Amazing Grace

So I get to the theatre alone because my wife had to work late and when I went to pick her up at work she saw no end in sight of her meetings so I drove the rest of the way to the city by myself, parked and didn’t write down or even acknowledge what level my car was parked in. When I get to the lobby to give them my ticket they said this was the wrong date that I was supposed to come on Saturday. I went to the box office and then they gave me center orchestra seating on the aisle, a total upgrade.
Looking through the program before the show I didn’t recognize anyone, which is strange I usually know someone from at least the crew.
There were several people though in front of me who were in house seats that were friends of the cast and crew so I heard a lot of buzz about the show. I hope it’s good. Please let it be good.
The first act started slowly as the lead actor Josh Young playing John Newton gave a stilted performance. To me it seems like he is not listening and in his own play at times. He is reacting to motivation that just isn’t there. Perhaps his reactions are right but the actors that are cueing his lines are not giving him anything to react to. The music in the first act is beautiful but I do think that the second number that Young and and Tom Hewitt (Captain Newton) sing needs new lyrics as they sing different lines at the same time and even though the harmonies are beautiful the lyrics create a rhyming dissonance.
Christopher Gattelli’s choreography is great. It is not overdone for the period. He uses quadrilles in the first act and diametrically uses African dance in the second act to show the relation of the black race and the white race without saying a word. This is perhaps the most artistic part of the show. During intermission I looked back and actually saw Gattelli in the back row taking notes and talking with colleagues. As I left the theatre I told him I thought his dancing was very good.
The show overall is good. It does need some work and perhaps recasting the lead. He has a great voice, but the show needs someone who can handle the acting as well. I would also make him more reckless in the beginning. He is too conservative to be perceived as a loser. There are great parts of the show that I would definitely not change like the swimming sequence and the ending Amazing Grace song.
[button link=””]Grade: B[/button]

Henry V

This show was well directed.  That is why it received a B and not lower.  It is apparent that the director used the Saint Crispin’s Day speech as a concept for the play, because the idea of a band of brothers was used well.  However it seemed the actor playing Henry V, Harry Judge was in a very different production that was all about him.  Having known some that have worked with Judge in the past this is common for productions he is in.  I can understand the directors choice of him for Henry being selfish in the way that Shakespeare wrote the play, but I think Judge needed to make contact with his fellow actors and create moments with them and not worry about doing it on his own.

The actor that stole the show was Greg Vinkler playing both Ensign Pistol and King Charles VI.  The amount of play he put into Pistol in direct contrast to the stifled character of Charles proved to me that he deserves at least kudos for a job well done.  Most of the actors played duel roles and most did quite well except Samuel Taylor who in one of his roles played The Daupin and every time he spoke I wanted to climb on stage and muzzle him.  He did make choices, but those choices were bad and perhaps thats the director’s fault for not bringing him back to reality.  For him it seemed like he made the character a caricature when everyone else in the show was believable and real.

The best part of the show was the talk back at the end of the Wednesday matinee that I attended.  I got to learn a bunch about the the show and why some choices were made and some of the Shakespearean history.

[button link=””]Grade: B[/button]