Upstage Theatre NEXT OPENING DECEMBER 5, 2014
by Eric Peña
October 10, 2014 — UpStage Theater valiantly takes the stage to reenact one of Shakespeare’s most revered works, The Tragedy of Macbeth, known to most as simply Macbeth. As Director Stacy Bakri admits this is a production “that has been retold in Shakespeare’s original written form countless times,” and therefore Bakri daringly proposes the question “What will differentiate this production from other productions of Macbeth?”
> “The difference lies”, as Bakri states, “in this cast, this director…, this stage, and with…[this] audience…. Upstage Theater’s rendition of Macbeth, although hopeful, falls short as it relates to staging and prop use. While some might believe that simplicity yields fewer distractions, thus allowing and audience to more fully engage, I found that Bakri’s production would have better captivated her audience had she used stronger visual effects. Throughout various points of the production, it was difficult to hear the actors.
> On the other hand, particularly impressive was seasoned performer Amira Judeh as she emulates the powerful presence of a woman, Lady Macbeth, who will stop at nothing to claim her throne as the Queen of Scotland. Her relentless dedication to character, honorable and noteworthy, gave justice to a storyline “that has been produced thousands of time over four centuries,” as Bakri states. Her fellow cast members did not fall short.
> Portraying the character of Macbeth himself, John Patterson, courageously evokes the character of a fallen angel who–blinded by greed, ambition, and self-doubt–much like his wife, lives tormented in the mind and body of a psychopath of sorts. Overall, this production by Upstage Theatre was a success. I encourage even the most unseasoned theater-goer to share in this theatrical experience at Lambert Hall.
It Takes a Community…
August 2, 2014 — Upstage Theatre put together quite a community of actors for their community theater presentation of Young Frankenstein. As an ensemble, their voices were strong and true. As individuals, they created stable characters, for the most part, but actors need a stable platform on which to play. The myriad technical issues plaguing tonight’s performance were not quite tragic enough to be a source of amusement and laughter for the audience, though when the box top fell on the stage hand hidden beneath it, it caused some laughter. The band, also, was relatively large, at least 9 players who were a highlight of the entertainment.
Watching the performance had me wondering how one stages a script with sexist jokes. It seems to me that one might make fun of the stereotypes used for the sexist humor, playing against them to gain more laughs– playing the joke, so to speak or playing the original sexual stereotype from which the humor was originally derived. I’m not sure I’d make the conscious choice to do neither. As an example, but not the only example, I’m not sure I’d choose to make the choice for a sexually climactic scene, in which lovers were about to be discovered having sex under a sheet, to go on and on with the lovers laying still, while jokes about concealing them and their imminent discovery have not yet occurred, a kind of premature release of the tension of the scene.
Amanda Baird allowed her character some really fun hand and arm gestures in the second act and some great sense memory and comic timing for the reveal of the monster’s giant penis. Rachel Dickinson stayed staunchly in line as Frau Blucher. Igor seemed to have a fun sense of the ludicrous nature of the play. Helen Hurn was a bit stiff. Her sexual ploys toward the Doctor seemed largely confined to placing her hands in inch-away proximity to his crotch. The Doctor also might have been a bit stiff. Rich Taylor was a pretty good monster and believably large.
Performance of the Songs, especially when most of the ensemble sang, was my favorite part of the show.