Saturday, March 28, 2009

Theater review backlog

Weisenheimer has been to several theater events in recent weeks, but darned if I've been able to find time to write about them all. Here are a few mini-reviews:

Closer by Patrick Marber. At Balagan Theatre, directed by Lisa Confehr.
Full disclosure: I've joined the board of Balagan Theatre, so maybe I'm not an impartial reviewer anymore, if I ever was, but Balagan is doing great work and Closer is no exception. This is the play on which the 2004 Mike Nichols film, starring Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, and Jude Law, is based. The Balagan production includes solid performances all around, most notably by Mike Dooly as Larry. We're enjoying Dooly's work; he aced Iago in Balagan's production of Othello in December. Props also to Susan Graf, gorgeous and fearless in the role of the stripper Alice. Cool set, too, with video backdrops of the aquarium, the bedroom window, the gallery, and other locations.

Closer got a nice review in The Stranger. Catch it in its last week.

The Merchant of Venice at Seattle Shakespeare Company, directed by John Langs.
There are some really solid actors in the Seattle Shakespeare Company's Merchant as well. Charles Leggett was absolutely marvelous as Shylock, and Klea Scott was strong, dynamic, and sassy as Portia. I found the scene in which Shylock and daughter Jessica (Melanie Moser) pray together wonderfuly poignant, especially as we know Jessica is about to run off with Lorenzo. 

We weren't quite sure about the casting of Will Beinbrink as Bassanio. His performance was well enough, and sure, he correctly chose the lead box to win Portia's hand, but he just didn't seem to have the right stuff to make Portia all ga-ga over him.

Merchant wraps up its run this week as well.

Hello, Dolly! at the 5th Avenue Theatre, directed by David Armstrong
Jenifer Lewis (right) was perfect in the role of Dolly Levi in the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Hello, Dolly! Lewis is a wonderful actor and dancer and can really belt out a tune. Weisenheimer was a little concerned about the casting of Pat Cashman of "Almost Live!" fame in the role of Horace Vandergelder. I figured it was just a cheap ticket-selling stunt. Cashman himself, in his program bio, advised, "Sit near an exit!" But he did well in the role of the grumpy and miserly feed store owner -- and they didn't make him sing and dance too much. Costumes, dancing, music, sets were all top-notch as we've come to expect from the 5th Avenue.

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