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MISS HOLMES is on the case at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company


Review by Christiana Molldrem Harkulich of “Miss Holmes”: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Who is Sherlock Holmes? As Lestrade answers in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company‘s 2019-2020 season opener “MISS HOLMES”, Holmes is the “The strangest damn woman I’ve ever met.” This production, which opened last night and runs till August 4th, re-introduces the audience to the late 19th century’s perennial favorite detective but this time both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are women. The two-and-a-half-hour mystery takes us through Holmes and Watson’s first case together, which allows playwright Christopher M. Walsh to explore the hazards of being a woman in 1881 (the year the play is set). This is an appropriate occupation for a play that launches the CSC’s “Season of the Woman” in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. 

I shan’t give away too much of the plot since this play is a murder mystery, but I’ll give you the premise of the play since the audience learns that in the first scene before we even meet Miss Holmes (played with panache by Kelly Mengelkoch). A young wife, Mrs. Lizzie Chapman (played with a sparkle in her eye by Maggie Lou Rader), receives threatening anonymous notes warning her of the violent and suspect nature of his husband and the unusual death of his previous wives. Mr. Chapman, a detective with Scotland Yard, is from the get-go the play’s obvious villain and Sean Haggerty, in his debut with CSC, plays the role with a mix of bumbling everyman and violent menace to excellent success (his colorful suit, designed by Clara Jean Kelly, wonderfully complements his portrayal). There were audible hisses and a loud “Oh No!” from the audience when Chapman entered in the second half of the play. 

Unraveling the mystery, which is, of course, more complex than it at first seems, and getting to know Sherlock and Watson (Sara Clark) take up the rest of the plot. To be a woman detective or a woman doctor, and unmarried, in Victorian London presents a wide range of issues that the bachelor Detective Holmes of Doyle’s original novels never needed to worry about. The constant threat of the insane asylum hangs above Miss Holmes head, and Dr. Watson must choose between her profession and a marriage that would block her from her work. Clark’s portrayal of the doctor-who-craves-adventure is compelling and it is her journey that carries the play, which is appropriate since Watson is always the lens through which we understand Holmes. Clark’s approach to the character is smart, precise, full of feeling, and it makes me quite excited for her turn as Hamlet later this season. 

The show, directed by Jemma Alex Levy, is certainly an ensemble piece and the company nature of CSC shows through in the ease of the actors together on-stage. Of particular note are Darnell Pierre Benjamin and Miranda McGee, who are both joyful and hilarious additions to the performance in their wide range of roles. Solving the crime takes the audience and our detectives to a wide range of locations that are imaginatively created through the sparse but evocative scenery of Shannon Moore and the flexible and haunting lighting of Justen N. Locke. Together these two designers create a wide range of shadowy places and bring the idea that not all is as it seems into the world of the play. 

The character of Sherlock Holmes debuted on stage in 1899, and the last century has seen many different adaptations and changes (and this is not the first time Holmes has been a woman). As evidenced by the popularity of the BBC’s “SHERLOCK” and CBS’s “ELEMENTARY”, there is pleasure in seeing the too-smart detective solve the seemingly impossible case again and again, and that game is yet again afoot at the Otto M. Budig Theatre.

The Femme’s Afoot in CSC’s “Miss Holmes”

Review by Doug Iden of “Miss Holmes”: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

In a reimagined take on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the regional premiere of Christopher Walsh’s Miss Holmes opened at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company theater.  In CSC’s “season of the woman,” Kelly Mengelkoch and Sara Clarke play Sherlock and Dr. Dorothy Watson respectively.  But this is not just two women playing the tried and true male twosome but actually a different slant on the relationship and the series, including an “origins” story and a unique history of the characters. The ongoing characters of Holmes, Watson and Inspector Lestrade (Josh Katawick) all meet for the first time in the play.

In this version, we meet Sherlock who has been exiled to an asylum, complete with straitjacket, by her mysterious brother Mycroft Holmes (Jeremy Dubin).  Mycroft is trying to protect Sherlock from her reckless nature, knowing full well that she could escape from the hospital at any time.  Simultaneously, we meet Dr. Watson who had to leave Victorian England to obtain her medical education and is presently working at the London School of Medicine for Women.  Holmes has suffered some injuries during her “treatment” at the asylum and Mycroft has allowed her to seek medical help.  Thus, the two primary characters meet.  Sherlock convinces Dr. Watson to stay with her at 221b Baker Street.

The mystery begins when the wife of Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Chapman (Sean Hagerty) receives warning letters.  Concerned, Lizzie Chapman (Maggie Lou Rader) consults with Sherlock and very reluctant Dr. Watson who thinks they should leave well enough alone.  Miss Holmes, however, is a voracious reader of the newspapers and knows that Lizzie’s husband has just been accused of some nefarious activities.  Sherlock is suspicious.  She enlists the aid of Inspector Lestrade who has very serious doubts about the integrity of his fellow policeman.  Then, things start to get complicated.  I will not disclose much more about the mystery but it is not as straightforward as it initially appears.

The play begins to take two intertwined tracks, the pursuit of the mystery and the growing relationship between the women.  The relationship which Watson has with Holmes differs based upon the interpretation but has, at times, included confidante, sidekick, bumbling comic relief (Nigel Bruce’s version in the Basil Rathbone movies), stalwart supporter, inadvertent dispenser of a vital clue and an audience for Holmes’ musings about the case.  Rarely does the word or the sentiment of friendship arise, primarily due to Holmes’ classic reticence, haughtiness and disdain for emotional ties.  However, this play is all about friendship.  Mycroft mentions early that Sherlock has no friends with little likelihood of having any.  But, as the play progresses, the two women become both friends and equals.  The transformation is a testament to the excellent performances of the two actresses.

You could even argue that, despite the title, the main character is actually Dr. Watson, who takes significant, dangerous action to rescue Holmes who has been sent back to the asylum by Mycroft and Inspector Chapman.  Nigel Bruce would never have done that.  Watson applies her medical skills as observer and diagnostician to the ongoing investigation.

The play also has some significant feminist themes although it is written by a man, including the role of women in Victorian society (professional versus homemaker), being underestimated intellectually and generally treated with disdain by their husbands and society.

Except for Clarke and Mengelkoch, all of the other seven actors play multiple parts – some sinister and some comedic.  Darnell Pierre Benjamin plays Dr. Watson’s spurned suitor as well as a snobbish Reginald and an orderly.  Geoffrey Warren Barnes II is Edwin Greener, who is a confidant of Chapman, and Rader also portrays two small but significant characters.  It is Miranda McGee, however, who steals certain scenes while playing an ebullient Mrs. Hudson plus an imperious society woman and the helpful doctor Elizabeth Anderson.  As usual, the actors excel.

The set design by Shannon Moore is black and stark with several stairways, a balcony, a door, and several levels ofplatforms which allow the actors to create different scenes through your own imagination.  There is an interesting visual effect projected on a screen showing the motion of a carriage ride and “subtitles” in English during the comic rescue of Holmes from the hospital while pretending to be German doctors.  The actors use props, mostly benches, to simulate furniture in various locations.  The costumes designed by Clara Jean Kelly are very Victorian with the hint of a trousers dress worn by Holmes.  Rader, as Lizzie Chapman, wears a classy dress and hat and the gentlemen wear period suits.  With a limited set, they do a good job of evoking a 19th Century gaslight environment.

All of the characters speak in dialect coached by D’Arcy Smith.  Generally, the dialects are sufficient but there are a few slips.  A small quibble is that, at times, I missed words spoken by several of the actors, mostly because of the accents.

Having never seen this play but, being a huge mystery fan, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I assumed that it was a spoof but it definitely is not, although there is a lot of comedy in the piece.  The reimagination is very intriguing with an interesting mix of classic Holmes structures and personalities plus an original promise. The production is excellent.  The author even allowed a hint of a sequel.

So, grab your magnifying glass, leave your pipe behind and jump into your horse-drawn carriage while attending Miss Holmes at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Theater running through August 4.

Incline’s “Pippin” Mystifies and Tantalizes

Review by Doug Iden of “Pippin”: Incline Theatre

Not many musicals are set in 8th Century Europe, feature the assassination of a well-known monarch (Charlemagne), savagely satirize war and follow the travails of a young man seeking his identity and place in life.  However, that is the premise of “Pippin” which opens at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater.  Part history, part fantasy, part love story and part circus, “Pippin” blends various Broadway genres into a phantasmagorical extravaganza of singing, dancing, magic and puppetry.

We are introduced to this bizarre world by the Leading Player (a wonderful newcomer Nora DeGreen) and her troupe of players costumed (by Caren Brady) in an incongruous and multi-colored array of clothes featuring sultans, circus performers and two dancers dressed as half-man and half-woman singing the show’s theme “Magic to Do”.  The Leading Player acts as a narrator, critic, Greek Chorus and on-stage director and DeGreen sings and dances well while showing considerable attitude. The show satirizes many musical traditions by continually talking directly to the audience, by correcting each other’s misspoken lines and mockingly complaining about the size of their roles, the number of their songs, etc.

Pippin (whose role is uncredited for reasons that will be clear when you see it) is the educated son of Charlemagne, of Holy Roman Empire fame (and an actual historical character), a naïve, out-of-place heir in a court filled with intrigue, power struggles and war lust. Pippin’s personal quandary about his life’s role is exposed in the plaintive soliloquy “Corner of the Sky” in which “rivers belong where they can ramble, eagles belong where they can fly”.  The young man playing Pippin has an excellent voice and “acts” this dramatically significant song very well.  However, to please his blood-thirsty father (played disdainfully by Incline veteran Justin Glaser), Pippin decides to go to war against the heathen Visigoths in an extended scene featuring significant dancing and the songs “War is a Science” and the ironic “Glory”.  This is an underrated score and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz who also wrote the scores for “Godspell” and “Wicked”and wrote lyrics only for Disney animated films including “Pocahontas” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 

One highlight of any production of “Pippin” includes the song “No Time at All” sung by Pippin’s grandmother Berthe (Angela Alexander Nalley) with audience participation.  This is a classic comedy song which describes the difficulties of the grey-haired set.

Pippin’s self-reflective journey continues as he is convinced by manipulative stepmother Fastrada (played deliciously by Ella Rivera) to assassinate his father so her son Lewis (Chris Logan Carter) assume the throne After Pippin dispenses with his father, he learns how difficult kingship can be with the anthem “Morning Glow”. Later he tries out the simple farming life when he meets a widow, Catherine (played by Maddie Vaughn) and her young son Theo (Benjamin Brown), all leading up to an unexpected finale.

Dancing is the king of this show.  Fosse’s eccentric choreography is hinted at but largely reshaped by Kate Stark with one exception, during the “Glory” sequence when DeGreen and two other dancers perform a classic, idiosyncratic Fosse sequence replete with cane, black costume, pigeon-toed movements and the hand on the brim of the bowler hat.  Gwen Verdon could not have done better. Overall, the dancing is excellent with a mix of ballet, tap, modern dance and the homage to Fosse, all performed by ten Players and the Leading Player.  The dancing at times is very erotic with simulated sex scenes played mostly for comic effect.

In Director Matthew Wilson’s playbill notes, he states “few shows offer production teams the creative freedom that ‘Pippin’ does”.  Wilson and his team of Brett Bowling (set design), Brady (costume design), Denny Reed (lighting and sound design), Stark (choreography) and Michael Kennedy (Music Director) along with magic consultant Sir Pat-Trick take full advantage of that freedom.  There are many delights in the show, including a number of magic tricks featuring a disembodied head, small fireworks and a large prop where different actors disappear and re-emerge while the prop rotates.  Puppetry also plays a hand.  Bowling’s set design is the bare minimum this time but there are many props which enhance the overall theme of “Magic to Do”.

“Pippin” is a great case study about the creation of a Broadway musical.  The contentious relationship between a young Schwartz and veteran genius autocrat, director/choreographer Bob Fosse led to this unusual mixture of history and parody, sweetness and dark comedy, scathing satire and naivete.   

I will admit that I went to “Pippin” with a certain trepidation because it is a difficult show to produce, having an eclectic variety of characters, genres, moods and a heavy emphasis on excellent dancing and singing.  I am pleased to state that I thought his production was excellent with wonderful singers and dancers and many sight-gag surprises.  So, grab your magic wand and enjoy the Crowning Glory of “Pippin” playing at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater through August 4.

Magic is being done in Incline’s “Pippin”

Review by Nathan Top of “Pippin”: Incline Theatre

The Warsaw Federal Incline Theater’s “Pippin” proves to be dazzling, funny, and sincerely moving.

Music and lyrics written by the acclaimed Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”, “Prince of Egypt”), “Pippin” tells the story of the title protagonist as he searches for the ultimate source of meaning and fulfillment for his life. The story is told using the premise of an unusual performance troupe whose greatest goal is to see Pippin through the story, through war and sex and kinghood and sex and farm labor and more sex, so that he might live out the ultimate finale of the show. Show director Matthew Wilson achieves a strong tone throughout the show, which is trickier than it might appear as the show roller-coasters through humor and sincerity. The brisk pace of the show makes the two and a half hour show (with intermission) fly by, all the way up until the simple yet profound conclusion.  The Leading Player, portrayed by the versatile Nora Degreen, is a strong yet charming guide through the show, earning the audience’s trust with ease. Her dancing is a delight to watch throughout the production. The young man playing Pippin, uncredited for various reasons, brings fresh and winning life to the role and, man, can he belt a high G. Another standout vocalist is Justin Glaser, who plays Charlemagne, whose powerful voice filled the theater on each of his numbers. As far as comedic timing goes, Angela Alexander Nalley, portraying Berthe, has it down to an art, knocking her big number “No Time At All” out of the park and Ella Rivera, playing Fastrada, deftly captures the irony of her song “Spread a Little Sunshine.” Maddie Vaughn, portraying Pippin’s love interest Catherine, brings humor, chemistry, and heart to the role.

Everyone in this cast can sing. This is not always the case so it must be said, especially for a musical with such a demanding book. The chorus at the end of the first act is truly radiant as they sing “Morning Glow” and continues to shine throughout the second act. Music director Michael Kennedy has done tight work with a marvelous cast.

But if a great cast is not enough to get you through the door, there is magic being done on stage. Seriously, the cast does magic tricks throughout the show for both plot and effect. The scenic designer, Brett Bowling, cleverly sets the actors up for success in this aspect and the magic consultant, Sir Pat-Trick, has done his job well.

The only thing left to be desired from this top notch production would have been a live pit. While canned music is suitable and necessary in a lot of instances, the synergy between a stellar cast and live pit orchestra was missed in this production. The show occasionally felt like the recordings of the songs were directing the actors through the numbers, rather than the other way around.

Even without a live pit, the show soars. If you are interested in toe-tapping tunes, wit-filled comedy, and a story that will cause you to reflect long after, grab a ticket to “Pippin” which runs until August 4th, 2019 at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 513-241-6500.

Ripe for a Lapse: A Review of Commonwealth Theatre Company’s “Fallen Angels”

Review by Alan Jozwiak of “Fallen Angels”: Commonwealth Theatre Company

Summertime tends to be a dark time for theatres, although a few theaters have a robust summer season of programming, such as Commonwealth Theatre Company.  Housed on the campus of NKU, they combine an evening’s worth of theater with a pre-show dinner that audience members rave about.

For their first show this season, they are staging the early Noël Coward play “Fallen Angels”.

“Fallen Angels” tells the “scandalous” story of two female friends, Julia Sterroll (Rachel Perin) and Jane Banbury (Mindy Heithaus), who have been married to their husbands for the past five years and find themselves ripe for a lapse in their marital vows.  Bored by their passionless marriages, they long for the attention of Maurice Duclos (Matt Krieg), a foreigner each woman has had an affair with before their marriages.

This play builds in humor and comedic craziness as the staid married couples strip off their proper English conventions to reveal their real passions underneath.

Perin and Heithaus create a wonderous comedic team as the lead women. They have complimentary histrionic moments as they strive to get a leg up over the other to be the first to resume their affair with Maurice Duclos.  Perin beautifully showcases her comedic chops in the second half of the play. It was very funny to see her flustered rage against Heithaus’s character for going after Maurice without her.

Perhaps the apex of this crazy behavior comes with their strong performances while getting drunk on champagne as they wait for Maurice to appear.  Heithaus gives an outstanding performance as the drunk Jane Banbury, staggering around on one shoe while trying to act like she was not drunk.  It was a highlight of the show.

“Fallen Angels” is a female-driven show and the last women of the cast to round out the comedy is the maid Saunders, played by Kimberly Lazzeri.  Saunders is a know-it-all servant and steals the show in the beginning of the play by offering advice, singing foreign language songs (which is appropriate, since Lazzeri is an Assistant Professor of Voice at NKU), and being the voice of reason for the rest of the characters. 

Kudos also need to go to Costume Designer Ronnie Chamberlain, who crafted two amazing evening gowns for the two lead actresses.  Not only were they period pieces (the play is set in 1925), they perfectly complemented the beauty of the actresses wearing them.  The same also goes for the day wear that Perin and Heithaus wore the rest of the play.  They were thoughtfully crafted and beautifully executed.

Likewise, Scenic and Prop Designer Cat Johnson produced a handsome set that reflected the style of the roaring 20s.  It was a perfect complement to the upper-class shenanigans going on over the course of the play.  It was elegant without being too ostentatious.

My only quibble with this production is that the opening of the play needs to be a bit tighter, since some of the obvious laugh lines fell flat of the production that I saw.  Doing so would more properly showcase the work of Cary Davenport more effectively, who plays Julie Sterroll’s husband Frederick.

In short, this production provides a rare chance to see a funny Noël Coward play.  It has strong acting, beautiful costumes, and a great set.  Fallen Angels runs one more week, with performances running Wednesday through Sunday evenings. For more information, check the Commonwealth Theatre Company website at https://www.NKU.edu/academics/sota/about/2019-ctc-season.html.

“Lizzie” Slays at Human Race

Review by Liz Eichler of “Lizzie”: Human Race Theatre

Cincinnatians – Dayton’s Human Race must-see “Lizzie” is a raucous riotous rock show which explores possible motivations of the infamous alleged axe-wielder, Lizzie Borden. Imagine a concert between Pat Benatar, Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks all focused on the same creepy theme – this is it.

Music and Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer, Alan Stevens Hewitt, and Tim Maner, “Lizzie” was born at Baldwin Wallace University and nurtured and incubated in various productions since 2009. It is based on the child’s rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks, when she saw what she had done she gave her father 41.” This musical explores the pressure cooker of a household that could have led to such horrific actions, if they were true: cheapskate creepy dad, second wife, locks on all the doors, sisters 10 years apart, a neighbor who cares for Lizzie a bit too much, and a foreign maid who may be into the dark arts.  It was one of the biggest trials of 1892, tried in the press with a jury of “old white men.” However, what could not be printed and spoken in 1892 is front and center. The playwrights make choices that resonate with today’s audiences. This is an exploration of the feelings of the women involved, not the trial. It is raw and visceral, with some numbers striking you to your core, and others still in development. There’s been some activity to open Off-Broadway and Broadway, swirling in rumor. Theatre fans, there’s many reasons to come see the show now, in a great production with AEA performers.   

First, let’s start with Cincinnati’s darling, Leslie Goddard (Bridget the Maid) who delivers what we know she can deliver—heartfelt vocals and powerful emotions.  She’s also a little creepy and mysterious, too–what did the maid do or know?

Then there’s the friend, Alice (Michaella Waickman) with a haunting sweetness to her voice, highlighted in so many numbers, including “Will You Stay.” Older sister Emma (Natalie Bird) gives off that pinched but corporate rock look and sound with great vocals, great movement, but somewhat removed, until the second act with a powerful “WTF Now, Lizzie.”

The headliner is Lizzie (not Elizabeth) herself–-Deanna Giulietti.  She slays.  She kills it. She delivers a powerful rock star persona, vocals, and performance.  We feel her pain, her claustrophobia, her madness, her elation. Her performance eclipses everyone else, starting with “This is Not Love” and continuing to the encore. So many favorites, but “Thirteen Days in Taunton” especially highlights the brilliance of the script and score.

The costumes (Liz Bourgeois) are very movable steampunk/goth/rock to accommodate the wild movement and choreography (Katie Johannigman). The set (Ray Zupp) is simple with a few powerful surprises. The lighting (John Rensel) is colorful and active, variously moody and hyper. The five-person band, led by Music Director Jay Brunner, is strong and visible. He ensured the ladies sound legit in both rock and ballads.

Director Jamie Cordes drives the fast pace of this show, searching for the range between a knockout raw rock musical and catering to Human Race’s traditional subscribers. Perhaps he held back a bit, letting the cast go to 10, but not 11. There’s room to push it further–the vocals, the volume, the rawness, the feminism and the humor. Yet it is still thought-provoking, moving, and well worth the drive to Dayton. “Lizzie” runs through June 30, 2019.  Get tickets at www.ticketcenterstage.com or 937-228-3630.

“Lizzie” Rocks and Rolls Her Murder Charges at The Human Race Theatre Company

Review by Raechel Lombardo of “Lizzie”: Human Race Theatre

After being fortunate enough to see it on a spectacular opening night, I want everyone to take advantage of any available seating for The Human Race Theatre Company’s “Lizzie”.  If you are a fan of musicals, historical creepy murders, and/or concerts of a hippie or rock genre, you do not want to miss out on seeing this musical!  “Lizzie” is a delightful concoction of a rock musical story telling of the infamous Borden Family murders, brewing into its perfected unique Goth-wiccan-rock star form.

This show, directed by Jammie Cordes with music direction by Jay Brunner, is a perfect symphony of sweet and sinister, playful and dark, true to the tale while risky and creative in artistic direction.  The music (by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, who also wrote the lyrics along with Tim Maner) is simply incredible, every song having something different and striking to offer, and I sure hope there’s a recording for this performance I can get my hands on.  Who knew that this odd combination of story and aesthetic could be such a hit!

The set (by scenic designer Ray Zupp) is a fantastic execution of nineteenth century home décor meets a gothic rock concert, including all the standard concert effects.  Be sure to look for certain references to the Lizzie Borden original story, also very tastefully added in and honored.

The costumes (designed by Liz Bourgeois) were a delicious blend of the time period, steam punk, multiple genres of rock music, and witchy vibes.  Bourgeois did an incredible job to not only get the math right on all of these factors, but incorporating the characters’ different personalities, styles, and demographics.

A show can only be such a success if it is written in a way to do so, and if it is executed beautifully.  Lizzie has certainly been formulated for such success, the set, props, lighting (John Rensel), and costumes have most definitely given the story, music, and script (book by Tim Maner) a place to flourish, but it is the people who make up that home that have to be strong enough to care for it.  There are only three actresses in this production but all have been totally certified as rock stars, in my opinion, having to perform to that level of energy every single night. There is running, jumping, head-banging, screaming, crawling–there’s so much going on and you take it all in.

Natalie Bird (Emma) brings on this Black Velvet aesthetic while in black leather as the older protective sister who is fed up with her mother—I mea–father’s wife–her style and voice lending that somewhat 1980’s charisma to the rock and roll melting pot.

Michaella Waickman (Alice) has an evanescent quality about her that gives that important splash of pink and sweet to this show that could easily be suffocated in parameters of only anger and bleakness.  She proved her character vital to the story, not for the reason that she was a real person in the event, but that she brings a sense of hope when it seems there is none.

Leslie Goddard (Bridget) clearly has a lot of fun playing the spunky, urban Irish lass, and she plays it well without making her a hokey misplaced relief.  She recognizes that her character is another genre added to the mix that is key to remember: that this story did happen and has roots in that part of American history, and should have that nineteenth century Irish folktale quality.

Deánna Giulietti (Lizzie) was a force to be reckoned with.  From the moment she got on the stage to the very end, she commanded our attention to listen to her story and feel every bit of her pain and hope, even if you felt uncomfortable or didn’t really want to interact so much (yes, she jumped down and got in my face and it was exhilarating).  Lizzie would be pleased with Ms. Giulietti’s rendition of her life and emotions.

I truly think you will get something out of this show, even if not all of those components are your cup of tea, something will surely stick with you. “Lizzie” is playing at the Human Race Theatre through June 30th, with tickets at their website https://www.humanracetheatre.org..

Incline’s “Church Girls” Will Have You Saying “Hallelujah”

Review by Jenifer Moore of “Church Girls”: Incline TheatreC

As a self-proclaimed church gal myself (sort of), I could not stop laughing at all of the foolishness that takes place in the Lord’s House during Cincinnati Landmark Productions and Table Five Productions joint presentation of “Church Girls:The Musical”.

The musical comedy is set  at the Umatilla Second Christian Church where the ‘ladies’ of the  Women’s Auxiliary League are preparing for the annual Mother’s Day Pageant. But audiences are in for a treat as the cast who makes up the Women’s Auxiliary League are actually six men who are an amazing tour de force playing the role of multiple characters in this hilarious production.

If you are trying to imagine how such a musical could come to fruition, think “Sister Act” meets “Grease”. I don’t want to give too much away as I believe surprises bring out the best laughter and entertainment. While each character brings a different tone of biblical based shenanigans, the show is balanced with beautiful songs that are witty and inspirational. I must give major kudos to the cast and production team for executing a flawless show. A few played dual roles as cast members and crew such as Ken Jones, Roderick Justice, Jamey Strawn and Rodger Pille perfectly. I could not get enough of the wigs, whimsical costumes and knee-slapping commentary. Everytime I turned my head another character was coming through the doors bringing more havoc and craziness than before as the women take up the task of selecting and putting on a play to show appreciation for a mother’s love.

If you are interested in taking a comedy filled stroll down a sanctified church aisle then grab a ticket to see “Church Girls: The Musical” which runs until June 20, 2019 at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 513-241-6550.