ABQtodo Reviews

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Performance Review, Peter Pan

November 30, 2016
Closing their successful season with the wistful “Peter Pan” at the Rodey Theatre, Landmark Musicals is determined to prove no aim is too high for their reach—not even the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Scottish-born writer J. M. Barrie penned the opus more than a century ago as a brokenhearted tribute to his brother who died in a skating accident at age 13, and for his mother who he longed to console. The play was immediately successful when first appearing on stage in 1904. Through many adaptations, and the addition of a musical score and dance routines for Broadway in 1954, Barrie’s peculiar dialogue and characters remain nearly the same today as originally written.

Performance Review, The Lion King

October 19, 2016
As pristine as the night it opened on Broadway 19 years ago, The Lion King is more than a treasured family extravaganza, it’s a complete course in musical theater production. Despite cries of “that can’t be done!”, sheer ingenuity and dedication turned Disney’s 1994 animated film into this gigantic stage delight, surrounded by the vibrational beats of music giants Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer. The company’s North American Tour swings through Duke City again at long last, running at UNM’s Popejoy Hall through October 30, 2016.

Theatre Review, The Curious Savage

July 19, 2016
Ah, the drama of blended families. When they find themselves facing asset allocation, personalities often supersede principals. Such is the case in “The Curious Savage,” a two-act play originally penned by John Patrick in 1950, now running at The Adobe Theater. The full length comedy is an actor’s delight, featuring significant roles for six women and five men. Micah Linford says it’s a play he’s wanted to direct since first discovering it nearly 20 years ago. “I didn’t change a word,” he reveals, adding that he is amazed how contemporary the dialogue reads 66 years since opening on Broadway. Though not a sensation at the time, the story holds up surprisingly well through the decades and provides audiences with multi-dimensional characters to love and loathe.

Theatre Review, Julius Caesar

March 7, 2016
If eons have passed since your last Shakespearean experience, consider Duke City Repertory Theatre’s swirling production of Julius Caesar. Within minutes of the action unfolding, you’ll remember why Shakespeare is the decisive test for actors and audience. Settling into the mood and semantic flair, it’s impossible not to marvel at the playwright’s superior awareness in his lively retelling of Roman history. With adaptation and direction from Dr. John Hardy, who contributes an alternative point of view, this version is both ancient and futuristic with a spooky, tribal soundtrack.

Theatre Review, A Chorus Line

November 30, 2015
The stakes are high for the performance artists who must find ways to match the talent and motivations of their characters in Landmark Musicals’ season closing production of “A Chorus Line” at the Rodey Theatre. The musical received a received Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976 as a candid glimpse into a career on stage. The story brings background to forefront as a band of auditioning dancers—hired to support the real stars—are required to talk openly about why they should be chosen for the job. One by one, their long-held aspirations and worries are allowed to surface during a day of make-or-break tryouts for a new show. There is no denying that the cast is grabbing a sizeable chunk of Broadway lore.

Theatre Review, The Miss Firecracker Contest

November 9, 2015
Janine O’Neill leaves everything she’s got on the stage—including her bloomers—in The Adobe Theater’s production of “The Miss Firecracker Contest” directed by Philip J. Shortell. Playing Carnelle Scott, a twenty-something Ole Miss desperate for just one positive achievement in her so far glum life, O’Neill excels in her determination to bring a little Down South attitude to the Southwest. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Beth Henley prepared this casserole of sympathy and snickers in 1979. Though not widespread on stage, ten years later Holly Hunter starred as Carnelle in a screen adaptation directed by Thomas Schlamme (treasured in New Mexico as the executive producer of “Manhattan”). Henley’s characters in “Firecracker” are mostly prized for their peculiarities stemming from unfortunate circumstances and choices. Through two acts, the audience is treated to her exploration of a measure of misfits.

Theatre Review, My Shrink is Killing Me

October 20, 2105
Our recent warm spell is being partly fueled by the laughter coming out of Sandia Park. That’s where the East Mountain Center for Theatre (EMCT) is running, “My Shrink is Killing Me,” a murder mystery that is both exceptionally funny and surprisingly difficult to solve. Richard Atkins is celebrating his tenth year of writing and directing his original October whodunits in a dinner theater setting at the Vista Grande Community Center. This year’s annual crime variety allows his well-versed cast to experiment with their theatrical truths on a New York therapy couch under the care of a psychiatrist who is battier than his clientele.

Theatre Review, Death and the Maiden

October 12, 2015
“Death and the Maiden” is a daring choice for Duke City Repertory Theatre’s sixth season launch. The much loved company opens with this 1990s contemplative drama on The Cell Theatre’s alternative boxcar stage. Director Katie Becker Colón takes a sensible approach to Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman’s disconcerting material, allowing for maximum awareness of the gripping dialog among the story’s three principals.

Theatre Review, Picnic

August 12, 2015
“Picnic” enjoys a fresh spin at The Adobe Theater this August, bringing a few new arrivals to their stage. William Inge’s 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama examines the obsession with youth and beauty in the pursuit of relationships. Set on the last day of summer in a small Kansas town, a bevy of women neighbors representing every phase of maturity anticipate their prospects of romance before the last social event of the season.

Theatre Review, Love in the DMZ

August 10, 2015
Julia Cameron’s desk drawer held a masterpiece for nearly 10 years. Although her play in letters, “Love in the DMZ” was performed for a short run in Los Angeles in 2005 and published in an e-book along with two of her other novellas in 2013, the timing now seems right for her affecting story of a Kansas couple torn apart by the Viet Nam War to go viral. The perceptive Vivian Nesbitt, owner of the Sol Acting Academy in Albuquerque, is leading the charge by producing this unbridled delve into love and conflict on the school’s small stage. Nesbitt is determined to make sure Cameron’s genius prose is no longer shut away in darkness.

Theatre Review, The Music Man

July 20, 2015
Opening on a sharp whistle and ending to thunderous applause, Landmark Musicals’ production of “The Music Man” is engaging entertainment from overture to curtain. Running on the ample stage at UNM’s Rodey Theatre through August 2, the beloved musical delivers delight for all ages. Written over an eight-year span with some 30 revisions by the Julliard-schooled Robert Meredith Willson, “Music Man” depicts rural Iowa in July 1912, which is amazingly now more than a hundred years ago.

Theatre Review, The Sunshine Boys

June 22, 2015
Director Lorri Layle Oliver leads a sharp and touching production of “The Sunshine Boys” as her swan song effort for The Adobe Theater, running through July 12 in Albuquerque. Layle, who was born in Santa Fe, will head West after the show closes to pursue her acting career in Hollywood. Neil Simon has given her a fitting cautionary tale to take with her as she encounters the struggles and triumphs inherent with a life lived in the entertainment limelight.

Performance Review, Million Dollar Quartet

June 5, 2015
The vibrant cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” ripped up Popejoy Hall’s stage last night, blasting vibrations of music history to a packed theater. The Tony Award-winning musical set in early December 1956 is the Christmas Special that never really happened. Thanks to Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, who wrote a book about a real one-day jam session at Sun Records with four young Southerners—and then launched a multi-million dollar Broadway show and touring extravaganza—we get to experience an exceptional performance with tons of fun and surprises.

Performance Review, Choreographer’s Showcase

May 9, 2015
On Mother’s Day weekend, a troupe of choreographers and dancers celebrate by bringing their best to the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s stage with Festival Ballet Albuquerque. Giving two performances on Saturday, the showcase features local stars and those just rising to the demands of artistic and physical routines.

Music Review, Home Free

May 8, 2015
“Home Free” didn’t need to acclimate before climbing onto the Kimo Theatre’s stage Thursday night as their tour bus idled on 5th street after rolling in from Mesa, Arizona. Their current excursion is nearing the end, but there was no ebb in the effort they made entertaining a loyal New Mexican fan base. Singing sans backing track, the five musicians bring a thundering audio mix that’s richly deceptive, begging the question: can their complex compositions really be developed solely with vocal chords? Setting out to prove this phenomenon is founder Adam Rupp who delivers percussion sounds with a beatbox flare that evokes the first “wow” of the performance. A trained trumpeter, he also plays keyboards, drums and bass guitar bringing notes from each instrument into the arrangements of the group’s other four voices.

Film Review, The Wrecking Crew

April 26, 2015
If you are looking for some outstanding entertainment in the next few days, here you go: The Guild Cinema is running the documentary film, The Wrecking Crew, through Tuesday, April 28. Directed by Denny Tedesco, the story celebrates the legendary career of his father, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, and reveals the inner workings of studio recording sessions in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Theatre Review, DeliKateSSsen

April 4, 2015
The confident cast of “DeliKateSSen” serves a two-course feast of emotional soup at the Adobe Theater in this original play by Richard Atkins. Opening night marked a triumph for the East Mountain writer and actor who ideated the plot in 2011 followed by its first public staged reading at Albuquerque’s Vortex in September 2013. Now a full production on the Adobe’s cozy platform, Atkins unleashes a flawless performance as a New York deli owner and Holocaust survivor.

Music Review, The Hit Men

March 30, 2015
With swinging precision, The Hit Men knocked out the nostalgic crowd at Popejoy Hall on Sunday afternoon. Their indelible tunes are so ingrained into our memory banks that the performance feels as though we’re listening to one very long song. It’s a soundtrack where we not only know every word, we eagerly anticipate the next verse and drum sequence as confirmation that we belong to this time, too.

Music Review, Women of Ireland

March 18, 2014
On March 17, those celebrating the patron saint Patrick had a couple of obligations: rummage through the cupboards for some Shamrock Green food coloring and make a pilgrimage to Popejoy Hall to see the Women of Ireland performance. As luck would have it, the show’s tour landed in Albuquerque smack on St. Patrick’s Day as the troupe makes their way through North America.

Music Review, Chispa: Latin Diva Series, Sofia Rei

March 14, 2015
So charged is Sofía Rei she can generate enough energy to power a city. She set up her Albuquerque switching center Friday night at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and transmitted her fiery sound right through the full house and out over the Sandias.

Performance Review, Jesús Muñoz Flamenca Era

March 7, 2015
Do yourself a big favor and take your loved ones out for a sensational rhythmic experience intimately arranged by Jesús Muñoz. Developed in the New Flamenco style, this performance is not the tired expression of a once-forbidden folk art. Muñoz achieves incredible balance in presenting traditional compás with audio-fresh beats. At the opening moment, when French-born guitarist Guillermo Guillén signals the family with an opening strum, the stage transforms into a timeless space.

Theatre Review, “Anatomy of a Murder”

January 26, 2015
Get ready to be transported back nearly 60 years to a time when a married yet uninhibited woman is met with scorn and shame after being raped and her husband is charged with the revenge killing of her attacker. Such is the social and legal atmosphere found in Elihu Winer’s stage adaptation of Robert Traver’s novel, “Anatomy of a Murder.”