After seeing Nine, the musical that opened August 4, 2016 at the Underground, I am thoroughly convinced every woman on the planet should have a tambourine.
Why did the Duluth Playhouse put Annapurna on their schedule? Quite simply it was to have a pair of performers like John Pokrzywinski and Christine Winkler Johnson sink their acting chops into the play’s final scene, which runs about an hour, and mesmerizes the audience into a breathless silence.
It took about a minute for the opening night audience to burst into applause at the dancing in 42nd Street. In fact, director and choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell’s dancing extravaganza at the Playhouse had the audience repeatedly breaking into applause during virtually every number.
When asked which shows I have reviewed are my absolute personal favorites I always name “The Secret Garden” and what I consider the best show you have never seen, The Last Five Years.
When we first meet Doug (Robert Lee) and Kayleen (Sarah Lueck), they are in the nurse’s office at a parochial school. He has injured himself emulating his hero, Evel Knievel, while she says she has a stomach ache. As the years go by, we see that Doug is more than just accident-prone and that Kayleen has been hurting herself in less dramatic ways.
The narrative proceeds in two timelines. Projections on the rear wall tells us the age of the two characters and display photographs of Lee and Lueck, presumably at those same ages.
Every single song in this show is being sung in a way you have never heard before. It starts when Evan Tyler Wilson as Judas launches into Heaven on Their Minds, and by the time Adam Sippola’s Jesus sings Poor Jerusalem, it becomes clear this approach is the rule and not the exception in this production. I would bet many an audience member was surprised at what song they were unexpectedly humming on their way home (for me it was Could We Start Again Please? because I was captivated by what Sara Wabrowetz’s Mary Magdalene was doing with the melody on the title phrase).
A most unique dramatic compact is made with the audience in the production of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw that opened Thursday night at the Underground. This ghost story does not have any specific effects. The sound effects are produced by the actors on stage, who announce the bumps in the night, count the clock chimes after midnight and hum the lullaby.
A governess (Amber Goodspeed) is hired by a man to look after his nephew and niece following the death of their parents. Soon after, the governess begins to see the figures of a man and a woman on the grounds of the man’s country estate.