Theater Review: Main Street Players present Blessings to Share

Carole Ryan Sullivan and Leslie Gilkey have collaborated to create a new musical that beautifully tells the story of a lonely child, Melissa, searching for a family under the most difficult of circumstances. Played by a talented newcomer to the stage, Nala Burroughs, she is under the control of social worker Margorie Brickner (Lisa Lenstra-Norman). From the opening scene, where we see life-partners David Johnson (Brian Schoenrock) and Alan Irwin (Tim Bauman) discussing the possibility of adopting a child, the story is one of shared dreams and mixed blessings.

Sullivan and Gilkey’s tightly constructed script and delightfully orchestrated score give the entire production a professional depth, not often experienced in community theater. Every member of the cast has a voice quality that enhances the lyrics and music.

JoAnne Greenley (Carri Johnson Burroughs), a single woman whose husband has been killed, also desires a child, and in Act II she also brings Melissa into her life. The details of Brickner’s plot to use Melissa as a money-making device are reminiscent of Carol Burnett’s role in Annie. Her song, “Be a Bad Girl,” with the child cowering at her feet, well exemplifies her character. Emily Painter is Julie Randolph, a friend of JoAnne and David and Alan. It is through her that the mystery is solved… “It Doesn’t Add Up” musically tells it all. Especially touching are JoAnne’s and Melissa’s duets—“Love Never Lets Go” and “Carpe Diem.” Their voices blend, and the harmony is perfect.

Main Street Players have been in existence 21 years and perform at Turner Hall in Galena as well as the Bell Tower Theater in Dubuque, Iowa. Their holiday production, The Regifters, will be staged there. Women on Fire, the Humor and Wisdom of Contemporary Women, plays at Turner Hall Sept. 7-9 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 10 at 2 p.m.

Turner Hall is in an old limestone building on Bench Street overlooking the valley. The interior seems to have been designed as an opera house. Restored to perfection, it incorporates completed modern technical equipment. State-of-the-art sound system and lighting complement a proscenium stage that, for this performance, has a set designed by Jan Lavacek, technical director. His work is some of the best I’ve seen. The two apartments so identify their inhabitants, and the transformation between acts I and II amazes. John Woodin directs the orchestra. An actor and director, he is director of fine arts for the Dubuque Community Schools. My trip to Galena gave me the opportunity to broaden my theatrical experience. I shall return.

From the Aug. 16-22, 2006, issue

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