photo: Nick Woodward-Shaw
Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 11th.
"Is someone worth more dead than alive? That question is at the center of Is He Dead?, a Mark Twain comedy receiving a high spirited and energetic production at Hale Centre Theatre. Twain provides wit and humorous situations, and Hale's skilled cast and impressive creative elements deliver some big laughs in this amusing story of a young, penniless painter. ...set in a small town in France where the poor painter Jean-François Millet, who is madly in love with Marie Leroux, discovers that, due to a contract, he has to either pay his domineering benefactor Bastien André 15,000 francs or Marie will be forced to marry André. His three close friends attempt to draw clientele to his studio in order for Millet to pay off his debt, and one of these potential art buyers states that Millet's works would be worth more if he were dead. That comment sets in motion a chain reaction of farcical elements and guffaw-inducing comical moments that involve Millet faking his own death and masquerading as his grieving twin sister in hopes of collecting the funds from the now much higher priced paintings. Of course, this great scheme doesn't go exactly as planned. While the plot is intriguing and the play has plenty of humor...(it) takes a little while until it fully kicks into gear. Also, the show is somewhat uneven with the second act much funnier than the first. ...Hale's cast is quite good, which helps to offset some of the script's shortcomings. Jeff Deglow is completely believable as both the hardworking and talented artist Millet as well as his flirty and high-spirited "sister" Daisy. Deglow is charming and comically delicious as Daisy...Kelly Nicole is full of compassion and strength as Marie, while Eric Mitchell, Chuck Green and Thomas Petrungaro form a rambunctious and energetic trio as Millet's three closest friends. Laura Anne Kenney has an expert command of the stage as Marie's sister Cecile. ...Matthew Crosby is an absolute hoot and completely unrecognizable from one role to another....Director M. Seth Reines...manages to instill a realistic sense of the mid-1800s time period to this production. Reines also ensures that his entire cast deliver the comic moments so they shine and earn plenty of big laughs....Is He Dead? may not be a perfect comedy, but with a talented cast and impressive creative elements Hale's production manages to deliver some big laughs beneath its big heart." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)