ROCKIES/SOUTHWEST - Meanwhile in Cedar City, USF has mounted six alternating productions (June 23-Aug. 30). In Hamlet on the indoor Randall stage, Martin Kildare plays the haunted Prince flat out. The Danish storm troopers guarding Elsinore with carbines immediately establish director Howard Jensen's choice of a contemporary setting.
Also in the Randall are an entertaining Charley's Aunt and an exuberant production of The Boy Friend. Director Stephen Rothman overlooks nothing in bringing Brandon Thomas' 1892 Charley's Aunt successfully to the stage. The Art Deco style of director Kathleen F. Conlin's The Boy Friend captures both the fashion of the 1920s, when the musical is set, and the 1950s, when the play first hit Broadway.
Don Burroughs is Henry in Henry V in USF's outdoor Adams Theatre, but Todd Denning, as the Chorus, rules the stage. Director Paul Barnes takes advantage of the Adams' magical "wooden O" by having Denning, dressed in a Barbour field coat, set scenes, then transform himself into various characters--Clarence, Erpingham, Burgundy, Harfleur.
Director Bruce K. Sevy's enjoyable production of Twelfth Night in the Adams breaks no new ground. But the seldom-performed Pericles provides Gary Armagac as Pericles and director Michael Addison the challenge of a large, disjointed journey.
Pericles is more travelogue and pageant, though, than play. Would that Shakespeare could come back to redraft and redirect. Nonetheless, members of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), in Utah for their annual convention (14-19 July), declared USF's Pericles a success. In fact, the group agreed that USF's productions had provided "the best run of good theatre ever experienced at an ATCA convention."
--CLAUDIA W. HARRIS
Reclining in the lush landscape of Atlanta's Gothic Oglethorpe University, the newly opened $5.7 million, 511-seat Conant Performing Arts Center debuts as the new abode for the Georgia Shakespeare Festival's six-month season. The spacious high-tech design of exposed beams makes an opulent setting for GSF's mega-productions of Sheridan's The School for Scandal (July 5-Aug. 15) and Shakespeare's The Tempest (June 20-Aug. 17). They're running in repertory with Othello (July 18-Aug. 17), which I've yet to see.
In Scandal, setting and stagecraft work to optimum advantage. Director Karen Robinson makes the satire tart and contemporary as she showcases depraved aristocrats who aspire to be the tabloid vultures of their time. Hilarious as a trio of wired gossips, Jill Jane Clements, John Armerman, and Thomas Shaw are flamboyantly costumed by Christine Turbitt as ongoing sight gags. Stage brothers Chris Kayser and Saxon Palmer are a contrast in lazy libido versus hedonistic joie de vivre, as they manipulate and are manipulated by an aged Tim McDonough and his cuckolding coquette of a wife, Carolyn Cook. Stylish and slapstick, Scandal is amazingly current, especially in its delicious asides to the audience, delivered by the brothers' scheming uncle (Allen O'Reilly).
Director Sabin Epstein's The Tempest meanders in the vastness of the Conant Center. The focus on Prospero is muddled despite fine-tuning by actor John Ammerman, and the mix of Edwardian Englishmen stranded on a mythological, Magus-like island is jarring. Saving graces are Tim McDonough as a manical Caliban and Saxon Palmer as Ariel. Susan Eldridge has choreographed Ariel and his cohorts as quizzical, android-like aliens.
The latest in a 20-year series, Tom Edwards' musical soap opera Della's Diner No. 6 opened June 11. Its successful run at Theatrical Outfit has been extended to Aug. 3. It's less successful creatively, as Edwards mines some stale material for his affectionate send-up of the South. Still, Libby Whittemore as sex-addicted Connie Sue Day, "31st lady of country music," and Jeff Portell as a New Age red-neck sherrif are satirically sharp, while Megan McFarland is wondrous vocally and comically as Della.
Also touching is barking dog theatre's Lonely Planet (July 11-Aug. 3), especially in a perfectly pitched turn by Mark Towers as misfit Carl who befriends recluse Jody (John Fischer). The empathetic but unevenly paced direction is by Theo Harness.