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2013 October 13

Mountain Community Theater

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Although I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for many years and gone to many theatrical productions, last night was the first time I’ve seen a Mountain Community Theater production.  The problem, of course, is that they usually perform in Ben Lomond, where they are nearly inaccessible by public transit.  (There is a bus that takes 40 minutes each way, but the last one back to Santa Cruz is too early to be reliable for getting home after a performance.)

Their current show (with two more performances on Oct 18 and 19) is in Broadway Playhouse, a convenient walking and bicycling distance from my house, where I’ve been to innumerable shows (mainly by WEST, but also several improv shows).  The show is An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, a collection of 10 rather off-the-wall one-acts by Silverstein, plus a few Silverstein poems to open and close each half of the performance.

I’d only ever seen one of the one-act plays before: The Best Daddy, which my son performed in as part of WEST Fringe show a year and a half ago.  It may also have been one of the few that WEST could do with teen actors—the content of most of the plays is not suitable for teens.  That said, I think that the teens did a better job of it than the MCT actors did.  The MCT actors rather rushed through it, and Kathryn Wahlberg was not very convincing as 13-year-old Lisa.  (Of course, the teens had the advantage that the actress playing Lisa was the age she was portraying.) Kathryn did a good job of Celia in Bus Stop, and an ok job of Lucy in Thinking Up a New Name for the Act (the weirdest script I’ve ever seen, consisting of only 3 words “meat and potatoes” repeated over and over with different business).  She was too reserved in Buy One, Get One Free, which seems to me to call for rather exuberant acting.

I thought that the best actor in the MCT production was Jackson Wolffe, particularly in Going Once, where he plays a singularly unpleasant auctioneer, but also as Bender in Smile and Theodore in The Lifeboat is Sinking.

Janine Theodore did an excellent job as Sylvia in One Tennis Shoe, but was rather wooden in Going Once, and seemed too old for the parts in The Lifeboat is Sinking, Watch and Dry (the threat to tell her parents implied a teen or young adult on parental funds, not a woman of Ms. Theodore’s age), and Buy One, Get One Free (her age almost worked there, and would have if the actors had played with the age difference rather than trying to disguise it).

Nat Robinson had a good New York accent for Bus Stop and Wash and Dry. His characterization for the latter was particularly good.

Andrew Singleton had a particularly good blues-singer voice for Blind Willie and the Talking Dog, quite different from the voice for Harvey in One Tennis Shoe.

Marcel Siero did a good job of performing the poems that bracketed the two halves of the show, though he tended to move too far forward on the stage, so that the lighting made it hard to see his face—a shame, since he has a particularly mobile face that he used to good effect in some of the poems.  He was also a little too quiet on Invitation, at least for slightly deaf people like me in the back row.  I know his projection is up to filling the Broadway Playhouse—he’s one of the few students I’ve had who was as loud as me in our outdoor voice projection exercises for grad students.

Overall, I enjoyed the production and recommend it to people who are not easily offended by language and weird scripts.  I wish that MCT did more productions in accessible locations, as I would like to see what they do with more conventional scripts.

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