All three theatrical shows I reviewed in September had to do with life and the road, however narrow and twisted, we all have to walk down to the fork. All three left you at that fork, thinking about which path to take.
At Out Front on Main, the double feature was Bert V. Royal’s “Dog Sees God,” and Jean Paul Sartre’s “No Exit.” Both shows are dark, grim and gritty, just as executive director George W. Manus Jr. loves and appreciates in his productions.
Bryan M. Sunday–Booth directed “Dog Sees God,” a parody of the “Peanuts” gang, all 10 years older and in high school. The show dealt with the reality of life, starting with the death of Snoopy to rabies and Charlie Brown (C.B. in the show, David McGinnis) going through the heartache of losing his beloved beagle.
No one in the gang really seemed to care that the WWII flying ace was no longer around. They had their own problems to deal with such as now clean but ultra homophobic Pigpen (Matt, Philip Storvik) with an extreme bad attitude and always the horn dog, Van (Linus) (Jon Mayes) who has traded his blanket for a lot of good weed, Tricia (Patty?) (Leah Fincher) and Marcy (Kellye Mitchell), who have become gossiping sluts in their teen years. C.B.’s sister (Sally) was Alexius Puckett, and of course Van’s sister (Lucy), played by Megan Blevins, who, even as a pyro-maniac, was still offering advice in a ward. And lastly, Ryan Vogel, the circle-of-life of the production, portrayed Beethoven (Schroeder), the piano playing maestro who comes out of the closet with C.B., only to be murdered in the end by Matt.
The play offered to the audience the reality that as 7-year-olds, as Charles Schultz readily portrayed to us for decades, a child is innocent of all the evil and absurdities that life throws at us, and as adolescence sets in, the peer pressure and realities of said life crumbles what we held dear as children.
“Dog Sees God” was magnificently played by a stellar cast. The title of the show, I believe, is misleading; it makes you think that Snoopy was casting eyes upon his Maker, whereas I believe it was Beethoven, innocent, loving, always attempting to do good, knowing when he is disliked, and caring for others (just like a faithful dog), who actually, in the end, saw the face of God.
“No Exit,” another seedy, thought-provoking entailment of Out Front’s goal, involved three people—Vincent, Inez and Estelle (J.R. Robles, Erin Greene and Megan Blevins), who find themselves in a room with nothing more than three benches on which to sit . . . for eternity. As each one comes into the red and brown decorated “hotel” room individually, they wonder for a short time where exactly they are, seemingly confused. The ringing of the bell to signal the Bellhop (Cheryle Smith) never seems to work, and the only entrance (or exit) is locked from the outside. As the three meet and share their lives, it becomes evident they are in Hell. As much as the three immediately despise the other, they also come to the realization they will be together for eternity, with no sleep, no need to eat, nothing to read or Tweet, or anyone to call. They do see, back on earth, life continuing without them. A magnificent cast once again, the chemistry was beautiful.
Several times I had to glance around to make sure I was not on the set of “The Twilight Zone” as the cast and set made the setting seem so real, and director Raemona Little Taylor presented a show that was surreal and went well above and beyond what could have been an otherwise mundane production.
At Murfreesboro Little Theatre, the 47th Season began on a high note with the “Boys Next Door,” watched by an audience sitting comfortably on brand new chairs.
Everyone on stage gave very solid and convincing performances, especially the five-minute scene between Barry (Caleb Peterson) and Mr. Klemper (Wayman Price), which was just incredible. The storyline gives us the details of the lives of Arnold (Craig Core), Lucien (Michael McGee) and Norman (Robert Wilson), who, along with Barry, are mentally challenged. Josh Croft plays Jack, the “overseer” and director of these men in a “group home.” These leads deliver a headsmacking, thought-provoking tale of just how many in our society anticipate and expect a daily routine without flaw or diversion. It is amazing and rather scary just how close we are as a society to being like Arnold, Lucien and Norman.
This was a tremendous way to start a new season at MLT. My bows to director Chris Todd on this well-received first show.
See ya at the shows!