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Wednesday, December 9,2009

Charm school

Director, students bring oft-missing magic to ‘Much Ado’

by Tom Helma

The graveyard of lost souls is littered with the forlorn spirits of actors who have tried and failed at performing Shakespeare. And yet, the third semester theater class at Lansing Community College, under the sure and guiding hands of instructor Mary Job, somehow managed to pull off a substantially capable rendition of the Bard’s “Much Ado About Nothing” last weekend with only four weeks of rehearsal time.


Lines were delivered with nary a stumble, actors projected articulately and with great expansive movements. The production was highly entertaining.


A small part of this production’s success is attributable to the intimacy of LCC’s still new black box theater. The audience experiences the play with a sense of immediacy. Actors are but a tomato’s throw away.


The larger success comes from a director who knows not only how to direct but also how to get a committed group of young thespians to play their parts, and well.


While two sets of lovers are at the heart of this play, all of the major roles were performed with great gusto and heart.


Erin Cline, in the key role of Beatrice, was sure-footed and determined, presenting a very believable no-nonsense woman of heart and soul, while J.C. Kibbey, as Benedick, owned the stage with an awesome array of stage movement and expressions.


Amber Walker, as Hero, knew how to die well, and Joshua Dravenstatt brought authenticity to his role as Claudio.


Ann Marie Foley, in the small role of Antonia, suffered through most of the play with mere stage presence and few lines, but she delivered the goods when it came time to deliver her short speech to Claudio at play’s end, proving Antonia is not a woman with whom someone messes.


Noteworthy also were Kilashandra Waters, as Constable Dogberry, who did a ridiculously good job of imitating a cocky bantam rooster, and Teri Brown, a woman playing a man’s role who proved she knew how to walk with swagger and sit with legs splayed wide open.


There was a magic to this production, a charm that has been lacking in many recent send-ups of Shakespeare’s com edies by local community theater companies. Somehow, this group of students captured the essence of the muse himself and brought his ancient tale fully to life for a contemporary audience. Bravo!



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