The thunderous applause that typically greets a successful Broadway opening could hardly compare to the joyful noise made by children clapping in anticipation of Babe, the Sheep-Pig. And once the Arvada Center's production began, the peals of delight that filled the auditorium served as further indicators that a well-mounted children's show can stimulate the imagination even better than the Great White Way's techno-musical creations. In addition to a bevy of performances that blended old-fashioned sentiment with off-the-wall wit, Jane Shafer's fanciful costumes, Gail Gober's rich lighting effects and Crow Productions' colorful pastel setting augmented David Wood's work. Nicely seasoned by director Christopher Willard's sure hand, the kindhearted effort made one wish for an even steadier diet of children's fare.

The thunderous applause that typically greets a successful Broadway opening could hardly compare to the joyful noise made by children clapping in anticipation of Babe, the Sheep-Pig. And once the Arvada Center's production began, the peals of delight that filled the auditorium served as further indicators that a well-mounted children's show can stimulate the imagination even better than the Great White Way's techno-musical creations. In addition to a bevy of performances that blended old-fashioned sentiment with off-the-wall wit, Jane Shafer's fanciful costumes, Gail Gober's rich lighting effects and Crow Productions' colorful pastel setting augmented David Wood's work. Nicely seasoned by director Christopher Willard's sure hand, the kindhearted effort made one wish for an even steadier diet of children's fare.

The committee that awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for literature cited John Steinbeck for his "sympathetic humor and sociological perception." While the Morrison Theatre Company's "Of Mice and Men" didn't always glisten with professional luster, director Alan Osburn nonetheless evoked Steinbeck's paean to companionship by encouraging portrayals that were as down-to-earth as a Frederic Remington painting. Thanks to the symbiotic bond that developed between Michael Wilson's George and Rick Bernstein's Lennie, the company's plainspoken ode to friendship resonated with two-fisted -- and quintessentially American -- candor.
The committee that awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for literature cited John Steinbeck for his "sympathetic humor and sociological perception." While the Morrison Theatre Company's "Of Mice and Men" didn't always glisten with professional luster, director Alan Osburn nonetheless evoked Steinbeck's paean to companionship by encouraging portrayals that were as down-to-earth as a Frederic Remington painting. Thanks to the symbiotic bond that developed between Michael Wilson's George and Rick Bernstein's Lennie, the company's plainspoken ode to friendship resonated with two-fisted -- and quintessentially American -- candor.
Smaller in scope and more conversational in tone than most mainstage versions, the Avenue Theatre's production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile was nearly as amusing and, at times, more affecting. More than anything else, though, director John Ashton's environmental show, which was presented in a vacant bar/restaurant space (the former Mike Berardi's), personalized the comedian/movie star's debate about art and science by eliminating most of the barriers that typically separate artist from audience. On the strength of Joan and Nick Cimyotte's handsome setting, Charles Dean Packard's moody lighting scheme and some clever special effects, the site-specific version hardly resembled an intellectual exercise. And even though they weren't Stoppardian ideologues, the performers' earthy portraits proved the pièce de résistance in Ashton's intimate, if not always immaculate, conception.

Smaller in scope and more conversational in tone than most mainstage versions, the Avenue Theatre's production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile was nearly as amusing and, at times, more affecting. More than anything else, though, director John Ashton's environmental show, which was presented in a vacant bar/restaurant space (the former Mike Berardi's), personalized the comedian/movie star's debate about art and science by eliminating most of the barriers that typically separate artist from audience. On the strength of Joan and Nick Cimyotte's handsome setting, Charles Dean Packard's moody lighting scheme and some clever special effects, the site-specific version hardly resembled an intellectual exercise. And even though they weren't Stoppardian ideologues, the performers' earthy portraits proved the pièce de résistance in Ashton's intimate, if not always immaculate, conception.

The sometimes bloody sit-ins that took place at "whites only" lunch counters throughout the South inspired dramatist S.M. Shephard-Massat to write Waiting to Be Invited, a tale of four unlikely heroes who put the Supreme Court's anti-segregationist rulings into practice. Largely conversational in tone, yet naggingly urgent in feel, the Denver Center Theatre Company's world-premiere production demonstrated that the everyday actions of ordinary folk are just as crucial to the fight for social justice as the vaunted declarations of philosophers, clerics and statesmen. And even though the play didn't culminate in a gripping, over-the-lunch-counter confrontation, Shephard-Massat emphatically made the point that standing up for equal rights means being willing to risk physical harm for the sake of mere belief. As DCTC patrons discovered nightly, that's an idea worth standing up for and cheering about.
The sometimes bloody sit-ins that took place at "whites only" lunch counters throughout the South inspired dramatist S.M. Shephard-Massat to write Waiting to Be Invited, a tale of four unlikely heroes who put the Supreme Court's anti-segregationist rulings into practice. Largely conversational in tone, yet naggingly urgent in feel, the Denver Center Theatre Company's world-premiere production demonstrated that the everyday actions of ordinary folk are just as crucial to the fight for social justice as the vaunted declarations of philosophers, clerics and statesmen. And even though the play didn't culminate in a gripping, over-the-lunch-counter confrontation, Shephard-Massat emphatically made the point that standing up for equal rights means being willing to risk physical harm for the sake of mere belief. As DCTC patrons discovered nightly, that's an idea worth standing up for and cheering about.
From the moment she strode through the red-curtained archway of Diana Vreeland's Manhattan residence, Deborah Persoff exuded an ebullience that one typically senses only from established performers appearing in test-marketed star vehicles. Suffused with a regal pride that verged on but never became haughtiness, Persoff cut a commanding figure in Full Gallop while spouting the legendary Vogue editor's slew of pithy fashion statements. Despite the inherent weaknesses in Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson's script, or perhaps because of them, Persoff and director Chip Walton complemented each other's strengths to offer up an engaging evening of style, whimsy and steely sophistication. And as Persoff moved about the stage with near-balletic flair, it became clear that her mother's belief that Diana lacked natural beauty was, on the whole, a monumentally superficial observation.

From the moment she strode through the red-curtained archway of Diana Vreeland's Manhattan residence, Deborah Persoff exuded an ebullience that one typically senses only from established performers appearing in test-marketed star vehicles. Suffused with a regal pride that verged on but never became haughtiness, Persoff cut a commanding figure in Full Gallop while spouting the legendary Vogue editor's slew of pithy fashion statements. Despite the inherent weaknesses in Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson's script, or perhaps because of them, Persoff and director Chip Walton complemented each other's strengths to offer up an engaging evening of style, whimsy and steely sophistication. And as Persoff moved about the stage with near-balletic flair, it became clear that her mother's belief that Diana lacked natural beauty was, on the whole, a monumentally superficial observation.

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