Posts Tagged ‘hillbarn theatre’

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE Lights up the Stage with the Glitz and Glamour of the 20’s

Annmarie Martin as The Drowsy Chaperone, toasts the upcoming wedding of Janet Van de Graaff (Courtney Hatcher) and Robert Martin (Trevor Meacham). Photo: Nancy Fitzgerald-Metzler

My theatre buddy and I were lucky enough to be able to attend Opening Night of Hillbarn Theatre’s last show of their 70th season, The Drowsy Chaperone. We really enjoyed this fun, clever story, which is a good introduction to musical theatre.

I had heard of Hillbarn before, but had never been. Well worth the drive to Foster City from the South Bay. Hillbarn is a nice sized house, about 140 seats. Intimate, yet still large enough to have a great audience and to hold all the amazing song and dance numbers and extensive set from the Tony Award-Winning musical, The Drowsy Chaperone.

The Drowsy Chaperone is different than most musicals I have seen. It is narrated by a lonely, agoraphobic man who loves musical theatre, the Man in Chair. He plays for us the record of his favorite musical, the fictional 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, and his apartment comes to life with the sights and sounds of the roaring 20’s, full of tap dancing, vaudevillians, gangsters, starlets, impressive sets, and of course, a drowsy chaperone. I even noticed some Shakespearean aspects, like mistaken identity and multiple weddings. Staples in most of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Ron Lopez, Jr. who plays the Man in Chair did an amazing job of engaging the audience into his world. It is just a normal night at home for him, listening to music to cure his blues. As the musical comes to life before us, he starts and stops the record, which stops the action on stage, to explain what is going on, what makes a good musical, and the gossip behind the actors who originally played the roles of this musical within a play. Ron’s neuroticism, flamboyance, and excitement to share the story of The Drowsy Chaperone with us made me chuckle again and again.

Courtney Hatcher who plays Janet Van de Graaff, the 20’s showgirl who is giving up her career to marry an oil tycoon, Robert Martin, definitely has some singing pipes and acting chops. Her song and dance numbers blew me away. Not just because of her extraordinary charisma and talent, but all the cute costumes she wore, fun props, the great background dancers, and the humor in it all.

Annmarie Martin who plays The Drowsy Chaperone, is an amazing singer and has a great stage presence. Annmarie was spot on as the Drowsy Chaperone. The Chaperone is a woman who enjoys a drink, or five, during prohibition. She reminds me of Karen in the sitcom Will and Grace. Karen was always drinking, saying something funny, and stealing the show. That’s exactly what Annmarie’s Chaperone did.

The show is full of humor and physical comedy. There are the Vaudeville-like characters such as Mrs. Tottendale, played by Melody Cole, and her butler, Underling, played by Don Cima. Mrs. Tottendale and Underling have an amusing scene where Tottendale repeatedly spits vodka at Underling.  It is spit take after spit take. Also Vaudevillian are the gangsters, Stewart Kramar and Joey Montes, who are disguised as pastry chefs to threaten Janet’s producer, Feldzieg, played by Michael Carey, to get Janet to call off the wedding and stay in show business. I love the gangsters’ dessert and food puns and their side-splitting physical comedy and dance numbers. Very memorable.

Also memorable were Eric Ribeiro as Aldolpho, the bumbling romantic, hired by Feldzieg to seduce Janet so as stop the wedding. And, of course, Trevor Meacham, Robert Martin, who has many enjoyable scenes. I especially liked the scene where he is blindfolded on roller skates as well as the entertaining tap dance number with his best man, George, played by Daniel Lloyd Pias. I can’t forget Michelle Foletta, who played Kitty, the dumb blonde who, according to Feldzieg, has no talent but thinks she can take Janet’s place as the starlet. She has some very cute numbers and scenes. The rest of the ensemble was very talented as well.

I’m glad I finally made it to Hillbarn Theatre and was able to experience this pleasurable, entertaining musical. Even if you aren’t into musicals, you will hear the Man in Chair’s opinion about what makes a good musical, and you might just agree with him. And I know you will agree that going to Hillbarn to see The Drowsy Chaperone makes for a fun evening out.

The Drowsy Chaperone Through May 29th at Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd. Foster City, CA 94404
Tickets available at Hillbarn Theatre or call 650.349.6411

Michelle Foletta, as Kitty, has a run in with Gangster #1 (left - Stewart Kramar) and Gangster #2 (right - Joey Montes) as Feldzieg (Michael Carey) looks on. Photo: Nancy Fitzgerald-Metzler

Hillbarn Theatre wins again with “Holes”.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, with or without kids, Hillbarn Theatre is putting on a delightful production of Holes.  Sadly, this is the last weekend, but if you have a chance today or tomorrow I urge you to see it!

You (or your children) may have read the Newberry Award winning book “Holes” by Louis Sachar, or you may have seen the Disney film of the same name starring Shia LaBeouf.  I took my 18 year old daughter to the show at Hillbarn, and though she was familiar with both book and film, I knew virtually nothing about the story other than it was for kids and about kids.

WRONG!  I found it to be a touching, heartwarming story fit for an audience of all ages.  I’ll admit I had my doubts about what I had thought was a children’s show, and it is always risky to produce a play that relies heavily on a young cast.  But I was absolutely delighted with the show that Hillbarn is presenting, once again proving they are one of the best theaters in the Bay Area, with access to some of the best talent. (more…)

Dial M for Murder kills at Hillbarn Theatre… But who kills whom?

Whatever you do, don't answer the phone!

Friday I attended opening night for Dial M for Murder, the third production in a row that I’ve seen at Hillbarn Theatre, and the third time I left the theater with a smile on my face.

I have never seen the 1954 film by Alfred Hitchcock, which was based on the 1952 play by Frederick Knott.  I felt somewhat ashamed by this slip, but it seemed that no one I spoke to had seen the film either!  Shame on us, but luckily we had the incredible fortune to see it played out on stage as it had been written.

The play is about Tony Wendice, a villain of mustache twirling proportions, who has come up with the perfect plan to murder his wife.  We see him plan every single detail of his nefarious scheme and it appears obvious there is no way for it to fail.  However, television murder-mystery writer (and former lover of Tony’s wife) Max Halliday explains to Tony that in real life something always goes wrong. Cue the first intermission (there are two).

Dial M for Murder

My guest and I were already enthralled by the first intermission, and went out to the lobby to discuss what we thought would happen.  Would the wife actually be murdered? Would he get away with it? Would Max be the wrench in the plan?  Would the plan go awry before Margot Wendice is murdered?  We both had our own ideas about the plot, and we both gleefully went back to our seats to see what would happen.

Of course, we were both wrong.  What actually happens was quite surprising to us both, and that’s when the play really started going.  A crime is committed, although I won’t tell you who did what, but soon Inspector Hubbard is on the case.  And this is when I became quite impressed with the play itself.

We already know what the crime was and who did it.  And yet the audience is on the edge of its seats following along with Inspector Hubbard as he takes clue after clue and pieces it all together.  Will the culprit be caught?  Will the right person go to jail?  Will there be a confession?  Will Tony Wendice ever get what he’s got coming to him???

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I absolutely loved this play.  My guest and I had SO MUCH FUN.  It has a fantastic, imaginative plot that kept us all on our toes.  The set design was luxurious and interesting, with full use of the entire stage.  And especially I loved the fantastic music that was occasionally played which gave the feeling of an old time radio show or a film from the 1950s.  Combined with some great lighting it gave an incredible murder-mystery mood.

Fred Pitts as Max Halliday

Acting, as always at Hillbarn, was fantastic.  Kelly Rinehart (Margot Wendice) did a great job making sure that even though Margot was in a fairly helpless position she did not really come off as a simpering, brainless fool.  Max Halliday was played by ultra handsome Fred Pitts, and we could certainly see why Margot might have decided to have a fling with him.  Steve Schwartz was both hilarious and riveting as the Inspector.  And finally, Frederik Goris played villainous Tony Wendice so brilliantly that he received a resounding BOOO from the audience when the actors took their bows.  I hope he took the boos as a compliment, because they were just that – he had given a great performance of a truly despicable man who we all LOVED to hate.

I was a little troubled by all the empty seats on Friday, something I have never seen at Hillbarn before, but which seems to be the case at shows elsewhere this week as well.  Is it because Dial M is not as well known as the previous two shows, Gypsy and Chicago?  If this is the case, I assure you this is one fantastic, riveting, and fun performance, and I felt it was done almost to perfection.  Once again the trip to Foster City was absolutely worth it (and virtually traffic free in that direction!) and I urge you to see this show while you have the chance.

Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd.
Foster City, CA
Dial M for Murder
October 21 – November 7
Box Office
(650) 349-6411
Tuesday through Friday
Online Tickets

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