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A review of shows playing in town

Sam Bauman
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Howard Platt plays the part of Malachy McCourt in the play 'A Couple of Blaguards' which continues this weekend at the Brewery Arts Center.
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There are three enjoyable live shows going on this weekend – and live is always more fun than canned stuff. On tap: “Seussical, the Musical,” staged by Carson Performing Arts; “Forever Plaid,” another musical, at the community college; and “A Couple of Blaguards” an Irish comedy professional road show at the Brewery Arts Center’s Performance Hall.

It’s theatrical riches seldom enjoyed by Carson City – or any other town our size. Taking in all the three shows last weekend was every theatrical writer’s idea of a pleasurable work stint.

“Seussical, the Musical’

Starting off Friday with “Seussical,” it’s an explosion of wacky humor, as the good doctor has produced with his many books – from “The Cat in the Hat” to “Horton Hears a Who!” A terrific cast brings this musical to life with actors mostly from the Carson High School drama department.

Lead is CHS alum Domenic Procaccini II as The Cat in the Hat. His performance is over the top – just right – when he does everything from a curtain speech at the opening of the second act to riding a scooter around the stage.

But he’s got his work cut out for him, as his co-star as JoJo/Boy, Melody Rickets, is a scene stealer if there ever was one.

She’s utterly charming, has a voice that can shake the rafters (wait ’til you hear her hold a note long enough to scare an opera singer), and is as enthusiastic as a cheerleader. She’s a charmer, and who knows what she’ll do when she grows up? Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

Horton the Elephant, Philip Wortman, isn’t quite as big as an elephant, but he does a fine job with carrying the plot (what there is of it) along. He’s more than abetted by Rebecca Jolly as Gertrude McFuzz, a bird looking for a tail.

Wait, Jolly deserves a paragraph of her own. With a fine voice and a deft sense of timing, she turns her role into a star turn, not easy to do in such fine company. She’ll be around for another year so we’ll have more opportunities to enjoy her dazzling talent.

Another alum who jumped in at the last minute to handle a cast crisis is Andie Anderson, as Mayzie La Bird. Not many theater companies can come up with a boisterous, deft actress like Anderson in a pinch.

Elise Sala makes the role of the Sour Kangaroo sour enough to be fine, and Jeremiah James as the general is more than military – he’s practically a whole army. The Wickersham Brothers (Dakota Dutcher, Josh Rankin and Gus DeBacco) get plenty of laughs with their slinky, Groucho Marx slouch.

Jonathan Josten as the Grinch, Hollie Eiswert as his companion, The Dog, acquit themselves handsomely as does Cindy Lou (Elysa Guitierrez).

And the two Things (Rachel Rhees and Kenzie Tillett) do just what Things should do.

Karen Chandler as director and Pat Josten as producer put together a cast to savor as well as to admire. Here’s to all involved, including new conductor Felicia Wirgau, who wields a powerful baton on a fine orchestra.

“A Couple of Blaguards’

Saturday night it was “A Couple of Blaguards,” a sort of autobiography by Frank and Malachy McCourt. Portraying the brothers were professional actors Howard Platt as Malachy and Mickey Kelly as Frank, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of “Angela’s Ashes.” Both make the Irish brogue as natural and lilting as English would like to be. It’s a pleasure to hear the words spoken so liltingly.

Working with little more than a piece of cloth or two, the two appear as themselves, as a mother, a priest and an “old timer” in New York. Humor is the key here as laughs come endlessly and effortlessly. Frank is the stable member of the pair, Malachy the more expansive. His stints at the pulpit are satire embodied.

The comedy opened with both men enjoying a glass of bitters, and it ended the same way, with the pair coming back to recapture their unfinished ales.

“Blaguards” is a new venture for the Brewery – a professional acting troupe in the new Performance Hall. If such as Platt and Kelly can be an example, go for it, Brewery!

“Forever Plaid’

Then for the Sunday matinee it was “Forever Plaid,” another musical. With a cast of four, it could be called “musical lite.” But it was a delight of music – old hits from the ’50s – beautifully staged in the small Marlette Hall at Western Nevada Community College.

The plot is simple: It is the ’50s, and the band Forever Plaid was en route to a debut performance when they are all killed in an auto accident. But somehow the heavens allow them to do their show anyhow, and they jump at the chance.

The four – R. Steven Murdoch, David Tillitt, Steven Meyer and Alan Jones – mimic impressively the way that singers of that era performed, each motion choreographed, each arrangement complex, each song a production. Each has a comic side which they exploit deftly; there’s a bit of everyman in each.

Obviously, Gina Kaskie-Davis spent a lot of time with the four, getting the moves down to appear authentic to the era. Her time was well spent as the quartet makes it really a part of a bygone time before rock ‘n’ roll ended the music of Perry Como and Harry Belafonte.

While music is the backbone of “Plaid,” there’s plenty of antic comedy, funny hats, gag props. A rough count came up with 28 songs, ranging from the Al Jolson number “Anniversary Song” to “Sixteen Tons.” “Perfidia” hasn’t been sung so touchingly in many years. For those born after rock took command, some of these songs may seem corny, but at the time, they were true hits. For those of the era, it’s turning back the pages.

All this singing was accompanied by three musicians: the reliable Linda Hardy on piano; Julie Machado triumphant on string bass, and Kevin Murphy solid on percussion (he surrendered his sock cymbal at one point to the actors). This is a working trio that moves things along.

Of course, all of this is thanks to the unending work of Stephanie Arrigotti – producer, director and everything else short of sweeping the floor. This is not the big, Broadway show the Western Nevada Musical Theater Company usually stages (such as “Grease” coming in May), but it requires just as much work. Arrigotti’s fine hand touches everything in this musical delight.

• Contact Sam Bauman at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.

If you go

‘Forever Plaid’

WHAT: “Forever Plaid” a musical from the Western Nevada Musical Theater Company

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sundays through April 9.

WHERE: Marlette Hall in the Cedar Building on the Western Nevada Community College Campus, 2201 W. College Parkway.

TICKETS: $18 for general admission, $16 for students and seniors and $14 for children ages 17 and under. Advanced reservations recommended.

CALL: 445-4249

‘Seussical, the Musical’

WHAT: Carson Performing Arts presentation of “Seussical, The Musical”

WHEN: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Bob Boldrick Theatre, Carson City Community Center

TICKETS: $10 general admission, $9 seniors and students, $8 children and Carson High School students.

CALL: 887-0438

‘A Couple of Blaguards’

WHAT: “A Couple of Blaguards,” a play written by Frank and Malachy McCourt.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

WHERE: Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, 511 W. King St.

TICKETS: $22 for adults, $18 for BAC members, seniors and students.

CALL: 883-1976

online:: http://www.breweryarts.org