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Review: A Mind of My Own

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By John Baggett

Did you know that every decision you make is either an example of left brain or right brain thinking? All of them – how you put on your socks and shoes, how you pour a bowl of cereal, how to talk to a girl, I do mean all of them. It is this dichotomy that is the subject of the first play of the new season at Tyler Civic Theatre and the winner of the 2019 New Play Festival, the hilarious comedy – “A Mind of My Own.”

“A Mind of My Own” is the story of Ross (Luke Pearson), a teenager whose every decision is an absolute struggle. This is because there is a war inside his head between the two sides of his brain – Left (Jessica Fite) and Right (Sarah Pharr). Left Brain is more analytical,  strict, and rigid while Right Brain is more free spirited, creative, and emotional. Their tug of war over every decision forces Ross to live his life unable to make a decision at all.

The only thing he has been able to decide on is that he has the biggest crush on his classmate, Shira (Layla Wragg). No matter what side of his brain is in control, one thing is clear – Ross is hopeless. Every time he is around her he turns into a babbling wreck. When his friends August (Johnathan Hodges) and Barry (Zach Combs) try to step in and help, it just makes matters worse. If Ross is going to open up his heart to Shira, he’s going to need all the help he can get.

“A Mind of My Own” was written by Lila Katz. This is her first produced play, and one thing is very clear – she can write. I actually have gotten to see this story performed twice – once at the New Play Festival in which the show was read aloud and the fully realized production. Both versions managed to nail Katz’s humor and heart, which is all over this story.

The production is directed by Hannah Claire, who previously directed “The Disappearance of Maud Crawford” and, most recently, “The Taming of the Shrew” for Tyler Civic Theatre and she assembled a perfect cast to bring this show to life.

As Ross, Pearson delivers a knockout performance. He makes his character incredibly real and uncomfortably relatable because I’m pretty sure I’ve been in Ross’s shoes more than once in my life. He’s also got great comedic chops and I hope he continues to do shows in the future. Wragg, in her first production at Tyler Civic, is great as Shirah, who is more than just “the love interest.” Her character is smart and self-driven, as well as incredibly aware of Ross’s crush. She’s got some good acting chops and I hope to see her on the Civic stage in future shows.

Hodges and Combs are fantastic as August and Barry. Hodges, also in his first role at TCT, is cocky and smarmy in all the right ways, almost like the villain in an 80s comedy. He does a wonderful job and I hope to see him in future shows. Combs, fresh from performing in “Newsies” just a few weeks ago, is absolutely hilarious. He has great, natural comic timing and absolutely steals one of the scenes.

Which brings me to the Brain. Fite and Pharr are incredible. They practically steal the show, especially Pharr who is not afraid to go for it, delivering an absolute laugh out loud performance. Fite’s character is the straight man in the pair, the Abbott to Pharr’s Costello, but that’s not to say she isn’t a delight to watch. I could watch these two go back and forth all day, but I’ll settle for what I got.

“A Mind of My Own” is a great show. It may have been written by a teen and performed by (mostly) teens, but the themes of this show are universal and everyone will get something out of it. It may be about being an awkward, love struck teen, something we’ve all been; but the examination of right vs. left brain thinking is genius. Katz has a talent beyond her years, and I feel like she is only getting started.

My only criticism of the show is that it’s too short. When I say that, I don’t mean that the show is rushing to tell its story. It gets everything across perfectly and there isn’t a wasted second on the stage. What I mean is I want more of this world Katz has created. I want more adventures of Ross and his brain. So, I appeal to Lila, please, give me more – sequels, spin offs, a series of short film, maybe a Netflix series. Just give me more.

“A Mind of My Own” is a great show; funny, intelligent, and incredibly heartfelt. It’s another shining example of the great collection of young talent.  Also, it’s only running for a single weekend, so I would take full advantage and come see this show while you can. This is another one of those Tyler Civic Theatre productions that if you miss it, you’ll regret it.

Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Drive in Tyler. This play is has a short run, August 29th-September 1st at 7:30pm. For more information or to purchase tickets go to https://www.tylercivictheatre.com/?fbclid=IwAR0rvLg24nEODcZiXkHhYYNrBitcc2pfQSrzf3cSbpS194kZbGXfo4IDN7Q

Concerts

Cowan Center: “Escape Margaritaville” Opens 2020-2021 Season

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Wondering what is showing at the Cowan Center? 

There’s nothing like opening a season with a fun show and a member party for the ages! No better theme than Jimmy Buffett music, an escape to Margaritaville, and a pre-party for Cowan Center Circle members!

“I think we all deserve some social time with our friends and like-minded Broadway fans,” said Susan Thomae-Morphew, UT Tyler Cowan Center Executive Director.

“This is our 24th Season! We can’t believe it either! We promise to have lots of great talent again and will be gearing up as we celebrate a quarter of a century soon. Over the next 2 years we will be developing programming for new target audiences and upgrading our premiere venue known across the state and beyond as a magnet for amazing artists and shows.”

“The Cowan Center Circle is the lifeblood of the Cowan Center’s service and success. Your membership support is needed now more than ever before. We have big plans and want to make you proud of this wonderful asset we share with so many. It is with you that we reach high and provide the best for our community, state and region.”

“We ask you to renew your membership, consider an upgrade, and invite friends to jump into the Cowan Center family. We want to fill the house every show and share the magic of live performance. Help us reach for the stars and come see some on stage, too!”

“We are grateful for each and every one of you. I can’t wait to see you all again!”

All events are performed in the Cowan Center located on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Boulevard – FAC 1120 in Tyler, TX (Google Map).

QUESTIONS? Call (903)566.7424. More information and TICKETS can also be found at CowanCenter.org. Watch for announcements on Cowan’s Facebook and Twitter pages too.

 

Upcoming acts are:

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From Tyler Civic Theatre: Announcements & The Future

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ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM TYLER CIVIC THEATRE CENTER CONCERNING COVID-19

 Announcement Regarding  The Mark Twain Show

We are saddened to announce the cancellation of The Mark Twain Show at TCTC. But, this is the best and safest decision for our actors and our patrons due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and based on the latest recommendations by the CDC. We are happy to provide those who have already purchased tickets a refund. Please contact our box office during business hours.

Announcement Regarding  Just So Stories 

Just So Stories at TCTC has been postponed indefinitely. We hope there will be potential during the month of May to put this show back on stage, but we are unable to make any promises about upcoming shows at this time. Please understand this is the best and safest decision for our actors and our patrons based on the latest recommendations by the CDC. Please follow our Facebook page for updates regarding Just So Stories.

Announcement Regarding  Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tyler Civic Theater Center has modified plans for Breakfast at Tiffany’s auditions by Facebook Messenger video chat. Details follow, but we are proceeding with cautious optimism for our final season production.

Meanwhile, Just So Stories is waiting in the wings with set pieces in place and costumes hanging in the dressing rooms. Obviously, no one knows what the next days or weeks will look like, but we will be prepared to go when it is safe to do so – that’s what theater people do!

If you plan to audition and are Facebook friends with DeAnna Hargrove, simply send her a FB private message to be scheduled anytime between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday. If you are not yet friends, now’s the time to make that request…and don’t forget to send a message for your appointment time. Sides will be available Monday afternoon for cold readings, but prepared monologues are also welcomed. The following Monday and Tuesday we plan to continue the audition process for optimum casting.

Please understand that there is no guarantee that circumstances will allow this production to take place in May as scheduled, but we will be prepared to rehearse beginning in April if the situation improves dramatically (pun intended). Worst case scenario, we have fun with auditions and stay focused on returning to normalcy…which is what we all hope and pray to see in the very near future!

As always, TCTC thrives because of your support and participation. We look forward to some amazing auditions, so blow up DeAnna’s Facebook Messenger with those requests for your appointment!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

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