Friday, August 28, 2009

Get nostalgic with 'Forever Plaid'

As Labor Day weekend approaches The Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company has one final show, “Forever Plaid,” which has been playing on Mondays throughout their season, but is getting a proper run Sept. 3 to Sept. 6 at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in North Conway, N.H.

After a season of big productions, this is a stripped-down, intimate four-piece production that is more of a concert than a musical. This is a quickie: just an hour and 20 minutes of musical nostalgia.

The premise of this off-Broadway show written by Stuart Ross is that the spirits of a harmony guy group tragically killed in 1964 have returned 45 years later to perform the one big show they never got to play.

This is all explained by Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company board of director member Rich Gray, who delivers the Rod Sterling-esque opening voice over. But this isn’t a trip into “The Twilight Zone.” It is a walk down memory lane.

The back from the afterlife set up allows for some cute between-song banter between the four leads, but it is really just an excuse to present a collection of songs from the 1950s and 1960s.

The fictional group of the title is tailored after such groups as The Four Aces and
The Four Freshman. Singing in a harmony group is not an easy feat, but the production’s four leads, James Erickson, Steve Codling, Paul Lange and Evan Smith, more than pull it off. They perform well and believably as a group. Although all their between-song conversation is scripted, they present it in a way that feels natural and spontaneous.

The intimate nature of the production makes this a good show to get tickets in the first few rows. There is audience participation in the form of a sing-a-long during the lively medley “Caribbean Plaid,” led by Smith’s Jinx.

Other highlights include “Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby,” which features some amusing choreography involving plungers. On “Heart and Soul,” an audience member is pulled on stage to play keyboard and do some dancing.

Each performer gets at least one song to take lead, but as is the nature of a harmony group the work is evenly distributed and the ensemble works as a whole with no one trying to steal the spotlight.

The premise is never allowed to get too heavy and is mostly played for laughs. In one of the more serious moments, Erickson delivers a great monologue about the power of being in the moment as a group and feeding off one another until greatness is captured, if only briefly.

Although younger generations may not be familiar with such songs as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” and “Shangri-La,” they are performed so well and with such energy that this production should have broad appeal to all age groups.

For more information and tickets, call the box office at 356-5776 or visit

'Basterds' is a mess, but it is a glorious one

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” a revisionist riff on World War II that plays like the ultimate revenge fantasy against Nazis, is a mishmash of tones, styles and ideas, which is practically the definition of a Tarantino movie. This time his penchant for pastiche slightly gets away from him, but even Tarantino not at his best is still better than most movies.

The advertising focuses, not surprisingly, on the film’s biggest star, Brad Pitt, but this is misleading as this is very much an ensemble piece. Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine is the leader of the titular group of (mostly) Jewish-American soldiers. Raine has ordered each of his men to kill and scalp 100 Nazi soldiers.

Although the film bears their group’s name, the Basterds are almost incidental for large parts of the film as if they are supporting players in their own movie. Half of the Basterds don’t even have dialogue. It seems like Tarantino became distracted by other characters and plot lines and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The film opens with a brilliant sequence set in German occupied France. This first segment, the film is broken up into chapters, centers on Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a German officer nicknamed the Jew Hunter, interrogating a French dairy farmer (Denis Menochet) about whether he is hiding a Jewish family.

Landa has a deceptively jovial way about him that is unsettling. He is like a cat gleefully pawing at his prey deciding whether and how to go in for the kill. Waltz, who won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, is astounding in this scene and throughout the film.

Waltz steals the film with his effortless charm. Some have claimed it is in poor taste to make a Nazi so charismatic, but his allure is lethal. The way Waltz switches from a pleasant grin to a deadly grimace is disturbing. It is an inspired characterization that reminds that sometimes evil comes with a smile.

This opening is largely played straight with Tarantino creating an atmosphere of taut suspense. The next chapter shifts gears and gives a first taste of the flamboyantly gory exploits of the Basterds.

The film switches back and forth between the two tones, and it is jarring. The conclusion morphs into an over-the-top caricature that is in stark contrast to the opening. The film is still hugely entertaining for large sections, but the tonal issues mar it from greatness.

Each of the film’s chapters work as self-contained pieces, but as a whole the film feels disjointed even when the plot threads presented in each segment come together in the final act involving the screening of a German propaganda film at a French cinema run by a vengeful Jew (the luminous Mélanie Laurent).

Tarantino has become increasingly in love with his words and his ideas so much so that he has a hard time sacrificing any of it, and this has become a liability. In “Kill Bill” he had so much material that the film was broken up into two separate volumes, which turned out to be a master stroke.

As one film, “Kill Bill” would have suffered from the same problems in tone that “Inglourious Basterds” does, but Tarantino’s two impulses were split with the most outrageous stuff going into “Vol. 1” while the more dialogue driven material went into “Vol. 2.” The same approach could’ve aided “Inglourious Basterds,” which was originally developed as a mini-series thus explaining the episodic nature of the film.

Even with its faults, when it is works, it works extremely well. Tarantino has an undeniably keen ear for dialogue. No one working today can write quite like he does. There is a gem of scene set in a tavern that is as good as anything in “Pulp Fiction” or “Reservoir Dogs.”

Mike Myers makes a great cameo appearance as a British general, and there’s a good performance from Diane Kruger showing more depth than she was afford the opportunity in the “National Treasure” movies.

Pitt continues to reveal himself as an astute comic character actor, and his Aldo Raine is another vivid and very funny characterization similar to, but completely different from, his work in “Snatch” and “Burn After Reading.” His introductory monologue is classic.

“Inglourious Basterds” is an overly ambitious film, but I’ll take a film with too many ideas over one with none any day. What Tarantino does here is certainly not for everyone, but for people on his same often warped wavelength there is much entertainment to be had.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Make a point to say hello to this 'Dolly'

Every year the Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company presents at least one classic old favorite and this year it is “Hello, Dolly,” which opened Tuesday at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in North Conway, N.H. and will be performed daily, except Monday, through Aug. 30.

Having not seen “Holly, Dolly” in any form, I came to this production a newbie not really sure what to expect and, admittedly, a bit skeptical. I was ultimately won over by the big, bright, buoyant production.

“Hello, Dolly” is based on the play “The Matchmaker,” which itself was based on the play “Merchant of Yonkers,” the source material of which can be traced back to an 1835 English play titled “A Day Well Spent.”

That’s a lot of reworking, and you’d think by the time it became “Hello, Dolly” the material would’ve been become overly diluted. That was not the case, and the 1964 production of “Hello, Dolly” starring Carol Channing went on to win 10 Tony Awards.

The role of Dolly Levi, a matchmaker and self-proclaimed meddler with a business card for every possible need, has been played by such greats as Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Ethel Merman and Barbara Streisand in the 1969 film version. Elyse Wolf, who takes on the role on the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse stage, makes a first-rate addition to that list.

Wolf has a commanding stage presence and an easy rapport with the audience, which she addresses on several occasions. Her dry, rapid fire delivery of the show's many one liners is impeccable. Wolf has a powerhouse voice that is showcased throughout the production, but most prominently on the showstopping title song.

Set in New York in 1890, the story focuses on Dolly’s elaborate schemes to wed the half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder (Wolf’s real-life husband, Scott Davidson, who proposed to her on the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse stage in 1996). This takes some juggling, with Dolly presenting other options first in an attempt to make herself look all the more luminous.

Davidson recalls Walter Matthau, who played the role in the film, in terms of presence, inflection and attitude. His gruff interaction with the more cheery ensemble around him creates a nice comedic tension. Wolf and Davidson’s real-life chemistry transfers onto the stage well and has the audience rooting for them to get together.

Into the mix are added Cornelius Hackl (Chris Handley) and Barnaby Tucker (Matthew Patrick), clerks in Horace’s shop who sneak into the city instead of minding the shop. There they meet two hat shop girls, Irene Malloy (Alison Rose Munn) and Minnie Fay (Anna Malone). Confusion ensues in a hilarious scene when Horace visits the same shop to court Miss Malloy.

The Cornelius and Irene romantic subplot is one of the most charming aspects of this production. After watching the film version, I can honestly say Handley is vastly superior in the role than Michael Crawford, who was too broad and hammy to be taken seriously in the more tender moments.

Handley, as he proved in “The Producers,” is a fine comic actor who knows how far to push it without going over the top. Handley has a tangible chemistry with Munn who is charming as Irene. Their duet “It Only Takes a Moment” is surprisingly sweet and affecting. Patrick and Malone are essentially sidekicks in this subplot and ably provide support and comic relief.

The choreography by director Andrew Glant-Linden is truly spectacular. A dance of waiters at a club, including fencing with skewers, is a show highlight. All the choreography has underlining graceful comedy to it. The visual punchline to the song and dance routine “Elegance” is priceless.

“Hello, Dolly” is light, fluffy entertainment done very well. This cast and this production really makes the material shine, making for a thoroughly enjoyable night of theater.

For more information and tickets, call the box office at 356-5776 or visit

'District 9' is a piece of great science fiction

“District 9” is about aliens. If you read that sentence and your knee-jerk response was to dismiss the film, please keep reading because “District 9” is so much more than your average action-packed creature feature.

Great science fiction is about an idea and can be used to make statements about the world we live in. That isn’t to say something like “Star Wars” isn’t great entertainment, but that is more of an adventure story in space dealing in a traditional story of good versus evil than true science fiction.

“District 9” is set in South Africa where a spaceship hovers over Johannesburg. The aliens inside mean no threat, their ship has simply broken down. They are found starving and in a humanitarian act are brought down to Earth and put in a refugee camp that keeps them separate from humanity. The camp quickly turns into a slum.

The plot is driven forward by a plan to relocate the aliens, who are given the derogatory nickname of prawns because of their appearance, to a supposedly new and safer location.

This move is facilitated by a bumbling bureaucrat (Sharlto Copley) who got the job simply because he’s the son-in-law of the head of the organization in charge of the move. This organization could care less about the prawns and is far more interested in their weaponry, which only the prawns can operate.

That is all just the set up, and to say anymore would ruin the experience of watching how this story unfolds. This is a movie that is full of surprises and the advertising for the film has bucked the recent trend in movie trailers of revealing key plot twists. Unfortunately, a lot of critics have been loose in their plot descriptions and do reveal developments involving Copley’s character.

Copley, in his acting debut, gives a strong and layered performance. His character goes through a complete character arc. He is the film’s protagonist, but the film, co-written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, is willing to make him do loathsome things.

The material is taken seriously, and the way the film is set up is about as realistic as possible. If a scenario like this occurred, this is probably what would really happen.

The film adopts a faux documentary style that is mixed with a traditional narrative. Everything blends together seamlessly. The fake news footage feels genuine and gives an intense authenticity to the film.

Then there are the aliens, which if they looked phony or cheap could turn a serious film into something unintentionally hilarious. Blomkamp, who has done special effects for such TV shows as “Stargate SG1” and “Smallville,” has created unique looking CGI creatures that are completely believable.

So often films addressing the arrival of aliens have them making contact with Americans, so it is refreshing to have aliens arrive somewhere else. The fact that it is South Africa adds a whole other layer of subtext to the film.

The film becomes an allegory for the now defunct apartheid system in South Africa and deals with themes of racism. This is ultimately what the film is really about.

The final third of the film transitions into a more traditional action film. Viewers taken in by the more credible, thoughtful approach to the subject matter may be disappointed by the more Hollywood-style ending. On the other hand, filmgoers who were perhaps made antsy by what could be perceived as a slow opening should be thrilled by the bombastic ending.

On an action level, the conclusion does deliver the goods and does so in a way that is an extension of the story and furthers the development of the characters. The final shot of the film is surprisingly poignant.

Warning: There is some graphic violence and imagery that squeamish moviegoers should be prepared for.

Friday, August 14, 2009

John Hughes: Don't you forget about him

Last Thursday, filmmaker John Hughes died in New York following a heart attack. Hughes was one of the more prolific filmmakers of the 1980s. From 1983 to 1994, Hughes, on average, wrote two films a year.

My first introduction to Hughes would come late in that cycle with 1989’s “Uncle Buck” and 1990’s “Home Alone.” For a 7-year-old kid, “Home Alone” was the be-all-end-all of movies. It was the ultimate kid fantasy: home alone with no one to tell you what to do and when baddies come around you get to beat them up like they are characters in a cartoon.

The Hughes formula was to balance slapstick humor with clever dialogue and a sense of pathos, the zenith of which was “Home Alone,” his most financially successful film and still the highest grossing live action comedy of all time. But even though it made him the most money, Hughes legacy will not be “Home Alone,” but rather a series of perennial teen films in the 1980s.

When I outgrew “Home Alone,” I discovered such teen classics as “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” both of which should be required viewing upon turning 13. These movies helped me through my formative years as I’m sure they will for future generations.

Hughes got his start as advertising writer in Chicago in the 1970s before trying his hand as a comedy writer. He landed a job at National Lampoon magazine, which led to writing the 1983 hit “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” A year later he would make “Sixteen Candles” — his first film as writer and director and his first foray into the teen film genre.

Up to this point teen films had been either sex comedies or slasher movies and were not much more than exploitation films. Although there were a few bright spots including “WarGames,” “Risky Business” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” for the most part the teen movie was bottom of the barrel junk.

Hughes changed that by writing dialogue that sounded real and by creating characters and situations that were relatable and recognizable. He had an ear for how teens spoke and he spoke to teens in a way that rang true to them.

Although he was in his mid-30s, Hughes seemed to have a clear recollection of what it was like to be an adolescent. He was able to accurately depict all the insecurities, the awkwardness and newly discovered desires for love and lust. Through his film, he was able to offer a bit of escapism and let teenagers know they weren’t alone in the how they felt.

“Sixteen Candles” introduced the world to Molly Ringwald as the girl whose family forgets her birthday and Anthony Michael Hall as the definitive geek. Ringwald and Hall would appear together again in Hughes' next film as writer and director, “The Breakfast Club.” Where “Sixteen Candles” was a broad comedy, “The Breakfast Club” was a more thoughtful film with teens from different high school cliques bonding over Saturday detention.

“The Breakfast Club” was quickly followed by “Weird Science,” easily Hughes silliest, strangest and least effective teen movie, but its goofball charm still makes it more endearing than most teen films.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” followed, and it represents a teen dream come true: being able to get away with skipping school for a day of fun in the city. It is a film that is full of classic scenes and lines and with Matthew Broderick at his most charismatic in the title role.

Hughes would also write winning the teen romances “Pretty in Pink” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” In the late 1980s, Hughes shifted away from teens and made “Trains, Planes and Automobiles,” the comic teaming of John Candy and Steve Martin. Hughes proved to be just as assured at writing observant, funny dialogue for adults.

Hughes became disillusioned with Hollywood in the mid-1990s and slowed his output substantially, only writing the occasional kids movie including “Dennis the Menace,” “Beethoven,” “101 Dalmatians” and "Flubber."

Hughes’ best films will remain timeless. Sure, many are dated by their 1980s music and their now quaint references to computers, but they tapped into universal feelings in a way few films can. Hughes was more than just a voice of a generation. He was the voice of the adolescent experience.

Teen angst gets a twist in M&D's 'Kimberly Akimbo'

Dysfunctional families and teen angst have always been great fodder for stories whether in movies, on TV, on the page or on stage, but Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Lindsay-Abraire offers a new twist on familiar formulas in “Kimberly Akimbo,” which opened Thursday night at M&D Productions’ Your Theatre at Willow Commons in North Conway, N.H.

The title character is your average 16-year-old girl in attitude and personality, but not in appearance. Kimberly (Stacy Sand) has a disease that causes her to age four and a half times faster than a normal person, giving her the appearance and the aliments of a 72-year-old woman.

If the premise sounds familiar that’s because it was also the basis of the 1996 Robin Williams movie “Jack,” but the treatment of the scenario is handled with a lot more care and sincerity by Lindsay-Abraire.

The late 1980s were full of body switch movies with a teen inhabiting an adult body, the best of which was “Big.” In some respects “Kimberly Akimbo” recalls these movies, but there’s more at stake: The average life expectancy of someone with Kimberly’s disease is 16.

The success or failure of the show falls squarely on whether Sand is believable as a teenager in an older body, and she is. Sand captures that angst-ridden teen whine, the awkwardness and the sarcastic attitude. She has the look right too, with slumped shoulders and shoveled feet.

Kimberly’s family is quirky to say the least. Dad (Ken Martin) is an alcoholic, but a lovable one at least. Mom (Dawn Marra) is a pregnant hypochondriac who thinks she’s dying of cancer and is dealing with bandaged hands following a surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Then there’s Debra (Shana Myers), Kimberly’s drifter/grifter aunt, who comes crashing back into her life from a past that the family has not fully addressed and would care to leave alone.

Into Kimberly’s chaotic life enters Jeff (Andrew Clark), a curious fellow classmate who shows interest in Kimberly initially for a school project, but then as more.

All this reads as fairly standard stuff until you add Kimberly’s disease into the mix, but Lindsay-Abraire’s script and director Dan Tetrealt never use it as a gimmick. Instead it is used to look at what it means to age and our perceptions of young and old.

Kimberly’s appearance is simply accepted. It is too painful for Kimberly’s family to directly address the fact that she could die very soon. But that fact, even when ignored, is always lingering.

Lindsay-Abraire has an astute way of finding humor in tragic situations. In this case there is some very broad humor, but even when the antics border on madcap, Lindsay-Abraire’s dialogue has a realistic rhythm.

The family conversations at the dinner table feel authentic as does the sweet “Harold and Maude”-esque relationship that develops between Kimberly and Jeff. Clark is very good as Jeff who is able to see Kimberly as the 16-year-old girl she is rather than the older woman she appears to be.

Kimberly’s mom and especially her sister are big, boisterous personalities played to the hilt by Marra and Myers. Martin as the blue collar father is less broadly comedic, but gets laughs with his dry deliver of obscenity laced dialogue.

Set design by Mark Delancey emulates the panels of a black-on-white comic strip and in its odd way this perfectly encapsulates the tone of the material, which is indeed a comedy in spite of the bleaker implications of the premise.

This is the second play penned by Lindsay-Abraire that M&D has produced following last year’s production of “Rabbit Hole,” and it is no surprise that the company is drawn to the author’s materials. He presents recognizable characters in a fresh, naturalistic way that is thoughtful, moving and at times very funny. What more could you want in a piece of theater?

For more information call 662-7591 or visit

Thursday, August 06, 2009

'Hurt Locker' is a taut, powerful war movie

Edge of your seat is a rather tired and overused description for a movie, but if ever a film deserved that description, “The Hurt Locker” is definitely it.

“The Hurt Locker” in a nearly unremittingly intense film set during the Iraq War circa 2004. To call it an action film or a thriller would be accurate on a visceral level, but somehow given the content that seems to sell the material short.

The film wastes no time and drops the audience in the middle of a situation involving a bomb on a street and the bomb squad preparing to disarm it. This opening establishes an anything-is-possible tone that leaves the viewer off balance.
From the opening to the closing credits there are only fleeting moments of relief.

There is one suspenseful sequence after another as the bomb squad the film follows is called out again and again. A sniper shoot out is a particularly taut sequence. It would seem the film’s intention is to approximate the sensation of being in war: You are always on edge.

This is by no means a gung-ho war movie. It respects soldiers, but does not glorify the things they have to do. This is a film about the effect war has on its warriors. The film opens with the quotation, “War is a drug" — and that’s the primary theme.

The film’s lead character, Sgt. James (Jeremy Renner, “S.W.A.T,” “28 Weeks Later”), is a bomb specialist who is exceptionally good at his job, but he is also reckless and cocky. He is addicted to the adrenaline of war to the point of which he’ll put his men in danger.

This is not a new characterization for a war movie, but here it is a little different. Renner’s Sgt. James is arrogant, at times frustratingly so, but has moments, especially involving a young Iraqi boy, that reveal him to be a good guy.

Too often adrenaline junky characters are portrayed as sociopaths, and, while that type absolutely exists, it is nice to see a variation of that persona.

Other soldiers we get to know include Specialist Eldridge (Brian Geraghty, “We Are Marshall”), who is convinced he’s going to die in Iraq, and Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie, “Notorious”), a by-the-book soldier who butts heads with James.

Sanborn is a good soldier, who in one of the film's hardest scenes to watch, breaks down realizing he can’t handle being at war any more. It is a powerful scene that is exceptionally well acted by Mackie.

The whole cast, including a couple familiar bigger name actors in smaller roles, is excellent, but the real star of the film is director Kathryn Bigelow. Every once in a while a director will make a movie that you didn’t know they had in them. This is definitely one of those cases.

Bigelow has been a reliable action director for nearly 30 years, with at least one cult classic in the form of “Point Break” on her resume, but nothing she’s done hinted that she had this in her. Perhaps the subject matter focused her film making, which is assured, well paced and never slackens its tension.

This is not an easy film to watch, but it is rewarding one. It is a non-stop action film, but one with a purpose and meaning — and that is something rare. “The Hurt Locker” will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

Full 'blood'ed entertainment

'Blood Brothers' continues run at Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse

“Blood Brothers,” which opened Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in North Conway, N.H. and will be running through Aug. 15, is a rich and complex musical that mixes comedy, tragedy and class conflict into an entertaining and deeply moving social parable.

This is another high-quality production from the Mount Washington Valley Theatre Company. Director Andrew Glant-Linden ably balances the shifts in tone and stages engaging music numbers with musical director Chris Tilley.

The show, which has been playing in London’s West End for 21 years, opens with the gun shots killing fraternal twin brothers, who were separated at birth only to become friends later in life never knowing the truth. Things rewind back to before their birth and slowly builds back to the opening.

Their lower-class English mother Mrs. Johnston (Alison Rose Munn) already had a litter of kids when she was left by her husband with two more buns in the oven. With her new job as a cleaning lady for high-class Mrs. Lyons (Liz Clark-Golson) she could make ends meet with just one more child but not two. Mrs. Lyons offers to take one of the children, but due to certain circumstances, no one could ever know the truth.

Mickey (Matt Kacergris), the lower-class brother, and Edward (Matthew Patrick), the higher-class brother, meet at age 7 playing in the streets and become instant friends despite the protests of their mothers. When they discover they were born on the same day they make a pact to be blood brothers and always be there for each other.

A third musketeer throughout the years is Linda (Eben Logan) who both boys fall in love with, but who seems destined to be with Mickey because they share the same social standing. Class and how it can determine your life is the issue that the show, written by Willy Russell, skillfully tackles.

As Mickey and Edward enter their teen years it seems that the strength of their friendship will transcend the roles that their backgrounds set for them, but even in the brightest moments the tragedy the show is building toward looms.

Lest you forget the tragic implications of the opening, a narrator (Dennis O’Neil) reminds us of the pending doom with the reoccurring song “Shoes Upon the Table,” which preys on the superstitions of the two mothers.

O’Neil, a local literature teacher, musician and actor, acts as both narrator and as a one-man Greek chorus commenting on the events. In one of the show's best sequences he provides a wistful commentary for Mickey, Edward and Linda’s carefree summers as teens.

The same actors play the characters from age 7 to 23, which may seem like a gimmick except that the leads are so good. Kacergis, Patrick and Logan all capture the happy-go-lucky energy of childhood. This particularly holds true in the lively ensemble number, “Kids Game.”

The three leads have a great chemistry together and genuinely seem to be friends. They transition well into the awkwardness of teen years and then the harsher realities of adulthood and manage to keep the same character thread throughout.

Munn and Clark-Golson are also exceptional as the mothers. Clark-Golson, in a very different performance from those who saw her as Ulla in “The Producers,” is full of insecurities and paranoia about her adopted son. It is a brave performance because Mrs. Lyons is at times a very unlikable person.

Munn has the warmer, more outwardly motherly character to play. She brings a quiet pain to scenes she shares with Patrick’s Edward. At times, like O’Neil, she provides commentary through the song “Marilyn Monroe,” which compares the unfolding events to the looks and life of Marilyn Monroe.

Despite the tragic opening and closing that bookend the show, this isn’t full of despair. There are many moments of comedy and an affectionate sense of nostalgia for childhood and adolescence.

When things turn dark, it isn’t forced, but a natural extension of the characters and plot and all the more painful because we’ve shared moments of joy and laughter with the characters.

For more information call the box office at 356-5776 or visit