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CCM Cast Show They’ve Learned Their Lessons Well in “Godspell”

Review by Liz Eichler of “Godspell”: CCM Musical Theatre

CCM’s “Godspell” is everything you’d want and expect from one of the country’s leading musical theatre programs. There is an abundance of energy, talent, great voices and dancing, and a richness of ensemble interaction that makes you leave the performance with not only joy for the message but joy for the school, too.

Director Katie Johannigman has modernized one of my childhood favorites and it works. The concept begins in a regimented Catholic school playground, where the high school kids are showing signs that the old ways don’t mix with their new spirit and questions about life and laws. A new “teacher” comes along who grabs their attention by allowing them the freedom to be themselves while living in community with others, explaining life’s laws in a language they can understand and own. AKA, Jesus joins the apostles, and teaches and empowers them to spread the Word. Word = Love.

Everyone in the ensemble gets a song or moment to shine. Alphabetically (well, it does start in a school!) Bryce Baxter owns the audience in “Turn Back, O Man” and Jack Brewer delivers a moving “All Good Gifts.” John Collins has fun with “We Beseech Thee” and has a a lot of great voices. Delaney Guyer brings the necessary quiet sweetness to “Day by Day” but can also go big in the parables. Jenny Mollet nailed “O Bless the Lord, My Soul” which is one of the most powerful numbers. Dylan Mulvaney has such an expressive face, awesome moves, and a great “Light of the World,” putting the exclamation point at the end of the first Act. Camila Paquet reaches hearts in “By My Side” and Madelaine Vandenberg helps us “Learn Your Lessons Well.” Madison Adams Hagler (John the Baptist/Judas) can juggle both roles, and has a mischievous smile that draws your eye and empathy, underlining that the real antagonist is society. Finally, Madison Deadman is a Jesus full of love, fun, and yet ultimately does the Father’s bidding, with a powerful voice, great moves, and commanding presence, shining bright throughout.

The set (CCM student Joshua E. Gallagher), costumes (CCM student Rachel Boylan) are simple and perfect for 2018. The set is the stone façade of St. Matthews School, under renovation, which provides the scaffolding the students use throughout. The clothing starts in uniforms, but then segue into Bohemian, quirky, a little goth, and personal, including an homage to an infamous green coat and the iconic Superman logo. Kudos. The lighting (CCM student Frank J. Viskup) is rock-concert active, effective, colorful, moody, and powerful. Steven Goers (musical director) turns it up to 11, guiding some beautiful vocals in many songs, including “By the Willows.” Johannigman also provides lively choreography expertly executed by the performers and exceeded expectations in “All for the Best.”

The show is barely 2 hours with an intermission (when the audience is invited to chalk up the playground) and it left me wanting more, wishing for a few more beats to savor the melancholy moments and feel more impact.

The next studio musical will be “Yeast Nation,” an area premiere by the creators of “Urinetown,”  April 25-27. Free tickets will be available starting April 1. Visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.

The Carnegie Boots Up for a Fantasy Rom-Com of Epic Proportions.

Review  by Willie Caldwell of Love and Warcraft: Carnegie Theatre

At its heart, Love and Warcraft is a story about connections. More so, it’s a story about managing connections in a digital age. Written by Madhuri Shekar, Love and Warcraft is a modern-day romantic comedy that chronicles the lives of a group of college students as they navigate sex, lust, love, and video games.

For those who aren’t familiar with World of Warcraft, the popular online multiplayer game is produced by Activision Blizzard and has a total of 5.5 million active subscribers. Players enter a digital fantasy world where they create mythical avatars and go on quests to save the universe. The standard tropes of the fantasy genre all come into play as characters can play as orcs, elves, wizards, and barbarians. Think Dungeons & Dragons for the digital age.

Evie, played by Katie Mitchell, struggles to create meaningful relationships in the real world. Instead, she escapes to the fantasy world of Azeroth where she conducts guild raids with her digital, long-distance, boyfriend Ryan, played by Tony Kessen. Evie moonlights as a freelance relationship writer before falling for one of her new clients Raul, played by Rhys Boatwright. This new twist of unrequited love sees Evie struggling to make sense of her feelings as well as her topsy-turvy libido all while balancing her real life with her digital one. The cast of characters is rounded out by the sexually driven Kitty, played by Liz Carman, who brings an over-the-top style and a bawdy sense of empowerment. All is fair in love and war, or in this case, all is fair in love and Warcraft.

There are several instances where the actors lean into stereotypes for comedic effect but end up falling a little flat. Despite this, there are fun moments throughout the piece that keep the audience chuckling and along for the ride. This is especially clear in the second act when the audience is transported into the game and we see the actors as their avatars battling a Cthulhu’esque monster. Giant cardboard weapons and cheesy magic sound effects make for a fun romp through the fantasy world of Azaroth as the play adventures towards its climax.

The whole production has a bit of a camp element to it while still allowing the actors to explore subtle ways in which their characters connect with each other. The production is laced with innuendo as well as adult themes and adult language and is intended for mature audiences. The Carnegie is featuring a specialty cocktail called the “Night Elf” which might be the perfect potion to get you into the adventuring spirit. With a run time of a little over two hours including intermission, we recommend more than one.

Love and Warcraft runs November 3-18 at The Carnege, 1028 Scott Boulevard, Covington, KY 41011. Tickets are available online at www.thecarnegie.com or by calling the box office at 859-957-1940.

 

 

 

Say WOW to Love in Carnegie’s “In Love and Warcraft”

Review by Jack Crumley of In Love and Warcraft: Carnegie Theatre

It’s November and that means that Cuffing Season is upon us, and theatre-goers in Covington have a romantic option for the next few weeks with the Carnegie’s production of In Love and Warcraft. I should explain: Cuffing Season is when single people couple up for the chillier months of the year. It’s a combination of the pressure to be in a relationship during the holidays and also not be alone when the weather turns gloomy and cold. Fittingly, the Carnegie is offering a story of awkward love in the digital age.

In Love and Warcraft is a 2014 play written by Madhuri Shekar, earning her an Alliance/Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award. It tells the story of Evie Malone, a 20-something college student with two main activities: playing the massively popular, massive multiplayer online role playing game, World of Warcraft, and also taking gigs where she helps couples get back together. She writes letters, sends text messages, crafts Facebook posts (whatever is best for the client) as the offending party to apologize, say something deep and romantic, and keep the relationship going. The irony with this laptop-toting Cyrano de Bergerac is that she keeps her online boyfriend at arm’s length, she’s never had sex, and she’s pretty freaked out at the prospect of it, actually. Evie thrives in her online guild going on quests and killing monsters, but any kind of real life relationship that goes much beyond hand-holding is a big issue. Evie’s best friend, Kitty, has no such hang-ups about physical contact and loudly complains when she goes for too many hours without hooking up with whichever guy she’s seeing at the moment. The tension of the play kicks in when Evie falls in love with one of her clients, Raul. The two are dating for several weeks over the course of the show, and they struggle with Evie’s lack of biological urges and her desire to keep her computer avatar in top fighting shape. It all leads to some drunken decisions followed by a big gesture to try to repair what’s been fractured.

In Love and Warcraft is a very cleverly written play, and the Carnegie production plays up the ridiculousness of the characters’ relationships and just dating in general. Katie Mitchell plays Evie as a young woman who commands confidence in coordinating an attack on a den of trolls, but who literally falls out of her chair when a guy starts flirting with her. She’s twitchy and nervous, and almost always uncomfortable. Katie is new to The Carnegie stage, and her energy level as Evie never falters.

I last saw Liz Carman as several characters in Motherhood Out Loud this past spring. Carman really brings it with Kitty. Over-the-top over-sexed in the best way. An excellent contrast to Katie’s Evie. I’m not sure if it was in the script, but I don’t think there’s any scene where Kitty actually has her shoes on. It’s a cool little character bit that I think communicates a lot without any dialogue.

Rhys Boatwright plays Raul, a character with a dramatic name who stays relatively chill for much of the show. He and Evie get into some arguments, but he brings a level-headedness to the show that helps balance out the higher energy of the rest of the cast.

Tony Kessen as Ryan, Evie’s barely there online boyfriend, is as frustrated as you would expect a guy who’s being dumped to be.

There are two other actors I want to recognize: Royce Louden and Kaitlin McCulloch play a handful of characters over the course of the show. Often, they’re some random couple who happen to be in the same place as the main cast, but every time they’re on stage, they might be having a more enjoyable time than anyone else. Because their characters are so incidental, they can cut loose in ways the rest of the cast can’t/doesn’t. The truly supporting characters they play really give the show a fun flavor.

The cast also works to help change the sets in between scenes, and often there are little character moments–a high five or a drunken stumble–on the nearly dark stage before the next scene formally begins. It’s a great way to keep the audience’s interest.

That set the cast helped rearrange is for the most part just different combinations of a couch, a table, some chairs, and sometimes a coffee bar. It’s very straightforward for Carnegie’s small stage, and just the different placement of the furniture easily communicated whether the scene was taking place in an apartment or a club.

The other part of the production I have to praise is the big scene near the end that takes place actually in the World of Warcraft. The stage is bathed in green light and dry ice smoke, the actors are wearing the colorful costumes of computer characters, the sound effects of their axe swings and sword stabs are spot-on, and it’s an overall outstanding climax to the story.

Because so many of the characters are amped up to such high energy levels, the only thing I wanted more of was subtlety. Having less intense, more thoughtful moments makes appreciating the big swings that much better. That being said, I feel like the tone of this production is a conscious choice between Director Maggie Perrino and the cast. They commit to it fully, and I respect that.

Even though video games play a substantial role in In Love and Warcraft, audiences should know this isn’t a show for kids. Sex and sexual dialogue are a big part of this play along with a healthy amount of casual swearing.

Whether you’re in a relationship or a guild, or maybe you’re just “cuffing up” for the next few months, In Love and Warcraft is a unique, timely love story that’s playing at the Carnegie in Covington on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons through November 18, 2018. Tickets are available here.

Human Race Welcomes “An Act of God”

Review by Liz Eichler of “An Act of God”: Human Race Theatre

Sara Macke in “An Act of God”

“An Act of God,” produced by Human Race Theatre and playing through November 18, will provide smiles, chuckles, and laughs as God delivers a more modern version of the Ten Commandments. It is a stand-up routine, except SHE is delivering it from a lovely cloud-like couch.

The show was on Broadway in 2015, starring Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory), and later Sean Hayes (Will and Grace). So when director Kevin Moore cast Sara Macke in the same role, he clearly moved the show in a different direction. Sara is well known in Cincinnati theatre circles and has performed for Human Race, recently in “Family Ties.” She is a strong, funny, and powerful redhead who can both command the stage and be an Everywoman. Here, she cajoles the audience to smile, laugh, and ultimately think—as these new commandments are addressed one by one.  Some of them are incredibly witty, and even the ones that may be new ideas to the audience, are delivered with charm and certainty that they may cause you to ruminate on them, and even have a drive-home discussion about the original Ten (which is always good!) Despite the clever premise, the script by Daily Show writer David Javerbaum is uneven, and many of the conceits and gags are not new. But Macke is winning, due to both her charm and over-the-top delivery.

Macke is supported by HRT regular Scott Stoney and Joshua Levine as angels Gabriel and Michael, who interact with the audience, but otherwise have little to do in this script. The lighting (John Rensel) is colorful, the set (Eric Moore) with clean and simple lines, and lovely, fluffy clouds. Special kudos to some heavenly props by Heather Powell, and effective angel wings from costumer Ayn Kaethchen.

Human Race is one of my favorite theatres, with lots of audience engagement opportunities, and this one caught my eye: the “While We’re on the Subject” discussion with the cast and Marianist Brother Alex Tuss of Mount St. John. That is after the November 11 matinee—but check out the humanracetheatre.org website for tickets and all the special added extras they have for their shows.

A Great, Family-Friendly “Oz” is just ‘Soooooomewheeeeeere Ooooover on Glenway’

Review by Jack Crumley of The Wizard of Oz: Covedale Center for the Performing Arts

It’s difficult to think of a show that would attract an audience more wide-ranging in age than The Wizard of Oz. Sunday’s matinee at Covedale was a very full house, and I think seniors had the majority. But I can’t think of another performance I’ve seen there that had as many children in attendance as this one. No matter the age, they saw a really well-put-together show that paid tremendous attention to detail.

Director Bob Brunner has put on stage a colorful, lively production of a movie that was a technological, special effects marvel for its time. This show has all the characters you love, and all the songs you know (and then some). It’s a spot-on, faithful adaptation with a band (led by Ron Attreau) in the pit that hits all of the musical cues you remember from the movie: from the driving melody that accompanies the Wicked Witch of the West, to the familiar chorus of “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”

The actors really thrive in their roles. I want to start with special praise for the ensemble. This isn’t an excessively large group of people to play the munchkins, crows, trees, poppies, and the citizens of Oz. Eight young adults and teens cover all those parts (along with four very talented younger girls in the child ensemble), and they do it with aplomb. There’s no such thing as subtlety in Munchkinland or Oz, nor should there be. There was never a time when those ensemble actors weren’t watching, reacting, or smiling. They were all enthusiastic to the point of cartoonish excitement, and I mean that as high praise. That level of commitment is what a show like Oz needs.

Their job is made easier, I would say, by the energy the main cast brings to their roles. Ally Davis plays Dorothy as the wide-eyed farm girl who just wants to go home, but is willing to help the strangers she meets along the way. Davis had a couple mild pitch problems as she stood on the front porch and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but once the show got going, there wasn’t a sour note. Davis is as friendly and forthright as Dorothy Gale from Kansas should be.

I last saw Chris Logan Carter as Dr Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein. At that time, I was very impressed with the way he handled songs with a lot of fast-talking lyrics. This time, as Scarecrow, he brings a great physicality to his songs and dialogue. Carter’s movements–whether he’s stumble-dancing or jumping up and down–have a fluidity to them as though he didn’t actually have human bones and muscle under his costume.

Also bringing strong, character-based moves to the stage is Jeremiah Plessinger’s Tinman. Plessinger’s shift from playing the tough-but-fair Lt Jack Ross in A Few Good Men just a couple weeks ago, to the hollow-bodied, robot-like Tinman is remarkable. He also has a pleasant voice that he changed between playing both the Gale farmhand, Hickory, and Tinman.

Rounding out the main group is Brandon Bentley’s Cowardly Lion. I last saw him play a less-problematic Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!, and this time he plays the comedic Lion to the hilt. I think that may have also included some funny ad libs. His imposing size added a visual element to a role that’s often just about makeup. [Note: there’s no specific credit for a makeup artist in the program, but the makeup is impeccable and I have no idea how it’s put on and taken off as quickly as the show requires.] Bentley basks in his “If I Were King of the Forest” number, and the only issue I had was that his microphone occasionally cut out during the show. I don’t think I missed anything because of it, but it was distracting.

The double duty role of Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch is fiercely played by Michelle Wells, whose pitch-perfect cackle would carry to the back of the house whether she was mic’d or not. Erin Nicole Donahue is a solid Aunt Em, but she shines (quite literally) as Glinda, the good witch. Peter Cutler, also previously seen in Young Frankenstein, has excellent comedic timing for his few lines as Uncle Henry, and it’s amusing to hear such a tall guy put on a Mickey Mouse voice to play the Mayor of Munchkinland. Kyle Taylor’s triple duty role of Professor Marvel, Oz Gate Guard, and The Wizard seems exhausting, especially with the boundless exuberance and Muppet-like weirdness he brings to that Guard character. While leading the cast in the Emerald City, on a pathway between the pit and the audience, he called out a stray program someone laid there, and that was exceptionally fun to see.

As usual, Brett Bowling has put together a great set. Before the show started, the pale farmhouse and cellar doors on stage made it all appear black and white. When Dorothy arrives in Munchkinland, it’s rainbows all around with a set of Yellow Brick Road stairs that’s used to showcase different moments that would otherwise be static. Sunday’s performance had some issues with scene changes, but nothing that made the show less enjoyable. This production has a large puppet face for Oz that Taylor manipulates before he’s discovered to be a fraud. The sets combined with a healthy usage of smoke machine, and special lighting and sound cues to really sell all the fantastical elements that happen during the show: tornadoes, witch teleportation, etc. Fire is talked about in dialogue (as a threat to Scarecrow), but visually, it’s left to the audience’s imagination, and that’s ok. I understand that the risks of having an open flame on stage might not be worth it.

One more piece of technical praise is for the costumes. Caren Brady’s designs are incredibly detail-oriented and clever. Scarecrow was brilliant, I loved Tinman’s empty torso, and Glinda glittered. I think my favorite costumes were the members of the ensemble as poppies in the field. The green and red with flowing sleeves looked great.

This production is a delightful trip over the rainbow; full of song, humor, and classic characters that have stood the test of time. It’s a joy for all ages.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Covedale Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through November 18. Tickets are available by calling 513-241-6550 or going to the Covedale website, www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/ccpa

Covedale’s “The Wizard of Oz” Gives a Fresh Take on an Old Favorite

Review by Laurel Humes of The Wizard of Oz: Covedale Theatre

The Wizard of Oz, again? YES, in a sparkling production at the Covedale Center that appeals to youngsters and oldsters alike.

Oz is a classic, of course – the original movie came out in 1939, the stage version in 1987. Children in the Covedale audience seemed delighted. Seniors (well, okay, me!) could relax into the familiar and try not to be annoying by singing along.

Admittedly, I was surprised by how fresh the show still seems, a fantasy that has not gone out of date. There are witty lines and gags that still draw laughs. The characters, each longing for something they don’t have, are still relevant.

It helps to have a great cast, and Covedale’s Oz certainly does. Just minutes into Act I we get the signature “Over the Rainbow,” sung by Ally Davis as Dorothy. Davis has a lovely, seemingly effortless vocal style. Throughout the show, she is a delightful Dorothy.

Once in the Land of Oz (the tornado, remember?), we are introduced to the large ensemble – children and adults – who will serve the whole show well. First they are Munchkins, later singing apple trees, poppies, and residents of Oz, among other characters. The ensemble doesn’t have a weak link.

Costume designer Caren Brady deserves a big shout-out here. All the costumes, but especially the ensemble, are perfect. The Munchkins light up the stage with the vibrant colors of their clothes and wigs. Later, as poppies, the clever costumes (and choreography) have great effect turning people into flowers.

On her way to see the Wizard (to get back to Kansas, remember?), Dorothy first rescues the Scarecrow from his perch. Chris Logan Carter’s physical acting is lithe and nearly gymnastic, as he learns to walk. He wants a brain from the Wizard.

How you can talk, without a brain? “I don’t know,” the Scarecrow tells Dorothy. “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking!”

Jeremiah Plessinger as the Tinman may have the most difficult role, constrained as he is by his head-to-toe metallic costume. Still, he is emotive telling his backstory from woodcutter to tinman. Plessinger has a good voice; his “If I Only Had a Heart” (backed by those singing apple trees) is very fine.

Then here comes the Cowardly Lion, a scene-stealer as played by Brandon Bentley. He’s funny and engaging, perfectly cast. The audience rewarded Bentley, deservedly, with laughs and applause.

Other commendable performances are by Erin Nicole Donahue as Aunt Em/Glinda the Good Witch and Michelle Wells as Miss Gulch/the Wicked Witch. The energetic Kyle Taylor has three roles, doing his best work as the Guard in Oz.

A highlight of the second act is “Jitterbug,” a musical number that was cut from the original movie and unfamiliar to me. Again, it was a great blend of a strong ensemble, choreography by Jeni Bayer and inventive costumes.

The Wizard of Oz, directed by Bob Brunner, runs through Nov. 18 at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or go to www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

 

 

 

NKU Theatre’s “Marisol”: Things Fall Apart

Review by Sheldon Polonsky of Marisol: NKU Theatre

NKU Theatre tackles some complex and challenging material in its latest production, Jose Rivera’s Marisol. Marisol in many ways defies easy description, and I left the theatre struggling to put into words what it was I just witnessed—pre-apocalyptic absurdist theatre? A polemic on social justice? Or just performance art? It was hard to say, and while director Daryl Harris admits in his director’s notes how multifaceted this production is, I think I would have ultimately been more moved and affected if there had been more focus and a clearer vision.

The plot certainly defies easy analysis or summary, but here’s enough to give you the idea: Marisol, played by Kearston Hawkins-Johnson, is a young, religious, Afro-Puerto Rican copy editor in Manhattan, inhabiting a world that is slowly falling apart on both a large and small scale. Socially, homelessness is outlawed, citizens are tortured for exceeding their credit limit and neo-Nazis roam the streets incinerating the their targets. On a more global scale, coffee and apples are extinct, all food tastes like salt, and the moon is missing. Amidst this turmoil, Marisol meets her literal Guardian Angel (Je’Shaun Jackson), wings and all, who informs her that he will no longer be able to protect her as he is leading a revolution against an old and senile God who is no longer capable of managing the universe. As the play progresses, Marisol confronts an assortment of characters both familiar and outré as she struggles to understand the new world order and her place in it, highlighted by her strait-laced coworker, June (Ashley Martin) and June’s mentally unbalanced brother, Lenny (a nod to Of Mice and Men?), played by Calvin Taylor.

Marisol includes a lot of background music and dance movement, which were some of its strongest elements. A chorus of four “Angels of Chaos” (Arianna Catalano, Heather Handrich, Grace Vetter, and dance captain Emma Moss) were talented and powerful. The choreography (uncredited in the program with the exception of “dance consultant” Tracey Bonner) was sharp, eye-catching and mood-appropriate. The set, by scenic designer Anna Catton, was dominated by Amazon-logoed boxes, which was a clever enough idea to symbolize our modern consumerism (and I never noticed before how eerie that vaguely smiling iconography was). Still, I think the riotous disruption of Marisol’s world might have been served better by a more vibrant and imagistic set design, perhaps even with some projections. Similarly the lighting effects (Terry Powell) and sound effects (Kevin Havlin) were effective but could have been even more exciting or surprising.

The cast of NKU actors bringing this vision to light are certainly talented, and clearly were passionate about this play and put their heart and soul into it. But ultimately I wish that director Daryl Harris had schooled his actors more on the fundamentals. Marisol is full of potent speeches and dialogue but we can’t appreciate them if we can’t understand them. The Stauss theatre is relatively small and I think the issue was more diction and enunciation rather than projection, a concern I noticed with just about every cast member. The blocking didn’t help—although the audience is located on three sides, too often the actors were somehow addressing the back wall. Finally, I just wish he could have had his actors acting as over-the-top as the material required. For the most part, even the oddest characters came off as low-key and I wish they would have tried to imbue them with more personality quirks, outlandish mannerisms or spooky menace. The only character who seemed consistently effective at this was Je’Shaun Jackson as Angel, who dominated his scenes in a weirdly androgynous way, and who I wish was a bigger part of this play.

The play’s overriding message seems to be how our society and ourselves are disintegrating, and how we need to actively stand up and fight against it. A sign at the back of the audience—“Wake Up”—reinforces this, but unfortunately this production came off more like a jumbled dream. My impression, based on my own reaction and that of many other audience members, supported by the chatter I overheard during the intermission and at the play’s end, was that we were left with more bewilderment and shell-shock than with the wonderment and engagement that this play is capable of imparting.

Marisol continues through the 28that the NKU’s Stauss Theatre; tickets are reportedly sold out, but you can sign up for the waiting list up to an hour before the show and judging from the number of empty seats I saw Friday night, there is a good chance you might get a ticket from the no-shows.

At NKU’s “Marisol”, Expect The Unexpected. Seriously.

Review by Spenser Smith of Marisol: NKU

Marisol (Kearston Hawkins-Johnson) is a copy editor for a Manhattan publisher that lives alone in the Bronx. The action of the play begins with Marisol narrowly escaping an attack on the subway. Marisol’s guardian Angel (Je’Shaun Jackson) informs Marisol that she can no longer protect her because she has been called to join the revolution. This heavenly war has reduced NYC to an urban wasteland where homelessness is against the law and “coffee is extinct.” After a failed attempt to find protection in her co-worker and roommate June (Ashley Martin) and her brother Lenny (Calvin Taylor) Marisol finds herself on the streets. Imagine living in a world where you will be physically beaten for exceeding your credit card limit. This dystopian world is created by Jose Rivera, whose story of angels who plot to kill their old and senile God, first premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1992.

Director Daryl Harris has brought together a fine group of actors and dancers to tell this story. It would have been very easy to laugh off the absurdity of it all, but it was very evident every single person’s commitment to the truth in Marisol’s story and that power shines through. The cleverness of the set design (Anna Catton) proves that you truly can get anything from Amazon. The clever use of the boxes is not only efficient but I’m sure a comment on our singular dependence? Are the boxes God? See. You won’t leave the show humming a memorable tune, but you’ll sure be thinking. Movement, choreographed by Tracey Bonner, is not only visually captivating but provides swift transitions between time and space. Shout out to the Angels of Chaos. They stay very busy. Sound effects, designed by Kevin Havlin, are creepy throughout. The eery tones that underscore much of the dialogue perfectly set the mood. I did wish the actors would project a little more in those moments where music played during a scene. I also wanted the music to get louder during transitions. The music was creepy, but for some reason I wanted it to scare me.

The director’s program note states that Marisol is a little bit “Magical Realism, Theatre of the Absurd and Sociospatial Theatre.” I can add, simply, that it’s a play that will give you more questions than answers. Hopefully, it will make you think. More specifically, I hope it will make you think about where we are today and where we are headed in our future. Marisol found herself in a world where all the food is salt and coffee is extinct. Was it because of her choices or the choices of many? It’s not all her fault, but what could she have done to change the outcome? What can you do? Are you registered to vote?

Don’t forget. Tuesday, November 6. Marisol continues at the Stauss Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through October 28.