Reviews

Vintage Theatre reanimates Mel Brooks' classic parody out of Transylvania By Lisa Kennedy Denver Post Theater Critic The pleasing, utterly silly "Spamalot" is having a merry go of it at Boulder's Dinner Theatre (and will see productions soon at the Aurora Fox, and this summer at the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins and Breckenridge's Backstage Theatre). Meanwhile, Vintage Theatre is puttin' on the ritz with Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan's adaptation of Brooks' 1974 comedy about an American in Transylvania by the name of Frederick Frankenstein. Neither musical matches its big-screen counterpart in hilarity. Which doesn't mean there isn't fun to be had. A great deal of "Young Frankenstein's" pleasures come by way of Seth Maisel as Frankenstein. CLICK HERE to continue reading full review ...

Young Frankenstein Review by David Marlowe CLICK HERE for full review online As a character in his own film, “History of the World Part I” Mel Brooks says: ”It’s Good to be the king.” Brooks truly is the king…of Comedy. His 1974 film “Young Frankenstein” is now a cult favorite. Many fans know every line right down to the accent the actors used. In 2007 “Young Frankenstein, the Musical” was nominated for three Tony Awards and also received The Outer Critics Circle’s award for Best Musical. In Director Deb Flomberg’s production of “Young Frankenstein” there are laughs galore!  One of the nice directorial touches was Ms. Flomberg’s having the villagers running with cardboard cut-outs of the trees to give the illusion that the horse cart is moving in the number “Roll, Roll, Roll in Za Hay.” Seth Maisel does a fine job of portraying Frederick Frankenstein. Maisel’s  performance is full of the hysteria and panic one remembers from Gene Wilder’s portrayal of this character in the movie. Mark Shonsey is a hoot as Frankenstein’s coweled and hump-shifting assistant Igor. Hunter Hall’s music direction gives us a very full sound from the offstage live orchestra. From time to time one might wish however, for a bit of volume modulation in the sound design so that none of the deliciously funny dialogue is missed. Mike Kienker’s portrayal of the monster is so funny it’s scary. Jamie Horban’s choreography is at its best in the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number in which Mr. Kienker and Mr. Maisel take center stage. Patrick Brownson’s Inspector Kemp contributes nicely. Douglas Clark has provided a very clever set complete with all things dungeon-like. Christopher Waller’s lighting design s filled with electrical zaps and bolts of lightning, which are magnified by Curt Behm’s thunderous sound design. Kristi Siedow-Thompson is a voluptuous and fetching Inga. Shahara Ray’s Elizabeth is most memorable. When she gets to unleash her acting and singing prowess in her ode to her own vanity: “It’s me, it’s Me, It’s me” she is especially good! The opening night crowd embraced the show with great laughter and huge applause....

Snow Falling on Cedars Review by David MarloweSpare and clear as Haiku, Director Sam Wood’s “Snow Falling on Cedars” is also illuminating and poignant. Based upon the David Guterson novel that became a movie in 1999, the story deals with a newspaper reporter who’s covering a murder trial. A fisherman has been killed in Puget Sound and the man accused of the murder is the husband of the reporter’s teenage girl friend. Ben Cowhick turns in a superb performance in the role of Ishmael Chambers, the reporter. Arlene Rapal is outstanding as Hatsue. Dale Li rivets as Kabuo Miamoto the accused man. Glenna Kelly turns in a very fine performance as the mother of the deceased fisherman. The play includes flashbacks to scenes involving the American concentration camps for the Japanese while the War in the Pacific raged. Director Wood has brought together a fine cast that also includes Maria Cheng, Robert Payo, Wade Wood, Roger Simon, Brian Brooks and Christian Munck.  Although one bank of lights failed to work on opening night the gallant cast managed to carry off the riveting drama with professional panache.  The evocative sound design is one of the memorable highlights.  ...

“Snow Falling on Cedars” Review by Adam Goldstein It’s tough not to feel at least a little invested in the Vintage Theatre’s production of “Snow Falling on Cedars.” That has a lot to do with atmosphere. Director Sam Wood stages the murder-mystery/courtroom-drama in the Vintage’s black box theater, an intimate space with a capacity of 80. During terse courtroom scenes, actors sit side-by-side with audience members and cry out at dramatic revelations. In the scenes set on the ships that navigate the waters around the fictional San Piedro Island in Washington state, Tim Barbiaux’s maritime set inescapably looms in the center of the space. The wooden beams and shallow pool of water at center stage make the ocean feel impossibly close. That feeling of immediacy helps keep this challenging drama afloat. Based on the award-winning novel by David Guterson, “Cedars” takes place in a fictional West Coast community in the decades leading up to World War II. A murder case against Kabuo Miyamoto (Dale Li) is the springboard for flashbacks that tell the story of a divided community. We learn of the struggles of Miyamoto’s family, Japanese-Americans deported to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We learn that Miyamoto’s wife, Hatsue (Arlene Rapal), had a taboo relationship with Ishmael Chambers (Benjamin Cowhick) before he was sent off to war and before her family went to the camps. We see that the family of the murder victim, Carl Heine Jr. (Brian Brooks), had a tense history with the Miyamotos over a question of land. All of these strains come together in a murder trial that raises questions of race, allegiance and the challenge of letting go of emotional scars. Apart from some clunky moments in the first act, Wood carves a graceful and moving path through a dense storyline. That journey finds fluency in some standout performances. Rapal and Cowhick offer strong emotion in bringing the backstory of Hatsue and Ishmael to life. As Nels Gudmundsson, Miyamoto’s public defender, Roger Simon offers gravity and insight. These performances help ground an intricate tale. Along with the staging and the ambiance, the effect is immersive.  ...