By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Instead, Sheehy keeps almost everything as Austen intended, the slow walk-and-talks around gardens, the intricate reels danced at summer balls, the endless letter-reading by characters opening envelopes sent by footmen from other characters. Toward the end of the play, a bunch of them actually read letters while they're dancing at a fancy ball, not an easy trick on the sharply raked set plonked on the Kalita Humphreys Theater's revolving stage by scenic designer John Coyne.
At first Coyne's set seems like a stunning use of the space. Turned one way, it's the Bennets' drawing room, turned another it's a ballroom or a hillside. 'Round and 'round it goes, looking like a wide, curved skateboard ramp with steps on either side. Visually interesting, sure, but the thing must be hell to work on. The actors have to gallop quickly over the high, slanted stage as scenes blend one to the next. The men in tight pants and tall boots, the women in long dresses and ballet slippers, all go through quite a workout just traveling over hill and dale. At the preview performance reviewed, Kathleen McElfresh, skittering to the upper level, caught her dress on a step and fell forward so hard the audience let out a collective gasp. The show went on and so did the actress, no doubt with some massaging and bandaging done later.
Nunsense: A-Men! continues through September 29 at Richardson Theatre Centre, 972-699-1130.
As the first production of the season, Pride and Prejudice stumbles badly. It might be a tough sell too. Better, shorter versions exist on DVD, ones with actual British actors and not Yalies for whom the words do not trip lightly off the tongue. Unless you're getting extra credit for English class, why bother?
Sometimes one wonderful performance is enough to make a so-so production so, so much fun. In the silly musical comedy Nunsense: A-Men!, now at the Richardson Theatre Centre, it's the delightfully sunny presence of actor Robert Rushin, a tall, lanky senior at Plano Senior High School, that turns a small show into a huge smilefest.
The kid's adorable, with a toothy grin that won't quit. He can sing, tap-dance and hit a punch line with killer timing. He's doing it dressed in a wimple and to-the-floor habit as novitiate "Sister Leo," one of five all-drag members of the "Little Sisters of Hoboken."
This installment in the nutty Nunsense series has the sisters (Rushin, Mike Fulk, Jeff Kinman, Greg Pugh, Stephen-Shayle Rhodes) putting on a fund-raiser talent show. The jokes are dumb ("How do you get down from a duck?" "I dunno, how'd you get up on her in the first place?"). The musical numbers are either corny or overly sentimental. Over-acting isn't possible as the men in black dresses spoof Wizard of Oz, Sunset Boulevard and fan dancer Sally Rand.
Directed by Rachael Lindley, choreographed to a frazzle by Nan Gammon, with musical direction by Adam C. Wright, Nunsense A-Men! is a no-budget frolic with one breakout performance worth catching. Who knows? Maybe Robert Rushin will star one day on the big new stage at the Dallas Theater Center. First, though, he has to get into Yale.
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