Wednesday, September 2, 2015

reviews - SOMETHING'S AFOOT - Hale Centre Theatre

Janis Webb, Stephen Serna, Ami Porter, Matthew Ryan Harris,
Jacqueline Brecker and Mark Kleinman
photo: Nick Woodward-Shaw Photographer,
and Jeff A. Davis; Davis Entertainment for Lighting Design
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 October 10th.

"The musical Something's Afoot...is a spoofy homage to the murder/mystery genre, specifically the mysteries of Agatha Christie, that centers on ten murder suspects stranded in a remote house. Hale Centre Theatre's production has a sublime cast and bright and inventive creative aspects. Even though the score is particularly weak, it still amounts to a fun and enjoyable show....Loosely based on Christie's "Ten Little Indians," the show is a spoof consisting of standard mystery characters... Written over forty years ago, Something's Afoot has found some success in regional theatre. I have to believe that's more to do with how popular the mystery genre is and the fun aspect of trying to figure out just who the killer is, rather than the score, which is fair at best...most of the songs don't add much to the drama and occasionally get in the way of the unfolding mystery; in fact, most of the score could be removed without any loss to the narrative. Fortunately, the plot isn't completely predictable, so it does keep you guessing, and Hale has a cast made up of many Hale veterans who go a long way, with the gifted contributions of director and choreographer Cambrian James, to inject the production with a sense of playfulness within the suspense.  A true ensemble show, the cast is led by Janis Webb as Miss Tweed. Webb brings the right amount of sensibility and smarts to the determined amateur sleuth. Matthew Ryan Harris is a hoot as the penniless conniving nephew up to no good. His delivery of the witty "The Legal Heir" is full of fun and funny gymnastic movements and gestures, nicely staged by James. Jacqueline Brecker and Curtis Lunt are charming as the constantly sunny, young lovers while Heidi Liz Johnson and Geoffrey Goorin are delicious as the flirty maid and the randy groundskeeper. Both Goorin and Johnson have great Cockney accents and hilarious facial expressions, bringing a nice bit of jaunty double meaning to their duet, "Problematical Solution."...James' staging and choreography play up the fun, silly, spoofy nature of the musical, with some superb movement that uses the entire in-the-round stage area...Brian Daily, Alex Fogle, and Monica Christiansen are to be commended for their lovely set designs, which include a spiffy grand entry hall. Daily and Fogle's crafty special effects and Christiansen's fun prop designs combine to contribute an abundance of items situated around the theatre, including family portraits, secret compartments, and booby traps to do in the guests. Mary Atkinson's costumes accentuate the characteristic traits of each role with plenty of pops of color and smashing, elegant dresses for the women and dashing coats and suits for the men. Jeff A. Davis' lighting is impeccable, full of suspenseful shadows and lighting effects...There is definitely a lot of silliness in Something's Afoot and the score leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately Hale's top-notch cast, spirited direction and exceptional creative aspects outweigh the negatives and turn the whole affair into a fun and funny affair of mystery, suspense, and plenty of comical intrigue."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"Gilbert's Hale Theatre opened their 2015-16 season this weekend with a muffled bang.... and a strangle and some poisoning and blunt trauma. So much murderous laughter ensued throughout their Something's Afoot Agatha Christie murder-mystery spoof last night, a 1976 Broadway musical that had a subsequently stronger run in London the next year. In typical Hale fashion, the staging was inventive and the acting top notch. ...the action clipped right along while the corpses piled ever higher in the library. Leading the cast was a proper sherry-swilling sleuth, Miss Tweed, well spoofed by Janis Webb. Probably the most secure in his guiltily innocent character creation was comedic actor Geoffrey Goorin as Flint, the gardener.  Planting the audience's feet firmly in a 1930s English countryside estate with an American bent, were a dashing set and especially fitting period costumes. ... It helped that sweet soprano Jacqueline Brecker as Hope flowed always with Rogers-like elegance.
All in all the score teems with relatively forgettable music. There's no allowance for powerhouse vocalises or melt-your-heart harmonies that might be burning in these actors' breasts. It is however an apt vehicle for whizzing, clever lyrics and an 'undyingly' cute plot, even if British comedy isn't exactly your cup of tea....." -Jennifer Haaland, Examiner.com (click here to read the complete review)

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