By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The King and I. Some of the problems with this production are inherent in the show itself. With its emphasis on strong women and abhorrence of anything resembling slavery, The King and I was progressive for its time, but no artist can entirely escape the myths and preconceptions of his own culture. So Rodgers and Hammerstein showed the people of Thailand as caricatures -- the women seductive and giggly, the men stiff as cardboard cutouts. The King -- in some ways and on his own terms a wonderfully humorous and quixotic character -- is still in need of civilizing. And who best to do it but a white, upper-class Englishwoman? The songs endure. No one ever wrote better love songs than Rodgers and Hammerstein. Shelly Cox-Robie makes Anna charming and radiant, and her voice is sweet and pure. Wayne Kennedy does sterling service as the King, though he makes the character funny and cuddly; there's no hint here of the dangerous, mercurial figure we expect, and that would jolt the plot into life. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through March 26, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.theatreinboulder.com. Reviewed November 10.
Naked Boys Singing! No false advertising here -- the show's about naked boys singing. The real thing. The full monty. Seven of them, some younger, some a little older, a couple more buff than others, flaunters and flirters and would-be hiders, and every one of them gallantly baring his body and showing his all. The production has no dialogue, plot or characterization; everything hinges on the songs, and some of them are pretty good -- the humorous narcissism of "Perky Porn Star"; the Brechtian rhythms of "Jack's Song," with its hilarious choreographic simulation of masturbation; the unexpected devilry of "The Bliss of a Bris." The serious songs work less well. This is a show that needs to be staged with an exuberance and energy that's somewhat lacking in the Theatre Group production. Presented by Theatre Group in an open-ended run, Theatre on Broadway, 13 South Broadway, 303-777-3292, www.theatregroup.org. Reviewed October 27.
Party of 1. This is a good play to go to with a date, or to attend in hopes of finding one. The show is a sequence of cabaret songs dedicated to the joys and pains of singlehood, slightly reminiscent of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, though without the monologues; fizzier and more light-hearted than Sex and the City, but less weighted with ego and pretension. Four appealing people spin through songs with topics ranging from the insecurities raised by meet-and-mingle functions to the intense ambivalence you feel when someone with whom you're having a great relationship actually takes the next step and moves into your apartment. Party of 1 ran forever in the Bay Area, where writer-composer Morris Bobrow is famed for his clever lyrics and bright, listenable tunes. Good-natured and enjoyable, with just an edge of grown-up irony, the show deserves its popularity. Presented by the Playwright Theatre through February 28, 2119 East 17th Avenue, 303-499-0383, www.playwrighttheatre.com. Reviewed November 17.
Steel Magnolias. Somewhere in the 1970s, we learned that women could like each other, female friendship was precious, and society's insistence that women's concerns were inherently more trivial than the concerns of men was stupid. Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, written in 1987, is very much in this vein, with a beauty parlor in Louisiana as the setting where six women gossip, wisecrack, fuss with their hair and mourn or celebrate the major events of their lives together. Early in the play, Shelby is being primped and prettied for her wedding. Salon owner Truvy, a woman with a store of quips and a touching faith in the power of cosmetics, bustles around, teasing, combing and spraying. There's also Ouiser, the town eccentric; Claree, widow of the late mayor, who combines a passion for football with a hankering for big-city culture; and little Annelle, whom we first meet as a new hairdresser afraid to touch her customers' heads and who transforms during the course of the play into a born-again Christian. There's a lot that feels dated or manipulative here, yet this heartfelt production is enjoyable, partly because of the performances and partly because -- despite all -- there's still some juice in the script. Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse through February 5, 1224 Washington Avenue, Golden, 303-935-3044, www.minersalley.com. Reviewed January 26.