The TATE committee is hosting a TATE WORKSHOP on Adjudication. The workshop will take place on Saturday, September 17th at the Fly Loft starting at 10 am. Ron Cameron-Lewis will be hosting the workshop which will focus on criteria for judging plays. This is part of the ongoing effort to rethink and reorganize the TATE awards, making them even more effective in promoting Tulsa theatre, as well as making the process more transparent. All TATE judges are expected at this event, and it is open (and FREE) to anyone interested. If you’re interested in how the TATE judging works, meeting the judges, and perhaps learning what the new criteria are going to be (nothing set in stone yet in that regard afaik), then come on by. Should last 2-3 hours.
That night, Sept. 17, there will be a TATE Season Kick-Off Party at Living Arts, from 6-8pm. Hey, did somebody say party?! Julia White passes this along: “We are wanting this to be a reception for the Theatre Community, and anyone interested in the Theater Community, as a way to welcome the new TATE Committee and Judges and kick off the Season in Style.”
Sounds like fun. Meet the judges, drink with friends, talk shit about theatre. Honestly, what more could you ask for?
And yes, I’ll be there as well. Looks like I’ll be one of the judges this year.
Ron Cameron-Lewis is Professor Emeritus at Sheridan Institute, in Ontario. He has directed over 100 plays and musicals and has adjudicated 2,000-plus productions at state, regional, national and international levels. He taught adjudication workshops with Theatre Ontario and at AACT national festivals in the USA. His resume is as long as my arm. Come check it out. The Fly Loft is located just south of Guthrie Green at 117 N. Boston, Living Arts is at 307 E. MB Brady.
Heathers kicks ass. No joke. The musical is a frenetic, sexy, cynical, violent, goofy show, with the maturity level of a 17 year old jock. To make it all work onstage, you need the usual—great voices, good dancers, strong characters—plus one more key ingredient. Call it courage, call it chutzpah, or use the word that the play itself would use. To make this show work, the director, the choreographer, and every actor and actress onstage need . . . balls. In the metaphorical sense of course.
And that’s the real triumph of this production. As musicals about high school go, Heathers makes Grease look like a Lutheran Christmas pageant. If you try to tone it down, make it more acceptable for your Aunt Naomi, well, just go ahead and do Grease again. Or Cats. But if you’re going to do this show, it’s balls to the wall or not at all. And thankfully, Theatre Pops puts it all out there.
Director Jana Ellis and the rest of the team, notably choreographer Kathy Grufik who has done an outstanding job here, don’t mess too much with the look and feel of the show as it was performed off Broadway, nor do they need to. The show just had its New York premiere in 2014, and only ran for a few months. Though apparently my wife and I were the only people in the room who hadn’t seen the 1989 cult movie (Meghan asked for a show of hands), I doubt too many people there had seen the musical live—the show’s just too new. And now that I have watched most of the movie, let me assure you, it’s a completely different beast. The musical is hotter, funnier, faster, and much more passionate than the movie’s quirky, arched-eyebrow detachment. In a word, and here I go repeating myself again, it’s got more balls. Metaphorical ones. As well as the other kind.
The cast has the talent to back up their 100% commitment to the material. If my count is right, there are 10 soloists in the show. Every one of them is strong. The dancing is executed with equal parts passion and precision. Without any weak spots in the cast, still some moments stand out. The slow motion fight that happens early in the first act was executed with professional level discipline, with every punch, kick, and fall happening at exactly the right speed. Rick Harrelson and Sebastian Paden, two thirds of that fight, combine for the first act showstopper, the euphemistically titled Blue (I have nothing else to say about that title). It's hysterical, and still musically spot on. Kara Young as our heroine, brings a unique energy to Veronica, funny, goofy, sexy, vulnerable. Her solo highlight Dead Girl Walking requires all that and a healthy dose of courage to boot; the result is memorable. Finally, David Moreland takes the most complex and problematic character in the show and makes him both sympathetic and horrifying at the same time. Damaged and dangerous, his J.D. is a much more interesting character than the movie’s Christian Slater role, and he may be the most expressive singer on the stage. His duets with Young are compelling both emotionally and musically. It’s a tour de force performance.
All is not perfect of course. In particular, the mix was off during much of the first act, as the orchestra—which is also excellent—and the chorus sometimes overshadowed the lead vocalists, making the lyrics difficult to understand. A seven piece band is always going to be a little difficult to sing over in the Doenges, but since the mix got better by the end of the first act, it appeared that some adjustments had been made. The actors are miked, necessarily, and I was impressed by the complete lack of other, all too common audio problems such as hiss, mics not turned on or too hot, feedback, etc. The issues were relatively minor, but hopefully will be addressed.
Other than that my quibbles are with set and lighting. The set was well laid out and utilized well, but suffered from a poor spatter (finish paint) job that gave it an amateurish look. The new LED lights in the PAC have the unfortunate side effect of allowing lighting designers to blow off coloring the front lighting and only relying on back lights for color—a short cut that this old lighting designer doesn’t have much use for. To be fair, there was some creative use of lights during the show, so I won’t be too cranky about the shortcut.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that when I like a show, I really like a show. Well, I really like Heathers and I’m betting you will too. Also, it’s good to be back blogging again about Tulsa community theatre. There’s quite a bit of news lately, I’ll be posting more soon.
Arts Alliance Tulsa
Green Room OK
Tulsa Little Theatre
Tulsa Weekly Roundup
Am. Theatre Co.
BA Community Playhouse
Clark Youth Theatre
G Rated Theatre
Midwestern Theater Co.
Muskogee Little Theatre
Owasso Comm. Theatre
Sand Springs Comm. Th.
Sapulpa Comm. Theatre
Tulsa Latino Theatre
Tulsa Project Theatre
Tulsa Rep. Musicals
Tulsa Spotlight Theatre