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Wednesday, July 1,2009

Grape-est of all time

MSU’s ‘Kid Purple’ delivers KO

by Paul Wozniak

Knocking out its third and final production for the 2009 season, MSU Summer Circle’s Review “Kid Purple” rounded out to be the strongest and funniest of this year’s main stage productions. Despite his love of dark, politically incorrect humor, author Donald Wollner keeps his underdog, Rocky-esque story simple and straightforward, punching along with almost bare-knuckled wit. In the hands of director Lynn Lammers, “Kid Purple” was a complete, big-picture production on a small stage that jabbed at genre clichés as much as it embraced them.


Joel King played the purple faced “Kid,” dressed in a purple boxer’s robe and shorts. As he strutted across the stage, Kid told the story of his rise to glory, from his birth to the heavyweight title, with all of the body slams in between. King gave a natural and convincing performance, stringing together the entire supporting cast all the way until the end. Apart from a few delayed line deliveries at the end of the show, King consistently anchored his character and the show, which allowed the other actors to flourish in their broadgestured idiosyncrasies.



Benjamin “Kid Purple” Schwarz has more to deal with than just a tinted face Erin Buitendorp/City Pulse and a familiar storyline, he also must contend with his good-hearted-yetcareer-disapproving mother, played by Kate Kilpatrick. Mrs. Schwarz’ law school dreams for her boy are to no avail, given that his physical abnormality and his own self-defense lead him on the trail of boxing instead of bantering. Kilpatrick’s honest performance, as she deals with a missing husband and a surreal-looking child, gave the show its emotional core.


Michelle Meredith played Kid’s sister, Michelle Schwarz, in what was arguably her strongest performance to date. Meredith came close to stealing the show with her comically shifting eyes and deadpan
quips, which reflect her monetary aspirations along with her emotional
bruising. From her first entrance as a baby wielding a meat cleaver to
a full-grown lawyer with daddy issues, Meredith took her stereotyped
character to the next level in every scene in which she appeared.

Vying
for just as much attention was Kid’s boxing coach, Willie, played to
the hilt by Samuelle Clark. Clark took his archetypal role as the old
trainer who knows how to make his fighters win a title seriously, but
he was also keenly aware of the script’s rich, ridiculous content and,
thankfully, never strayed from growling and basking in its hilarity.

Strong
performances also came from Vinnie Mascola, as the boxing match
announcer; Allie Reid, as the Kid’s love interest and ring girl; and
Alex West, as the kid’s boxing idol, “Sweet” Eddie Kareem.

The
set, costume and property designs were given stylistic cohesion by
Amber Marisa Cook. Familiar music choices also put the audience in the
appropriate mindset, from the starting chords of Simon and Garfunkel to
the final thumping chorus of “Eye of the Tiger.”

“Kid
Purple’s” most effective moments arose from the low-budget nature of
the production. From invisible boxing partners to final slow-motion
fight, “Kid Purple” had almost as much excitement as Rocky’s showdown
with Apollo Creed, purple bruises and all.

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