Authors Posts by John Brescia

John Brescia

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Cabaret
"Cabaret," starring Jennifer Fogarty and Patrick Dorow, is on stage through Oct. 9 at Star Theatre.

“Cabaret” is a fun and racy musical set in 1930s Berlin. Taking place in and around a lurid nightspot called the Kit Kat Klub, the plot centers on the love affair between American writer Cliff Bradshaw and Klub performer Sally Bowles. Complementing their romance is a subplot following elderly Jewish fruit vendor Herr Schultz’s romantic pursuit of landlady Fraulein Schneider.

The show portrays a time of constant festivities in which the people of Germany strive to forget their economic troubles and ignore the political unrest steadily brewing across the country. But that negligence proves folly, as the Nazi Party continues its rise in the backdrop of the story.

Local theater company Patrick Dorow Productions is staging “Cabaret” at Star Theatre in Kittery, Maine, through Oct. 9. Though not perfect, it’s an exceedingly fun show with some memorable performances.

Jennifer Fogarty, whose previous acting credits include the role of Wednesday Addams in a national tour of “The Addams Family,” here plays the English Sally Bowles. Conforming ably to her character’s personality, she is both shallow and alluring throughout the play. Fogarty’s performance is not lacking in charisma, though her attempt at an English accent, while passable, doesn’t sound authentic enough to contribute to the reality of her character. The accent also fluctuates while she sings, disrupting the world created in the performance.

Accent aside, Fogarty has a tremendous voice, full of power and confidence. Her vocal performance fits the character’s persona of a seasoned and savvy nightclub headliner, which she plays with passion. She even cracks and drinks real eggs in one scene, demonstrating her commitment to the character.

Jennifer Fogarty as Sally Bowles in "Cabaret."
Jennifer Fogarty as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”

Patrick Dorow gives a masterful performance as the Emcee, the raunchy, and androgynous host of the Kit Kat Klub. Dorow is careful to maintain a relationship with the audience, frequently addressing them directly. Dorow has the responsibility of serving as a master of ceremonies, both for the play onstage and the story within the play, solidifying the audience’s engagement with the show. Dorow loses himself in the role and serves as an example to his less experienced costars of what can be achieved onstage.

Teddy Crecelius’ performance as Cliff Bradshaw, by comparison, is sub-par. His effort is noticeable, but he lacks the enthusiasm of his costars. He delivers his lines dutifully, speaking and acting like Cliff Bradshaw, but the performance lacks feeling. He plays his character, while the other cast members become theirs.

Another impressive performance comes from Ben Tylka, who plays Cliff’s friend Ernst Ludwig. Tylka demonstrates a spot-on German accent, which helps cement his character’s authenticity. Embodying the story’s ominous undertones, his Nazi persona is not overly menacing, but casual and even friendly — an average man who becomes warped by the Third Reich’s rise.

The scenery on the set is well designed, though not elaborate, creating the atmosphere of a real seedy club that may lack money but does not lack pizzazz. Bretton Reis admirably serves double-duty as the lighting designer and a cast member, playing the club boy Bobby.

Though the production has its flaws, the cast and crew of “Cabaret” put on a good, entertaining show for anyone who wants a fun night out on the Seacoast.

The four remaining show times are Friday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 9, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $20 for students. There is also limited cabaret-style seating available on the set for $100 per table (up to four people). For tickets and more information, click here.

Emery Lawrence (left) and Bailey Weakley star in
Emery Lawrence (left) and Bailey Weakley star in "The Other Two Men." photo by Jasmin Hunter

Modern society’s interpretation of history is never certain. Despite our best attempts to learn from the past, our current resources limit us from experiencing the proper lesson. We try anyway, for as the old saying goes, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”

A new play on stage at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth is spinning that popular belief into a reverse concept: If we were to repeat the past, would we learn from it?

In “The Other Two Men,” presented by Oz Productions, this question is explored through the interactions between Saskatoon II (Emery Lawrence) and Nebraska II (Bailey Weakley), clones of two of the four long-dead founding fathers of a future society built upon a colonized Milky Way galaxy. Saskatoon and Nebraska are under observation by their creators, who hope to discover historical intricacies by replicating the lives of the original two founders through their clones. But the controlled nature of their existence causes the clones to question and debate the ethics and value of such an endeavor.

Written by Lisa Shapter and directed by Tomer Oz, the two-man show is great entertainment for fans of the sci-fi genre, particularly those seeking a production with non-traditional plotlines. “The Other Two Men” is attractively unorthodox, a good choice for anyone looking for a different kind of theater experience.

The scenery and detail of the set is refreshingly sparse, allowing the audience to devote all of its attention to the two actors onstage. The spotlight remains on Lawrence and Weakley, who cope with the pressure through a dedicated maintenance of character. Their dialogue is steady and their facial expressions reflect the strong emotions their characters are feeling. The two stars develop and maintain a clear chemistry.

Emery Lawrence (left) and Bailey Weakley star in "The Other Two Men" at The Players' Ring in Portsmouth, NH.
photo by Jasmin Hunter

Despite the compatibility of the actors, Nebraska and Saskatoon have conflicting reactions to their circumstances. While Nebraska continually expresses worry and doubt about their situation, Saskatoon is more resigned to his fate and optimistic about the outcome of the experiment. Although this dynamic creates an interesting tension between the two, Saskatoon gets somewhat short-changed as a character, lacking Nebraska’s depth and vulnerability. This results in a slight imbalance in the plot.

The lighting for the production is well done, but some of the sound effects are vague, particularly the source and meaning of the sounds the characters hear in their heads. Furthermore, the narration that accompanies different scenes is often difficult to understand and too brief for the audience to adequately consider.

But the artfulness of the writer and director, the performance of the actors, and the skill of the crew are all on full display in this production. The cast and crew’s ingenuity has created a compelling and thought-provoking show out of scant resources.

Audiences will not easily brush off the effects of “The Other Two Men” once they leave the theater — they will be made to think, and they will be made to feel.

“The Other Two Men” is onstage at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth through July 24. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12, available here.

Portsmouth Pride
photo courtesy of Seacoast Outright

Tremendous progress has been made in recent years toward advancing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights movement. Marriage equality is now a reality, and June is national LGBT Pride Month.

But the recent mass shooting in Orlando demonstrates the level of hatred and intolerance that the LGBT community still faces.

These are the circumstances surrounding the second annual Portsmouth Pride event and parade, which takes place on Saturday, June 25. Part of the national Pride Month celebration, the event is dedicated to honoring and celebrating the LGBT identity.

The event is organized by Seacoast Outright, a nonprofit group dedicated to providing support and services to the LGBT community, especially its youth, for the last 23 years. Featuring speakers, live music, a parade, and more, Portsmouth Pride highlights the city’s open, cooperative nature. Local businesses have joined with area nonprofits to ensure Portsmouth Pride is a fun, expressive day for everyone.

Participants in the Pride March will gather on the lawn of Portsmouth Public Library at 1 p.m., where they will be assembled into six groups, the members of each wearing a particular color of the rainbow. The groups will then march to Market Square, each one taking a different route so as to cover more ground. They will all come together at the end to form a human LGBT flag. About 2,000 marchers took part in the inaugural parade last year; Seacoast Outright is hoping to surpass that number on Saturday.

Portsmouth Pride participants fill the streets during last year's event.
Portsmouth Pride participants fill the streets during last year’s event. photo courtesy of Seacoast Outright

Organizers feel good about the upcoming event. Despite the continued presence of anti-LGBT feelings in the country, they doubt there will be any trouble. There were no protesters at Portsmouth Pride last year, and Seacoast Outright has no reason to believe there will be any opposition this year.

“The community has been so supportive, we’re not expecting any trouble,” said Rebecca Sanborn, a member of Seacoast Outright’s board of directors. “I’ve been with Outright for five months, but it feels like longer because I love the people here. It’s a very close-knit team. I attended the first Portsmouth Pride last year and got connected with its members. I was honored to be asked to join as a member.”

After the march, a program of speakers and entertainers will commence at 2 p.m. Featured acts include DJ Jodie and the band As We Know It, who also performed at last year’s event. The Leftist Marching Band also will be on hand, and representatives from the city will issue a proclamation.

The keynote speaker will be Roberta “Bobbie” Barry, who was instrumental in founding another LGBT advocacy group, the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. There will also be a youth speaker and a couple of surprises.

Nonprofits that serve as resources for the LGBT community will have booths open during the event, as will some businesses. Refreshments will be available for sale, and Inner Truth Massages will offer free chair massages.

After the main event wraps up, participants can take part in the Out and About Program from 4 to 10 p.m. Restaurants and other businesses in the Portsmouth area who are sponsors of the Pride event will be featured in a directory and online map. A number of restaurants will offer a special appetizer or drink with a Pride theme.

In addition, two Pride after-parties will take place from 6-8 p.m.: a 21-plus event at Birdseye Lounge, and an all-ages party at Seacoast Repertory Theatre.

Part of a sign displayed during last year's Portsmouth Pride event.
Part of a sign displayed during last year’s Portsmouth Pride event. photo courtesy of Seacoast Outright

Portsmouth Pride takes place two weeks after the Orlando shooting, in which a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding dozens of others. To honor the victims, Seacoast Outright and South Church held a candlelight vigil on June 14, drawing about 1,000 people. Attendants took turns speaking and then walked around town with candles before congregating in the church once again for a reading of the victims’ names.

The Orlando attack left the local LGBT community reeling, and the Portsmouth Pride event will honor the victims further.

“It’s different from last year. Those victims will be in our hearts and minds,” said Sanborn. “We will keep moving forward.”

Seacoast Outright continues with its work, showing LGBT youths and adults that they have the support of the greater community. They hope the Portsmouth Pride event will again demonstrate how extensive that support is.

People can sign up to participate in the Pride March, get tickets to the after-parties, and find more information at seacoastoutright.org.