Show Reviews

Stained Glass Playhouse’s Smoke on the Mountain

It is a hazy, summertime, Saturday night in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. Lazy June bugs buzz through the balmy air, a lone pickle floats down stream from the pickle factory, and the new-fangled electric light bulb in the sanctuary of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church shines down on a tiny congregation awaiting the arrival of the Sanders Family Singers. So, the stage is set for Stained Glass Playhouse’s production of Smoke on the Mountain. Directed by Maggie Gallagher, this story of family and bluegrass gospel is playing it’s last three performances November 19th, 20th, and 21st.

Just a few minutes into Smoke on the Mountain, it becomes clear that this is a show of winsome characters. Lovable Mother Vera Sanders is portrayed by the rich voiced Lauren Harris, while the head of the family, Burl, Sanders, is played tenderly by Archie Collins. The eldest Sanders child, June (who is the only one of the family without musical talent, but makes up for it with comical results), is performed with exuberance by Annette Wood and real life husband and wife Mark Graves and Jennifer Raiford Graves act alongside each other as the Sanders twins: Dennis (a jittery preacher-to-be whose attempt at sermon giving was one of the evening’s highlights) and Denise (who may or may not have almost become a movie star…I’ll let her explain). Richard Johnson gives a heartfelt performance as the wayward Uncle Stanley as Miles Stanley’s Cousin Darryl strums away bringing an extra layer of depth to the musical numbers. Last but not least, we have Mount Pleasant Baptist Church’s pastor himself: the Reverend Mervin Oglethorpe is skillful portrayed by Vince Hancock.

Although Smoke on the Mountain may have a simple storyline, the talents needed by it’s actors are many. Not only do they have to sing their way through some very challenging harmonies, but they have to act as their own orchestra playing array of instruments from the quintessential bluegrass bass to the lap harp!

Congratulations to the cast, creative team, and crew of Stained Glass Playhouse’s Smoke on the Mountain! Thank you for bringing us the gift live theatre!

Feel like a night at the theatre? Visit: https://stainedglassplayhouse.org/smoke-on-the-mountain for more information and to purchase your tickets.

Show Reviews

Standing here with poison in my pocket.

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

Lady Hyacinth: If I’m ever to show my face in society again, I’ve got to find a new cause of my own and quickly. Come, come, any ideas?

Monty Navarro: If I may your Ladyship, one hears about such an abundance of actors in Winston-Salem these days…

Lady Hyacinth: Winston-Salem. Land of the actors, directors, and wigs. Home to the arts and the dramatically obsessed. That’s it! We’ll establish an assembly of reporters, who will all write acclaimed reviews. Capturing national attention, to honor and admire the measly efforts of those Broadway types. As my first move of charity, I will take over publishing reviews on behalf of that Miss. Luscinda Dickey. My selflessness will be met with great acclaim! Come to think of it, what is the point of helping others unless you let the whole world know? Call the Winston-Salem Journal!


A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: a review by Lady Hyacinth D’Ysquith

I am one of the starring—and most famous—characters in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. I most recently took the stage February 7-9 & 12-16, 2020 in the The Little Theatre’s of Winston Salem production which was directed by Chad Edwards and music directed by Rick Hendricks. But enough about me.

Richard “Trey” Cameron III offered a charmingly, engaging performance as as Montague “Monty” Navarro. He was so engaging that you found yourself feeling that the stage was lacking something when he was not there. Mr. Cameron has a voice that freely moves from a rich lower tone to a pure high falsetto that was the perfect dose for the complex yet fun vocal parts of the lead role.

The two leading ladies—Ms. Kaitlyne Colbert as Sibella Hallward and Ms. Kira Arrington as Phoebe D’Ysquith—gave beautiful performances as Monty’s two love interests. Ms. Colbert brought to life what Monty says about Sibella: “…There’s that smile with a secret inside, and here are two eyes that are bright with a mischievous light…I know that your embrace is a treacherous place. There’s danger in your smile.” The flirtatious Sibella pushed and pulled Monty’s emotions back and forth raising his hopes in one scene only to let them crash in the next. Ms. Arrington embodied the tender, strong, and well-bread characteristics of Phoebe. You could not help but get caught up on Ms. Arrington’s storytelling especially when she sang. She boasted a pure soprano voice that flew up and down the musical staff like the voice of a nightingale.

Of course, how can I not mention that terrific actor who played me and rest of the D’Ysquith Family. This actor is the best of the bunch—Seph Schonekas. He is the talent of the quick change and one amazing character developer. His comedic antics and expressions brought bouts of roaring laughter from the audience.

Before I finish, let’s hear a round of thundering applause for the talented ensemble lead by Heidi Shafer as Miss Shingle. Last, a standing ovation for Tara Raczenski who designed the stunning costumes and Bland Wade who created the lovely set!

For adorable musical theatre enthusiasts, I think they all did rather well don’t you?

www.ltofws.org

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.

40plusstage.com

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.

http://www.ltofws.org

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.

https://kltheatre.com/