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For the first time ever, presenting THE JOYOUS LIVING Awards for the 2018-2019 Season. Many thanks to each of these gorgeous productions for allowing me to come review their shows and high praise for all community theatre performers and production crews.
Matthew Bourne has breathed new life into the tried and true story of Cinderella. His storytelling is heartwarming, comedic and sublime. I don’t know how many synonyms I can use for perfection to describe this sensational production. (Cinderella)
Actor Under 18 Award
The talented and charming young cast is led by a fantastic McKenna Keiser as Little Prince who impressively is rarely off stage during the entirety of the show and expertly manages to showcase all matter of emotions, feelings and sensations making the Little Prince well rounded and lovable. Keiser truly impresses when she is moving the story forward through monologue after monologue that is no small feat for even the most experienced of adult actors. (The Little Prince)
Actor in A Musical
James Larsen (Mr. Wormwood) wins the prize for best comedic timing and earning some of the biggest belly aching laughs. And I particularly enjoyed his final scene with Lucy Bollier’s Matilda. Yes Wormwood’s actions are unforgivable but thanks to Larsen’s fabulous performance you actually are hoping for a happy ending and want desperately to manipulate Matilda and Mr. Wormwood to embrace in a hug. (Matilda)
Actor in a Play
Thanks to the Redmans’ fabulous casting the show manages to be what it should not be — a bundle of laughs. (Is He Dead?)
Actress in a Musical
Leading lady Susan Egan (Belle) is just as enchanting as she must have been in 1994. Her voice as lush and dynamic as was forever captured on the Original Broadway Cast recording. Her acting just as spritely and playful as exhibited at the Tony Awards. The last 24 years have done nothing to dampen the original Belle’s allure. (Beauty and the Beast)
Actress in a Play
Ms. Levin whom I found to be a stellar and consummate actor in Little Women the Musical was on fire during the opening night performance. Her feisty and feminist Amanda was quite as I imagine her Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing must have been. And yet at times you saw her layers being peeled back and the hopes and insecurities of a woman in love.- Private Lives
Miriam Durrie-Kirsch‘s choreography (that was so well loved in Panic! Production’s She Loves Me), with assistance by her daughter Dani Kirsch, was the star of the show. After a short while you almost forget that anyone came before this brilliance choreographer because she makes every sequence her own. My favorite has definitely got to be her gorgeous ballet sequence during “Somewhere” that had me all choked up. (West Side Story)
Director of a Play
Cheers to Suzanne Tobin for directing this lovable production of The Little Prince in a simple yet effective manner without taking the material too seriously and for choosing to use the ensemble to create the moving scenery. (The Little Prince)
Director of a Musical
I was specifically interested in Holmes’ decision to cast many of the Puerto Ricans Color blindly without the usual stereotype looks aside from her leading ladies. This actually worked out well in connection with the directors notes saying, “during these times when street violence and race wars are still very real, West Side Story reminds us of the importance of embracing our differences; of forgiveness; and of the power of love.” (West Side Story)
There was not a single weak link in the ensemble and their group numbers such as “Revolting Children”, “Miracle” and “When I Grow Up” are splendid and powerful with strong dancing/acrobatics and singing. Standouts that I couldn’t tear my eyes from were Tyler Marie Watkins and Renee Cohen (Next to Normal). (Matilda)
2018-2019 Show of the Year
5-Star Theatricals prides themselves for “providing an extraordinary performing arts experience through live, Broadway-quality productions of musical theatre” and with Matilda they have hit it out of the park. (Matilda)
Congrats to one and all! If you’re looking for something to see this season check out my calendar of suggestions!