Theater Review: Arty-Joke plays to sold-out house

Saturday’s (Feb. 10) fund-raiser at Rockford College’s Maddox Theatre was a huge success. It seemed every theater lover in Rockford was there. Described as “a little song, a little dance, and a whole lot of comedy,” it fulfilled its promise.

Margaret Raether’s script for the company’s musical version of Hamlet displayed her genius for comedy. From the production meeting to the finale, “Something’s Rotten,” we saw every aspect of staging a theatrical creation.

From Steve Vrtol’s and Dave Gingerich’s attempts to become the lead to Rod MacDonald’s determination to perform his magic act, there was never a dull moment. Linda Abronski futilely strives to keep everyone on task, and her voice-overs broadcast to the entire house were hilarious. Speaking to Richard Raether after the show, we commented that the audience has as much fun as the performers.

Riley O’Neil, “a fixture on Rockford’s radio dial,” was the admirable emcee. Timm Adams and Tim Anderson accompanied the singers and became soloists themselves. Adams was singing “Parsley,” and Anderson was bringing down the house with “Johnny One Note.” His lead-in telling of the necessity of singing every role as a musical director was more than amusing.

Our favorite and dear friend, Dorothy Paige-Turner, sang “Stormy Weather,” “The Man I Love” and opened the second act with a classic—“Send in the Clowns.” Patte Armato-Lund went from “Friends” to “Wal-Mart Woman,” and Crystal Davidson, a senior at Rockford College, gave a lovely interpretation of “Meadowlark.” Friend Carolyn Cadigan, in spite of throat problems, sang “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard. Glenn Close could not have done it better. The Beardsleys, Jill and Doug, dancing together since their college days, are our premier ballroom dancers. They should be in competition.

As everyone gathered after the show, the feeling of success dominated the lobby. Richard and Margaret Raether and the entire cast glowed. The inclusion of Rockford College students in “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago and the Vocal Collective emphasized the close collaboration of Artists’ Ensemble and the Music and Theater departments at the college.

A wonderful evening and the supportive audience gives us all encouragement for the survival of fine theater in our community.

From the Feb. 14-20, 2007, issue

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