Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'Spelling Bee' wins praise | CapeCodOnline.com

'Spelling Bee' wins praise | CapeCodOnline.com

Posted using ShareThis

Latest HJT Show Spells 'Entertainment'

by Amy Tagliaferri
Wouldn't it be fun to not only see a great show, but be in the show? Have you often wondered what it feels like to have those lights in your eyes, and hear an audience's appreciative response? This spring the Harwich Junior Theatre is giving you that chance. And HJT is also providing Cape audiences with a stellar night of entertainment too. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" is side-splitting, pure joyful fun! Opening night the laughter resounded throughout the intimate building.
Each performance is guaranteed to be a different show with the setuo conceived by Rebecca Feldman and Jay Reiss from Rachel Scheinkin's book, with music and lyrics by William Finn. The arrangement offers you (and maybe your co-workers) a chance to be a part of the action in the first act by volunteering to be a speller with this motley crew from Putnam County. Four volunteers are prepped before each performance and then called from the audience by name. Think of the potential scenarios as a family member or friend leaps to stardom, before your very eyes!
Director Terry Norgeot knew she needed to find an exemplary cast to hadle the impromptu and inknown in every single show. Actors are always applauded for carrying on without a misstep by adlibbing and covering up a missed cue; imagine being on your toes for any possibility every night. On opening night for example, one volunteer missed an easy word and another spelled a difficult one correctly, two of the many possible developments Norgeot has to prepare her actors for. No one missed a beat.
The show's concept is centered around six quirky adolescents with three equally quirky adult moderators in a fictional spelling bee in Putnam Valley Middle School, Anytown, USA. Eileen Fisher and Michael Ernst as the moderators of the bee are spot-on and hilarious. Each definition, and "Could you please use the word in a sentence?" is very funny. (For "phylactery"--- either of a pair of square lether boxes containing Jewish religious texts--- they came up with: "Billy, put down that phylactery--- we're Episcopalians.") Kudos to Robin McLaughlin the costume designer for nailing their outfits and each of the students too. The costumes speak volumes as to character and give the audience a sense of who each person is.
Sophie Moeller playes Logainne Schwartzand grubenniere; Logainne has two dads and her last name is an interesting variation in lieu of hyphenation. Moeller is very expressive. Daniel Greenwood is a standout as Leaf Coneybear; he lives up to his funny name with pratfalls and childlike behavior. Ben Griessmeyer as William Barfee and his "magic foot" made the audience giggle every time his turn was up. The only real student in the group, Teresa Willander, was a hoot as Marcy Park. Caitlin Mills conveys the poignant Olive Ostrousky skillfully, bringing tears and then joy with a clear, lucid voice and knockout performance. Mark Vagenas as Chip Tolentino nails the lovesick look as his character pines for Coneybear's sister. Jarde Hagen as Mitch Mahoney never disappoints. It's Mitch's role to escort each losing speller off, and he creates drama with each exit. All sing and dance wonderfully. Norgeot's consummate choreography has never been better, especially on the standout "Pandemonium."
Musical director Robert Wilder and his band are hidden backstage but boy, can you hear them! This show is he complete package. James P. Byrne's set design leaves no doubt that you are on a school gymnasium stage, and all is embellished by Gregory Norgeot's lighting design and J Hagenbuckle's sound. Erin Mahoney is the sound board operator and stage manager Martha Paquin is the light bard operator.
Go and see this show! It's F-U-N and F-U-N-N-Y!
"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"
At Harwich Junior Theatre through April 18
For information and reservations call 508-432-2002 or visit www.capetix.com.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Peter Pan soars with perfect casting | CapeCodOnline.com

Click The Link Below To Read Another Rave Review Of 'Peter Pan And Wendy' At Harwich Junior Theatre!

Peter Pan soars with perfect casting | CapeCodOnline.com

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Clap If You Believe: 'Peter Pan And Wendy' Alight And Delight At HJT

The Cape Cod Chronicle, Feb. 18, 2010

by Jennifer Sexton

Photos courtesy of Heather Lannen

"Who am I? I am youth! I am joy! I am freedom!"

So says Peter Pan to Captain Hook as he matches the pirate's cutlass strike for strike with his boy's sword fashioned from sticks. Such is the magic of Peter Pan, magic that overflows in HJT's production of "Peter Pan and Wendy," directed by Maura Hanlon.

First of all, banish from your mind all images of green leotard- clad actresses with pixie haircuts soaring on wires above the stage. HJT's production bypasses the popular culture image of the eternal-boy-played-by-a-woman in favor of a decidedly masculine, athletic Peter Pan dressed in the colors of flames.

Troy Armand Barboza as Peter Pan doesn't need wires to fly. Without benefit of a concealed harness, he spends roughly as much time leaping, climbing, swooping, upsidedown and otherwise airborne as he does on the stage. He is as irrepressible as we expect Peter to be, and he also surprises by perfectly capturing the lighthearted crulety of childhood fantasy play, delivering lines about killing pirates with a delighted grin. These are the parts of J.M. Barrie's book that surprise us when we reread it to our own children, and they make the story.

As Tinker Bell, Caroline Clancy manages to pull off some real-life magic. Emily Blodgett, the actress cast as Tink, suffered a serious ankle injury requiring surgery shortly before the show opened. Clancy, cast as Tink's understudy, rehearsed the role for the first time the day before opening night. Despite the short notice, she does a wonderful job as the devilish imp whose love for Peter moves her to swallow poison for him one minute, ands arrange an unpleasant demise for Wendy the next. So expressive are Clancy's enormous eyes, her gesture language and her single arching eyebrow that it is easy to forget that Tink's is a non-speaking role.

Rose Cronin-Jackman is perfectly cast as the ever-maternal little girl Wendy, who begins her relationship with Peter Pan by stitching his shadow back to his heels in the Darling family's nursery. She does a fantastic job, exhibiting just the right mix of childhood courage and grown-up responsibility, balancing on the border between girl and woman even as she and her brothers are tempted to the Neverland with tales of mermaids and pirates. Matthew Gubbins and Michael Couto are very good as her younger brothers, John and Michael, who would rather die "like Englishmen" than join Hook's crew of pirates, no matter how cool their pirate names might have been.

Jade Schuyler is the loving Mrs. Darling, whose grief for her lost children is heartbreaking as she insists that the third story window be left open in case they return. She doubles as Starkey, the pirate who would sooner jump ship than face Peter Pan, the fearsome pirate-killing "doodle-doo." Art Devine is hysterical as both Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, playing the father as a fun-loving goofball who waits out his children's return by sleeping in the doghouse and Hook as a flamboyant, sashaying bully who collapses into shivers at the mention of the dreaded crocodile who took his right hand. Julie Allen Hamilton is a hoot as Nana the canine nanny, expressing her concern for the children with doggy sounds but speaking her thoughts aloud when no humans are nearby to hear them. Hamilton is also hilarious as pirate Mr. Smee, Hook's right-hand, er, right-hook man.
As the Lost Boys, Charlie Powicki, Graham Smith, Nick Stewart, Jack McMurrer, Ian Kerig Hamilton and Lian Phelan are an adorable, shaggy-haired bunch who mix innocence and Neverland forgetfulness with bravery, loyalty and desperate yearning for a mother. McMurrer is funny when he tried to shake off the cobwebs of the Neverland and remember things from his former life, without quite getting it right. "I remember spinsters. My aunt used to shake them out of her boots." Cara Gerardi mimics Peter's wild movements as his shadow--- no easy task--- and is suitably solemn as the captured Princess Tiger Lily. The shadow ensemble, made up of Elizabeth Bent, Miriah Burns, Paddo Devine, Seamus Devine, Nick Matsik, Meredith Sullivan and last minute addition Karen Stewart, who took the place of pinch-hitting Tinker Bell Clancy, create marvelous effects onstage with their dark-clad presence.
A great contribution to the magic and movement of this production is the brilliant set, created by James P. Byrne, which must be seen in action to be believed. Not only do the Darling children's beds transform effortlessly into Hook's ship the Jolly Roger, but the entire structure of the multi-level set pivots and spins on a central axis, creating flight sequences that soar and unforgettable battle scenes with the characters seeming to move freely in three dimensions above the stage.
The experience of listening to the novel read aloud runs through the entire production, carried along in between the action sequences by a quintet of motherly narrators, Tesia Brown, Pat Ellis, Kristin Stewart, Jessalyn Peters and Elizabeth Liuzzi, who take turns doing the storytelling. Behind the scenes, they transform into Captain Hook's colorful crew of hilarious pirates, Jukes, Cecco, Mullins, Noodler and Cookson. Hanlon does a marvelous job, working with the actors to create pirates who are at least as funny as they are scary, with extra "arrh." J Hagenbuckle's sound deisgn completes the atmosphere of the Neverland, giving weightless life to the flying scenes and reminding us of Tinker Bell's occupation as a fairy who mends pots and pans with the gentle sound of tinkling metal. Robin McLaughlin's costumes are as gorgeous as always, from the ragtag Lost Boys to the wildly colorful pirates, the fiery Peter Pan and the demure Wendy in white and summery green.

"Peter Pan and Wendy" is a trip to the Neverland full of swashbuckling adventure, swordfights, flying, and one more chance for grownups and kids alike to clap together if you believe in fairies. My six-year-old theater companion hasn't stopped begging me, "When can we go again?" Don't miss it.

2010 Winter/Spring Open House A Smashing Success

New students, the interested and the curious gathered at HJT on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for snacks, tours of HJT, and a chance to meet and rub elbows with HJT teachers and students.

"It was fabulous!" says Tamara Harper, HJT's director of education and community outreach. "We had potential students here from as far away as Falmouth and Provincetown, of ages ranging from three to 16. Our amazing students Jacob, Emma, Michael, Charlie, Elizabeth and Abbe gave tours to the kids and parents who had never been here before with great enthusiasm and knowledge.

We have amazing kids here. So many of the adults on the tours commented on the HJT kids, how professional they were and that they had so much confidence. I was so proud of them and grateful for the time they volunteered to come in and be cheerleaders for a place they have come to love. Thank you also to our wonderful teachers, Kathleen, Bob, Suzette, Heather and Zach for their help!"

Classes began the week of Jan. 25 in Creative Movement, Creative Drama, Teen Acting, Musical Theatre, Basic Acting, Technical Theatre, Comedy Improv, Playwriting, Film Acting, New Workshops and more, more, MORE! For more information and a free brochure, call 508-432-2002, ext. 11.