Show Reviews

A Winston-Salem Classic Has Returned!

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

Billions of shows have been performed in my home state of North Carolina. Many of those billions have been performed in Winston-Salem, and in Winston-Salem, there must be over 10 being performed and rehearsed right at this very moment. But out of all of those shows, there is one that means a great deal more to Winston-Salem than others. That show is called Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon. It was originally presented by Emanuel Azenberg on December 31, 1990 at The Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Winston-Salem. Lost in Yonkers went on to make its Broadway premiere at the Richard Rogers Theater in New York. Now, after winning many awards including a Tony Award for Best Play, 40+ Stage Company has brought Lost in Yonkers back to Winston-Salem.

Set in a 1942 apartment in Yonkers, New York, this emotional, engaging, comic drama follows the trials and tribulations of brothers Jay (Adam Sherrill) and Arty (Kalonji Lerian Patterson) on a quest to fit into their upside down extended family. From dashing comic relief, ruff and tumbled, New York gangster Uncle Louie (Mike Shapiro) to heart wrenching, dramatic, theatrical thriller, German immigrant Grandma Kurnitz (Maggie Gallagher), Lost in Yonkers host a wide variety of memorable characters.

Not only was the acting talent extremely high and the set top notch, but when one of the actors (Eddie) dropped out last minute the Director (Jay Smith) successfully stepped in the role. Though Eddie—father of Jay and Arty—was played opening night script in hand, I was so impressed by the fact that you could barely tell that Director Jay Smith was reading part of his lines.

A shout out to the amazing cast! I thoroughly enjoyed your performance, and I know many more will as there is still one weekend left to see the show: November 22-24, 2019 at the Mountcastle Theatre within the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. Lost in Yonkers is truly one in a billion.

Show Reviews

From Audition to Stage: Wait Until Dark

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

I am filled with excitement! My heart is pounding, and I feel my energy surging. “Break a leg!” says my friend Caroline Mendenhall as I walk down the hall with my reading partner Rene Walek. “Thank you!” I whisper.

For days I have prepared for this audition. I have developed my character by researching and writing and through bodywork. On arriving at the audition, I warmed myself up. Then, Mrs. Rene and I ran over our scene five times.

I am all set. Director Gene Johnson smiles. “Begin when you are ready,” he says. After weeks of anticipation, it is finally time for my audition to be a part of Little Theatre of Winston Salem’s production of Wait Until Dark. I am reading the character Gloria while Mrs. Rene reads Susy.

I take a deep breath, settle into Gloria, and say my first line: “Is the grocery list ready?” “Yes it’s on the table by the phone,” says Mrs. Rene (Susy), “and five dollars. Can you see it?” “I’ve got it,” I say miming picking up a list and the money from off a table, “what else?”

I am not me. I am Gloria, and before me I see that Mrs. Rene is not herself. She is Susy. It is amazing! The character of Susy is blind, and if I had not been with Mrs. Rene when she was herself and not her character I could have guessed that she was blind as well. Even when I speak she does not look directly at me or focus on anything in particular.

It is a few seconds later when the scene gets more intense: “That’s the girl, thanks!” Mrs. Rene (Susy) says. “For what? “I laugh. (We are coming to my favorite part.) “Oh! I thought you shut it.” “Well, I didn’t.” I reply. “Look here four-eyes, I thought I made this clear: when I open the icebox I shut it, and when you open it…did you drop that by mistake?” The way Mrs. Rene says her lines is wonderful! The level of emotion and meaning she offers read into my portrayal of Gloria. With the whole reading, she gave me something real to play off of—something that inspired my character choices.

Now let’s cut to Wait Until Dark’s final performance in Reynolds Place Theatre on October 20, 2019 in Winston Salem. “Don’t you ever call me that again!” says Gloria (Caroline Mendenhall), “and I do not steal!” “Steal!?!” cries Susy (Rene Walek), “who said anything about stealing?” Wow! All the emotion and truth that Mrs. Rene had in the reading with me is exploding on stage—plus even more! Not only in this scene but throughout entire the show, Mrs. Rene—with everything in her—made every person in the audience feel the character of Susy.

As an actress, you never know how you come across on stage unless someone tells you. Looking back over my audition with Mrs. Rene and her performance as Susy, I think one of the things that she has taught me is that if you feel your character and you truly believe in the story you are telling, your character choices will be right and real.

Wait Until Dark was an amazing show. From the thrilling script to the talented actors and actresses, it lifted you up in suspense only to drop you down in surprise!

Congratulations to Mrs. Rene, Caroline, and the rest of this great cast for their truly chilling run of Wait Until Dark.


The Backstage Buzz: Matilda The Musical

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

It is 30 minutes to show time for the Little Theatre of Winston Salem’s production of Matilda The Musical. The audience is taking their seats and buzzing with anticipation. Soon the lights will go down and the actors and actresses will transport the audience to a brilliant world of color, fun, and life. Right now all the audience can see is the set clad stage ready for the performance to begin. Little do they know what has happened behind the stage…

Today, I am not performing. Instead I am a dresser working backstage to make sure that the costumes and wigs of Matilda flow seamlessly. My mother and I arrive at 6:00pm—an hour and a half before the show starts. The actors and actresses are here too. At the moment, they are just regular people like you and me.

Come with me to take a sneak peak into the girls dressing room. Ria Matheson (Miss. Honey) is putting her hair up in pin curls for her wig; Alora Engel (Matilda) is having her hair styled to create the look of the title role; Genevieve Amigone (Amanda), Page Morphis (Lavender), and the other young ladies are changing from street clothes to their whimsical costumes for the top of the show; and the wonderful ensemble is hard at work with curling irons and lipstick as they prepare for the musical’s many numbers.

While I am presetting costumes for our first quick changes, step across the hall with Hayley Hansen (Mrs. Wormwood) and Ria to the men’s dressing room and wig department. There my mom will put on their wigs. Both ladies have a skin tone wig cap covering their pin curled hair. Here is a quick glance of what my mom does next: 1) she pulls the wigs over their heads, 2) she U-Pins the wigs into their wig caps, 3) she Bobby Pins the wigs to make sure they are secured, and finally 4) she does a tightness check. In Matilda, a show of cartwheels and jumps, it is very important that the wigs do not come off.

It is now 15 minutes to places. My mom and I walk up the long hallway to the prop room where we do all our quick changes. As we do, we pass by the boys dressing room where Director and Choreographer, Katie Jo Icenhower, is giving notes and words of encouragement to Nick Kelly (Bruce) and Alex Nunley (Michael Wormwood).

5 minutes to places! From Kevin Hampton (Stage Manager) to Matthew Cravey (Mr. Wormwood), who is carefully checking his props, there is a wave of excitement running through the entire cast and crew.

Places have been called. Over the last hour and a half great change has taken place. You can see as the cast parades by our table on the way to the wings of the stage, that they are no longer themselves but the characters they portray. Let’s take Seph Schonekas (Miss. Trunchbull) for example. Seph’s personality has changed immensely. He is no longer his positive self. He now wears not only the clothes of but the cruel essence of Miss. Trunchbull. You can see it in the way he walks and hear it in his voice. Hayley is another great example. She is now oozing Mrs. Wormwood from her glitzy costume jewelry to her oh-so-high-heeled character shoes. When she gets on stage, her character will explode.

A hush of magic falls over the audience as the house lights go down and the opening number begins.

Show Reviews

A-W-E-S-O-M-E Spells KLT’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

Follow the hottest spellers, in musical theatre, on their quest for greatness. And, who will win? It might not be who you expect! To discover the answer, may I suggest a trip to Kernersville where the Kernersville Little Theatre (KLT) presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” artistic directed and music directed by Margaret “Maggie” B. Gallagher.

This all adult cast included many fun characters. I enjoyed how each had a different personality and flare. Leaf Coneybear (Jake Messina) was my favorite speller. To see an adult actor become a happy-go-lucky kid with a great sense of humor was very impressive. Plus Leaf was homeschool just like me! Logainne “Schwartzy” Schwartzandgrubenierre (Grace DiMaio) was another top speller for me. Not only did Logainne hold a lisp the entire show but she also was able to embodied a kid perfectly. And I don’t want to forget William Barfee (Michael Mickiewicz) a very nerdy speller with a kid like, resounding “I know” who “plans to grow up to be handsome.” I also really enjoyed the improv skills of Vice Principal Douglas Panch (James Crowe) and Rona Lisa Peretti (Steffanie Vaughan) as they interacted with four volunteer spellers picked from the audience.

To break up the dramatic and suspenseful spelling there were beautifully sung musical numbers accompanied by live musicians and entertaining dances. You could tell that each element had be carefully orchestrated by Maggie Gallagher.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is held in Fitzpatrick Auditorium at the Kernersville Elementary School. The “school smell” provided by the venue and the lack of air conditioning in the auditorium combined with the simple staging created the complete picture. I truly felt like I was attending a spelling bee!

KTL should be very proud to be bringing this production to the Triad.

Show Reviews

You’ll never forget this performance!

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

Erinn Dearth and Dan Beckmann—two shimmering, glowing stars in the theatre firmament—premiered Duet: A Fundraiser to Benefit Spring Theatre.

Duet was a hoot! Held on August 20 at the Reynolds Place Theatre in Winston-Salem, it was made up of musical theatre duets ranging from stirring love songs to hilarious comedic pieces. Included in the evenings program were songs from approximately 20 musicals. Not to give everything away, but some of my favorite renditions came from Ordinary Days, Easter Parade, Young Frankenstein, and Footloose. Despite slight glitches and delays with the sound system and projections, the show was perfect. Even when a song failed to come on at the right time, Dan and Erinn jumped into some oh-so-funny improv—a highlight from my experience. Topping of the night, Spring Theatre announced their 2020 season.

And guess what? The fun did not end last night: there is one more show this evening. Maybe you are a theatre person like me; maybe you are someone who wants to get involved with Spring Theatre; or maybe you are just looking for something spectacular to do on an empty Wednesday night—Duet has something for everyone. I definitely suggest this wonderful performance to you!