Monday, September 21, 2015

review - HEAVEN CAN WAIT - Hale Centre Theatre

Josh Hunt, Wayne Peck, Mark Kleinman,
and Jonathan Holdsworth
Photo: Nick Woodward- Shaw
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 17th.

 "Harry Segall's comedy-fantasy play Heaven Can a lighthearted comedy about a prizefighter who is accidentally sent to heaven before his time and, even though the play is slow in a few parts, Hale Center Theatre's wonderful cast and clear direction deliver many comedic and even several touching moments. Joe Pendleton is a young New Jersey boxer who finds himself in heaven after he encounters a problem with the engine of the plane he's flying. However, it turns out that he would have survived the plane crash and lived another 60 years but an over-eager and newly employed guardian angel took his soul too soon. Head soul collector Mr. Jordan tries to make things right, but when he realizes that he is unable to return Joe to his body, due to Joe's distraught boxing manager having had the body already cremated, Joe is given the body of a recently murdered millionaire tycoon named Farnsworth to inhabit until a more suitable one can be found. However, things don't go according to plan and Segall throws plenty of interesting plot twists into the mix, along with many laughs and an ending full of heart and even a touch of sadness. Director Alaina Beauloye has cast an exceptional group of actors, led by Josh Hunt as Joe and Mark Kleinman as Mr. Jordan. Hunt is full of life as the spunky, feisty Joe, constantly prancing and moving around the stage just as a young boxer would in a match....Kleinman is appropriately fatherly as the soft spoken, mysterious Mr. Jordan, bringing a clear feeling of sensitivity to the part. ...Wayne Peck is Joe's agent Max, and Peck's expert comic chops, double takes, and expressions are perfect...Alanna Kalbfleisch and Stephen Serna are a hoot as Farnsworth's wife and secretary, respectively, who are still obsessed with killing him off. ...Melissa Powers is sweet and sincere as the young woman Joe falls in love with...Beauloye manages to not let the slow parts in the script bog the production down too much...She doesn't let the emotional moments get too sappy while also ensuring that the several scene changes are well orchestrated to not slow down the pace of the show...With an interesting plot that is full of surprises and a lead character you root for, Heaven Can Wait is a fun play full of fantasy, twists, and comedic situations. While the play itself is slow in parts, especially the beginning, Hale Centre Theatre's great cast, exceptional leads, strong supporting ensemble, and clear, succinct direction result in a charming, quirky, heartfelt production."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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