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Monday, October 1, 2012

Review of "Laura"

Yesterday afternoon myself and Robin (BAC staff member) had the pleasure of viewing the closing performance of "Laura" (by Vera Caspary and George Sklar) at the Emmett Hook Center.  This mystery filled production follows Detective Mark McPherson as he attempts to solve the murder of advertising copy editor Laura Hunt.  Originally a detective story by Vera Caspary published in seven parts in 1942 in the magazine Colliers under the title Ring Twice for Laura it was later adapted into a novel, film, and lastly a stage play co-written by George Sklar.  

The Emmett Hook Theatre a semi-intimate space is wonderful setting for this engaging stage production.  Leaving the audience close enough to catch the "shifty eyes" of suspects but far away that one does not jump too much at unexpected gun shots!  The small casts spins a tale of deceit leaving the audience constantly questioning who really is the bad guy (or girl)?

Upon entering the space one can't help but have a clear picture of our deceased victim. Scenic Designer, Eugen Cook (with the help of Sylvia Rachal & Jamie Sanders), selection of the traditional box set and rose pink coloring suits the time period instantly and sublimely keying the audience into the complicated identity of Ms. Hunt.  Courtney Gaston (of No Drama Productions) delivers, as usual, an upstanding lighting design that provides mood without the sacrifice of visibility.  Sound Design and Wardrobe by designers Phillip Stewart and Kandy Broughton (respectively) complement both the script and tone of the actors.  Kudos to Stage Manager David Stifler and Assistant Stage Manager Cara Derrick for pulling together a seemless production.  One shouldn't forget the efforts of the "invisible" but highly important efforts of both the stage crew (Sloan Folmer, Alan Berry, David Stifler, Myra Bouquet Broussard) and front of house (Connie Lerchie, Mary Peoples, Marilyn Varnell, and Melanie Barron).

Richard Folmer, Director, did a superb job of both casting and staging this complicated cat-mouse production.  Casting of Eric Lincoln as the archetypal 40's Detective McPherson was a perfect fit.  Both his physical appearance and vocal cadence lended nicely to this mystery packed production.  Bradley Silman as Southern Shelby Carpenter couldn't have been more perfect for the slippery finance.  Comic relief was provided by talented actors (and actresses) Marion Paton (Danny Dorgan), Ginger D. Folmer (Bessie Clary), and Dot Hall (Mrs. Dorgan).  Don't think that comic relief (and sentimental moments) provided by the above characters is anything but highly important.  Their much anticipated moments distracted and provided a mental rest from the audience who spends much of the production caught up in the "who don-it".  This reviewer has to applaud actor Joe Todaro and actress E. Reagan Cassanova for truly pulling the production together.  Todaro who plays the (spoiler alert) complicated and deeply twisted best friend Waldo Lydecker does a perfect job of both terrifying and endearing the audience.  Cassanova (again spoiler alert) plays a complicated and spell binding portrayal of what could have easily become a one dimensional character.  Down to smallest character Olsen (played by actor David Stifler) this production was an afternoon treat!

I am looking forward to the upcoming productions of Miracle on 34th Street (December 7-16th), Harvey (May 11-22nd), and The Music Man (July 13-22nd).  If you missed this past production I urge you to come out and support the next three!

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