Theatre

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presented a two act play at the McIninch Art Center in Glen Ellyn titled Time Stands Still this past weekend and I was fortunate enough to see the opening night performance. The entire play is set in a Brooklyn loft apartment that really serves well in creating a New York feel. The cast is power packed though small as four actors take on the roles of two couples in this story that mostly centers around the pair living in the loft though the other couple is still strongly placed in the story line.

As the story is described, Sarah, a photo journalist, is recovering in the Brooklyn apartment she shares with her foreign correspondent boyfriend James after being injured by a roadside bomb while covering the Iraq war. When they receive a visit from their photo editor friend Richard and his young new girlfriend Mandy, it forces Sarah and James to re-examine their relationship, and address the ethics of journalism in a world torn by conflict and suffering.

Times Stand Still is powerful and comes with acting is of very high caliber, each actor as impressive as the next. I never actually felt like I was watching actors, which in itself is testament to the players’ convincing performances. This play provides four very believable characters, and all decidedly different. It is also thought-provoking a play that prompts some very interesting conversations going on during the intermission. Written by Donald Margulies with Connie Canaday Howard serving as the production and artistic director, Time Stands Still is well-produced in every way. College of DuPage alumni Chris Kriz handles the play’s original music as sound composer and designer while Michael W. Moon does a fantastic job with scenic design, and Claire Chrzan with lighting design.

The central character, if you could say there was one, was Sarah Goodwin, played by Lisa Dawn, who has done work with BTE before. I found her character the most controversial in many ways. Having said that, the audience may have disagreed. In talking to, and overhearing, audience members afterward it appeared many had differences of opinions, the play encouraging some good conversation – always the mark of a good script.

Amanda Raudabaugh, played by Mandy Bloom, is also a provocative character. She is the new wife of Richard Ehrlich, played by another BTE veteran, Kurt Naebig. Brad Lawrence played James Dodd, who was the other half of the couple with Goodwin.

I don’t think two people could walk away with the same description of what they took from this play. Personal and moral values are questioned by the characters in the cast, as well as the audience. There are also some light-hearted moments, though the subject matter was anything but light. The story really makes you think and really puts into question your own thinking. How would you handle yourself if you were put in the position of the central character?

If you are looking for something light and funny, check out another play. If you do enjoy pondering over real issues, get yourself a ticket. Actually, go see it for yourself. Not everyone is going to walk away with the same perspective of this engaging story. The talented Buffalo Theater Ensemble does yet another a great job with this one. Time Stands Still show will be at The MAC on the grounds of the College of DuPage until March 4th and comes highly recommend. It just might make you think.

For more info on this play visit http://www.atthemac.org/.

Published in Theatre in Review

The Buffalo Theatre Ensemble brings a very thought provoking play to the stage. David Lindsay-Abaire penned this two-act performance and the small theatre was perfect for the story.

 

Finely directed by Connie Canaday Howard, Good People highlights a strong ensemble that exhibits a magical chemistry onstage. The story line was very well thought out and while I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, the theme, as one might guess from the title, was really about people. We are reminded in this story set mostly in the south end of Boston, that some are not as good as they appear and some are good without the appearance. 

 

The lead character Margaret is played by Amelia Barrett. She is a working class single mother with a child who lives in a cheap apartment, living paycheck to paycheck. Margaret and her friends love to play Bingo. They help each other out. That’s what friends are for. Her friends include her landlady Dottie, played by Annie Slavinski. Benedict L. Slabik II plays her former boss, who is also a friend. Jean played by Kelli Walker rounds out the Bingo crew.

 

They call themselves “Southies”, referring to the south end of Boston. Their accents are much different than the stereotypical Boston accent you might think of when thinking of that area. It is almost like comparing different English accents. They also call the upper-class people “Lace Curtains”, which I thought was funny.

 

Margaret runs into an old flame, Mike, played by Bryan Burke. He has done rather well for himself. Now an endocrinologist, he lives in a nicer area. He has joined the “Lace Curtains”, but he, like most people, never escapes his roots. His wife Kate is played by Raina Lynn. There is some controversy over the color of her skin. The play isn’t about racial tension but the topic exists in a sub-plot. In some ways, this underlying theme drives the story as much as its main plot.

 

The first act is light-hearted and funny. It is served more as an introduction to the characters, all of which appear in the first few minutes apart from Mike’s wife Kate. You see the world they live in and how they think.

 

Act II is another story, mostly set in the house of Mike and Kate. Good People shows us that things are not always as they appear and that class to which one is associated has nothing to do with that of being a good person. That’s the moral of the story and the message is there without looking too hard. 

 

The play is well-acted and thought out. The audience is never bored waiting for the plot to grow. It takes off from the start. Each acting performance is highly enjoyable as is the story and the message meaningful. I know a few “Good People” who could benefit from watching this performance. Art is a great teaching tool, even if the audience doesn’t always realize when it is happening. If you feel like you need a well-conceived night’s entertainment, this could be just the ticket. There are a few foul words in there, but clearly not meant to be offensive. This is a production that might just open your eyes a bit, while at the same time providing a few good laughs.

 

Good People is being performed at Playhouse Theatre in the McIninch Art Center in Glen Ellyn, IL through March 5th. For more show information click here

 

Published in Theatre in Review

Five time Grammy Award winner Robert Cray brought his band into Glen Ellyn, IL to play some Blues. Roberts’s career spans forty years. The Robert Cray Band made its debut in 1980 and some of his members has lasted almost since the band began. Richard Cousins on bass has been with him as long as I can remember. Dover Weinberg is on Hammond Organ and keys and Les Falconer completes the line up on drums.

 

Cray is just as amazing at the age of 62 as he ever was. Such a sweet, yet powerful voice. His guitar playing is nothing short of spectacular. No gimmicks from this Master of the Stratocaster. Cray goes straight into the amp (with a wireless system) and plays The Blues the way they are meant to be played. However, he is a bit more sophisticated than his predecessors.

 

He opened up strong and finished strong, leaving you wanting more. Part of this may be that it was a very short set. An hour and fifteen minutes was great but I would have liked a little more. That seemed to be the general consensus from the crowd, although they were more than satisfied with the performance. 

 

Cray’s band was so tight and in the pocket. The kind of groove this band lays down only comes from experience…no other way. You couldn’t help clapping or tapping your foot the whole time. Cray really has his own voice musically to the point it is not very easy to compare him directly with other Blues artists. A few people yelled out “Muddy Waters” and “Howlin’ Wolf” which I didn’t really understand but Robert took it just fine. Great to have a sense of humor about things like that. The man is constantly smiling. He really seemed relaxed and at peace, not an artist chasing demons. 

 

The Robert Cray Band proves you can play the Blues and keep it sounding fresh. They groove without playing a bunch of twelve bar shuffles with one sounding like another. Cray was relaxed, the band was relaxed and the audience was relaxed. I don’t mean that in a bad way. He had the attention of everyone in the room. Once again, my only real complaint would be the length of the show. He was the epitome of leaving you wanting more. Satisfied, yet still hungry. The show was over in ten minutes. At least that’s how it felt to me. My hands hurt from clapping along. There should have been a dance floor.

 

Robert Cray Band

Belushi Performance Hall

McAninch Arts Center

College Of DuPage

 

Published in In Concert

 

 

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