Resolutions Program

Resolutions Program

Resolutions

The Edge Theatre, Wheat Ridge, CO

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means many shows throughout Denver will be festive with that magic touch of holiday cheer. This is what I expected upon entering the The Edge Theatre on Friday for the opening night of their new play, Resolutions. 

    Written by local playwright Josh Hartwell, this new play defiantly defies the definition of a Holiday show. While it is not yet Christmas, the show takes place directly after, on New Year’s Eve. Hartwell’s focus falls on a small group of friends that are about to throw their annual New Year’s Eve party in a cabin situated in Vail. 

    We are introduced to Dellen, the owner of the cabin, played by Emily Paton Davies and her gay best friend Gregory played by Scott Mclean. Both are getting settled in the cabin, sipping on some cocktails as they wait for friends Peter, (Andrew Unhlenhopp) and Mindy, (Karen Slack) to arrive. The characters carry a certain humor that only true thespians could as they recount on some pivotal moments in their acting careers, fallen marriages, current marriages and personal issues. All the while preparing to open an envelope that holds their previous New Year Resolutions. What ensues is something that takes this comedy in a direction that I find Hartwell shadowed perfectly.  

    The actors in this show are enduring, as they loose themselves in their characters personalities and struggles. We become immediately invested with their stories and are shocked to find what secrets hide behind their snarky attitudes as the set designed by Brandon Case is very intimate with the audience allowing you to be up close and person with the actors. 

    What Hartwell’s script does so well, is that it invests you so quickly in what the characters are saying. The audience learns so much about them within such a short amount time that you yourself loose any conciseness of time. This is very important considering the show runs straight through without any intermission.    

    With so many holiday shows going on, it is nice to see a play that is so fresh, new and different in many aspects. Such as revealing what power honesty holds and what it can reveal even in the mist of a holiday so focused on new beginnings. You will go into this show believing you know what you are in for and come out surprised; thankful that your guess was wrong.

    Hartwell and Director Missy More have produced a show that fabricates its own unique flair. Separating it from the pack of traditional holiday shows that have enchanted the Denver Metro Area.    

    Resolutions runs at the Edge Theatre from December 1st through the 31st. For tickets go to http://www.theedgetheater.com/content/past_seasons/resolutions.asp or call 303.232-0363 for more information. 

 

Original Broadway Playbill// Pride Edition

Original Broadway Playbill// Pride Edition


Wicked

Review by Emilee Hatfield

When a new show begins its journey on Broadway there will always be people within theatre circles that tend to bet on how long the show will last. Either it being successful, or for it to be forgotten as another flop. 
    I can imagine that some opinions were mainly negative when word began to spread of what was making it’s way soon to Broadway in late 2003. Yet I don’t believe anyone could have anticipated what Wicked would bring when it opened in New York. It was a show according to some that was filled with issues, and needed a lot of work. The show is based off of the novel of the same name written by Gregory Maguire; a book that was considered a darker spin on the characters of the Wizard of Oz; with its main character being the Wicked Witch of the West herself.
     However what people did not expect is the impact it would soon have not only on the theatre community as a whole but also the world. 
    To start off, Wicked was one of the first shows to have two female leads. Shocking isn’t it? Surely there was one show within Broadway’s long history that had to have two females as the leads correct? Yes, there was one show and that was Mamma Mia. However when looking at the context of the show Wicked took a more serious turn than the Abba musical whose plot surrounded three men and an array of characters. Wicked simply focused on it’s two leads and the experiences that changed them; they just so happened to be women. This was it’s first step with making a small dent in Broadway history. 
    What I feel is the most impactful element of the show is the representation of Elphaba and Glinda. People still leave the theatre moved, some audiences members crying before the end of the first act. 
    But why? What about this story of the green skinned Elphaba, soon to be called the Wicked Witch and the bubbly Galinda that would become known as Glinda the Good create such emotion? 
    Each woman represents something we all can relate to and have to handle throughout life, Elphaba being the representation of strength. During this day and age people are bullied, alienated because of their differences. Who would not relate to someone who is ridiculed everyday of their life due to their differences or in this case greenness. 
     People of all ages, race, or gender could relate to being picked on or stared at because they look funny, or appear different from what society believes to be normal. It isn’t only Elphaba’s struggles that make her likable though, it is her personality as well; her inner strength to stand up for what she believes in and not to back down because it would lead to her down a different path. Today finding the strength within yourself can be a very tough obstacle in life that many people never truly face. Fear, desperation, loneliness, it can all push us into a quiet area hoping to avoid conflict. Yet Elphaba’s strength pushes her to break those limits. Letting others see that the strength within themselves can be reached. We just have to let it defy the odds. 
    Even with her strength Elphaba is still human and just like every character in the show, she finds herself  affected by the people around her. She is mainly changed by Glinda. While being a bit …well blonde, Glinda is a character that appeals to audiences due to her dramatic personality and the change she undergoes throughout the show. This brings about what Glinda represents, something people have to look a bit closer to see.  
    Change. 
The show accepts that change will happen in this world, wether it be good or bad. At first glance her character is a bit bubbly and ditzy, being obsessive with her outer appearance. Yet as the show continues Glinda begins to look past what she sees in the mirror. After her journey Glinda does not break, she stands tall, strong and ready to face what Oz has waiting for her, This is what makes Glinda so relatable. A person growing up, changing over time and coming into the person She didn’t even know existed. Not many shows have this much character development within their leads as Wicked has within Elphaba and Glinda. This brings out the message the show conveys.
    Be who you are, stand and speak up for yourself. Don’t let others control your life, your goals or your dreams, but allow change to come into your life. You never know what it might give.     
    It is with this that Wicked has impacted the world. The show is going on it’s 14th anniversary on Broadway while having opened companies in London, Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Japan, Mexico, the list continues to grow every year and I don’t believe it will be stopping anytime soon. 
    With its message this show has brought more people together within this world. Allowing people to have a better understanding of themselves. I remember the first time I saw this show. I was 17 going into my senior year of high school. Once I stepped into that theatre, seeing the set for the first time, I felt this comfort surround me. This form of acceptance, of safety and artistic wonder. Not only did this show give me this, it also gave me a community of friends that have changed me in ways I still have cannot believe. It is why I will always be in the mood to buy a ticket to see this show, it is why it will always remain my favorite. It changes you, it changes people around you. It gives so much without realizing it. 
     Knowing that other people might feel the same as well is amazing in itself. A show, and its characters can bring out so much within a person, helping them in ways the production team did not realize they could. Breaking the barriers between an audience member and the actor within the show creates a bond knowing that everyone has endured some similar experience in life. It allows both the audience and the actors to open themselves up to the show and characters in ways Broadway might not have done before. 
    With Stephen Schwartz’s amazing score, Winnie Holzman’s moving plot, and Joe Mantello’s insightful direction, the show has created a being of its own. One that is very human, touching anyone that will listen to what it has to say. Wicked’s importance is for women, men, young, old, it is for everyone, giving Broadway a new piece of history to add to its books and giving us the true understanding of the importance of what it means to be Wicked. 
    Wicked currently continues to play on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City and is enchanting people across the country while on tour. 

Wicked is produced by Marc Platt, Music composed by Stephen Schwartz, Book by Winnie Holzman and Directed by Joe Mantello, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. 

Original Broadway Revival Poster

Original Broadway Revival Poster

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Review by Emilee Hatfield

     2013 was a strange year for me, Things changed so dramatically. I was more willing to take on risks. I was getting a bit bored within my normal routine. So when an opportunity presented itself, or more so was brought up during a conversation with my good friend in New Jersey I couldn’t say no. A trip into New York City was a need, something I rarely am able to do. With this trip came a show that took me by the shoulders and shook up some expectations and views I had for the theatre world, and what exactly a show could do. The show was one I myself had never heard of, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. 

    It was a revival that opened in 2012 played at the famous Studio 54 and I couldn’t resist it’s wonderful casting; with the likes of Will Chase, Jessie Mueller, Chita Rivera, Andy Karl and Stephanie J. Block. I was awe struck. What I didn’t realize was just how interactive this show was; being based on Charles Dickinson’s unfinished novel of the same name. So the question presented itself upon my friend’s and my arrival. How was it going to end if the original material was never finished?

    First off The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a murder mystery; providing itself with arrangement of strange and unique characters that make their way through the audience, greeting their patrons upon their arrival. I had never seen this done within a show, especially a musical. The reactions of the audience was very well received and I too enjoyed watching the actors as they speak in character to different audience members.  Once the music strikes up though the actors go straight in to start the show. Each one clapping and singing showing off their many talents. 

    The show is nothing short of hilarious with the premise that it takes. While following its source material what The Mystery of Edwin Drood did so well was that it's setting is in an old theatre. Following a group of actors that are playing the roles of the characters from its source material. A story within a story you could say. So each actor is not playing one role, but two. Which is actually very amusing to watch, especially Stephanie J. Block playing both stuck up guest actress Alice Nutting, as well as the gender bent character of Edwin Drood. Block’s credits speak for themselves and here she gave a performance that was well worth the tony nomination she had received that year for the role.

    Honestly I could go on and on about this show. The plot is intriguing, the characters themselves are charming and really give you a wonderful experience. Director Scott Ellis brought together something that had never ben revived and made an experience I don’t think many audience members will ever forget. 

    The idea of eliminating that separation between the audience and the performers is something that made this show stand out. It gave it this warm elegant yet almost chaotic feel.  You did not know what was going to happen, who was gong to pop up where, and most importantly who killed Edwin Drood. The entire first Act is a bit more scripted than the second, due to the fact they run out of source material to go off of. Making way f0r the best part of the show, the improvised scenes and voting. The whole idea of the show is trying to figure out who murdered Edwin Drood, and the audience members are the only ones with the answer. While the actors hold up numbered cards, they allow the audience to vote on whom they believe to be the murderer. Each actor prepared for the moments notice if they have been chosen to be the guilty crook. 

    There is so much that goes on within this show, and each experience is a different one. Not only is that amazing, but is also just proves how out of the box theatre can be. Who would have ever thought that the idea of using an unfinished book would make way to such an amazing idea and experience? It not only keeps the actors on their toes, giving them something new to work with night after night, but it also provides audience members to see something new every time they would attend. Being the theatre lover I am, I have seen a few productions over and over when given the chance and majority of the time I would want to see the production again due to cast change. I love seeing how another actor would take on a role because it makes the show appear fresh. With The Mystery of Edwin Drood, it is always fresh every night, creating a different story each time. 

    Sadly the show did close after its limited run in 2013 after being extended once, and releasing a cast recording which is still available. The show to this day is still the best nights of theatre I have ever had, each detail still firmly in my memory. Especially one of Stephanie J. Block speaking with me as Alice Nutting just before the overture began. This was a show that ignited that need for theatre, that need to see as much as I could and see different forms of it. This is what makes me wish the show was still running, it more than deserved it, and its cast deserving all the more praise. 

    After leaving the show that day I couldn't help but wonder why weren’t more shows done this way, or at least why wasn’t new material being made to be more interactive with their audiences. Yes there are certain times that it shouldn’t be done, and there are times that it most certainly should. The Mystery of Edwin Drood was defiantly a must. It is no wonder that this was the best reviewed show of the 2012-13 Broadway season, and I can only hope that there will be another revival soon.