Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Western Reserve Playhouse: Suburb The Musical

(Lincoln's note: This was attended and written on July 25th, but as I'll be traveling this weekend and to avoid overwhelming my loyal reader(s) with two musicals on the same day...)

(Western Reserve Playhouse, Bath Township -- Remaining performances July 30, 31 August 6, 7 at 8pm)

Arriving at Western Reserve Playhouse, after overcoming the question of where to park (it seems anywhere on the lawn is acceptable) one is immediately struck with the scrappy perseverance of community theatre: In a converted barn where the "pay phone" is a phone next to a box with a "Please Deposit 10 cents for local calls, 50 cents for long distance" sign neat rows of seats face a sparse stage.

I've long known that there is an abundance of talent in Northeast Ohio at all levels, but I'm not sure that I've seen a true "community theatre" musical since moving to Cleveland (What I once thought was a bright line separating "Professional" from "Community" has proven one that is quite blurry and nearly impossible to focus on anything but a production-by-production basis). This did not disappoint, and of the two musicals I attended Sunday, this was my clear favorite.

While it was not without a few bumps, Western Reserve Playhouse's production of Suburb the musical entertains. Poking fun at the McSuburb (my word) where the generic "Suburb"--in proximity to "Bedroom", among others--can take the place of most Anywhere USAs, I have to admit that I'm not 100% clear on the intended take home. The picturesque genericisim reminds me of why I was eager to leave the suburbs; the pushy and manipulative Rhoda the Realtor perhaps a sign of why the real estate market imploded.

Overall, though a slight trek from Cleveland, it was an entertaining performance. As is to be expected from all-volunteer community theater the set and lighting was a bit sparse and some of the scene changes were a bit rocky, but nothing detracted significantly from the experience. Of course, there the talent was varied, there were no disappointments and Ms. Laura Hengle (as Alison) has a stand-out voice--perhaps one of the best I've heard. I was sorely tempted to use the term "operatic" even before reading her bio where one learns that that's precisely where her training lies.

For $14 (Adults)... not a bad show.


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