Archive for Footlights

Footlights Stages Hilarious Sex Romp, THE NAKED TRUTH

Posted in Hot Off The Press with tags , , , on March 10, 2017 by Ringer

The Naked TruthMarch 2017

Isn’t it funny what people can get in an inheritance?  In this case, very funny.

In The Naked Truth, an adult sex comedy by Rich Orloff, George and Liz (Jeffrey Gillenwater and Cindy O’Neil), a retired couple from Dayton, Ohio, inherit a resort in Key West from George’s estranged brother.

The new owners face some jarring challenges upon their arrival when they discover the Godiva Inn is a floundering clothing-optional resort and with the inheritance comes Clark (Justin Gifford), front-desk clerk and aspiring drag queen, and Jane (Leslie Chadbourne), a lesbian maintenance worker who moonlights as a Dominatrix.

Conflicts abound as Liz (“aghast but slightly intrigued”) quickly embraces the freedom and perks of her new surroundings (Disneyworld with a libido) while George clings to his normal, traditional values, setting up the classic battle between “the scenic route” and “the very same road.”  George decides to turn the place into a family-friendly property called Snow White Inn but after the personal and financial struggles continue to mount, he puts the property up for sale.

Enter Fred (Michael J. Tobin/Director) who is immediately smitten by “Strawberry Fields,” Clark’s diva queen persona (RuPaul of Key West).  Desperate to sell, George uncomfortably asks “Strawberry Fields” to seduce Fred to get him to buy the Inn.  Clark agrees, and mayhem ensues but the plot backfires.  When Clark is sufficiently insulted and dissed by Fred the morning after, George uncharacteristically steps up in Clark’s defense, calls off the sale and dismisses Fred.  The unsuspecting hero then announces that The Godiva Inn (where Jesus and Liberace co-exist and where Happy Hours start at sunrise) will live on.

The Naked Truth is a ROFLMAO marathon laughfest overloaded with unrelenting sight gags.  It’s light on substance, heavy on schtick, and feels like an ‘80s cable comedy that broke new ground when it first came out but isn’t as controversial today— but still fun to watch with lots of buttered, salted jiffypop.

The trademark ensemble easily upholds the Footlights’ reputation of working with the very best talent.  Chadbourne, Gifford, Gillenwater, O’Neil and Tobin are each capable, professional players that theater-goers have enjoyed for decades, in hundreds of productions in Southern Maine venues.

The characters portrayed by Chadbourne, Gifford and O’Neil are edgy, over-the-top, and effectively played with high energy, precision and maximum strength.  By contrast, Gillenwater’s rendering of George is at times more comical because of his subtle treatment of the introverted, defeated, withdrawn personality.

The pièce-de-résistance was Tobin’s transformation into Fred, a superb comedy performance reminiscent of Jerry Lewis and other great vintage television comics.  With zany expressions, kooky movements and quirky speech, Fred is dazzling and mesmerizing, worth the price of admission…and will hopefully host his own musical variety show at Footlights in the future.

So as I contemplated this review, there was something about the show that was unresolved and after reviewing the playback in my brain, I concluded that it is Orloff’s very own script that at times creates a glitch for the fine characters he’s created, like a puzzle piece that’s slightly off.  He clearly knows how to get the laugh, but I felt a disconnect in the flow with exaggerated pauses and uneven animation—none of which seemed to be noticed by the audience judging by the boisterous screams and roaring guffaws.

Honestly, The Naked Truth is hysterical…especially for those who go for that sort of adventuresome, no-holds-barred, risqué, free-spirited lifestyle.  And those who don’t should beware that they will likely find themselves ready to book the next flight to Key West.

The Naked Truth runs thru March 25th, Thursdays at 7 PM, Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, with a 2 PM Matinee on Saturday, March 18th.  Footlights Theatre is located at 190 US Rte 1 in Falmouth.  FMI & Tix: Call 747-5434 or visit www.thefootlightsinfalmouth.com.

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–Louis Philippe

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FOOTLIGHTS PRESENTS CHILLING THRILLER “WHISPERS IN THE DARK” (It’s only a play…it’s only a play)

Posted in Recent Press Releases with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by Ringer

WHISPERS picOctober 2015

Remember when The Last House On The Left came out in 1972 with the tagline: “To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie…it’s only a movie…”? Or you might recall that horrific spine-chilling feeling when toward the end of watching the 1979 film When A Stranger Calls it was revealed that “…it’s coming from inside the house…”?

As I was headed to my car after seeing Footlights Theatre’s world premiere presentation of Whispers In The Dark, I found consolation in the phrase “It’s only a play…it’s only a play.” Lucky for me, no one lunged out of the chilly night, my cell phone had no bizarre messages, my gas tank wasn’t empty, the police didn’t need to be called, and I returned to reality relatively unscathed.

Perfect for the spooky season, Whispers In The Dark is described as a “terrifying play about a blind man who takes a much needed vacation with his wife at their cabin in the Maine woods. However, his wife never shows up and he is definitely not alone. Now, he has to survive the darkness of the night, proving that it’s not what we see that scares us, it’s what we hear.”

Whispers In The Dark is the clever work of Vermont Playwright Adam Phillips—although I can only guess he may have had creative inspiration from Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Zuiker (creator of television’s hugely successful “CSI” franchise). It is a fast-moving mystery thriller chock full of intense suspense, white-knuckle angst, surprising twists and good old-fashion spine-chilling fear. Like me, you’ll probably find your mind racing trying to figure out whodunit, only to be proven wrong by the very end—the very end.

So without giving away any clues, I can emphatically praise the quartet of actors for pulling off such a wonderfully disturbing and frightening entertainment experience. From the start, the audience is drawn in to feel like a part of the “family” (so to speak) with comfortable camaraderie, some levity mixed in with the dark strings—even a joke about Governor Paul LePage (hence the Stephen King influence). By the end—the very end—the audience is left completely horrified and isolated and emotional exhausted…

…though not as emotionally exhausted as Mark Calkins who plays the lead role of Dr. Steven McAllister, the blind radio host of the popular call-in show “Last Resort.” Needing to get away and ponder an offer to bring his show to national television, he plans to meet his wife (or is she?) for a weekend getaway in their cabin located in the Maine woods, 20 miles from town. The wife never shows up…marital issues add to the mounting tension.

But thankfully Mama is there to help (or is she?). Jackie Oliveri does a great job as the obliging, babbling, supportive but mentally-fragile mother. Her mantra: “I’ll get it” (or will she?). And nothing like a Nor’easter to add more problems. Steve’s buddy Jack (or is he?) is now forced to stay the night rather than drive home to Vermont.

Increasingly disturbing phone calls from a deranged caller named Damien (or is he?) are interspersed with incessant calls from Rose (or is she?) who turns out to be a nice cop from Chattanooga in town to speak at a conference. Rose and Steve arrange a “blind date” at Townknockers with Jack as the chauffeur…but they mis-connect, and when they get back to the cabin they discover the killing has begun. But thankfully, the cavalry arrives to investigate a neighbor’s complaint. Victoria Machado plays the Maine state trooper named Karen (or is she?).

Calkins, Machado, Bell and Oliveri are very good at bringing this world premiere to 3-D life. They know the audience is hanging on every word and action waiting for the next clue that can stop the shocking blood bath that ensues. But Calkins is most impressive in his role, never forgetting his blindness in his navigation of the set, and very visually and emotionally showing his character’s fear and vulnerabilities. By the time the play crescendos to a screeching halt, Calkins is drained and physically wiped out. Now that’s great acting!

The set is warm and charming with all the right set dressing to convey that unique Maine cabin feel…but not so much by the end—the very end. “Stephen King provided interior design,” said Michael J. Tobin in his welcoming words. Tobin directed the show along with Whitney Smith (or did he?).

Whispers In The Dark, continues until October 24th: Thursday at 7 PM, Friday at 7:30 PM, and Saturday at 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM. Call 207/747-5434 for tix and visit http://www.thefootlightsinfalmouth.com for more info.

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–Louis Philippe

STELLAR PRODUCTION OF STEEL MAGNOLIAS KICKS OFF NEW SEASON FOR FOOTLIGHTS THEATER

Posted in Recent Press Releases with tags , , , , on September 19, 2015 by Ringer

Steel Magnolias Cast

September 2015

The Footlights Theatre of Falmouth kicked off its third season with a stellar production of Robert Harling’s STEEL MAGNOLIAS, remarkably bringing to light many milestones that are worthy of celebrating. Here are three: First, another shining example of superb live theater brought to you by The Footlights’ creative team. Bravo!

STEEL MAGNOLIAS is a powerful and gratifying comedy-drama about the implicit bond between a group of six women in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where Truvy Jones’ in-home beauty parlour has become the intersection of all their life journeys and the gathering place to share all womanly topics, from life to death…and life again.

Based on Harling’s experience with his sister’s death, STEEL MAGNOLIAS beautifully and emblematically personifies the unequivocal strength of steel and the femininity, nobility and perseverance that the magnolia flower has come to symbolize, all wrapped up in womankind. It is a roller-coaster ride of triumph and tragedy, fun and frolic, a delightful profile of Southern living, with perfectly executed yin-yang hilarity and pathos. In Truvy’s own words of wisdom: “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

STEEL MAGNOLIAS (the play versus the movie) is a momentous and challenging ensemble piece. Honestly, for this script to be effective and successful as it was meant to be requires an exemplary group of creatively righteous and seasoned actors capable of letting themselves be taken over by their characters.  To this end, The Footlights can celebrate its second noteworthy milestone, i.e. Director Michael J. Tobin’s uncanny ability to cast the cream-of-the-crop for yet another flawless ensemble show.

Each member of this tight-knit ensemble is a master of her own stage skills, bringing a rich background and theater experience to their role: Jaymie Chamberlin as Truvy, Jessica Libby as Shelby, Cindy O’Neil as Ouiser, Paula Price as Clairee, Cheryl Reynolds as M’Lynn and Amy Torrey as Annelle. Individually, they are consummate professionals who know how to weave a monster thread with perfect dramatic emotion and supreme comic delivery—at times all in the same breath. Collectively, this cast is unsurpassable for its entertainment value and deserves the instant standing ovation they receive.

Third noteworthy milestone is the very fact that The Footlights is now in its third season. Having established itself as a class act theater and a gem to patrons of live local theater, The Footlights can celebrate its reputation and wild array of offerings—from visionary to schmaltzy, everything in between, and everything served up with consistent perfection. Take an extra bow for all that hard work, creativity and passion that lights up the stage for appreciative patrons and provides a stable of professional experience and lasting friendships for the herd of thespians whose journeys intersect at The Footlights, much the same as Truvy’s Beauty Spot.

STEEL MAGNOLIAS runs through October 1st, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM. The Footlights Theater is located at 190 US Route 1 in Falmouth. FMI and tickets, call 747-5434 or visit thefootlightsinfalmouth.com.

A stellar show. A superb cast. A third season. Cheers!

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–Louis Philippe

Falmouth Footlights Brings Cinderella To Life With Magical Splendor For All Ages

Posted in Archive Press Releases with tags , , , , on March 17, 2015 by Ringer

March, 2015

This past weekend’s big screen debut of the new Cinderella may have grossed $70+ million nationwide, but there was another milestone opening of Cinderella that was perhaps more noteworthy—this one by Falmouth Footlights with an original stage adaption that brings the fairy tale to life with abundant doses of magical fun, music and laughter, and family-friendly splendor.

In an unsuspecting location at 190 US Route 1 in Falmouth, just beside People’s United Bank is the home of Footlights, the epicenter for an extremely ambitious group of creative and talented people who consistently mount the widest array of live productions, from standup comedy and radio shows to Agnes Of God, from The Gift of the Magi to, well…Cinderella.

Oh that Michael Tobin is one heckuva clever, hat-wearing Midas when it comes to successfully, effectively—and relentlessly—putting all the pieces together to put out superb examples of local theater. For this show, Tobin has assembled a royal cast of seasoned performers with centuries of collective experience.

While hundreds of variations of Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper have been published since the mid-1600s, Tobin’s adaptation is not a far departure from the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein blockbuster that starred Julie Andrews in 1957. Tobin, who also marvelously directed this piece, condenses the tale without losing an ounce of punch, while throwing some very imaginative updates into the mix, along with hearty twists of schmaltz.

Eat your heart out, Walt Disney! Maura Gwyer IS Cinderella (also not a far departure from Julie Andrews), embodying all the beauty, finesse, singing ability and characterization one would expect from a sensational mythological Princess…just not in Falmouth, Maine. But it’s true, and the kiddos will be cherishing their “I saw Cinderella after the show” stories (and autographs) for years to come.

Mark Calkins is a wonderful and charming Prince Magnus, with just the right blend of airy yet commanding vocals, who perfectly portrays the underdog living under the thumb of the meddling, over-bearing Queen (Gretchen G. Wood…see Local Theater Givens below) and the doting, stoic, long-suffering King (well-executed by Rick Kusturin).

Those ugly step-sisters are sizzling hot. Jaymie Chamberlin is Prunella and Justin Gifford is Grizellda who together portray their classic characters with over-the-top treatment that creates silliness and laughter that will linger long after the final bows. Cindy O’Neil is the “delicious” Evil Stepmother (see Local Theater Givens below).

John Mosley does a terrific job as the diligent assistant to the royal family, an ethereal emcee of sorts, and Kari Presnell is sweet and delightful as the Fairy Godmother.

Stealing the show were performances by The Mice & The Horse, perhaps overlooked by Rodgers & Hammerstein, but certainly and justifiably re-established in this Tobin adaptation…perhaps the result of union contract negations…and certainly to the benefit of the audience.

By special arrangement with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Footlights includes several musical favorites in its show: In My Own Little Corner, Impossible/It’s Possible, Ten Minutes Ago, Stepsister’s Lament, Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful? and A Lovely Night.

Tobin’s set is rich, warm and well-dressed. The sound effects and incidental music add so much to the experience. The costumes are absolutely stupendous (courtesy of Louise Keezer and Lyric Music Theater). The scenes flow quickly and seamlessly. The characters are juicy. The animation is glorious. What’s not to love about this show?

Overheard from audience members during intermission: “The music is perfect,” “The timing is wonderful,” and “I LOVE those Sisters!”

Aside from the professional level of stage skills the cast exudes, the good writing and masterful direction, and the choice of this very popular and timely show, there’s an underlying camaraderie that becomes quite evident once you enter into The Footlights Kingdom. All the players seem unified by their love of theater, the opportunity to release their passion, the chance to hone their skills while having a total blast, and the goal to provide top-notch entertainment for everyone who walks in the door.

Sure, you could see Cinderella now on IMAX, but it’s not real. Seeing Cinderella at Footlights is the ultimate. All 70 seats provide intimate theater-on-demand satisfaction. And you get to experience true-to-life singing and dialogue (sans processed rack effects, naked resonance if you will) and witness every nuance of emotion, facial expression and thought processes by the actors as if you were right there in the scene. The Footlights in Falmouth is the smallest theater that delivers the biggest productions, up-front and personal and in 3D—Without the glasses! Simply magical!

So, if you’re one of those people who enjoy live theater and would love to support such a worthy community arts effort, here’s your chance. In the words of Fairy Godmother: You know what the trouble is with most people? They sit at home wishing for something to happen, instead of just doing something about it.”

Cinderella runs through March 27th, Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets are $18 for Adults, $15 (for Seniors and Students) and $10 for Children under 10. For reservations, call 747-5434. And visit http://www.thefootlightsinfalmouth.com for directions and info on upcoming events.

Oh yes, about my Local Theater Givens…I consider myself immensely blessed to be a tiny part of the magical world of community theater in Southern Maine. I’ve come to know some players who are hands-down simply the best at their craft. Gretchen Wood and Cindy O’Neill are in that category, habitually professional and naturally amazing. So if you ever see their name in a PlayBill, it’s a GIVEN that you will be supremely entertained by awesome individuals with incredible gifts.

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–Louis Philippe