The Electric Baby Banner

The Electric Baby Banner

The Electric Baby

Review by Emilee Hatfield

Some say stories can be among one of the most powerful forms of the spoken word. Its strength to enlighten, and inspire, is found deeply rooted in the next installment of the Arvada Center’s Black Box Repertory Season, The Electric Baby

This play follows the intermingling stories of three couples, and how after an accident they find themselves stepping into the others lives. All the while learning how to handle a subject or emotion that we humans tend to struggle with the most; that being the emotion known as grief. Yet this isn’t at the forefront of this wondrous production directed by Rick Barbour. In truth it is the power of storytelling, that guides this ever changing production. Stepping into the black box theatre we find Brain Mallgrave has done it again.Creating an eerie yet charming set, a small crib resting on the side of the stage, the glowing tubes and multicolored materials that hang from it takes hold of your imagination. It is here we find that this play holds the wonder of magical realism. 

The tales we come to hear are filled with mythologic elements that create such emotional depth they pull at every string of your heart; foreshadowing the lives of the characters we have come to know. This show shines, it shines as brightly as the moon, with its engaging cast, and breath taking performances. While these actors are also performing in the currently running Sense and Sensibility, they are almost unrecognizable in The Electric Baby. You truly aren’t aware you are seeing the same actors. They take hold of their roles and immerse themselves in that person’s skin. Giving you no time to realize there is no intermission. 

I lost myself within this production, I couldn’t help but fall into this world set against the industrial and smog filled city of Pittsburgh. Stefanie Zadravec’s writing is quick, and enhancing, luring you to listen to her characters every word. Director Rick Barbour and his team have done something truly incredible. This is a show that is an experience I will not be able to shake off for some time. The Arvada Center’s production of The Electric Baby is a fresh story that all should witness, as it truly is a work of the mythical, ambitious, and trying nature that lies within the human experience. 

 The Electric Baby runs through May 4, for tickets please visit https://arvadacenter.org/the-electric-baby or phone the box office 720-898-7200

Sense and Sensibility Banner

Sense and Sensibility Banner

Sense and Sensibility

    There comes a time when a theatre company takes a risk, a risk that can pay off in both creativity and wonder that will always set it apart from the rest. This is exactly where we find ourselves with, as the Arvada Center opens with a three play whirlwind beginning with a theatrical and witty production, that is Sense and Sensibility.

    When we think of Jane Austen, we often find ourselves thinking about her stricken worlds of society, as her writing style can appear very explanatory and long; with dialogue that can sometimes be a bit…off putting, if you aren’t fully engrossed in her work. This presents a small question; how would only a handful of actors alone be able to bring Austen’s work to life? Especially given the fact these same actors would also take on multiple roles, not only in this production but on two others as well; that would open within the weeks to come. 

    What these actors provided for an answer was a night of hilarity, beauty, and emotional performances that left one of the boldest statements that the Arvada Center could have hoped for. Directed by Lynn Collins, this adaptation used the simplicity of costume change and the actors use of their body language to portray many objects, animals, and people within a play adapted and written by Kate Hamill. 

    Leading the cast are two of Denver’s greatest talents, Regina Fernandez, as young hopeful Marianne, and Jessica Robblee as her older realistic sister Elinor. As the set moves in a constant motion such as their social lives, and its downfall after their fathers death, these two women convey the utmost realism and strength throughout the show. Robblee’s emotional restraint as Elinor must be witnessed. You cannot help but see the pain that is buried deep within her unbeknownst to Marianne as Fernandez is a perfect balance with her portrayal of Marianne’s innocence and dramatic tendencies. The cast that accompanies them, not once drops their energy and charm, while taking on the many forms of the people within Elinor and Marianne's life. 

    With amazing scenic design by Brian Mallgrave, and the use of moving furniture, the comedic and witty timing has to be seen as we are pulled along into this socialite society where gossip holds more truth than the truth itself.         

    The Arvada Center has proven time and time again what it can do with its productions, and how they can create a season both familiar and new. Yet with Sense and Sensibility they have broken that expectation, skyrocketing it even higher than before. Collins and Hamill have gifted the metro area of Denver with a witty, timeless, and engaging production that I hope to see again and again before the season ends.

     This production is only the gateway to a three play whirlwind in the coming months out of the Arvada Center and its' cast of players at their disposal. If this is what we are to expect, I will definitely be ready to see my expectations blown to pieces. 

    Sense and Sensibility will be running through May 6th, for tickets you can visit https://arvadacenter.org/sense-and-sensibility or contact the box office at 720-898-7200

Joseph Original Poster

Joseph Original Poster

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Go, Go Joseph

There is so much that I could say about the Arvada Center’s production of Jospeh and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. But I find that it is becoming very hard to say it in a way that many reviewers do. Coming from my own perspective the Arvada’s Center’s production team is perfect within the show from design, to choreography, with an ensemble that portrays every technicolor and diversity in Joseph’s amazing coat. 

However there is something left to be desired throughout this show. It really doesn’t appear that the problem lacks within what the Arvada Center has done with it. But perhaps the lack is just simply the choice of material. Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals are very popular, sadly only of few of his shows are chosen to become regional productions. With the amazing talent and creativity that the Arvada Center has at its deposal it seems like there could be much more done if the holiday tradition was a different musical. 

After a five year hiatus Jospeh has come back to the Arvada Center to the happiness of many of it’s older theatre goers and children. The question remains does it appeal to the young adults in the audience who have grown up with this show? While I understand that it is the most requested and sold out show, it felt as if the choice to bring it back was a more safe bet instead of the familiar risk taking I have seen the company do with its production choices. Growing up in Arvada I have attended and seen shows at the Arvada Center my entire life. It being my gateway to so many shows I was unfamiliar with that quickly  enchanted me and drew me deeper into the world of theatre. This production sadly was not the risk taker I was hoping for. While the small creative changes made to this show did make me crack a smile here and there; such as the mime in, “Those Canaan Days,” and the more modern choices taken when handling certain aspects. It felt a bit hollow. 

The cast still is charming, with Sarah Rex leading as the Narrator. It is she that carries the experience that is needed within a role that can be very mischievous and all knowing. Appearing as if she were the hand and will of God guiding Jospeh on his story. While Jospeh himself played by Aaron Young, appeared very meek as the lead that sometimes requires a bit more power. However upon reaching Joseph’s weakest point, I found his inner power and strength growing as he performed the all too familiar ballad, “Close every door,”  Still my emotion was carried by the amazing ensemble, that I still find stole the hearts of everyone in their seats. 

All I have left to say is that this production is good for families, it is good for the people who has requested and have wanted to see it done again and again. If you have yet to see it please go and watch what Gavin Meyer and his team have done. You won’t be disappointed, however with this being said, I feel what comes next is this. Jospeh is a good show, a charming witty show that children will love and continue to love for some time. But I believe for now at the Arvada Center, it is time for the coat to be put away. 

Jospeh and the Amazing Technicolor DreamCoat runs through Dec. 23rd, tickets can be reached at arvadacenter.org or by calling the box office at 720-898-7200

The Foreigner Poster, Arvada Center

The Foreigner Poster, Arvada Center

The Foreigner

Review by Emilee Hatfield

"Blasney, Blasney..."

In this day and time being a Foreigner can take on many meanings. Whether you are the Foreigner in a country, a new school or in a new town. It can even go to the extent that you are a Foreigner of theatre. I can say on many occasions I have felt this unnerving, intimidating feeling that would wrap it’s coils around rendering me speechless. This leads to me wishing that I was invisible. 

     This very feeling is what brings about the hilarity, and unique charm within the Arvada Center’s production of, “The Foreigner,” which opened on Friday October 13th. Upon entry I was very opened minded about this show and knew little to nothing about it. Honestly I believe that is the best way to go when attending. What I believed was going to be a simple play turned into a night of nonstop laughs. 

    The set brings you instantly into a quaint little home, designed by Brain Mallgrave. Its attention to detail did feel as if you were really in the South along with the accompaniment of some bluegrass music that plays in between scenes. This captures the fish out of water tone that slowly morphs into that warming innocences that only southern comfort can give. 

    What this production directed by Geoffrey Kent does so well is that the material is carried in a very human way while blending with Kent’s own originality. This comedy takes a very unexpected turn, something upon which I will not reveal in order to not ruin the play. But they go at it with such great comedic timing along with an ensemble of great characters lead by Sammie Joe Kinnett in the title role that just… works. 

    The play follows Charlie Baker, a Brit that has traveled along with his friend Sgt. “Froggy” LeSueur in order to get his mind off of being told his wife has only six months to live. Being a naturally nervous human being Charlie is terrified at the thought of holding a conversation with someone, especially strangers. Leaving Froggy to come up with a solution in order to ensure that no one speaks to him. During a conversation with Betty, the owner of the fishing lodge that Charlie will be staying at, Froggy finds the answer right in front of his face. “He is a foreigner. He doesn’t speak any English.” It is then that the play takes its hilarious turn. As Charlie goes along with this lie the rest of the lodge's guests begin to confide their secrets and feelings with a man they believe cannot understand a word they say. 

    This play is brilliant with its undertones and lessons that the director did not make them seem forced. Instead he allows them to gently pass by allowing you to think before you find yourself trying not to bust a gut laughing. 

    The funny situations and masterful performances by the entire cast on stage creates a stressless night of wild entertainment. While Sammie Joe Kinnett defiantly carries the show tremendously, I have to say the stand out for me was Jessica Robblee in the role of Catherine. Her accent was on par and her bubbly and dramatic acting balances perfectly with Kinnett’s shy Charlie. It creates chemistry that you just find adorable, but also very human. That’s what I think this production blossomed into without realization. Each actor you could tell put their own flavor into the mix giving room for the characters to grow. No, none of these characters are perfect and that is the best part about it I believe. A large situation is solved but many of their smaller personal issues are left undone, giving way to the humanistic reality of what we go through. At the end of the day not everything is solved, and that was wildly refreshing to see. 

    Overall I lost track at how many times I found myself smiling while watching this production. It’s interesting to say I could find my own foreignness within the world of plays melting away before my eyes. I am a very frequent musical goer however plays never really seem to take hold of my interest in order to see them. It was that fearful unfamiliarity that as I said in beginning kept me from stepping forward. But just as Charlie begins to find his uncharacteristic shyness dwindling away within the non-English speaking persona he has created, so was mine. The characters are very wonderful to watch, the lines are quick, witty; and left with the cleverness of mixing a fake culture with Southern Hospitality.     

    This is the second show I have seen at the Arvada Center and the first of its Black Box season and truth to be told it did not disappoint. The Foreigner is a great play that will allow you to realize that even the most timid person has more than you would expect. They just need the right opportunity to allowing it to be seen. And as Charlie would say, “Blasney Blasney,” 

    The Foreigner plays at the Arvada Center for Performing Arts from October 13- Nov 18th. Tickets can be purchased at http://arvadacenter.org/subscriptions/20172018/TheForeigner.html or by calling (720) 898-7200

Broadway Playbill, Unkown Date

Broadway Playbill, Unkown Date

A Chorus Line

Review by Emilee Hatfield

“One… Singular Sensation…” 

     After hearing that very line for years, you would think I would have picked up a copy or have listened to A Chorus Line by now. As silly as this sounds I didn’t. However I am very thrilled to say that I was happy to have my first experience with this musical be at the Arvada’s Center For Performing Art’s on it’s opening night Tuesday Evening. 

     Upon arrival the set appears very bare, black with just a single white line going across the stage. The scenic designer Brain Mallgrave, used the premise of the show very well in order to create a simplistic yet powerful statement. How much pressure is on your shoulders when preforming? With it taking place during the audition process we are able to get a look into what actors experience when hoping to get a job in show business. The use of the white line creates that eerie tension that fills the performers bodies and minds as they stand across it. Each being just a number as they listen to the booming voice of the director. All the while they dance, sing, and rarely leave the stage throughout the entire show. 

    This is one aspect of the musical I had not seen done and one audiences must be aware of when attending. There is no intermission. The show goes straight through, showing the strength of its performers and their dedication to a project just as their characters are to the audition. You feel a deep respect for the ensemble of actors as they continuously go, revealing stories of their characterswith ease, grace and expertise that you only could find within show business. The set balances well with the lighting design by Shannon McKinney,  emphasizing each character and the small stories we are given about who they are and what lead them to be at the audition. 

    I don’t believe I could praise this cast any more when I say they were Broadway quality. Each one had my attention at one point of the show, moving the audience with such emotion that you couldn’t help but shed a tear and wish you could force the director to give each of them the job. This idea however is what I think A Chorus Line does so beautifully, the ending. It is very realistic and that I found very welcoming. Without revealing the results I must say this production directed by Rod. A. Lansberry sticks true to the shows roots in choreography, and style. Even the late Marvin Hamlisch I could see would have smiled at this production and they defiantly respect his score with utter brilliance. A charming yet thought provoking musical about how much work it truly takes to be the one. 

     A Chorus Line runs at the Arvada Center from September 12-October 1st. For tickets go to https://arvadacenter.org/a-chorus-line or call (720) 898-7200