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Tag Archive | "play"

Burr: The One Who Won is a winner

by Terri Riggle

Scott Phillips’ latest musical offering is a sure-fire winner. “Burr: The One Who Won” opened last Thursday night on the Kent Theatre stage and proves to not only present historically interesting facts but is hysterically humorous as well. The play is a look at Aaron Burr’s life, presented in a steady stream of sketches. But that doesn’t mean Phillips gives audience members a dry history lesson. On the contrary, he uses every opportunity to poke fun at politics and people, mixing modern news and historical facts to provide everything from chuckles to guffaws. Be prepared to laugh. 

The play opens with the entire cast gathered onstage with Jill Phillips, who wrote all the songs and lyrics performed in the play, for a rousing rendition of “Welcome to America.” Action continues with Alexander Hamilton, aptly played by stage veteran Russ Cole, acting as a narrator-guide, setting up each scene in front of the Kent’s brilliant red velvet curtain. He performs the show’s only rap song in costume which includes a white wig and pantaloons, looking very much the part of a gentlemen living in the 1700’s. Joining him onstage is Theodosia Burr, played by a spunky Mandy Casebolt, who spars with Hamilton, defending her husband’s honor. 

Following Hamilton’s narration, the curtains open and action continues with a scene introducing Aaron Burr, played skillfully by Jennifer Vlas, in the Battle for Quebec in 1775, moving to the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, featuring Jerry Hoye, playing a somber General George Washington. Act One then continues with a scene from the Burr home in 1793. A tender moment is shared as Theodosia reveals that she is ill and faces death, performing “Cry,” a sweet, sad ballad.  The act ends in Thomas Jefferson’s office in 1800 with Jefferson, played by veteran actor Jerry Dominowski, becoming the third U.S. President. Hamilton enters and admits that he helped swing the vote to Jefferson. Upset with this turn of events, Burr and Hamilton are at odds with each other and perform “Change My Life,” accompanied by a hilarious trio of back-up singers featuring Jefferson, James Monroe, played by Amos Ader, and  James Madison, played by Madison Ruth, who, in a nod to the Blues Brothers, don black sunglasses to finish out the song. 

Act One also showcases the talent of Jacob Hoekzema, who plays Colonel Benedict Arnold, and sings “Turncoat,” along with Burr and General Montgomery played by Doug Christensen. Also, the use of two young girls, Fancy Girl, played by Emma Chase and Tom Boy, played by Cassidy Mayo, carry placards with time and place written on them, to help keep the audience on track of the action on the stage.

Act Two opens in 1804 and the duel is about to begin between Burr and Hamilton. Before the two face off, they perform, “Step at a Time,” and then Hamilton shoots and misses Burr. He then let’s fly the bullet that takes the life of Hamilton. The next scene is a courtroom where Burr, along with his attorney Luther Martin, get charges dropped, and he is released. Although, things don’t go so well with him from that point on. His political career is as dead as Hamilton. In the following scene, which takes place in his daughter’s home in South Carolina. Jessica Talsma is the dutiful, if not, delightful, Theodosia Burr and is married to the new Governor, Joseph Alston, played by Frank VenPelt. He is not happy by the upcoming visit of his famous, or rather, infamous father-in-law, worrying that if voters find out Aaron Burr is related to him, it could adversely affect his political ambitions. However, she welcomes her father to her home and sweetly sings of her love in “Daddy.” 

In a closing scene, a much older Burr, played by Jerry Hoye, is married again, but this time to the wealthy, but saucy and sassy, “…please-call-me-Eliza…” Jumel, played artfully by Rosie Tomlinson. Burr goes through her money, so she divorces him, but not before she belts out a hard-rocking rendition of “Why Lie.”

All in all, the play is a delight. Characters were developed well, musically the voices were strong and every cast member appeared as if they were really having just plain old fun on stage. In true community theater style, the team of Phillips and Phillips, assisted by a skilled team of technicians, pulled off another solid hit with “Burr: The One Who Won.” 

There are two performances this coming weekend on Friday and Saturday nights. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. You may purchase tickets at the Cedar Springs Public Library in advance for $12 for adults and $6 for children under 18. The box office is open 30 minutes before each performance and tickets may be purchased at that time for $15 for adults and $6 for children under 18.

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Pompeii-The Musical

Cleo (Sammi Kunz), Lucy (Ruth Madison), and Brutus (Steve Hutchins) in Pompeii—the musical.

Reviewed by Tom Noreen

Tired of political correctness and looking for a good laugh? If so, then get your tickets to local playwright Scott Phillips’ fresh off the parchment Pompeii-The Musical with music by Jill Detroit and Sean Anthony. As Scott noted in his program, “Another May, another play.”

Set in ancient Pompeii just before the city’s demise in 79 AD by the epic eruption of Mt Vesuvius, the toga clad actors are going about their daily lives. In particular the focus is on the star crossed lovers Cleo (Sammi Kunz) and Augie (Scott Herdegen) who cannot seem to reconcile their religious beliefs. As in most cases, family and friends are doing their best to make the match work, with varying degrees of success. Among these are Cleo’s younger sister, Lucy (Madison Ruth); her brother, Brutus (Steve Hutchins); and Augie’s mother, Titania (David Schmuker). As a result of his efforts, Brutus falls in love with Olyve Gardenia (Jessica Talsma) a Roman who has a phobia for Romans!

Other members of the cast include Bob Kellner as “I, Claudius” and Debbie Irwin as his wife “Cornie.” The local oracle (read shrink) “Nero” played by Doug Christensen and his wife “Gripy” portrayed by Kathy Anderson. The chorus line of statues are Annie Bagin, Savana Williams, Jack Bagin, and Kirsten Bagin.

This performance also premieres the Kent Theatre’s new LED lighting system. After many years of planning and fundraising, the theatre has a state of the art lighting system. Thanks to all of the patrons and donors that made this possible.

Shows for this weekend are Friday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Adult tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door; tickets for those under 18 years are only $6. Advanced tickets can be purchased at the Cedar Springs Public Library, or reserved by emailing Scott at phillips4ba@yahoo.com.

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Law and Order: Fairy Tale Unit


Spring Theater Production May 18 & 20

Announcing CTA’s spring play, Law and Order: Fairy Tale Unit. CTA Drama students have been hard at work on their first ever full-length play. You will not want to miss this funny spoof on the Law and Order series. This story focuses on Detective HD (Humpty Dumpty) and Detective Cindy (Cinderella) as they investigate the mysterious destruction of the three little pig’s houses.

Many well-known fairy tale characters such as Hansel and Gretel, the Three Blind Mice, Jack and Jill and more become suspects in the story. To see how the mystery plays out, come see the performance!

May 18 & 20 @ 7:00 p.m.

CTA Auditorium

Tickets are $3 in advance/$5 at the door

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A House Divided

Audrey (played by Danielle Phillips) with onstage daughter Lily (Annie Bagin) in the Scott Phillips play A House Divided. It’s still playing this weekend at The Kent Theatre. Photo by T. Noreen.

Audrey (played by Danielle Phillips) with onstage daughter Lily (Annie Bagin) in the Scott Phillips play A House Divided. It’s still playing this weekend at The Kent Theatre. Photo by T. Noreen.

Reviewed by Tom Noreen

It’s May and time for another Scott Phillips production! I like Scott’s plays because they make me laugh and we all need to laugh. That’s not to say they don’t have a message, because they do. When I go to a play or a movie, I want to have a good time and that I did at A House Divided.

Not wanting to divulge the storyline, since I want you to see it yourself, it was a hoot. Suffice it to say, we all have a bit of friction in our families that we would like to replace with harmony and understanding. Scott’s stage family is no different. We can all identify with one character or another. There are plenty of funny lines in the script, but it is the cast’s delivery, facial features, gestures, and ability to play off one another that makes it such a great comedy. Phillips did a great job casting the roles.

The matriarch is Patsy (Julie Bratton) and her squabbling family Charlotte (Roshanah Dayton), her husband Jordan (Dave Schmuker) and daughter Sawyer (Madeline Wilcox); Isaac (John Bagin) and his son Albert (Jack Bagin); and Audrey (Danielle Phillips), her boyfriend Stone (Steve Hutchins), and daughter Lily (Annie Bagin). Then there is the nosey, well-meaning neighbor Sandra (Terri Riggle), her husband Roy (Doug Christensen), and son Jordan; and Roy’s friend Nelson (Russ Cole) who becomes Patsy’s “significant friend.” Finally, last but actually first on stage, is Maddie Ruth who goes toe-to-toe with Scott as they remind the audience of proper theater protocol.

What better way to start your Memorial Day weekend then a trip to the theater? Show dates are May 27 and 28 at 7:30 PM. All performances will be at the Kent Theatre, 8 N. Main, Cedar Springs.

Tickets for adults are $12 in advance/$15 at the door; under 18 years of age only $6.  Tickets are available at the Cedar Springs Public Library. You can also reserve tickets at the advanced price by emailing Scott Phillips at phillips4ba@yahoo.com.


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Cedar Springs High School & H Productions Present


CSPS-UpTheDownStaircaseUp the Down Staircase

November 12—14  7:00pm

Cedar Springs High School Auditorium

The play stars 30 wonderful high school actors who have put a lot of their time and energy into making this a wonderful show.  Tickets are available at www.hprodcshs.com, High School main office, from a cast member and at the door before the show.

Stay tuned to www.hprodcshs.com for more details.

The play is about Sylvia Barrett, a rooky teacher, and her struggles with unruly students, a demanding administrator, and her own high expectations.

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Stage play brings area families together

Jennifer Ninds and son Michael, of Howard City, are two family members that are enjoying working on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

A Christmas Carol debuts at the Kent Theatre Dec. 9

Christmas is certainly a time when most people gather with family and friends for fun and frivolity. Families look for creative ways to enjoy the tidings of the season. Some volunteer their time at a soup kitchen, some might wander their neighborhood streets singing Christmas carols and some might hop in the car one evening and drive miles just to look at thousands of Christmas lights.
But, for a small group of people in northern Kent County, they’ve chosen to celebrate their Christmas holidays by taking to the stage. The cast and crew of “The Christmas Carol,” which numbers well over 40, is comprised largely of people who just happen to be related to each other.
The production director boasts that it’s truly a family affair.
“It’s wonderful to see so many families involved in such a fashion,” said Terri Riggle, production stage director. “They’re having fun and spending a lot of time together in a worthwhile project.”
Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Rockford’s Virgil Hubbard, and his wife, Kathleen, who’s making her acting debut on the Kent Theatre stage, is playing the wife of the character Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. Cedar Springs resident Russ Cole, who is Bob Cratchit, is also given singing direction under the guidance of his wife Carolee, who’s the production’s music director. Laura Johnson, who plays Christmas Present, also enjoys being on stage with her son, Tom, who plays Young Scrooge.
And the list continues. There are two mother and daughter combinations, Judy and BreAnna Schulz of Howard City and Eva Walters and her daughter, Mystic also from Howard City. Then there’s the Price family, all from Cedar Springs, who have four out of their five members involved in the play. Jon, the father, is playing dual roles of Mr. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Future; his wife, Tammy, is Mrs. Fezziwig; son Jordan is Dick Wilkins; and daughter Grace is Martha Cratchit.
Then there’s the sister and brother combination of Leah and Andrew Woltansus, from Kent City, who are playing the Ghost of Christmas Past and Peter Cratchit, respectively. Howard City resident Jennifer Nind is the production stage assistant and mother to Michael, who is playing the Young Errand Boy. Cedar Springs resident Scott Phillips plays ghoulish Jacob Marley, and his wife Dani is a special effects and lighting technician.
“This production promises to be an engaging evening of live stage performances, which includes not only acting, but singing and a little dancing thrown in just for fun,” Riggle said. “Bring your family. There’s no better way to start the holiday season than seeing this Christmas classic brought to life.”
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Brian Way and produced through special arrangements with Baker’s Plays and the Cedar Springs Theatre Association, will be opening Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 on the Kent Theatre stage in downtown Cedar Springs. The production runs through Dec. 11 with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the 10th, and a final matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids 11 and under. They’re available at the Cedar Springs Public Library or by calling 616-696-0949 or 616-696-SHOW or before each performance at the Kent Theatre box office, which opens at 7 p.m. for evening performances and at 1:30 p.m. for matinee performances.

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