Footlight Players current production of the musical GYPSY opened on Friday to great applause. The show is listed as a memoir of the great burlesque queen, Gypsy Rose Lee, but we really see the story of the epitome of bound and determined stage mothers. Mama Rose is expertly played by newcomer to Footlight Caroline Rau. Her voice is strong and exhilarating from her first song, Small World up to the dramatic conclusion, Rose’s Turn. Let me preface this critique with acknowledgement of the many cast and crew members that it took to expertly put on this epic of a musical. THIS SHOW SAHOULD NOT BE MISSED!
**** Recommended **** Take your family on a nostalgic trip into the past with the Towle Theater’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play”, adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast by Lance Arthur Smith with original songs and arrangements by Jon Lorenz. Forget about all your electronic devices – sit back and relax. It’s 1947 and you’re a member of the ‘studio audience’ for a ‘live radio’ broadcast. The actors will stand at the mics, read their parts, sing the songs, and do the commercials right in front you. Did you ever wonder if Kris Kringle really is Santa Claus? The answer will be found in “Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play”. 4 Holiday Spotlights
*** Recommended *** On the surface, “Greetings” looks like another “boy brings fiancée home for Christmas” story, but this interesting play about family ties has a plot twist you’ll never see coming! Playwright Tom Dudzick, who grew up Catholic in Buffalo, New York, takes on death, prejudice and objective versus subjective reality, seasoning his Catholicism with a pinch of Judaism and a lot of New Age skepticism. Although the ending is kind of corny and predictable, “Greetings” has a beautiful holiday message. 3 Holiday Spotlights
Whiting audiences are loving Marian Theatre Guild’s production of “9 to 5: The Musical”. The story is hilarious while Dolly Parton’s cheerful score is guaranteed to lift your spirits. If you’ve ever dreamed about vengeance against a hellacious boss, and you’re looking for an enjoyable evening, you can’t miss with “9 to 5.” 2 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** The Towle Theatre's production of “The Smell of the Kill” is a really funny but dark comedy. Three couples get together for dinner once a month. After cleaning up, the women are having after-dinner drinks in the kitchen while their husbands play some kind of golf (?) in the dining room. Everything seems to be normal – until it’s not! You’ll be laughing all the way home from this one. 3 ½ Spotlights
Highly Recommended **** If you like a story with an interesting twist, then the Towle Theater’s new production, “String”, is the musical for you. Take a tiny bit of Greek mythology, drop it into a skyscraper somewhere, add a sweet love story with lush music and clever, complicated lyrics, it’s a recipe for success. My friend Nancy and I really enjoyed “String”. Kudos to Director Jeff Casey on another winner. 4 Spotlights
*** Recommended *** If it’s June, it must be time for Canterbury Summer Theatre, one of two true summer stock theaters in northwest Indiana. CST always begins the season with a drama rather than a musical in a very short run (4 days). This year, they’ve kicked off the season with a play called “Constellations” which seemed more like an acting exercise than a fully realized play. As I watched the actors repeat the same lines over and over, I kept thinking to myself, “Are we there yet?” 3 Spotlights
**** Recommended **** Dunes Summer Theatre is one of my favorite summer destinations. Combine my love for this ‘gem in the woods’ with my love of murder mysteries, and I had a perfect afternoon recently. I really enjoyed their production of “Smoke & Mirrors”, a farcical murder mystery. Although I’m pretty good at figuring out “who dunnit,” this play had a couple of plot twists even I didn’t see coming. It’s a hoot! 4 Spotlights