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Shining City
by Conor McPherson
Directed by Toni Dorfman
Upstream Theater
January 29, 2016

Jerry Vogel, Christopher Harris Photo by ProPhotoSTL.com Upstream Theater

Jerry Vogel, Christopher Harris
Photo by ProPhotoSTL.com
Upstream Theater

What is a ghost? Some people believe in literal ghosts, but a ghost can also be figurative or imaginary. In Conor McPherson’s Shining City,  currently being produced by Upstream Theater, the question of ghosts is only the beginning in a story that deals with two men and their different but strangely similar dilemmas.  As presented by Upstream, the show is somewhat slow moving but contains some memorable performances and raises some interesting questions.

Ian (Christopher Harris) is a former Catholic priest who has just set up shop as a therapist in Dublin, Ireland. He’s got a girlfriend, Neasa (Em Piro) and a new baby, but he’s not particularly happy.  The play is set up as series of sessions between Ian and his patient, John (Jerry Vogel) who suffers from regret regarding the recent death of his wife. He claims to have seen her ghost, but both he and Ian suspect it’s more a manifestation of his guilt regarding his feelings for his wife and how he treated her before she died. Through the course of the play, we learn the details of John’s situation as well as learning more about Ian, whose has his own struggles with guilt concerning his relationship with his girlfriend and his own personal desires.  There’s not much else I can say without spoiling the plot, but it deals with many subjects, including personal identity, one’s relationship with others and with God, and the very purpose of life. In fact, two of the books prominently displayed in Ian’s office are titled God and Life Itself.

The play is rather slow moving especially in the first act, focusing on conversation a lot more than action. It’s not until the second act that it becomes clear where the story is going, in fact. There are several philosophical questions dealt with as the parallels between John’s situation and Ian’s become more apparent, and it’s the actors who really make the story. Harris is elusive and enigmatic as the conflicted Ian, providing a listening ear for the more dynamic Vogel as John, whose accounts of his actions are compelling if not entirely sympathetic. There are also good performances by Piro in a smaller role as Ian’s attention-starved girlfriend, and by Pete Winfrey as a man Ian meets and has a revealing conversation with in his office. The central roles, though, are those of Harris and Vogel, and it is  their interactions that are the highlight of the production.

Technically the show is presented in a visually stunning manner. With Steve Carmichael’s striking lighting that emphasis shadows and variations of light, and Michael Heil’s well-appointed set, the somewhat tense atmosphere is maintained well. Bonnie Kruger’s costumes, Claudia Horn’s props, and Cristi Johnston’s scenic art also add much to the tone and style of the play.  There is also an excellent, atmospheric musical score provided by Farshid Soltanshahi.

This is a play about ghosts in various forms, and two men whose lives are more similar than they may first appear. It’s a well-realized production that revolves mostly around the vivid portrayals of the actors as well as the authentically presented setting. While it does seem confusing and over-long at times, for the most part this is a memorable, thought-provoking play with a strong sense of time and place.

Set for Shining City Photo by ProPhotoSTL.com Upstream Theater

Set for Shining City
Photo by ProPhotoSTL.com
Upstream Theater

Shining City is being presented by Upstream Theater at the Kranzberg Arts Center until February 14, 2016

Underneath the Lintel
by Glen Berger
Directed by Lana Pepper
New Jewish Theatre
January 28, 2016

Glynis Bell Photo by Eric Woolsey New Jewish Theatre

Glynis Bell
Photo by Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theatre

A 113 year old travel guide is the impetus for an unfolding mystery and a journey of self-discovery in Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel.  This is a show that’s been done in St. Louis before, at the 2013 St. Lou Fringe Festival, but now, New Jewish Theatre has brought it back in a well-acted, energetic production. It’s an emotional, educational, and entertaining show featuring a remarkable performance by its star, Glynis Bell.

Since the discovery process is an important part of this story, I won’t give too much away about what happens. Basically, it’s the story of an eccentric, somewhat sheltered Dutch librarian (Bell) who becomes consumed with the task of finding the person who dropped a book in the night deposit slot at her library. This isn’t just any book, either. It’s a travel guide that’s 113 years overdue.  The story is told in flashback, as Bell gives a presentation in a somewhat dingy old lecture hall, introducing her various “exhibits” and showing slides as she recounts her journey to learn the identity of this mysterious figure who seems to have turned up at various places around the world at various times in history. In the process, the librarian herself gets an education about herself and about the world. She says she’s seeking to “prove one life and justify another”, all the while revealing a story involving an ancient apocryphal legend that touches on issues of Christian theology, Jewish identity, and the very nature and existence of God.

This is a one-woman show, so the casting is important. Actually, when I saw this at Fringe, the Librarian was played by a man. It’s just as effective performed by Bell, who is full of energy and enthusiasm as she recounts her tale. Her sense of excitement and wonder is apparent as she discovers each piece of the puzzle, as well as recounting her trip around the world accompanied by slides and atmospheric tunes provided by musician Will Soll on the mandolin. Bell is the embodiment of the story, as her search for information becomes one for self-fulfillment as well. The stories of how she visits various cities and then finds herself exploring and enjoying their cultural offerings such as plays, opera, and concerts are fascinating and convincingly portrayed.  Bell’s librarian is awkward, but enthusiastic and extremely likable, portrayed with just the right amount of an accent, as well.

The space is set up with a stark sense of realism. The old, dated lecture hall with its linoleum floors and wood-paneled walls is well-realized by set designer Kyra Bishop. Costume designer Michele Friedman Siler has outfitted Bell’s librarian with an appropriately worn-out suit, and lighting designer Michael Sullivan achieves the appropriate atmosphere with institutional type lighting at first, with adjustments at various times to suit the story.

Overall, this is an entertaining production and a compelling story. It’s well-structured, and Bell tells the tale with urgency and wonder. It’s sure to raise questions concerning identity and the very purpose of life. Centered around this excellent performance, Underneath the Lintel is a worthwhile tour of time and place.

Glynis Bell Photo by Eric Woolsey New Jewish Theatre

Glynis Bell
Photo by Eric Woolsey
New Jewish Theatre

Underneath the Lintel at New Jewish Theatre runs until February 13, 2016.

Georama
Book by West Hyler and Matt Schatz
Music and Lyrics by Matt Schatz
Directed by West Hyler
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Studio
January 23, 2016

Jillian Louis, P.J. Griffith Photo by Peter Wochniak Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Jillian Louis, P.J. Griffith
Photo by Peter Wochniak
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Once upon a time, before photography was common or practical, and way before movies, the best way to see parts of the world you couldn’t visit was through paintings. Many of those huge panoramic paintings, and their painters, are now largely lost to history, but the Rep Studio’s latest World Premiere production, the musical Georama, is shining the spotlight back on one such painter, John Banvard, whose subject matter was the colossal, rolling Mississippi River. Taking the audience back in time to the 1840’s through song, story, and an impressively painted scrolling backdrop, Georama is a delight.

The story is framed as something of a folk tale, with Banvard (P.J. Griffith) as its hero, who according to the prologue is “the most famous man that you ain’t never heard of”. Two traveling musicians (Emily Mikesell, Jacob Yates) narrate the tale at various points and provide the musical accompaniment. It’s a folksy, Americana-ish score, with styles reminiscent of 19th century popular songs and more modern folk/country music to set the mood. As Banvard starts his career, he’s an itinerant portrait painter, until he’s discovered by aspiring showman and entrepeneur Taylor (Randy Blair) and goes to work painting backdrops on a showboat run by William Chapman (Dan Sharkey). The idea of a scrolling panorama is eventually born, and after some disagreements about promotion, Banvard strikes out on his own to explore the river and do more painting. He then meets up with Elizabeth (Jillian Louis), a pastor’s daughter and aspiring musician who has the idea of adding music to Banvard’s presentations. She joins him in his travels, and the operation grows in scope and renown, eventually ending up in London, while they eventually re-encounter Taylor, who has made his success under a slightly different form of his name, which I won’t spoil here but will be instantly recognized. As Banvard’s fame grows, however, so do his conflicts, as he and Elizabeth deal with differing priorities and the very nature and purpose of art, family, and home.

The form here works very well for this piece. The Rep’s studio space has been changed around to create an old-fashioned stage setup, with a magnificent scrolling panorama that serves as Banvard’s “Georama” and also as incidental backgrounds at various moments in the show. Set designer Scott C. Neale and scenic artists Emily Frei and Ryan Marshall have created a wondrous atmosphere with a richly detailed painting that, when scrolling, creates the sense of movement across the wide American countryside along the great Mississippi river, as well as showcasing other locations like London and New York. The costumes, designed by Margaret Weedon, are also impressively detailed. Ann G. Wrightson’s lighting Rusty Wandall’s sound also contribute to the overall effect. The music is also expertly performed by Mikesell and Yates, as well as Louis on the piano and harmonium.

As Banvard, Griffith brings just the right blend of qualities for a likable if conflicted hero. He’s got lots of charm, and a strong singing voice, as well as good comic ability when needed. His chemistry with Louis’s determined, feisty Elizabeth is excellent as well. Louis has a particularly impressive singing voice on ballads and more upbeat songs alike. Blair is appropriately ingratiating and scheming as the ambitious Taylor, and Sharkey is a standout in various roles, including the initially imposing but ultimately sympathetic Chapman. Sharkey also has a delightful scene-stealing moment as Queen Victoria, delivering top-notch comic relief when the show arrives in London, with the hilarious and ever-so-slightly risque song “Just a Little”. Mikesell and Yates make engaging narrators, as well.

The show does have a few minor issues, such as occasional clunky lyrics and awkward rhymes, as well as a story structure that moves a little too quickly in the second act.  Still, it’s a remarkable achievement and a thoroughly entertaining presentation telling the story of a once-celebrated artist who has mostly faded from the history books. Georama takes its audience on a tour of the Mississippi River and 19th Century America and beyond with heart, energy, a tuneful score, and a great cast. And that painting is a wonder in itself.

Randy Blair Photo by P.J. Griffith Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Randy Blair
Photo by P.J. Griffith
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Georama runs at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’s Studio Theatre until February 7th, 2016

Newsies
Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Jack Feldman, Book by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Choreographed by Christopher Gatelli
The Fox Theatre
January 19, 2016

Joey Barreiro (center) and Cast Photo by Deen van Meer Newsies North American Tour

Joey Barreiro (center) and Cast
Photo by Deen van Meer
Newsies North American Tour

Newsies is a big, bold, energetic musical based on a cult-classic Disney movie of the same name. It’s on the second leg of its North American tour now, and it’s finally making a stop in St. Louis.  I saw the tour in Chicago in late 2014 and enjoyed it. This year, the cast is mostly new but it’s the same entertaining show.

Newsies is Disney’s retelling of the 1899 newsboys’ strike in New York, given the family-show treatment and lots of energy and optimism. It follows a group of “Newsies” led by the enterprising orphan Jack Kelly (Joey Barreiro), along with his friends Crutchie (Zachary Sayle) and “new kids”, brothers Davey (Stephen Michael Langton)–who becomes essentially Jack’s deputy–and feisty 10-year-old Les (John Michael Pitera, alternating with Ethan Steiner). Upset when New York World newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Steve Blanchard) raises the prices that the newsies have to pay for their papers, Jack gathers his buddies to launch a strike against the paper, and eventually other New York papers as well. Into the midst of this situation comes Katherine (Morgan Keene), a young woman reporter who writes about the strike and is attracted to Jack, who likes her back even though there’s one important fact about her that he doesn’t know.

This is a fun show, plain and simple. It’s not particularly deep or reflective, but there’s some good music and some especially extraordinary dancing, choreographed by Christopher Gatelli. It’s the kind of high energy, athletic, jumping and tapping and leaping and cartwheeling kind of dancing that gives this show its real spark. In fact, I would say that the real stars of this edition of the tour are the newsies themselves. With their considerable dance skills, charm, and ensemble chemistry, these guys carry the show in enemble numbers like “Carrying the Banner”, “Seize the Day”, and “King of New York”. The rest of the cast is fine, with the standouts being Sayle as the amiable Crutchie, Langton as the earnest Davey, and Pitera as his spunky little brother Les. Aisha De Haas is also excellent as the newsies’ main adult ally, singer Medda Larkin. Blanchard, who along with Sayle has been with the tour from the beginning, is good in this portrayal of Pulitzer as somewhat of a cartoonish villain. Barreiro is fine as Jack, displaying a lot of energy, although he’s not quite convincing as a teenager, and his chemistry with Keene’s more lackluster Katherine is not particularly convincing. Still, this is a show that’s sure to entertain especially because of that top-notch ensemble.

The set, designed by Tobin Ernst, is still spectacular, with its movable beams and grids, and wonderful use of projections, originally designed by Sven Ortel and adapted by Daniel Brodie. The costumes, by Jess Goldstein, are colorful and period appropriate, and they suit the characters well. For once, the sound, designed by Ken Travis–works well at the Fox, too. I’ve noticed sound problems in several touring shows that have played here, but Newsies does well, and every word of dialogue and the lyrics of every song are clearly audible. The show presents something of a stylized version of late 19th-Century New York, in keeping with the upbeat, more family-focused theme, but it’s a well-realized vision that contributes to the vibrancy of the production.

Newsies at the Fox might not be quite as stellar as it was in Chicago, but it’s still lots of fun. Ultimately, a show like this is about telling its story and doing so in an entertaining fashion. Newsies does that, with a delightful ensemble and a memorable score. I’m glad St. Louis audiences now have the chance to see it.

Cast of Newsies Photo by Deen Van Meer Newsies North American Tour

Cast of Newsies
Photo by Deen Van Meer
Newsies North American Tour

The North American tour of Newsies runs at the Fox Theatre until January 31, 2016.

Sunset Baby
by Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ron Himes
The Black Rep
January 15, 2016

Erin Renee Roberts, Ron Himes Photo by Stewart Goldstein The Black Rep

Erin Renee Roberts, Ron Himes
Photo by Stewart Goldstein
The Black Rep

Which comes first, your family or the cause? That dilemma and the consequences of it are a major focus of Dominique Morriseau’s Sunset Baby. It’s a drama of relationships, dreams, and ideals, currently being given a sensitive and well-cast production at the Black Rep.

Kenyatta Shakur (Ron Himes) is the famous leader of a 1980’s black revolutionary movement, who has spent a lot of time in jail as a result of his activism. He has an adult daughter, Nina (Erin Renee Roberts), who didn’t see much of her father when she was growing up, instead being raised by her mother, another famous activist who has recently died after a long battle with drug addiction. When Kenyatta shows up at Nina’s Brooklyn apartment after many years of estrangement, he’s looking for some letters that Nina’s mother had written to him but never mailed. Nina, however, is suspicious of her father’s motives, since various others are also interested in the letters and are willing to spend a great deal of money for them. Forced to drop out of college due to money and having to take care of her mother, she’s now living in a run-down apartment and making a living as a hustler along with her boyfriend, Damon (Lawd Gabe), a drug dealer who also has a child of his own from a previous relationship. Nina, who was named after the famous singer Nina Simone, often spends time listening to Simone’s music and hoping for a future outside of New York, a dream that is fueled by watching travel shows on TV. In the midst of this situation comes her father, who also is shown making a series of videos for Nina. He’s looking to reconnect with his daughter as well as reading the letters, but Nina doesn’t know who to trust. The contrast between Kenyatta and Damon is a major element of the story, as is Kenyatta’s desire to let Nina know how much she and her mother mean to him, as well as the continuing importance of the cause.

This is a small-cast, character-driven play and the actors fit their characters well. Himes projects a combined sense of weariness, regret, concern, and hope as Kenyatta. He doesn’t particularly look like a famous revolutionary, but that’s part of the point, I think. He’s a man and a father who went through some very real struggles for his cause and for the people involved, including his family. That shows in Himes’ performance, and his scenes with Roberts are particularly affecting. Roberts admirably portrays a range of qualities as well, from anger, resentment, and suspicion, to aspiration and hope. Gabe, as Damon, is alternately charming, crafty, and dejected, and he has some strong scenes with both Roberts and Himes. The heart of the drama, though, is the relationship between Kenyatta, Nina, and Nina’s late mother, who never appears except in one projected still image and in a painted silhouette that hangs on Nina’s wall. She’s just as a much a character in the play as the rest. She’s not there, but she’s there, and the production does a good job of creating that sense of familial presence between her and the living, on stage characters of the man she loved and their daughter.

The staging is simple but inventive, with a set by Jim Burkwinkel that consists of two distinct areas–Nina’s apartment and Kenyatta’s room, where he sits to record the videos for his daughter. There’s also excellent use of projections by Mark Wilson. The costumes designed by Daryl Harris are excellent as well, particularly in Nina’s range of distinctive outfits and wigs. There’s good use of lighting as well, designed by Sean Savoie and appropriately setting the mood for the scenes set at various times of day.

Although sometimes I wish there would have been more to this script in terms of background and motivations for the characters (especially Damon, who is the most underwritten), this production is staged well with a strong sense of drama and relationship. It’s an intriguing play that also deals with extremely timely issues of how civil rights activists are treated (and mistreated) by authorities, while more overtly it’s about the father-daughter relationship. It’s a memorable piece of theatre that raises many important questions, and it’s well worth checking out.

Erin Renee Roberts, Lawd Gabe Photo by Stewart Goldstein The Black Rep

Erin Renee Roberts, Lawd Gabe
Photo by Stewart Goldstein
The Black Rep

Sunset Baby is being presented by The Black Rep at Washington University’s Edison Theatre until January 31, 2016.

The Lion In Winter
by James Goldman
Directed by Edward Stern
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
January 8, 2016

Ryan Ward, Carol Schultz, Wilson Bridges, Kurt Hellerich, Jeffrey King Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr. Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Ryan Ward, Carol Schultz, Wilson Bridges, Kurt Hellerich, Jeffrey King
Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Who wants to be the King of England? The race for succession is something of a free-for-all in James Goldman’s The Lion In Winter, the first play of 2016 for the Rep. It’s an intrigue-filled, witty and dynamic historical dramatization that positively crackles with energy on stage.

The Lion In Winter is perhaps best remembered for the marvelous 1968 film starring Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and a young Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton. I had seen the movie years ago and remembered the strength of the performances, but it was so long ago that I had forgotten a lot of the details. This play, based somewhat loosely on the history of England’s King Henry II (Jeffrey King), is full of sharp dialogue, drama, and lots and lots of humor. That last part is what surprised me the most, actually.  It’s a very sharply written script with extremely well-developed characters including Henry’s estranged wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Carol Schultz), and the latest object of his affections, Alais (Angela Janas), who grew up in Henry’s court and was betrothed to his son Richard (Grayson DeJesus) at an early age, although she is now Henry’s mistress and is being used as something of a bargaining tool in the constant machinations concerning who is actually going to inherit the throne.  There’s Richard, the eldest surviving son and the obvious candidate, as he’s a skilled soldier and charismatic leader. He’s also Eleanor’s choice to be the next king. Henry’s choice, for whatever reason, is his petulant and immature youngest son, John (Kurt Hellerich), who Henry also wants to marry Alais in Richard’s place, despite the objections of her brother Philip (Ryan Ward), the King of France, who is currently in attendance at Henry’s palace for his Christmas court. In between these two candidates stands the crafty, well-educated and duplicitous middle son, Geoffrey (Wilson Bridges), who doesn’t initially seem to want to be King very much, but as the plot develops, so do his and everyone else’s ambitions. The center of the play is the combative, contentious, and oddly still affectionate relationship between Henry and Eleanor, who despite having been imprisoned by him for years, still loves him in her way.

It’s the relationships, the incisive dialogue laced with cutting humor, and the strongly developed characterizations that make this play so intensely fascinating, and it’s a brilliant showcase for the Rep’s excellent cast. It’s easy to see in King’s boisterous, confrontational, and charming performance how his three very different sons all take after him in their own ways. Richard’s bravado, Geoffrey’s scheming wit, and John’s almost childlike sense of entitlement are all reflected in King’s vibrant portrayal. Schultz, as the proud Eleanor, matches King scene for scene, and it’s their chemistry that drives the show. Schultz also does an excellent job of portraying Eleanor’s underlying sense of loneliness and rejection without losing that stubborn determination that keeps her going. As the sons, DeJesus is memorable as the soldierly but conflicted Richard, Bridges is deliciously snide as Geoffrey, and Hellerich is convincing as the snippy, bratty youngest son John. There’s also good work from Ward as the still fairly young King of France, Philip, who harbors a secret past with Richard and strives to be taken seriously as a monarch by Henry. Janas, as Alais, is also fine as a young woman who genuinely loves Henry, but is growing increasingly weary of being used as a pawn in his schemes.

Visually, the production has an authentic look with something of a modern twist. Mathew J. Lebebvre’s costumes are appropriately detailed, with rich, regal colors and textures, while Joseph P. Tilford’s set is more suggestive than deliberately realistic. Flanked by giant statues enclosed in glass-covered pillars, the stage has somewhat of the feel of a medieval exhibit at a museum. The furniture and set pieces give the production the right historical atmosphere with a degree of artifice that works well for the tone of the play. There’s also excellent atmospheric lighting by Thomas C. Hase and sound by Rusty Wandall, with an excellent use of scene-setting music.

This is a much funnier play than I had been expecting. Perhaps I need to see the movie again, but I didn’t remember that tone from the film. As directed at the Rep by Edward Stern, the top-notch cast makes the most of every line of dialogue and every tense moment. Although it might not be entirely historically accurate, it’s a bold, fascinating dramatization that’s riveting from start to finish. It’s an intelligent, highly energetic, first-rate production.

lioninwinter2

Grayson DeJesus, Carol Schultz Photo by Jerry Naunheim, Jr. Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The Lion in Winter runs at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis until January 31, 2016.

Sublime Intimacy
by Ken Page
Directed by Ken Page
Max & Louie Productions
December 11, 2015

J. Samuel Davis, Bethany Barr, Alfredo Solivan Photo by Patrick Huber Max & Louie Productions

J. Samuel Davis, Bethany Barr, Alfredo Solivan
Photo by Patrick Huber
Max & Louie Productions

Ken Page is something of a living legend in St. Louis theatre. A veteran Broadway actor and singer, Page has become a fixture at the Muny and in the local theatre community, especially since moving back here to his hometown a few years ago. Page has now taken much of his own memory and life experience, as well as the stories of friends, and portrayed them in a new play, Sublime Intimacy, which is currently being presented in an impressive, ambitious staging by Max & Louie Productions.

Page, who also directed this play, explains in his directors’ note in the program that he was inspired by the stories of friends over the years who have relayed their stories of searching for, and occasionally achieving, a level of connection and intimacy that goes beyond the sexual into a more spiritual and emotional level. That’s the “sublime intimacy” of the play’s title, and Page’s stories revolve largely around dance. Using one dancer (Alfredo Solivan) to portray several different characters representing the “muse” or “ultimate love” or “unattainable ideal” of various figures in the play, Page relates the stories as narrated by his obvious fictionalized representation, Tim Pace (J. Samuel Davis).  He takes us into the world of actors and artists in early 1970s St. Louis, 1970s and ’80s New York, Los Angeles in the 1940’s and 1990’s, along with a brief trip to Paris in 1980 and a return to St. Louis in the early 2000’s. He follows a group of gay men including the initially troubled young artist Gene Donovan (Michael Cassidy Flynn) and his intellectual friends Don Taylor (John Flack) and Bill Ross (Reginald Pierre), as well as other friends also played by Flack and Pierre at various moments in time. There’s also Katharine Reilly (Bethany Hart), a theatre teacher and actress who seems to find herself frequently falling in love with gay men, including her childhood friend Michael, represented by Solivan who also portrays Gene’s artistic “muse’–a Washington University dancer named Steve, as well as important figures in stories told by Don and later Tim.

Perhaps this play’s greatest strength is its extremely vivid sense of time and place. Page deftly transports his audience back to the St. Louis academic community in 1972, as well as to its other times and cities with vivid description and characterization. Especially powerful are the experiences of Gene, a young gay man learning to accept his sexuality, as well as Don, an older gay man remembering what it was like to be a Hollywood movie extra in the 1940’s with a strong attraction to a dancer from a movie filming at the same studio. Katharine’s stories, that interweave with those of Gene and Tim, are also memorable, as is Tim’s brief interaction with a dancer he meets in Paris. The dance sequences are beautifully danced by Solivan, who makes a believable representation of the various objects of affection, desire, and inspiration for the characters. Sometimes the play tends to get a little talky, but for the most part it’s a fascinating trip through time, place, and imagination, anchored by some excellent performances–especially by Davis, Barr, and Flack, who has perhaps the most memorable and sensitively portrayed moments in the play recounting his Hollywood story.

Technically, the production is imaginative and cleverly staged, with a striking, versatile set by Dunsi Dai. There are also marvelously evocative period costumes by Teresa Doggett, and a truly excellent use of music, consisting of some popular music of the 1970’s and atmospheric original music by Henry Palkes. Patrick Huber’s lighting is also impressive, contributing a somewhat ethereal atmosphere to the production and helping to maintain the overall lyrical tone.

It’s obvious from seeing Sublime Intimacy that Ken Page’s memory is vivid, as are his imagination and his artistic sensibility. This isn’t a flawless work–there are some moments that seemed slow at times–but for the most part it’s highly emotional, excellently acted, and fascinating to watch. It’s a strong original effort by Page and company, and it’s well worth seeing and experiencing.

Alfredo Solivan, John Flack Photo by Dunsi Dai Max & Louie Productions

Alfredo Solivan, John Flack
Photo by Dunsi Dai
Max & Louie Productions

Max & Louie Productions, in association with Ken Page, presents Sublime Intimacy at the Kranzberg Black Box Theatre until December 20, 2015.

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