UPDATE: IMPORTANT NOTICE: "ADRIFT IN MACAO" will now be CLOSING, SATURDAY, MARCH 16th. The weekend of MARCH 22ND AND 23RD HAS BEEN CANCELED. If you have already purchased a ticket for either of these 2 shows, you can ask for a refund or switch your tickets to a performance this weekend or next weekend. Just contact the box office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our apologies. We hope you can make it to our five other performances. Thank you.
TheatreWorks was a new theatre for me. It is an award-winning, regional theatre company located on 5 Brookside Avenue, just off Route 202 (next to the CVS), in New Milford, CT. It was a 50 minute drive for me, but at least it was pretty easy to find. The building looks like it may have once been a church. The small lobby is located on the lower level and after I purchased my ticket from the very nice box office worker, I had to walk up a thin staircase to get to the theatre. I found a cozy space with traditional theatre seats and a pretty full audience for this opening night.
Adrift in Macao, written by Christopher Durang (Beyond Therapy) is a spoof of the film noir genre "a movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical characters." This production nailed all three characteristics and was very funny as well. I can't say that I have ever sat through this type of film, but this show definitely reminded me of the best parts of one of my favorite television shows ever: Moonlighting. The rapid fire lines by strong characters, the puns and inside jokes, and breaking the fourth wall are all part of this well-written musical.
The many musical numbers were very good, if not well known. I actually remembered some of the pieces that Johnny O had played during his interview last weekend. The silly titles include "Mambo Malaysian," "Ticky, Ticky, Tock" and the title song. The cast had lots of fun with them and even invited, well, insisted that the audience join in on the final number.
This was a very strong cast. As Rick Shaw (pun intended,) the casino owner in the white dinner jacket, Jonathan Ross possesses the good looks that the part requires. He is also a strong actor and even gets to sing a memorable solo. Shannon-Courtney Denihan nailed the "dame (pronounced with a long a)" role of Lureena, A wonderful actress who has an amazing soprano voice, she was a strong lead.
Mitch is played by Mrs. Denihan's husband Tom; this character is an American private eye on the run. A strong actor, Mr. Denihan recently played Dan in the Warner's wonderful Next to Normal. Vicki Sosbe plays Corinna and her husband Kevin plays the part of Trenchcoat man. Mr. Sosbe has a wonderful voice that I wish we could have heard more of. Mr. Ross' wife KC appears in the cast as Trenchcoat Woman and makes her debut in a musical quite nicely.
The only member of this small cast who is not married to another cast member is Tom Libonate and he plays Tempura, He is the single Asian character in a show that is set in China, or is he? His impeccable comic timing and chameleon-like acting almost allowed him to steal the show.
At the risk of sounding superficial, I have to discuss the look of this show. The Director/Choreographer/Designer/Musical Director Bradford Blake mentioned on Backstage with Johnny O on WZBG that he decided to present the show in black and white, literally. The entire set, the costumes and the vast majority of the props are black and white, with shades of gray. It was extremely effective. The beautiful costumes by Renee Purdy and Aurora Montenero fit the 1952 time frame. The multi-level set is awash in white "smoke" at times.
The best part of the physical space of this little theatre is the fact the great band sits in a choir loft space at the back of the audience. Because they are far enough away from the stage, the singers do not need to wear a microphone and the sound was perfectly balanced. What a wonderful arrangement for a theatre!
There was an impressive reception in the lobby on this opening night that featured champagne and an impressive array of Chinese food complete with chop sticks and fortune cookies. It was the perfect end to a great evening of theatre.
Adrift in Macao continues until March 23 at TheatreWorks. I recommend that you make the trip to New Milford to see it.