Most people remember this story as the film All About Eve (1950), which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards. It went on to win six Oscars that year, including Best Picture. Even in recent history very few films can say they’ve accomplished that feat. When you have such well-known material it’s almost a guarantee that the script is good, but it also intensifies the scrutiny of the material. All About Eve is iconic, and in the wrong hands the play (which changed the title to The Wisdom of Eve and was created in the 1960’s) has the potential to be dreadfully boring, overlong (as it runs 3 hours) and predictable. I am pleased to report that this is not the case with the Westminster Community Playhouse’s performance. Continue Reading
Horror and Suspense are genres which require an extremely delicate touch. They’re just as frightening to produce as they are to write. When done well they can catapult a person into stardom—I like to call this the Shyamalan Effect (1. see below for definition). Both genres are effective because they feed on your expectations, and when successful, these stories connect with you on a cathartic level. Hitchcock bottled the suspense formula, while M. Night Shyamalan and countless other film directors having much more success in these genres than their theatrical counterparts. This seems preposterous to me. Theoretically when it’s done correctly theatre should be much scarier than film because of the psychological proximity to the action. A failure to not implement, or at least take into consideration, the impact of creating a sense of danger for the audience is shunning one of things that makes theatre unique and special above all other forms of art – THE FACT THAT IT’S ALIVE!
In my experience of Orange County theatre so far, the directors putting on horror and or/shows centering on suspense are not competent enough to really highlight the genres’ best qualities. However this is not an issue limited to Orange County. I do not think the theatre world has really explored the genre of horror much. There are a few examples of theatre doing horror well (look to the article below for examples). Unfortunately, Brandon Ferruccio’s production of The Univited cannot be added to that list. It supplies some drama, but the play’s ultimate resolution falls gravely (pun intended) short.
The Westminster Community Theatre’s humble production of Sabrina Fair finds itself at the crossroads of unfortunately underplayed, and surprisingly charming.
photo courtesy : Westminster Community Theatre
After spending five years of her young adult life in Paris, Sabrina Fairchild returns home to her father, a chauffeur to the wealthy Larrabee family living on the North Shore of Long Island in the mid 1950s. After discovering that Sabrina’s life in Europe has made her an eccentric and worldly young woman, her relationship with her father and with the Larrabee family will forever be changed.
Sabrina Fair is a classic story of love, marriage and finding one’s place in the world. Its pleasing and relatable themes must be matched by a developed and substantial performance, which is where this production, directed by Kirk Larson, falls somewhat short.
For a good portion of the performance it is less characters interacting, and more actors running through dialog and blocking, but the redeeming moments of the show are the ones that are filled with sincerity and tenderness.
The mother of the Larrabee family, Maude, is played by MarLee Candell. Candell’s performance initially comes off as rigid and underdeveloped, however she has her moments when she exudes sophistication and grace as the caring and poised mother.
Alison Mattiza plays Maude’s dear old friend, Julia, referred to as Aunt Julia by Maude’s two sons. Mattiza brings a smoothness to her performance that brings out her humor and authenticity.
As Sabrina gets comfortable back at home, her charismatic attitude draws the attention of the Larrabees youngest son David, played by Scott T. Finn. Finn’s performance falls flat as his character pursues Sabrina. David may be soft spoken, but the narrow range of emotion shown by Finn constricts his performance.
The elderly father of the Larrabee family, Linus Larrabee Sr., is played by John Francis. Linus is a character of authority, as well as humor. Although at times stumbling over his lines, Francis portrays the forgetful old man with excellent comedic timing, and balances out his character with his domineering presence.
The vivacious Sabrina is played by Tiffany Berg, who brings to life Sabrina’s bubbly spirit and alluring demeanor. Whether Sabrina is reminiscing about the years in Paris or figuring out her future at home, Berg is alive and committed to her character.
The Larrabee’s eldest son, Linus Larrabee Jr., is played by Mike Martin, who brings a clever wit and charm to his character. The successful sailing enthusiast shares a spirited dynamic with Sabrina after knowing her for so long, and Martin and Berg create this dynamic through their energy and intimacy.
Despite its shortcomings, this production’s heartwarming message of love is one all can enjoy.
Side note: Sabrina was made into a film two times. Once in 1954 with Audrey Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart & then again in 1995 with Harrison Ford/Julia Ormond.
Photo credit Greg Z. Newcomb for Westminster Community Theatre
Written by Patrick Chavis
Murder mystery reviews are a trap. Good or bad the chances of dropping a spoiler are exponentially increased in these plays because they are all about the details (clues). Boasting an obviously talented cast with an almost non-existent set, WCT succeeds in pushing a rather “generic” murder mystery into something a little more thrilling and entertaining. If you’re old enough to be Matlock fans, this play is right in your wheelhouse.
The name in the title says Rehearsal for Murder, but that’s not exactly accurate, or is it? It’s really a play about Monica Wells and her death. Monica Welles, a theatre actress played exceptionally well by Lisa March, is found dead with a suicide note after receiving mixed reviews for her latest show. All signs point to suicide, but Alex Dennison, Monica’s lover and powerful theatre playwright, feels he knows better. Using his influence, Alex devises a play rehearsal to weed out the culprit, but like any murder mystery there’s more too it than meets the eye.
I can’t articulate enough about how solid the acting is throughout the entire production. The acting is so well done, especially by Stephen Alan Carver, you almost bypass the obvious and way too predictable resolution of the story. Flat out, besides the two main characters, the audience is given very little reason to care about any of the other characters in the script.
Overall, the lack of action in this script is remedied with a really likable cast making the scenes enjoyable and worth the price of admission. But for theatre goers looking for a suspenseful night of shock and awe, it might not be enough.
Walking into Westminster Community Theater, I saw the empty stage. The floor looked like piano keys and the backdrop resembled sheet music. If I hadn’t read the synopsis beforehand, one glance at that stage would have been enough to make it very clear I was seeing a musical. That symbolizes the major flaw of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, the show only reaches for the obvious.Continue Reading