Reviewed: Silent Sky, A Skull in Connemara (Closing), Four More Shows to See Now!

Logan Ernstthal in A Skull in Connemara.
Logan Ernstthal in A Skull in Connemara.
Sarah Roshan

On this cold spring weekend, catch some of the shows heating up local stages. This is your last chance to see Silent Sky or A Skull in Connemara; keep reading for reviews of those productions, as well as four more.

Anna High in Disenchanted.
Anna High in Disenchanted.
Glenn Ross Photography

Disenchanted. Disenchanted, which satirizes the cultural assumptions, historical distortions and masculine obtuseness behind the perfect Disney princess image in a series of tuneful, lively and often very funny songs, represents a delightful way to spend an evening — in part because the songs are often witty, and in part because director Alicia K. Meyers has assembled just the right mix of divas to sell the event with glamour and elan. Our emcee, so to speak, is a rather bossy Snow White, with Jessica Hindsley, perfectly attired as the cartoon character we remember so well, deploying a strong, sweet voice and good comic timing in her efforts to keep the others in line and the evening moving smoothly along. She’s sided by Tracy Warren’s sugary, warm-voiced, perky and pretty Cinderella. Meyers herself plays the Little Mermaid, drunk yet oddly regal, and deeply regretful at having given up her tail and life in the sea for human legs. Meyers also plays Belle from Beauty and the Beast, driven hilariously mad by the endless chattering of the household objects around her. Marijune Scott — another fine voice — is Pocahontas, anxious to point out just how much Disney’s version of her story differs from the historical reality. And rather late in the first act — to underscore the lack of black princesses in popular culture —Anna High steps forward as the Princess Who Kissed the Frog, taking majestic control of the stage and wowing the audience with her rich and glorious voice. Finally, there’s Annie Dwyer, snoozing her way through the first act as Sleeping Beauty and roaring into action in the second, to assert that she’s “Perfect” just as she is. Singing this feminist anthem of strength, defiance, and the hell with body image, Dwyer’s so exuberant, so filled with life, joy and sheer bravado, that she brings unexpected depth and feeling to an otherwise lighthearted evening of pure entertainment. Presented by BDT Stage through May 6, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, bdtstage.com. Read the full review of Disenchanted.

Dorien Makhloghi in Disgraced.
Dorien Makhloghi in Disgraced.
AdamsVisCom

Disgraced. Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced is a nasty, mean-spirited, dangerous and anti-Muslim piece of work. The play falls into the general category of “civilized people meet for dinner, drink a lot, and eventually reveal their uncivilized inner selves.” Ambitious and highly paid lawyer Amir Kapoor, a Pakistani who identifies as Indian so that no one will take him for a Muslim, and his wife, Emily, are the hosts. Emily is an artist who venerates traditional Islamic art. The guests are Isaac, who acquires work for the Whitney and admires Emily’s paintings, and his African-American wife, Jory, a colleague of Amir’s. Amir’s nephew, Abe, is also highly assimilated but more sympathetic to Islam, and he wants his uncle to intervene in the trial of a cleric accused of raising money for Hamas. Amir is reluctant. He hates Islam and derides the Koran. He seems to subscribe to the clash-of-civilizations theory so beloved by contemporary warmongers, which postulates an inevitable fight between the West and Islam. But he’s also concerned for his own future in his Jewish law firm. When he’s finally persuaded to visit the imam and give advice, the consequences are every bit as bad as he feared. By the end of the play, Amir’s own violent, rage-filled behavior seems to validate the stereotype of the uncivilized Arab. Muslim American thinkers who’ve written about Disgraced point out that the play is widely produced all over the country — and it’s a country where a couple of Indian engineers were recently gunned down in Kansas (one survived) as the shooter yelled “Get out of my country!” and where four mosques have been set on fire this year alone. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company through May 7, Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, denvercenter.org. Read the full review of Disgraced.

Jessica Robblee in The Drowning Girls.
Jessica Robblee in The Drowning Girls.
Matthew Gale Photography

The Drowning Girls. Take the Edwardians’ morbid fascination with death, murder and the macabre, along with what we know about the powerless and constrained lives of middle-class women (particularly unmarried women) early in the twentieth century, then add black humor, a bit of woman-to-woman celebration, some mockery and touches of real sorrow, and you have The Drowning Girls. George Joseph Smith has a prominent place on the roster of England’s luridly famous murderers. He began with embezzlement and multiple bigamous marriages, entered under false names; ultimately, three of the women became victims in what came to be called the “bride in the bath murders.” Having taken control of their finances, Smith would seize each victim by her feet and pull her head underwater in one swift, relentless gesture. Grim stuff, but The Drowning Girls isn’t grim. It begins with lighthearted waltz music, and then legs and arms rise from three filled bathtubs on the stage as the drowned women engage in a brief, hilarious parody of synchronized swimming. They emerge laughing to tell us their stories, including how they met Smith and why they were drawn to him. Each actor takes on several roles in the narrative – from a landlady to a concerned mother to a doctor – always returning to her own role and her own brimming bathtub. The script is overtly feminist in the satiric tone it takes to the mores of the day, but it’s also more subtly so in the way it shows these one-time victims coming together in mutual comfort, shared strength and understanding in the strange, watery afterlife they inhabit. While Smith’s actual victims may be mouldering in their graves, the women we see right in front of us are full of life, even joy. They haven’t forgotten what happened, but they’ll be damned if they let murder define them. Presented by the Arvada Center Black Box Theater through May 21, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, 720-898-7200, arvadacenter.org. Read the review of The Drowning Girls.

Keep reading for three more reviews.



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