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
Clue: the Musical. The pleasure of this Country Dinner Playhouse production of Clue: the Musical is that it boasts a truly outstanding cast. Which is good, since the music is serviceable rather than clever or melodious, and this is less a show than a big, cheerful game. Cutouts of the murder weapons -- noose, wrench, candlestick and so on -- line the theater walls; there are cards on the tables inviting the audience to guess the killer; the costumes are in brilliant primary colors. The dialogue is silly, but not as utterly inane as that of Nunsense, for example. Since there's no plot and you don't need to empathize with any of the characters, these performers get to strut their stuff in any posing, gesticulating, giggle-making way they can think up, while periodically unleashing terrific singing voices. The action does wear thin after a while, but the show ends on a note of good-humored hilarity. Presented by Country Dinner Playhouse through March 4, 6875 South Clinton Street, Greenwood Village, 303-799-1410, www.countrydinnerplayhouse.com. Reviewed February 1.
Crazy for You. George and Ira Gershwin were, without question, two of the most brilliant tune-meisters of American musical comedy, and in the early 1990s, playwright Ken Ludwig got the bright idea of writing a "new" Gershwin musical. He took familiar 1930s plot elements and created a knowing, affectionate book that both satirizes and pays homage to the musical-comedy genre. And then he grabbed fistfuls of those bloodstream-quickening Gershwin songs and scattered them like jewels along the story's path. Artistic director Michael J. Duran danced in the critically praised 1992 Broadway production of Crazy for You, and he re-creates some of Susan Stroman's choreographic magic here, including the long number that ends the first act and features all kinds of inventive movement as well as axes, hammers and human bodies used as musical instruments. Scott Beyette is a lithe, leaping, tapping wonder as Bobby, whose mother wants him to enter the family business but whose own ambition is to dance. Alicia Dunfee is an unexpected ingenue, perhaps a bit too experienced for Polly and less light on her feet than partner Beyette, but she brings her customary warmth and presence to the role. The voices are fine, and the cast and musicians talented and so enthusiastic that they simply sweep you into the fun. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through March 3, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.theatreinboulder.com. Reviewed November 23.
Diversions and Delights. Actor-director Ed Baierlein gives us a broken Oscar Wilde. The man who delighted in shocking London, the poseur walking along the Strand holding a flower, the wit who told an American customs official that he had nothing to declare but his genius and who attracted large audiences to his aphoristic lectures, the author of The Ideal Husbandand The Importance of Being Earnest,is seen heavily rouged, wearing an improbable black wig and drinking glass after glass of absinthe. Baierlein's Wilde is in physical pain. He bleeds from his ear, and stands, with the help of a stick, at an uncomfortably odd sideways angle. In the play's first act, he gives us what Wilde's audiences always came for -- a flood of witticisms -- but by the second act, his anguish is palpable. Baierlein holds the stage with effortless authority for the two hours of Diversions and Delights, communicating as much with his gestures, silences and hesitations as with the lines. Presented by Germinal Stage Denver through March 4, 2450 West 44th Avenue, 303-455-7108, www.germinalstage.com. Reviewed February 22.
The Perfect Party. Tony, the protagonist, is a middle-aged professor, steeped in American history and literature. He has quit his job in pursuit of a single overwhelming passion -- to host the perfect party -- and has invited Lois, a critic from a "major New York newspaper," to witness and review this triumph. Impossibly slender and stalking her way across the stage in piercingly high heels, Trina Magness's Lois is a pen stroke, a black-and- white sketch, a New Yorker cartoon come to life. She's also hard and armored, ambitious, narcissistic and irrational -- doubtless playwright A. R. Gurney's revenge not only on every critic who ever panned his work, but on the very function of criticism itself. Gurney weaves together literary references, comments on the history of theater and its conventions, and socio-political analogies; he utilizes absurdism, genteel comedy, melodrama, farce and serious analysis, occasionally flashing a Wildean epigram. Although this production feels flat in places -- partly the fault of the script, and partly because director Brenda Cook and her cast haven't fully taken control of it -- the play's best scene, and certainly its most raucous, could have come straight from an old Peter Sellers movie. Presented by the Playwright Theatre and Spark Theatre Works through March 17, the Playwright Theatre, 2119 East 17th Avenue, 303-499-0383, www.playwrighttheatre.com. Reviewed February 22.