ArtsReviewTheatre

A tight and talented ensemble in Birnton Theatricals’ [title of show] makes for sheer entertainment

The latest postcard review by Caroline Russell-King looks at Birnton Theatricals’ fun production of [title of show].

Show: [title of show].

Playwright/composer: Book by Hunter Bell, music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen.

Theatre: Birnton Theatricals at Lunchbox Theatre.

Length: One act (one hour, 45 minutes).

Genre(s): Musical.

Premise: In this show within a show, four friends develop a musical from concept to its Off Broadway production with all of the inherent conflicts and challenges that come along with this lofty goal.

Why this play? Why now?: For the sheer entertainment factor.

Curiosities: I’ve seen so many self-referential theatre shows about theatre this season, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy one more – but I was wrong.

Notable line: “Writing should feel easy like a monkey driving a speedboat.”

Notable writing: This 15-year-old script is fun, silly, sentimental and a little dated. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it just does.

Notable performance: Jeffrey Follis (whom I predicted would walk away with last year’s CAT award for best actor in a musical) is poised to accept more trophies in his career. Daniel Fong (who has worked on just about every stage on Calgary) is just delightful here. Jessica Eckstadt and Kiki Secord are identified as the supporting characters but are every inch their equals. It’s a tight and talented ensemble.

Notable design: Kathryn Smith makes the lights sing with her lighting design.

Notable direction: Bruce Petherick is the supportive, understated musical director. Chris Stockton is fast becoming one of my favourite Calgary directors.

One reason to see this show: “I’d rather be nine people’s favourite thing than 100 people’s ninth favourite thing.” Come be one of the nine.

[title of show] runs at Lunchbox Theatre until March 17.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here www.carolinerussellking.com.

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