Archive for the ‘Sixth Street Playhouse’ Category

Review of The Possession of Mrs. Jones by David Fickbohm of Theaterkat

In Sixth Street Playhouse on November 18, 2009 at 5:07 pm

The Possession of Mrs. Jones

Dave Fickbohm lives in Marin County and regularly reviews live theater productions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact Dave Fickbohm at
The best cult films are happy accidents rather than prefab “niche” products. But onstage there’s a kind of formula for kitschy, fabulous, late night style fun, genre parody, suburban revolt, beehive wigs.

D’Arcy Drollinger’s musical “The Possession of Mrs. Jones” delivers the goods with Day-Glo pertness, suggesting an unholy shotgun wedding of “Bewitched” and “Ruthless” with a few daubs of “Hairspray.”

The heroine (Allison “Sunny” Marcom) is a too-perfect 1950s housewife whose new washing machine has a few design flaws. For one, it’s manufactured by an evil company intent on buying up this world and the next. Oh, and it contains God (Michael Van Why) and Satan (Keith Baker), who tumble out to do a song and dance plea for Mrs. Jones’ help.

It’s a rocky start, but things kick into gear when God and Satan end up replacing, the bodies of the Jones kids and discovering how the other half lives.

When we glimpse Van Why as a frazzled wigged delinquent teenage girl with a hairy chest, we get a hilariously ugly image. We know we are in good hands when we see David Wolf’s wonderfully, workable sets, John Connole’s excellent lighting, Jan Lembke’s sound design, and Pat Fitzgerald’s costumes.

No housewife unhinged narrative would be complete without an uncomprehending husband (Mark Bradbury) and small minded neighbors: an impish mayor (Edward McCloud), and a dizzy Tupperware saleswoman (Laura Downing Lee).

Hilarious characters and performances are presented by Amie Shapiro as Gloria, Tyler Costin as Jimmy, Heather Lane as Judith and Katie Kelley as Richard.

Drollinger’s and Ted Hamer’s pleasantly peppy music is perkily rendered by a Justin Pyne on piano and keyboard, Quinten Cohen on drums, Josh Fossgreen on bass and Timmothy Robbins on guitar.  Director Nancy Prebilich keeps the laughs on track and the irony thick as Velveeta cheese.

What: ‘Possession of Mrs. Jones’

Where: 6th Street Playhouse, 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA

When:  Thur, Fri, Sat at 8 p.m. Sat & Sun at 2 p.m.

PRICE: Gen $35 Sen(62+) $26 Yth(13-21) $28 Children(5 – 12) $15 Thurs and Sat matinees Gen $25 Sen $20 Yth $20 Children $15    

Phone: (707) 623-4185


Box Office Hours: Tues – Fri 1 – 4 p.m. Sat 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. & one hour before Showtime


Interview of Jessica Powell by Dave Fickbohm

In Sixth Street Playhouse on October 15, 2009 at 4:40 am





Jessica Powell

Jessica Powell






 How did you become interested in the theater? I’m not quite sure; at about 6 years old, I was in the Christmas pageant at church with the line (my emphasis), “And the angel SAID unto Mary . . . .” Some friends and I started writing and performing plays in the 6th grade, as there were no other theatrical opportunities at that time in the Christian school system except for the high school senior play.

What is your favorite play(s)? Oh, my. Angels in America; Ice Glen; Copenhagen; Twelfth Night – no single favorite. Just saw Equivocation in Ashland, which was amazing.

 What is your favorite role? Again – no single favorite, but Hannah, et al. in Angels; Mrs. Roswell in Ice Glen; Aunt Eller (Oklahoma); Joanne (Company); Margrethe (Copenhagen); Goneril; Lady Macbeth.

 Is there an actor, theater director or theater teacher who provided you with special inspiration? All good work inspires and thrills me. The late Philip Meister, who founded the National Shakespeare Company, was an early influence.

 What book or books are on your night stand? The Bible (RSV), as well as Robert Alter’s versions of the Pentateuch and the Psalms; Atonement; Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate (Johnson); Italian for Travelers; The Working Actor’s Tool Kit (Schiffman); Modern French Poets (dual-language); Selected Poems of Giuseppe Ungaretti (ditto); Dante’s Inferno (likewise; Pinsky); Speaking Shakespeare and The Actor Speaks (Rodenburg); Colloquial Italian; 501 Italian Verbs; and my mother’s copy of A Book of Everyday Prayers by Wm. Barclay.

 What do you look forward to when you wake up in the morning? Coffee!

 Are there any habits or traditions you follow before going on stage? Vocal and physical warm-ups; wishing everyone a good show; thinking about where the character is “coming from”; a brief prayer that we’ll all remember our lines, etc., and be inspired.

 When you were a young child did you think you would become an actress? Never! The list was: nurse, doctor, dietician, French teacher, English teacher.

Have you traveled? If you have traveled where did you travel? Any unique experiences while you were traveling? It’s pretty obvious that I’m in love with Italy, but I’ve also been to Scandinavia and various countries in Europe, as well as Belize. Most of my heritage is Dutch, so I’m fond of the Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular. All experiences are unique!

In On The Verge There was very little scenery did that make things harder or easier for you? Easier, definitely, because it made both the audience and the actors use our imaginations more. Overmyer quotes Andre Breton in the script’s frontispiece: “Perhaps the imagination is on the verge of recovering its rights.”

 Do you have a favorite scene in On The Verge? Nope – it’s kind of a roller coaster.

Is there a scene that was particularly difficult in On The Verge? No one scene, but the first act is a little harder because it’s less sequential. This is the second time you have done On The Verge do you like the theme of time travel? It’s not so much the theme of time travel as the play’s subtitle, The Geography of Yearning, that I think is important for all the characters. I can certainly say that “I have such a yearning for the future!” Is it easier to do a play the second time or is each experience unique? Yes! It’s a wonderful gift to be able to repeat a role one likes. One finds new insights, different interactions with directors and actors.

 If you could live in any decade past, present, or future which decade would you choose and why. You can choose one from the past and one from the future if you wish. IF I could be an adult male, healthy, educated, and with at least a bit of disposable income, probably 1600-1610, because I’d be able to see all of Shakespeare’s plays by then.

Review of You Can’t Take It With You by 6th Street Players

In Sixth Street Playhouse on October 6, 2009 at 10:58 pm
The Vanderhof - Sycamore Household

The Vanderhof - Sycamore Household


Dave Fickbohm lives in Marin County and regularly reviews live theater productions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Contact Dave Fickbohm at

A visit to the Vanderhof-Sycamore household of “You Can’t Take It With You” is pretty much guaranteed to make a person wish for a permanent place in this bustling, happy family.

Sure, the recurring explosions from the basement fireworks laboratory could get on one’s nerves, as could the impromptu xylophone concerts in the living room, but those seem a small price to pay for the joyful companionship of people who believe life is too precious to be wasted doing anything other than what one pleases.

The giddy idealism of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s 1936 comedy sets just the right tone for the 6th Street Playhouse second play of the season.

Staged with enthusiasm and care, the production, is destined to spread good feeling.

The genius of this Pulitzer-winning play is that it treats a showdown of American values as a screwball comedy. The Vanderhof-Sycamores, whose philosophy is stated right there in the title, represent one side. The other is embodied by Mr. Anthony Kirby, a Wall Street type, and his repressed wife. The families meet when their offspring fall in love. The setting is the Vanderhof-Sycamores’ living room, rendered by Elizabeth Bazzano as a lovely, multi-storied home from the 1930s crammed with the implements of the family’s many enthusiasms.

Joe Winkler’s Mr. Sycamore speaks every word a little louder than needed, his hearing ruined by fireworks experiments.

Though perpetually lost in the worlds of the plays she’s writing, Kate Brickley’s Mrs. Sycamore is never too preoccupied to nurture the happiness of her daughters, one ballet-mad (April Krautner) as Essie and zestily married (to mischief-eyed Peter Warden) as Ed, the other (Taylor Differderfer) as Alice, a working girl who is sparklingly in love with the boss’ son (Lowell Weller, whose Anthony Kirby Jr., unlike his parents, uses his head and heart in equal measure).

In supporting roles, Naomi Sample portrays the family maid who is a member of the family very effectively, as does Arnold House as her boyfriend. These two have a wonderful scene at the dining table. Chris Murphy and Keith Baker employ physical comedy to explosively funny effect. Elly Lichenstiein is a wonderfully haughty Grand Duchess and Sarah Abbey plays a zany actress. Adam Burkholder, Scott Hayes, and, Nick Schritzinger looked like and are very believable as the law. Eric Chaznkin is a very confused and perplexed IRS revenue collector.

As the grandpa who is the chief live-and-let-live proponent, John Craven is ever the calm at the center of the storm.

Given his attention to small but telling details, director Charlie Queary, returning to the 6TH Street Playhouse, achieves something very important: He finds the show’s heart.

This viewer, for one, had a hard time seeing the last 20 minutes. Too many tears of laughter clouded my eyes.

 What: ‘You Can’t Take It With You’

 Where: 6th Street Playhouse, 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA

When: Thur, Fri, Sat at 8 p.m. Sun at 2 p.m. Sat 2 p.m. Oct 10, 17, 24

Price: Gen $28 Sen(62+) $22 Yth $22 Fri, Sat, Sun Gen $22 Sen(62+) $18 Yth $18 Sat. Oct 10, 17, 24

Phone: (707) 623-4185


Box Office Hours: Tues – Fri 1 – 4 p.m. Sat 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. & one hour before Showtime

Oliver by 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa

In Sixth Street Playhouse on August 23, 2009 at 8:35 pm
Oliver and The Artful Dodger

Oliver and The Artful Dodger



The 6th Street Playhouse recently kicked off their 2009 – 2010 with the musical Oliver, for all its charm and beloved characters and songs, the production elements can be quite difficult. There are so many songs and scene changes that the production can easily become disjointed. The 6th Street Playhouse with some adapt scene creation by scenic designer David R. Wright pulled it off nicely. The plot line is also a bit slow, and the exposition building up to the climax is long This is a fault of the book and score, though, not of the actors themselves. Overall, the 6th Street Playhouse succeeds.

 Lighting Designer Eric Neumeister must be given recognition. The screen behind the buildings coupled with the soft lighting gave the feel of a London street at twilight. The costumes, by Pat Fitzgerald, were appropriate throughout, just as the set requires attention to detail, so do the costumes. The orphans looked raggedy, others at different classes of society looked very dapper and well dressed. Stage Director Holly Vinson did a fine job creating small but beautiful stage pictures and smooth, effective traffic patterns with a large cast. I also appreciated that she used the entire space, including crawl spaces below the elevated portion of the set and even a “rooftop” in one pivotal moment.

Bob Hazelrigg put together quite a wonderful orchestra to accompany the action onstage. The sound was well-balanced, and never intrusive or too loud or soft for the singers.

 Widow Corney and Mr. Bumble, are played by Tika Moon and Dwayne Stincelli, respectively. These two characters are nothing short of ridiculous, and were played very well. I felt as though both actors were holding back a bit, especially in the scene in which Mr. Bumble is making amorous advances towards the Widow Corney, who is half-heartedly objecting. Moon’s performance of “I Shall Scream,” however, was very well done. Her singing voice is beautiful and her facial expressions are reminiscent of Lucille Ball at times.

Sean Hines as the title character and Zachary Walling as the Artful Dodger left me wanting more throughout the production as well. Both young men possess wonderful singing voices, but I didn’t find myself rooting for their characters. Instead, I admit that I tended to forget about them completely when they weren’t onstage. When the action wasn’t completely centered around his character, Hines didn’t draw the eye. His voice was so sweet during “Where is Love,” however, that I felt my heart ache for him in that moment. Walling had all the smooth physicality and polish in his choreography needed to play Dodger. I must admit, ever since I left the theatre Friday night, I have struggled with what to say about the younger cast members. It’s very hard to find a way to review children, since they lack as much training and experience as the older cast members and cannot really be faulted for that. The children overall were very cute as the orphans and the members of Fagin‘s gang. They had lots of energy, gave 100% in their songs, and put a lot of physicality and spunk into the scenes.

 There were three standout performances in this production: Jon Rathjen as Bill Sykes, Jenifer Cote as Nancy, and Gene Abravaya as Fagin. The character of Bill Sykes is about as unlikeable as they come, and Jon Rathjen made quite sure that the entire audience felt that from his very f irst entrance. His gruff voice, dirty clothing, and generally surly attitude made me dislike Bill immediately. His cruel and rough treatment of Nancy and Oliver – or anyone weaker than him – is deplorable and makes him the true villain of the entire piece. He also stayed completely in character at all times. When I would glance his way during another line or song, he was always watching those around him or keeping a close eye on Nancy; always trusting no one. The character of Nancy is not your typical musical theatre ingénue. Nancy has obviously lived on and off the street most of her life. Currently she lives with the abusive Bill Sykes, whom she loves wholly and completely despite his physical and verbal abuse. However, Nancy’s spunk and maternal instincts towards Oliver make her a heroine just like any other. Jenifer Cote nails this role. She’s bawdy and unladylike at times, such as during her rousing number “Oom Pah Pah” at the beginning of the second act, but she is also a vulnerable woman desperately in love, which she shows off in “As Long As He Needs Me,” a song that Cote completely knocks out of the park. She uses a mixture of soft, gentle tones at the beginning and soars to a jaw-dropping belt that rattled the walls in her determination to stay with him no matter what the cost may ultimately be. I applaud Cote for not being afraid to sacrifice some of the “pretty” in her powerhouse number in order to really sell the song. This causes the song to have much more impact than if it were sung with perfect technique. Cote also succeeds in never breaking character.

Fagin, the leader of the band of pickpockets, is a tough one to pull off. He’s got to be a lowlife criminal who entices children to lie, cheat and steal for his personal gain, but also must be likeable at the same time. Gene Abravaya does a fine job of showing the duality of Fagin’s character. He simultaneously acts as a twisted sort of father figure to the group of urchins as well as a self-absorbed “bad’un” who will look out for himself, his worker boys be damned, before anyone else. Abravaya has definitely mastered the humor in Fagin, especially in his second act number “Reviewing the Situation,” in which he hems and haws about potentially leaving a life of crime to become a better man. My only criticism in Abravaya ‘s performance is that he only touched on the “evil” side of Fagin. I would have preferred to see a bit more of Fagin’s bad side in order to really understand the catalyst that causes him to start reconsidering his choice of lifestyle.

Other memorable and well-done performances included Sherri Guinn as the morbidly funny funeral director Mrs. Sowerberry, Kelsey Tarantino as Nancy’s younger but equally sassy sister Bet, and Scott Van Der Horst as the kind and generous Mr. Brownlow.

Overall, 6th Street Playhouselhasput together an aesthetically beautiful production with fine performances that audience members will enjoy. Oliver is a winner. Do not miss it.

 The 6th Street Playhouse will present You Can’t Take it With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, directed by Charlie Queary. Running Oct 2 – Oct 25.

INFORMATION WHAT: Lionel Bart’s “Oliver”

 WHO: 6th Street Playhouse

 WHERE: The G. K. Hardt Theatre in the 6th Street Playhouse at 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

WHEN: Aug 14 to Sep 13, 2009 8:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sundays

TICKETS: Order online; by telephone; at the door.

Fri, Sat at 8:00 & Sun at 2:00: General $35 Senior (62+) $28 Youth (13-21) $28 Children (5-12) $15

Discount Thurs at 8:00 & Sat at 2:00: General $25 Senior $20 Youth $20 Children $15

PHONE INFORMATION: 707 523-4185 WEBSITE: RATING: Four stars out of five

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