Friday, June 20, 2008

Big Bad Acquitted Nicely

The opening night jury voted overwhelmingly to acquit Mr. Big B. Wolf in last night's premier of The Big Bad Musical, undoubtedly a result of the talent displayed by Justin Kofoed, who nailed the character on stage; playing the Big Bad Wolf somewhere between James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause and Henry Winkler's Fonz. The rest of the cast and crew acquitted themselves nicely as well.

Ordinarily I won't review an Empress Theatre production on this blog. I'm usually too close to present an unbiased opinion, and I normally have to look at a production through so many different viewpoints that a review would either be a fractured mess, longer than Gone with the Wind, or would otherwise get me into trouble. But since all I did was make sure the program got to the printer, I'm not quite so close to this one...

It is important to remember that this is a "young performers" production. The whole point of the production is to help young actors, singers and dancers develop their talents. With that in mind, and noting that there were only a handful of adults involved beyond a little advising here and there, the performance I saw last night was remarkable.

Here are some of the highlights:

Madison Ford's portrayal of the Evil Stepmother, from costuming to posture and gesture was so good her parents should either be worried, or they should be preparing to send her to a real law school. My only complaint about her performance was that her blocking kept her back to the stage right audience for most of the performance.

Shannon Jones did a wonderful job on her big song, despite having a touch of a cold. Her characterization of the Fairy God Mother/Prosecuting Attorney was consistent, with enough sweetness that we could believe she was FGM, enough grit that we could believe she was a lawyer, and enough histrionics to keep us laughing.

Skyler Blumel was hilarious as Judge Wise Old Man; this young man has an incredible amount of talent. Keep your eye on him. In fact, keep one eye on Skyler throughout the performance and watch his reactions to the action on stage.

Was it a flawless performance? No. Young performers tend to be quieter than more experienced actors, so the singing, especially on chorus numbers, was a bit unbalanced. (Although the "Wolfettes" rocked!) The choreography wasn't as polished as it could have been. There were a few other things that I noticed that didn't quite work.

But comparing this to high school and junior high school productions I've seen, it was significantly above the average; excellent, even outstanding in places. Definitely a good show for children and the family; my younger children loved it.

Unlike the real legal system, which prohibits being tried twice for the same offense, Mr. Wolf will have to face a jury four more times: tonight at 7:00 PM, tomorrow at 2:00 and again at 7:00, and then Monday at 7:00.

You are hereby called to jury duty!


Joline said...

I throughly enjoyed last night's performance of Big Bad Musical. I am AMAZED by the talent! A big "shout out" to the costumes and the make-up people. WOW! Outstanding job! I loved all of the ears and tails especially.
Also, I want to mention Mirinda Henderson in particular. Mirinda was our light designer; a huge undertaking for anyone, but this 17 year old girl put her heart and soul into the job and the show looks great.
Congratulations to Erika Oliphant for her vision as director and getting such outstanding performances from these young people. Thank you Erika, for your dedication to the kids and for giving us a wonderful night of entertainment.
Hope to see all of our BLOG readers in the audience soon.

Tad said...

Joline, Mirinda is only 15. Since I'm her dad and her advisor, I didn't feel objective in publishing a review of her work, but I was impressed too. For those that noticed them, the two wolf projections she used at the beginning of the show were handmade from an aluminum roasting pan!

Liz Oates said...

I had the opportunity to see the show last night and it was a lot of fun. There is a lot of talented youth in our little theatre. I really loved watching Skyler (wise old man)! He was hillarious and made the show really entertaining. The three little pigs were great as well! Of course, the evil stepmother and fairy godmother did great too. It was a full house and I am so glad that the show got the turn out that it deserved.