation of a USO Christmas show, head on out to Hanover Tavern for Swingtime Canteen.

Better yet, go see all three! And remember, theatre tickets and gift certificates make GREAT Christmas and Hanukkah presents!!

See you at the theatre.

--Bruce Miller

Photo credits: All photos by Jay Paul. At flagpole (left to right) - Lyla Rossi, Lillie Izo, Eric Pastore, Michael Thibodeau, Eric Evans. In chairs - Eric Pastore, Eric Evans. Bundled up - Michael Thibodeau, Eric Pastore, R. Cooper Timberline, Eric Evans.

1 comment:

hoosier steve said...

Congratulations to all three companies on wonderful reviews. I miss the excitement of the Holiday season at the Empire.
Responding to your last post, I ahve two comments.
I do not know what the technical problems were, but I am fairly confident they could not top the opening night of The Wizard of Oz where the Wizard (played so well by Gordon Bass) was forced to walk home due to a stuck turntable. I just shared that story the other day with fond memory, gotta love live theatre!
Second, one question, do you still get the chicken fingers from Ukrops? I am hoping to stay for the openign party of Peter Pan, and frankly that could swing my choice either way.

Much love and holiday well wishes to the entire Theatre IV/Barksdale family. I miss Richmond the most at this time of year.

Steve Koehler