July 23, 2009

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Theater on the grass
Review: HSM is all-singing, all-dancing; Have drunken fun at The Tempest; Hot Buttons shines
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Disney’s High School Musical
It was raining during the opening night of Disney’s High School Musical in Manchester’s Veterans Park July 17. It can be difficult to see over umbrellas, but the lead actors carried off their parts pretty well in this community show from New Thalian Players.

What looked like a mostly teen cast sang and danced their way through a story of cliques trying to keep a basketball star and an academically inclined girl from singing in the school play. It’s not subtle — it’s spelled out for you. There’s even a song called “Stick to the Status Quo.”

The two adult cast members playing a drama teacher and a basketball coach do have a pointed exchange about the situation of arts in education, which is also not subtle, but interesting.

And while HSM has a great live band and some fun choreography — I wouldn’t be surprised if the cheerleaders actually are cheerleaders — the show is definitely more appropriate for families or HSM fans. Interestingly, the probably adolescent group next to me was having the most un-PG conversation, yet still seemed to know words to some of the songs. Perhaps it was nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent time, like when they were 12.

New Thalian Players presents High School Musical twice more as part of its Theatre in the Park program, which is free to audiences, Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, at 8 p.m. in Veterans Park on Elm Street in Manchester, free.

If you go, try to sit up close to the stage, if you can. Otherwise, when there are a lot of actors on stage all moving about, those speaking can kind of sound like disembodied voices through the speakers. Don’t worry, there are opening acts starting at 6:30 p.m. to take in while you stake out your spot. Teen Actorsingers of Nashua are expected to preview their production of Swing at 6:30 p.m. on July 24.

Visit newthalianplayers.org to learn more.

The Tempest
Nashua Theatre Guild presented well-executed Shakespeare for its 17th Shakespeare in the Park season at Greeley Park July 18.

But it would be awesome if someone could find it in their hearts to lend them some mikes.

If you go, sit close, because whenever the actors turn away from the audience to address each other, they can be hard to hear.

The Tempest is set on the island Prospero escaped to after his brother Antonio conspired with a king to take over Prospero’s seat as the Duke of Milan.

Some of the most entertaining parts are drunken exchanges among the jester Trinculo, played by Carly Jo Geer in a costume somewhat reminiscent of Rainbow Brite, butler Stephano, played by Rich Hurley, and of course Caliban (Gail Angellis), a half-fish slave of the protagonist Prospero (Arthur Barlas). They make the most of lines like, “Really, do not turn me about. My stomach is not constant,” or Caliban’s “Let me lick thy shoe,” with their comic timing and body language.

Angellis used exaggerated physical and vocal traits to transform herself into the strange monster and earned plenty of appreciation from the crowd. Angellis in particular (it’s a demanding part) and the cast don’t hold back — they are all confident in their roles, and The Tempest seemed well cast. There’s a fairly wide age range to the characters, but younger actors like Elizabeth Ten-Hove, who played Ariel, certainly kept pace with more mature or experienced actors.

Actors made great use of the grass area, frequently entering through the audience. In answer to, “Dost thou like the plot, Trinculo?” Geer sits up in the grass, puts two thumbs up, and says “Excellent,” exactly like an exhausted drunk person would who is agreeing so they can lay back down would do.

I have to give the community actors extra kudos for presenting such a polished Shakespearean performance in a busy park, under hot sun, with no budget.  Check it out, but bring your sunblock, bug spray, water and probably a hat, and sit as close as you can (yes, I know the shade is farther away). Nashua Theatre Guild performs The Tempest twice more, Saturday, July 25, and Sunday, July 26, at 2 p.m., at Greeley Park, Concord Street in Nashua, free (www.nashuatheatreguild.org, 320-2530).

Hot Buttons
Night number two for the premiere of Hot Buttons, a musical by Granite Staters Dave Agans and Winfield Clark, went well.

It’s an entertaining and fun comedy about a robot, Omni-Fixa, who is tasked with fixing the dangerously defective products made by monopoly Flummex. Along the way, Omni falls for satellite robot Alpha-Lingua, a corporate takeover is planned, a mystery is solved, the fourth wall is broken several times, robots fight prejudice, and some humans even fall in love.

The setting provides plenty of opportunity for robot and technology jokes. Agans is the author of tech book Debugging; he knows his subject matter.

The cast overall is good, but Hot Buttons also features three professional-quality singers: Dingo (Steve) Ihde as Omni, Cathy McKay as Kareen Wildley and Caity Glover as Celeste Doolowitz.

Agans and Clark have been working on Hot Buttons for more than a decade and hope to take it farther than Milford. Milford Area Players presented (Agans is the president) this on their community troupe budget, which isn’t easy with a show like this. I couldn’t help wondering what it might look like if it were done professionally and what a field day designers would have with a large production budget. Still, the costuming, sets and props here work well to support the action.

Jeff Caron directs.

Hot Buttons continues Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 26, at 2 p.m., at the Amato Center, 56 Mont Vernon St. in Milford (673-9073, www.MilfordAreaPlayers.org). At a bargain $12 for an adult ticket, and $7 for students and seniors, there’s not much reason to skip this chance to see what your fellow locals have been developing (and you don’t need bug spray). — Heidi Masek


7/16/2009 Germany, France and England

7/9/2009 The Bard and Disney!
7/02/2009 Robots!
6/25/2009 Curtain calls
6/18/2009 Altered souls
6/11/2009 Curtain calls
6/4/2009 Curtain calls
5/28/2009 This one time at theater camp ...
5/21/2009 Curtain calls
5/14/2009 Curtain calls
5/7/2009 Review:Actorsingers produces The Producers
4/30/2009 Journey to and through Motherhood
4/23/2009 Concord does the Full Monty
4/16/2009 Courtroom drama
4/9/2009 Scotland- bound
4/2/2009 Curtain calls
3/26/2009 The original sitcom
3/19/2009 Palace to produce The Producers
3/12/2009 British farce and new romantic comedy
3/5/2009 Curtain calls
2/26/2009 Serious stories
2/19/2009 Curtain calls
2/12/2009 On Golden Pond writer honored
2/5/2009 Divorce and death
1/29/2009 Red carpet?
1/22/2009 Curtain calls
1/15/2009 Money, powqer and family
1/8/2009 Offer your two cents
1/1/2009 Tapping into the spotlight
12/25/2008 Curtain calls
12/18/2008 BIg things that come in envelopes
12/11/2008 Curtiain calls
12/04/2008 Remains of an affair
11/27/2008 Ballet — not for the faint of heart
11/20/2008 Mary's new home
11/13/2008 Company, Secret garden and Doubt
11/6/2008 That Broadway sound
10/30/2008 Curtain calls
10/23/2008 Busy theaters
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10/9/2008 Merrimack Rep at 20
10/2/2008 Curtain calls
9/25/2008 Curtain calls
9/18/2008 Stage sports
9/11/2008 Second Life to the rescue
9/4/2008 Curtain calls
8/28/2008 Tennessee Williams at Weirs
8/21/2008 Change for the moment
8/14/2008 Curtain calls
8/7/2008 Wicked experience
7/31/2008 Merry tales
7/24/2008 Review: the great outdoors
7/17/2008 Curtain calls
7/10/2008 Musical monsters
7/3/2008 Curtain calls
6/26/2008 Curtain calls
6/19/2008 Summer stock
6/12/2008 Curtain calls
6/5/2008 This one time, at drama camp...
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5/22/2008 Making it big
5/15/2008 Curtain calls
5/8/2008 Curtain calls
5/1/2008 Forging ahead
4/24/2008 The Bard, condensed
4/17/2008 'Balance' in Bedford
4/10/2008 Curtain calls
4/3/2008 Singing for a cause
3/27/2008 These aren't recitals folks
3/20/2008 Albee at MRT
3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
1/24/2008 Building an audience
1/17/2008 Curtain Calls
1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
1/3/2008 A little confidence
12/27/2007 Stage notables in 2007
12/20/2007 If all they want for Christmas is two good seats ...
12/13/2007 Summer stock vs. southern NH
12/06/2007 Curtain Calls
11/29/2007 Curtain Calls
11/22/2007 Broadway composer and actress hit Granite State
11/15/2007 One-man play turns audience into students
11/8/2007 Curtain calls
11/1/2007 First times
10/25/2007 Curtain Calls
10/18/2007 Curtain Calls
10/11/2007 American History
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9/27/2007 Stringing single
9/20/2007 Curtain Calls
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9/6/2007 Curtain Calls
8/30/2007 Curtain Calls
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8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
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7/19/2007 Ease on down the road
7/12/2007 Jekyll vs. Hyde
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6/28/2007 Transformations
6/21/2007 Curtain calls
6/14/2007 No really, you'll get it
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5/31/2007 Curtain calls
5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
5/17/2007 Curtain Calls
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4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
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3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
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2/8/2007 Family affair
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1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
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08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
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08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
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04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
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03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
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10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
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A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
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Crimes Of The Heart
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From stage to the silver screen
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Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
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Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
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Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
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Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
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Plaid (II)
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Proud of the Peacock
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Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
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Short-Attention Span Theater
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Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
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The Drawer Boy
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The Russian/American Kids Circus
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The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother