Author: mcct

Reviews are in for HAMLET!

Reviews are in for HAMLET!

HAMLET CAST LIST

Gregory Morales, Director
Yolanda Valdivia, Asst Director

BARNARDO     Kelsey Carlisle
HORATIO     Devin May
MARCELLUS     Liesl Cruz
GHOST/KING     Henry McDaniel
HAMLET     Anthony O’Donovan
CORAMBIS     Steve Scott
LAERTES     Aaron Hart
QUEEN     Mary Railing
CORNELIA/BRAGGART GENTLEMAN     Miranda Stinson
OFELIA     Taylor Harmon
MONTANO/FORTENBRASSE     Nathan Bock
ROSSENCRAFT     Victoria Maya Ferrario
GILDERSTONE     Kristen Alesia
PLAYER/AMBASSADOR     Patricia Blanchfield
GRAVEDIGGER/PRIEST     Eric Van Gucht

 

Monroe County Civic Theater delivers on its daunting mission

by Matthew Waterman, Bloomington Herald-Times, Jun 9 2014

In its 400-plus years of existence, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” has remained the most iconic and frequently revived play in the world.

It has been the subject of dozens of films, hundreds of critical analyses and thousands of stage productions; in quantity of scholarship written on a work, “Hamlet” ranks second only to the Bible.

For an organization such as Monroe County Civic Theater to produce “Hamlet” — not to mention, an entirely original interpretation of “Hamlet” — is truly tackling the beast.

Monroe County Civic Theater is Bloomington’s only all-volunteer amateur community theater group, and this summer marks its 25th annual Shakespeare in the Park Festival.

The organization’s staging of “Hamlet” was only part of the fun; Monroe County Civic Theater also presented staged readings of Shakespeare’s other 38 plays throughout the week leading up to the performances. In civic theater tradition, “Hamlet” was performed on the outdoor stage of Waldron, Hill and Buskirk Park (formerly known as Third Street Park).

Gregory Morales directed this show, with assistant direction by Yolanda Valdivia. Morales dreamed up fresh ideas for this unconventional take on the script. This production of “Hamlet” was set inside a rehearsal for a production of — you guessed it — “Hamlet.” Actors changed costumes on stage, carried scripts at times and, when their scenes were done, took seats on the sidelines of the “rehearsal.” These elements may have confused audience members at first, but eventually cohered into a unique production concept.

Much of the show was blocked not on the stage, but on the grass area in front of it. Use of this space allowed flexibility in the movement and added visual interest to a production lacking the budget for an elaborate set design.

Another nontraditional element of this group’s approach to Hamlet was their use of the First Quarto text. This much shorter version of the script was published earlier than the more commonly performed Second Quarto and First Folio editions. Often known as the “Bad Quarto,” this rendering of Hamlet has been produced fewer than 50 times. Certain recognizable character names are different in this version. For example, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern become Rossencraft and Guilderstone.

Perhaps the evening’s strongest performance came from Steve Scott as Corambis (called Polonius in later editions). Through his convincing embodiment of a father in his dotage, Scott highlighted the humor, wit and beauty in Shakespeare’s language.

Other standout performances were given by Taylor Harmon as Ofelia (Ophelia in later editions), Mary Railing as the Queen and Liesl Cruz as Marcellus.

During Saturday night’s performance, actors were forced to deal with recurring feedback from the speaker. Sound quality is always a challenge when performing outdoors, and audibility did suffer when microphone failures occurred.

This rendition of “Hamlet” brought out moments of comic relief in the notoriously tragic play. At the beginning of the show, the ghost of Hamlet’s father (Bill Goveia) crossed the playing area while listening to his iPod. Later on, Phillip Addison provoked laughs with his purposefully dispirited portrayal of the Queen in the play-within-the-play.

Monroe County Civic Theater took on daunting missions for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park Festival, and the group certainly delivered on those missions.

“Hamlet” closed its run Sunday afternoon.

CAST ANNOUNCEMENTS for HAMLET and 12 ANGRY JURORS

CAST ANNOUNCEMENTS for HAMLET and 12 ANGRY JURORS

Thank you to everyone who came out to audition — the talent was exceptionally high, and we look forward to seeing your performances!

HAMLET

Gregory Morales, Director
Yolanda Valdivia, Asst Director

BARNARDO     Kelsey Carlisle
HORATIO     Devin May
MARCELLUS     Liesl Cruz
GHOST/KING     Henry McDaniel
HAMLET     Anthony O’Donovan
CORAMBIS     Steve Scott
LAERTES     Aaron Hart
QUEEN     Mary Railing
CORNELIA/BRAGGART GENTLEMAN     Miranda Stinson
OFELIA     Taylor Harmon
MONTANO/FORTENBRASSE     Nathan Bock
ROSSENCRAFT     Victoria Maya Ferrario
GILDERSTONE     Kristen Alesia
PLAYER/AMBASSADOR     Patricia Blanchfield
GRAVEDIGGER/PRIEST     Eric Van Gucht

still TBA — VOLTEMAR, PLAYER DUKE, PLAYER DUCHESS

 

TWELVE ANGRY JURORS

I. James Torry & Eric Van Gucht, Co-Directors

JUROR 1     Jennifer Whitaker
JUROR 2     Kelsey Carlisle
JUROR 3     Steve Scott
JUROR 4     Bill Goveia
JUROR 5     Lydia Stewart
JUROR 6     Patty Blanchfield
JUROR 7     Ryan Thiery
JUROR 8     Aaron Hart
JUROR 9     Rob Hunter
JUROR 10   Whrynne Rasheed
JUROR 11    Yolanda Valdivia
JUROR 12   I. James Torry
GUARD        Taran Snodgress

JANICE CLEVENGER honored with Be More Creative Award

JANICE CLEVENGER honored with Be More Creative Award

JaniceAward

Janice (right) and board member Sheila Butler, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater

 

Janice’s contributions to the Bloomington theatre community are truly immeasurable. She has served as director, set designer, and publicity manager — often at the same time!  And of course, no recognition of Janice’s work would be complete without acknowledging the incredible craft and dedication that went into the countless costumes she has created for MCCT over the years.

Janice spent a number of years in Japan with her sister, Sarah, spending time studying the Japanese kyogen tradition, as well as directing the very first production of Pirates of Penzance in Korea!

And we can’t forget — Janice directed MCCT’s very first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, launching the Shakespeare in the Park tradition that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year!

Congratulations, Janice — it is well-deserved!

URINETOWN reviewed by Bloomington Herald-Times!

URINETOWN reviewed by Bloomington Herald-Times!

Herald-Times Review by Doris Lynch

When I was young, train and bus stations and even some department stores had pay toilets, and on several occasions, I watched women slither across dirty floors to avoid paying for something so necessary and basic. Despite its crass name, “Urinetown The Musical,” this play explores a city where everyone, especially the poor, has to pay to pee.

Monroe County Civic Theater is the only all-amateur theater in the area, and wow, did this vibrant cast of varied ages bring the production to life. Eric Anderson Jr. provided excellent direction.

A decades-long drought has ruined Urinetown’s water table, and Caldwell B. Cladwell’s monopoly has taken over the city facilities, where he keeps raising fees higher and higher. Frank Buczolich captures both the evil and jovial practicality of a corporate titan indifferent to the fact that his profits cause people pain.

One of them is Old Man Strong (Adrian Cox-Thurmond) who becomes the first casualty of the play; because yes, take away a man’s ability to do something necessary, and there will be some willing to risk death instead. This only strengthens the resolve of his son, Bobby, who works as the assistant superintendent at Facility No. 9. Cameron Butler’s hero is both tough and kind. His powerful voice and stage presence were commanding.

Of course, you can find love even near the latrines, and there Bobby finds Hope. Audie Deinlein gives a fine portrayal of a rich young woman drawn to the barricades. She shares a delightful duet with Butler, “Follow Your Heart,” where they read what is inside each other.

As you might guess from the title, the play is also both campy and postmodern, making fun of itself while broadcasting predictions of when certain events will happen in the script — “that will happen in the all-cast number in Act Two.” Engineering these one-way audience chats were Officer Lockstock (Eric Van Gucht) and Little Sally (Hadley Abrams in the productions Thursday and Saturday.)

Abrams was a joy to watch throughout — her dancing, singing and acting were all strong. Her solo number in Act 2 was mesmerizing, and equally good when it turned into a duet with Butler.

Liesl Cruz nailed down the bureaucratic, rules-centric character of Penelope Pennywise. Yet her portrayal was nuanced, she showed that someone could be both coldhearted and still touched by other’s dreams.

As the corrupt, bought-off Senator Fipp, Nick Pappas was delightful to watch. But as the bloodthirsty, vengeful and vile Hot Blades Harry, he was even funnier as he led the renegades after Bobby disappeared.

Vocally, the cast was mixed. The leads were all excellent, though a couple sang too quietly. Some cast members were not as talented vocally, but as an ensemble, the sound rocked. The choir number and spiritual were also very strong. Callie Rekas’ choreography depicted both the uptight office folk and the revolutionary street people. The dancing made each number visually interesting.

The fine band consisted of June Lee, Kevin Staggs, C. Neil Parsons, Stefan Lenthe and Don Stejskal.

Although first produced in New York more than a decade ago, “Urinetown” seems ever more timely now with its themes of exploitation, injustice and environmental desecration. That said, despite its serious themes, the musical is sly, delightfully clever, full of humor and brimming with life. In other words, it’s one not to miss.

 

Special thanks to Callie Rekas for recording: