Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hello, Costumes!

I went to see Hello, Dolly! at the Oak Ridge Playhouse tonight. My friend was the driver, and having not been to Oak Ridge any other way, took the only route he knew: the winding highway that runs parallel to the Clinch River. The Clinch, flat and picturesque, is a mecca for local rowing enthusiasts (and Chinese food enthusiasts, strangely enough). I was ashamed I'd come this way not once in the five hundred times I've driven to Oak Ridge, but glad I now knew yet another local scenic diversion.

Speaking of scenic diversions (and segues), the ORP's Hello, Dolly! is one of the best costumed shows I've seen in quite some time. DeWayne Kirchner, the resident designer and costume shop manager, has a very impressive professional resume -- hell, he costumed the real Dolly --under his belt, enough that one wonders why we're lucky enough to have his talents here in the Knoxville area. From the opening curtain to the bow, this production was a visual orgasm. Dolly's signature evening gown at the top of Act 2 almost brought the house down (and almost touched the roof).

Costumes aside, the show wa.... No, there's no such things as costumes aside when it comes to Hello, Dolly! Were the actors as big as the hats they had to fill? Some were, some weren't. Local favorite Dan Owenby was reliably funny as Horace Vandergelder and Dana Wham had the pipes for Dolly, but a lot of clumsy blocking and set changes (can someone please oil the casters?) got in the way of much chemistry. Many of the ensemble were new --brand new-- to the stage, so the audience got to enjoy more than its fair share of deer-in-headlight expressions. However, it's the burgeoning talent in young high school kids like Jodi Freeman and Max Souza that makes community theatre such a joy to watch. I only wish Knoxville had good institutes to train young thespians and paying jobs to keep them performing.

All in all, a trip to the Playhouse is just as much of a trip to see old friends as it is a trip to see a show. The audience there is warm and appreciative, and can forgive missed notes, missed lines, and hazardous set pieces. They are there to laugh and applaud and see their friends up on the stage. And in this production, their friends look pretty dang good.


Blogger glasshole said...

Being a native of Oak Ridge, I can attest to the fact one should only enter the city by that particular route.

Preferably in the fall at dusk.

It would also be preferable if Oak Ridge High School would wise up and add a drama department to give some direction and credit to that burgeoning talent.
I'm just saying.

9:52 PM  

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