|Photo Courtesy Laura Girolami|
I am updating (1307.25) now that my review has come out. Though Gannett may have a limited number of views widget.
As of next year (2014), I will have been writing for the Enquirer for 20 years. Though I have done some hard news here and there for them, mostly I do reviews of theatrical productions at local theaters, such as The Barn Theatre, The Marshall Civic Players, What A Do Theatre, Cornwell's Turkeyville Dinner Theatre, the Great Escape Theatre, and up until recently, The Tibbits Summer Theatre, though I have now begged off due to the long drive.
I first explored the topic of theatre and my favourite musicals in T-shirt #91 and Jesus Christ Superstar. Another musical in my top five is Hair as seen here, though I do not know it so well that when executive producer Brendan Ragotzy quoted from it last night upon seeing my shirt I did not recognize it right away. So shameful.
I only have one Barn T-shirt (though I also own a polo shirt with the Barn logo), which is the one featured here promoting the Barn's 2005 production of Hair, which is Brendan Ragotzy's favorite musical of all time. I wore my shirt last night to the theatre when I was sent by the paper to review the Barn's latest production, Tarzan. And though this is Disney's Tarzan adapted from the animated movie and featuring music by Phil Collins, for some odd reason, the Barn is not allowed to call it "Disney's Tarzan," even though they produced Aida, which had to be called Disney's Aida and Beauty and the Beast, among others, likewise named.
The Barn Theatre has been around since 1946, when it opened in Richland's Village Hall as the Richland Village Players. Once the Ragotzys managed to buy an old barn and renovate it, the theater moved to Augusta in 1949 where it has been ever since, offering summer stock theater for local residents and others who make the drive to visit this historic landmark. In the old days (say 1960), the summer season could consist of as many as ten shows! These days the Barn offers six-seven shows, with one every two weeks, and sometimes a late add-on final show for a short run of one week only.
The Barn uses professional actors and is considered an Equity Theatre, the trade union for thespians, in which candidates need so many hours to receive their official Equity Card, and so the larger company is often filled with Equity Candidates, usually college students or recent grads working to earn their cards.
|Photo Courtesy Laura Girolami|
It was not that long ago that the Barn Theatre packed in so many patrons that it had to extend its run on popular shows, often ones starring famous actors who have gone on to greater success in TV and film, such as Robert Newman, Kim Zimmer, Tom Wopat, Jessica Joy Kemock, Melissa Gilbert, Marin Mazzie, Stephen Lynch, Barbara Marineau, and many others, now, also including Eric Peterson, who returned to the Barn in 2005 for this production of Hair, who toured nationally with Shrek and has recently been cast in a TV Land network situation comedy called Kirstie with Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman. Other celebrities who had their start at the Barn Theatre include Jennifer Garner and Lauren Graham.
In recent years, it has been more of a struggle to fill the seats despite the high quality entertainment offered at the Barn both on its mainstage and in its Rehearsal Shed Lounge in the three-set cabaret show that follows each mainstage performance (where they serve drinks, nachos, wings, and ICE CREAM). The Barn Theatre provides a night or afternoon of entertainment for the whole family, especially for this, 2013, season in which the theater has a lineup of family-friendly shows aimed at pleasing area audiences.
I have had the pleasure of seeing many great productions at the Barn and meeting many wonderful performers, some of whom I count as Facebook friends, such as Roy Brown, Brendan Ragotzy, Fred Gillette, Emily Fleming, Eric Parker (who did a wonderful job directing Tarzan), Jamey Grisham (wonderful as Tarzan), Penelope Alex Ragotzy (wonderful as Tarzan's mom), Troy Benton, and the aforementioned Eric Peterson. All of these folks are wonderful, but I only annotated those with a major role in Tarzan, last night's show.
I am proud to be a reviewer for a paper that sends me to see live, professional theatre in southwest Michigan.
What's the hidden message of this blog entry? The subtitle? GO SEE THE LIVE THEATRE.
Any live theatre will do, but this place, the Barn Theatre, is special.
- chris tower - 1307.24 - 11:39