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    2017-2018 reviews:


    clockwise from floor: Cindy Chung Camins, Devin Buchanan, Krista Jansen, Kevin Fitzgerald Ferguson, Carolyn Cryer, Lisa Niedermyer, Donnell Oakley in DTW Holiday Extravaganza
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    clockwise from floor: Cindy Chung Camins, Devin Buchanan, Krista Jansen, Kevin Fitzgerald Ferguson, Carolyn Cryer, Lisa Niedermyer, Donnell Oakley

    Fuzzy, Warm and Silly

    Fraulein Maria and Nut/Cracked take turns bringing yuks to DTW


    Last year's Joe's Pub version of Fraulein Maria is obviously hard to match [link], but the larger stage at DTW seems to have diluted much of the sharpness and clarity it had then. The trinity of the good, the bad and the ugly has gone missing from the trio of Marias that dance the lead part, replaced for now by an unbalanced triangle of a double dose of nice but slightly naughty white women versus a fluid and funny black man. Some of the b-boy flavor of the Joe's Pub show has also been diluted by casting changes and time. Much of the clowning by Michael Preston is intact and even enhanced with clever new bits. And Deborah Lohse's bad girlfriend character is still more colorful even as her mother superior character has been pared back a bit. The quick humor of Cindy Chung Camins as Bad Maria is missed here, though her redistribution throughout the rest of the characters gives her even more moments to shine. And the magic of Archie Burnett as Rolf is gone for now, nuff sed.

    Choreography by: Doug Elkins, David Parker.
    Dancers: Maria: Doug Elkins, Michael Preston, Devin Buchanan, Cindy Chung Camins, Carolyn Cryer, Kevin Fitzgerald Ferguson, Gui Greene, Krista Jansen, Jeffrey Kazin, Deborah Lohse, Scott Lowe, Meghan Merrill, Lisa Niedermeyer, Donnell Oakley, David Parker, Amber Sloan
    Nut Cracked: David Parker, Dylan Baker, Christopher Caines, Janet Charleston, Kate Digby, Terence Duncan, Megan Flynn, Samantha Geracht, Erin Gottwald, Jeffrey Kazin, Marissa Palley, Nic Petry, Amber Sloan, Jennifer Sydor, Zack Winokur, Anne Zuerner
    Music by: Rogers and Hammerstein, Tchaikovsky.
    Lighting design by: James Latzel (Maria), Kathy Kaufmann (Nut).
    Directors (Maria): Barbara Karger and Michael Preston.
    December 10-20, 2009

    Maria's bones are quite sturdy, though. This is a piece guaranteed to bring smiles and belly laughs, and it still succeeds. Both the opening and closing segments are a bit more fun on a larger stage, and David Parker as Liesl and Jeffrey Kazin as Captain Von Trapp remain perfect for their parts. Much of the fun of watching this show repeatedly will doubtless come from watching new people inhabit old parts, even if the magic of the Joe's Pub gold standard is never matched.

    Nut/Cracked, on first viewing, has a more frail skeleton. There are clever and funny moments in each scene and some really good downtownifications of corps de ballet dances from the original Nutcracker, but overall the laugh range stays closer to snicker than guffaw. Tap Santa with Irish dance arms and a shaving cream beard is a pretty good opener for the piece, and when Santa, aka David Parker, is joined by cool-sleeveless-tshirt-guy Jeffrey Kazin for a tap-off, things go well too, at least for Santa. Cute little spotlit circles of gifts being plundered in a gone-in-sixty-seconds group section also sets the piece up well. There is much toe shoe tap and awkward hijinx and even an occasional flash of real ballet virtuosity, but mainly this is a piece about being silly for silly's sake. Favorite bits are an impressive wetfinger-singing-wineglass performance by Parker that devolves at the end into singing lips, and the sugarplum fairies or snowflakes in black pants and tux t-shirts dancing well. A contortionist thumb-sucking ending obviously took serious planning and thought but unfortunately brought to mind an 8-year-old audience member's initial response to fingers in other people's mouths from an earlier section — "Eeeww!"

    DECEMBER 22, 2009

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