Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Other Place at Ensemble Theatre

Tantalizing, excruciating, and poignant

     Sharr White’s The Other Place (2010) directed by D. Lynn Meyers has a story that cannot be discussed in very much detail because it will ruin the audience member’s experience knowing too much ahead of time.  This is an adult play featuring an emotional/medical issue that has to be worked out through language.  It’s somewhat reminiscent in

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Maribelle's Eat + Drink

a boycott ended with delight

Maribelle's Eat + Drink
     Quite frankly, we've avoided Maribelle's since they moved to their new location in Oakley.  The reason was simple…their new menu.  When we checked it out shortly after their re-opening, the emphasis seemed to be on the "drink" in their

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash

The second act sings, but the first act stinks

Upright Bass Player John W Marshall*
     During the intermission of Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash at Playhouse in the Park, upright bass player John W. Marshall seemed to be improvising and then he was

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


     Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay and written by her and Paul Webb, excels in showing the many details, conflicts, and points of view that surrounded events in Selma and culminated in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  DuVernay maintains an understated approach that refrains from

Monday, January 19, 2015

Girl Singers

Tenderly, Rosemary Clooney, 
Darlene Love, and Bette Midler

Rosemary Clooney
Susan Haefner
     Tenderly:  The Rosemary Clooney Musical played at the Playhouse in the Park, where it was extended for three weeks.  It presents Clooney’s life, as centered around the therapy she received after her onstage nervous breakdown following Bobby Kennedy’s assassination in 1968.  Susan Haefner captured Clooney’s singing style, which was warm, engaging, and unassumingly powerful.  She was very convincing in conveying Clooney’s over-riding impulse to put on a happy face and take care of others as her world was

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Babadook

Yes, it’s horrifying and terrifying

     The Babadook, written and directed by Australian Jennifer Kent, really is as horrifying as the ads have said.  It achieves this with a minimum of gore and without going overboard with triple ending sequences.  The set up is that a single mother

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Serena / A World Elsewhere

The Biltmore Estate 
figures in two recent novels

      I came across Wayne Johnston’s A World Elsewhere (2011) in the Olde Niagara Bookshop and picked it up because Johnston has won and been nominated for Canadian literary awards.  A World Elsewhere takes place in the 1890s in Newfoundland and then North Carolina.  A funny, touching, shaggy dog story that has a plot that feels a little like Silas Marner, but with a main character – Landish Druken –

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Imitation Game

A complex, exceptionally realized biopic

     The Imitation Game, directed by Norwegian Morten Tyldum, has a title that works on multiple levels.  Not only does it refer to how computers can imitate thinking, but also how the British had to imitate the thinking of the Germans to break the Enigma code, and also how they had to imitate their earlier losing of

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Into the Woods

Ambitious, mature, 
worthwhile, but not a home run

     The first miracle is that a movie has finally been released of Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s 1987 musical that has been kicking around for the last couple of decades because Hollywood can only market action movies for 12 year old males and those adults that think like

Friday, January 2, 2015


By smartly updating an old chestnut, 
this new Annie gleams with real emotion

     Will Gluck has taken Annie, updated it (this is commented upon in the first shot and then cheekily by Annie), added some new songs, re-orchestrated everything, addressed the ethnic and socioeconomic mix of NYC, and re-thought the

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bistro Grace

Where everyone would want to be, 
if only it were kicked up a few notches

Bistro Grace
      This restaurant space hasn't looked this good since the early days of the old Boca at the turn of the last century.  Dramatic lighting along with benched seating and good acoustics all make for a night of relaxed dining.  There's only