FRONT ROW CENTER
By Cindy Paul
in all, Design for Murder, by George Batson, turned out to be a typical
LLT production, with the solid cast rising above a fairly pedestrian
script. But the set and some knockout acting vignettes put this play
over the top, giving the audience their moneys worth.
Director Andrew Krumbhaar chose a fine
cast and crew. Lois Vlahov, Michael Neiderman and David Splittstoesser
all presented most credible leading roles.
The large supporting cast, made up of
Pat Varcoe, Annabelle Runsat, Marcia Valvo, Sylvia Bitting, Harry Walker,
Ann Clegg and Tod Jonson with a miniscule walk-on, worked well together.
This play, like most murder mysteries, is rife with complex innuendos
and twists and turns manufactured for the sole purpose of creating suspense
and casting suspicion about in every possible direction. Almost every
character in this play is designed to be a possible murder suspect,
with moments practically oozing slimy manipulation. When your character
is not likable, but not out-and-out evil, you the actor
are in a tough position onstage, and if it´s done right, nobody
I must mention Pat Varcoes energetic
and charming portrayal. This is one of Lakesides outstanding actresses
and its nice to see her back on the stage again, giving us such
Technically, the show was good. The set
was a Tod Jonson/Ektor Carranza masterpiece. Deep and colorful, exuding
just the right kind of opulence with an enormous oriental rug, marble
and even stained glass, it contributed vastly to the play itself. Set
changes were fast and practically seamless. Wardrobe and makeup were
The incidental music created by Alan Bedford
enhanced the entire show, perfectly reflecting the dynamic curves of
the script. Special care was evident in a recording and delivery of
the main character singing the sound was put through speakers
directly in front of the audience, thus believably emanating from the
stage itself, and the volume (always a dilemma) was correct.
So often sound is the last problem to
be addressed in these productions, with a clumsy result. There was evidence
of this common flaw in this particular show. Such mistakes as cutting
off sound cues abruptly and allowing music to overwhelm the dialog are
distracting. Another problem often occurring in community theatres is
unmotivated blocking, actors walking around for no apparent reason.
Though not constant, this occurred throughout the course of the play
and eventually had a disquieting effect. Most likely this error was
committed with the understandable idea of jazzing up the 50-year-old
script. The difficult play was otherwise meticulously handled by a director
with an eye on acting.
Crew for this massive undertaking included
Robbie Krumbhaar as stage manager, Sue and Len Breitfeller on lights
and sound, Barbara Ruffalo and Lerna Keddy on wardrobe, Nancy Kendrick
and Sheila Quinn doing makeup and Terry Jo Kennedy handling the props.
A poll was taken each night during the
intermission of this play to find out who the audience believed was
the murderer. I understand that at least one night yours truly received
for which I am sincerely honored.
When such a well-rehearsed and hard-working
team can pull off the subtleties required by an intricate murder mystery,
its just good clean fun for everybody.
Ajijic FilmFest Kickoff
LET´S GO TO THE MOVIES!
The Filmfest kickoff
show was simply spectacular. Produced by go-getter Sandy Vandermeer,
directed and choreographed by talented Barbara Clippenger, music directed
by Douglas Livingston (who also accompanied with his usual sure hand
and sensitivity), written by Gordon Weaver, and set-designed by the
ubiquitous Jonson/Carranza team
this show was an entertainment
triumph, proving yet again the viability of musical revues. It featured
Ann Clegg, who has an astonishing voice and poise, Sandy Vandermeer
turning in a top-level performance, and Mac Morrison and Mike Niederman
in solos to die for. Ray Himmelman and Pat Carroll were comical and
bright, Ron Richter, Carmen Carranza, Eileen Bednarz, Barbara Hawkins,
and Ektor Carranza made full use of the large stage for wonderful dance
routines, and also sang in production numbers. In spontaneous appreciation
of such verve, talent and sparkle, the audience stood up and cheered
for this remarkable collection of 75 years of movie music, initiating
the fourth annual Filmfest in real style.
AN EVENING OF MUSIC
FOR MUSIC LOVERS
I have rarely been
so moved by a show as the evening last month when I attended the concert
benefit for the Niños Incapacitados. Presenting Peter Schaefer
on piano and the Los Cantantes del Lago choir, the concert warmed a
packed and appreciative auditorium audience, eliciting a standing ovation
thank-you at the final curtain.
With a pure expression of his beautiful spirit, Peter Schaefer played
several of his own compositions along with some familiar numbers, my
favorite being a crystalline rendition of When I Fall in Love.
The Cantantes deserve special plaudits for an excellent performance,
accompanied by Douglas Livingston and directed by multi-talented Darel
In this full program there was no showboating, just a reflection of
the chosen title, Music for Music Lovers.
One persons opinion