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Review: “The Lucky O’Leary’s” at Tyler Civic Theatre

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On Stage: March 9th-11th, 15th-18th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:30pm)  at Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or tylercivictheatre.com.

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Before you take in a celebration of green beer, green attire, and green…almost everything, take a trip to Tyler Civic Theatre, as they are bringing big laughs this St. Pattie’s Day with the comedy, “The Lucky O’Learys.”

Set in the New York apartment of Peg O’Leary (Vickie Tindale) and her son, Brian (Ryan Ormandy). Peg is an overprotective mother that often says the wrong word from time to time but everyone knows what she means. Since her husband Brian (Brad Echols) left three years prior, she has been focusing on Brian ending his brief 12-year break from Seminary and becoming a priest. Brian, however, is set on marrying his fiancée Amy (Kacy Combest). Peg is against the marriage, partly because she thinks Amy’s father, Frank (Stan King) is in the mafia.

Adding to her troubles, Peg finds out that her apartment building is going contra (her word for “condo”) and she is going to be kicked out. She asks her sister Rose (Rebecca Hill) for a $50,000 loan so she can try to buy the apartment. Rose, whose husband runs the corner newsstands, can’t lend her the money. So, she decides to call upon a miracle from St. Genevieve, the Patron Saint of Over Protective Mothers. With the local lottery set for a record $116 million jackpot, Peg decides to buy a ticket, or 5,000, and try to win the big fortune.

The only problem is, everyone is buying a ticket, from Peg to Brian to Frank to Monsignor Rafferty (Roger Pharr), who prayed to St. Michael to win so he can build a new health center. As everyone gathers for Peg’s birthday dinner, which is the same night as the lotto numbers are announced, someone will hit it big, the question is who?

“The Lucky O’Learys” was written by playwright and actor, Jim Brochu, best known for the plays “Cooking With Gus,” “The Last Session,” and his one-man show, “Zero Hour,” about the life of actor Zero Mostel. The play actually began as a TV pilot that Brochu has written for his friend, Lucille Ball, but unfortunately, her health prevented the project from moving forward as a series. The TCT production was directed by DeAnna Hargrove, who recently directed “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” and special guest director, Sarah Pharr, who has worked as stage manager for “Rock of Ages.” With a cast of veterans and newcomers to the Civic Theatre stage, they have assembled a wonderfully funny cast that will crack up the audience.

Making her return to the Civic Theatre for the first time since 1992, Tindall is delightful, bringing life to life a little bit of a mother I’m sure we’ve all had to one degree or another. Ormandy is great as Brian, selling the slightly exasperated but loving son very well. Combest, in her TCT debut, is wonderful and hopefully, we see her in future productions. As Rose, Hill is awesome as she also makes her debut on the Civic stage, and gets big laughs playing off almost everyone in the cast. As for our veteran cast members, Echols, King, and Pharr, it’s a tossup at times on who steals the show. Every single member of the cast does a great job and with this much talent treading the boards, the show is an absolute must see.

“The Lucky O’Learys” is a warm, funny comedy that you don’t have to be Irish, Italian or even “Costa Rican” to enjoy. Go see it and give yourself a good laugh.

 

Family

At Cowan Center: “The Wizard of Oz” April 21st

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The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org. Upcoming productions are:

April 21st (7:30pm) – “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented at the Cowan Center. There truly is no place like home! The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto, and their friends the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography, and classic songs. Tickets are $37-$72.

April 28th (7:30pm) – Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 will be presented at the Cowan Center. The East Texas Symphony will close their season with Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9.  The Orchestra will be joined by ETSO Chorus, UT Tyler Concert Chorale, and Patriot Singers, and a quartet of soloists.  The concert also features the ETSO premieres of Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Brahms’ Nanie.  It’s a grand evening of choral music ending the season on a high note.

May 10th (7:30pm) – The Celtic Women will be presented at the Cowan Center. This global phenomenon started on a winter Dublin night in 2004. The idea was conceived to create a musical ensemble featuring a selection of exceptional classically and traditionally trained Irish female musicians. Tickets are $42-$77.

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Theatre Guide: “Love, Loss & What I Wore” on Stage at Lindale Theatre

 

Upcoming Events, Concerts & Plays

April 20th-22nd (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday Matinee 2pm) – “Love, Loss & What I Wore” –  This is a play of monologues and ensemble pieces about women, clothes, and memory covering all the important subjects: mothers, prom dresses, mothers, buying bras, mothers, hating purses, and why we only wear black. Based on the bestselling book by Ilene Beckerman. Lindale Community Theatre is located at 109 W. Hubbard St., Lindale, lindalecommunitytheater.org.

April 21st (7:30pm) – “The Wizard of Oz” will be presented at the Cowan Center. There truly is no place like home as the greatest family musical of all time, “The Wizard of Oz” twists its way into the Cowan Center! The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto, and their friends the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography, and classic songs. Sales begin March 26th. Tickets are $37-$72. The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org.

April 21st (7:30pm) – “All That Jazz!” featuring Ning An on piano will be presented by the Longview Symphony Orchestra at The Belcher Performance Center. Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview. For more info call (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.

April 23rd (6:30pm) – “Dinosaur Zoo” will be presented at The Belcher Performance Center. Erth’s “Dinosaur Zoo Live” guides you on a breathtaking tour through prehistoric Australia. You’ll observe, meet and interact with an eye-popping collection of amazingly life-like dinosaurs and other creatures presented in a theatrical performance that will thrill and entertain kids while stimulating their imaginations in ways that will forever connect them to their world. Brought to life by a team of skilled performers and puppeteers, and designed with the help of professional paleontologists, Erth’s DINOSAUR ZOO LIVE’s puppets are so extraordinarily realistic you may feel the urge to run and hide – but don’t! While this fun, unique, entertaining, and educational live show created by Erth Visual & Physical of Sydney, Australia may have been 65 million years in the making, you’ll agree, it’s well worth the wait! Belcher Performance Center at LeTourneau University is located at 2100 S. Mobberly, Longview. For more info call (903)233-3080 or go to belchercenter.com.

April 28th (7:30pm) – East Texas Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Choral, which includes the powerful “Ode to Joy” in the last movement. The orchestra will be joined by four soloists, the ETSO Chorus, and the combined UT Tyler Chorus and Patriot Singers. Cameron Rose, director of choirs at The University of Texas at Tyler, will direct the choruses. For more info or tickets go to etso.org or call (903)526-3876. Concerts are performed at the UT Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center. Concerts begin at 7:30pm.

May 4th-6th, 10th-13th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30 for a Mother’s Day Brunch) – “The Odd Couple” – This classic comedy opens as a group of the guys assemble for cards in the apartment of divorced Oscar Madison. And if the mess is any indication, it’s no wonder that his wife left him. Late to arrive is Felix Unger, who has just been separated from his wife. Fastidious, depressed, and none too tense, Felix seems suicidal, but as the action unfolds, Oscar becomes the one with murder on his mind when the clean freak and the slob ultimately decide to room together with hilarious results as “The Odd Couple” is born. The May 13th, Mother’s Day show offers an optional brunch. Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or go to tylercivictheatre.com.

May 4th-6th, 11th-13th (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30) – “The Miracle Worker” will be on stage at Henderson Civic Theater. “The Miracle Worker” is a three-act play by William Gibson adapted from his 1957 Playhouse 90 teleplay of the same name. It is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography, “The Story of My Life.” Henderson Civic Theater is located at 122 E. Main, Henderson. For more info call (903)657-2968 or go to hendersoncivictheatre.org.

May 10th (7:30pm) – The Celtic Women will be presented at the Cowan Center. They’ve sold more than ten million albums and three million tickets. Now, the global phenomenon known as Celtic Woman is set to embark on another world tour, which will include a stop in Tyler. It all started on a winter Dublin night in 2004. The idea was conceived to create a musical ensemble featuring a selection of exceptional classically and traditionally trained Irish female musicians. Sales begin April 9th. Tickets are $42-$77. The Cowan Center is located at 3900 University Blvd. on the UT Tyler campus. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (903)566-7424, or go to cowancenter.org.

May 19th (6pm) – “50th Anniversary Gala” will be presented by Tyler Civic Chorale. For more info go to tylercivicchorale.org or facebook.com/tylercivicchorale. Tickets are available through TCC members and at the door.

July 4th (4pm) – “Annual Independence Day Concert” will be presented by Tyler Civic Chorale at First Presbyterian Church, 230 W. Rusk St., Tyler. For more info go to tylercivicchorale.org or facebook.com/tylercivicchorale. Tickets are available through TCC members and at the door.

July 13th-15th, 20th-22nd (Nightly at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30) – “Charlotte’s Web” will be on stage at Henderson Civic Theater. All the enchanting characters from the book are here: Wilbur, the irresistible young pig who desperately wants to avoid the butcher; Fern, a girl who understands what animals say to each other; Templeton, the gluttonous rat who can occasionally be talked into a good deed; the Zuckerman family; the Arables; and, most of all, the extraordinary spider, Charlotte, who proves to be “a true friend and a good writer.” Henderson Civic Theater is located at 122 E. Main, Henderson. For more info call (903)657-2968 or go to hendersoncivictheatre.org.

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Review: I’m Not Rappaport

By John Baggett

The year has just begun, and Tyler Civic Theatre is continuing their hot streak with a production of the Tony Award winning classic, “I’m Not Rappaport.”

Set in the fall of 1982, the story centers around two elderly gentlemen who spend their time sitting on the bench in the lower income section of Central Park. There is Nat (Allison Cambre), an aging Communist with a penchant for tall tales and a disdain of capitalism and being “a nobody.” His frequent, unwilling audience is Midge (William Igbokwe), a superintendent whose eyesight is almost as absent as his patience for Nat. The taller the tale Nat tells, the more Midge falls for it, only to come to his senses as the story becomes grander.

Both men are hiding in plain sight – Nat from his daughter, Clara (DeAnna Hargrove) and Midge from Danforth (Michael McLeod), the head of the tenants’ association who intends to rid the building of Midge’s services and residency, as the building is being turned into a co-op. Clara wants Nat to come stay with her or move into a retirement home, as the neighborhood has become too dangerous. This is something Midge can attest to, as he pays one of the local muggers, Gilley (Asa Johnson), to walk him home, as well as protection from other thieves.

Observing them all is a quiet young art student, Laurie (Tara Hoover), whose connection to a mysterious man only known as Cowboy (Jake Gillard) will inevitably draw Midge and Nat into her problems, causing them to get into even more trouble than they were already in, thanks to Nat’s mouth.

The play was written by the great Herb Gardner, who is also known for “A Thousand Clowns” and “The Good People.” Along with “Rappaport,” he also adapted these works into feature films. This production was directed by Tilly McLeod, who previous directed productions of “A Christmas Story” and “Harvey.” McLeod took on this award winning classic and delivered the production is deserves, assembling a cast of wonderful talent, several of whom learned their parts in just a handful of rehearsals due to illness and weather. Even with all of the obstacles they faced, they pulled off a fantastic show.

Cambre is great as Nat, adding an air of sweetness to the role, and getting big laughs the more his character boasts with each wild yarn he spins. Igbokwe, in his first play ever, takes on a role beyond his years and holds his own against stage veterans. He often steals the show, is incredibly talented, and hopefully returns to the Civic Theatre stage very soon.

Hargrove is fantastic as Clara, mixing New York sassiness with heartfelt emotion as a daughter trying to protect her father. Hoover is great in her handful of scenes. Her character may not say much, but her physical performance is wonderfully natural and you can tell her joy of watching Nat and Midge is genuine. As Danforth, Mr. McLeod is hysterical, and you almost feel bad for him when he becomes the target of Nat’s shenanigans. Finally, our two villains, Cowboy (Gillard) and Gilley (Johnson), in a show filled with laughs, do an excellent job of reminding us of the looming threats around the rest of the cast. They both deliver performances that are as menacing as everyone else is charming.

“I’m Not Rappaport” is a delightful, frequently funny show that despite being set in the early 80s feels pretty timeless. Honestly, if they didn’t tell you it was set in the 80s, save for one costume, this story could be from 30 years or 3 days ago. It’s another great show at Tyler Civic Theatre and one that I truly believe you will enjoy.

“I’m Not Rappaport” opens on Friday, February 2nd and runs through Sunday, February 11th.  Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Drive.  For more information and to purchase tickets go to http://tylercivictheatre.com/production/2017-2018/im-not-rappaport

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