Review: Discord

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Discord at The Village Rep on Woolfe

How did Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Leo Tolstoy get trapped in a room together? Things get even weirder when they put their heads together to create the definitive gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, this is the actual plot of Scott Carter’s Discord: The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy presented by The Village Rep on Woolfe. Read full review at The Art Mag

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Review: The Realistic Joneses

PURESeason13RealisticJoneses600The RealiStic Joneses at PURE Theatre

Perpetual purveyors of regional premieres, PURE Theatre brings yet another to the Charleston community. By the acclaimed playwright Will Eno, The Realistic Joneses is a tale of loneliness, uncertainty, absurdity, and mortality. And these heavy themes are masterfully balanced with wit, humor, and even a touch of hope. But what truly sold me on the brilliance of this production was how real (pun intended) it felt. Read full review at The Art Mag.

Review: Of Mice and Men

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Of Mice and Men at Threshold Rep

Of Mice and Men tells the story of George and Lennie, two men working from farm to farm in depression-era California. Threshold Rep’s production of the John Steinbeck classic carries the requisite emotion, depth, and performances, but a series of smaller flaws compound, adding up to an underwhelming experience. Read full review at The Art Mag.

PERFORMING ARTS PROFILE: 34 WEST

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JEFF QUERIN AND STEPHEN WAYNE OF 34 WEST

A 1991 Acura Integra hatchback rolling down I-80 crammed with costumes, disassembled set pieces, and two twenty-something actors were the humble beginnings of 34 West Theater Company. What started as a touring group, now, 16 years later, has blossomed into a brick-and- mortar space bringing laughs, drama, and topnotch entertainment to the Lowcountry.

34 West Theater334 West co-founders Jeff Querin and Stephen Wayne soon ditched the hatchback and upgraded to a van (with Stow ‘n Go seating no less). They quickly put thousands of miles on it, traveling back and forth between venues in Ohio and New York City, but they’ve always envisioned having their own space.

Now they have it. A cozy, quaint joint located at 200 Meeting Street. “When we found this place, it was a yogurt shop,” says Wayne. “And when we designed it, we wanted people the moment they walked in the door to already be experiencing the show.” Read full review at The Art Mag.

REVIEW: CABARET

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WHAT IF? PRODUCTION’S “CABARET”

Dark and gritty, hilarious and heartbreaking, Cabaret is musical theater at its best: thought provoking and brimming with complex emotions, wonderfully realized by the cast and crew of What If? Productions.

Set in 1931 Berlin, the story centers on the English cabaret performer Sally Bowles, her relationship with the American writer Cliff Bradshaw, and the seedy nightlife at her place of employment, the Kit Kat Klub.

As I said, it is a dark tale and one that cannot be fully appreciated by all ages. It is intended for adults, both for its overt sexuality and its grim undertones. But it is remarkably fun and lively, and it is this unique juxtaposition that makes for such an enriching experience. Read full review at The Art Mag.

REVIEW: JINGLE BELL HOP

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JINGLE BELL HOP AT 34 WEST THEATER COMPANY

Get steeped in holiday spirit with riotous musical numbers, boisterous characters, and a never-ending cavalcade of comedy at 34 West Theater Company’s Jingle Bell Hop.

Jeffrey Querin and Stephen Wayne (the 34 West co-founders) have once again put together a laugh-a-minute high-energy production. It tells the tale of the crew at Murphy’s diner in preparation for their annual Jingle Bell Hop. But quarreling lovers and lonely hearts keep matters complicated. Read full review at The Art Mag.

Image: Nick Fancher

REVIEW: A WRINKLE IN TIME

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A WRINKLE IN TIME AT THRESHOLD REP

It might seem a daunting task to bring the much beloved children’s book A Wrinkle in Time to the stage—considering it’s a tale that deals with space travel, alien civilizations, and otherworldly figures (a giant brain, for one)—but Threshold Rep succeeds, creating a performance that is true to the novel, well-acted, and quite entertaining.

It’s the story of Meg Murry, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their journey to save their father from the dark planet Camazotz. Along the way, they meet eccentric characters, travel to distant worlds, and fight for their lives. It’s a classic morality tale of good versus evil with themes focusing on social conformity and governmental domination. Read full review at The Art Mag.

Review: FAILURE: A LOVE STORY

FailureLoveNov3-71-e1447456507339Failure: A love Story at pure theatre

A dark comedy, whimsical in nature with a touch of melodrama, Failure: A Love Storyhas a lot going for it: an audacious set, a script full of smart, snappy dialogue, and a strong cast. But as the humor waned in the second act, a lack of character development left me apathetic, ultimately failing to emotionally connect.

Set near the Chicago River during the early twentieth century, the story focuses on the three Fail sisters; their aspirations, their brushes with love, and their separate untimely demises (not a spoiler, literally revealed in the first scene). Read full review at The Art Mag.

Image: David Mandel, courtesy PURE Theatre

Review: Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors at Charleston Stage’s Dock Street Theatre

If you’re looking for a play with superior effects and awe-inspiring visuals, Charleston Stage’s production of  at the Dock Street Theatre is the show for you.

The plot focuses on Seymour, a poor flower shop employee whose fortunes are forever altered by his discovery of an unknown plant that feeds on human flesh. A musical black comedy, the script nicely balances humor and horror. Slapstick and satirical song lyrics meet moral dilemmas touching on the extreme acts necessary to achieve stardom. Read full review at The Art Mag.