Reviews

‘Wonderful World’ by Richard Dresser, dir. Gary Hoffmann, 16-17 season

[Adam] Coons is strong as the brother who tries to be likable as a defense mechanism, while [Jacob] Luria is properly beaten-down as the husband of a woman who calls the shots and has him completely under her thumb. — Amy Durant, The Alt

 

 

‘The Best Man’ by Gore Vidal, dir. Brian Sheldon, 16-17 season

Director Brian Sheldon and his cast keep the pace quick and the story rolling. [Kevin] McNamara proves well-suited to the role of the altruistic Russell and succeeds in shading his affable demeanor with just the right amount of emotional pain. Often it is hard for an actor to convincingly portray an unpleasant character, but [Brian} Avery’s Cantwell is positively unbearable – and that’s a compliment. — Matt Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘Ain’t Misbehavin’, the Fats Waller Musical Show, dir. Michael C. Mensching, 15-16 season

The Albany Civic cast celebrates the music with gusto and at several points in the evening nearly scorched the walls of the old theater-in-a-firehouse with their heat and happy. Usually performed with a cast of just five singers, director Michael C. Mensching ornaments the show adding four young dancers, helping to make the evening sizzle with fun. — Matt Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘Looking For Normal’ by Jane Anderson, dir. Brian Sheldon, 15-16 season

Albany Civic Theater is to be congratulated for including the play this season, and it was heartening to see and hear a nearly full theater laughing warmly throughout ACT’s production, sensitively directed by Brian Sheldon. — Steve Barnes, Times Union

 

 

‘Angel Street’ by Patrick Hamilton, dir. Jennifer Van Iderstyne, 15-16 season

Director Jen Van Iderstyne’s cast dedicates themselves fully to the storytelling task with a range of success. [Jenn] Bullington discovers well the fear and growing psychological horror in the missus. [Kevin] McNamara fiendishly focuses the manipulation of the master. The maids, Cait Weber and Sandi Dolliger assist, respectively, with menace and concern. And [John] Sutton’s retired inspector offers just the right amount of youthful excitement when journeying back to correct a part of his past. — Matt Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘Night of the Iguana’ by Tennessee Williams, dir. Juliet King, 14-15 season

With the script snipped and tucked up, director Juliet King keeps the action brisk and tightly focused without harm to Williams’ story or its lingering emotional resonance and unearths the genuine humor in the play that is so often steam rolled over in other productions. — Matt Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘The 39 Steps’ adapted from John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock., dir. Michael C. Mensching, 14-15 season

Director Michael C. Mensching generally keeps the action brisk. Further, he’s given the cast sufficient funny business to keep matters entertaining, as well as encouraged them to be free enough to improvise and otherwise respond in the moment. –Steve Barnes, Times Union

 

 

‘Man From Nebraska’ by Tracy Letts, dir. John Birchler, 14-15 season

Birchler gets good comedy from a scene between [Patrick] White and the terrific Debra Burger, as a sexually zesty businesswoman, and he and his actors find the right tone for scenes between Carpenter and the London bohemians, played by Jennie Pines and Kevin Barhydt, who help his existential searching. — Steve Barnes, Times Union

 

 

‘Proposals’ by Neil Simon, dir. Stephen Foust, 14-15 season

Hearty applause to Albany Civic Theater with their choice to stage Neil Simon’s seldom seen comedy-drama, “Proposals.” — Matt Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘Big Maggie’ by John B. Keane, dir. Chris Foster, 13-14 season

As Maggie, Kathleen Carey offers a smart, brave and emotionally true performance.  She creates a Maggie who cares nothing about consequences or loss.  She only cares that her will be done. — Troy Record

 

Keane has created a complex mix of heroine and harridan with Maggie, and it is deftly delivered by [Kathleen] Carey.  With a County Kerry accent layered thick with controlled rage, she creates a perfect menace, crafting with a flat smile and stern voice an artful balance of hurt and revenge with motherly omnipotence. It is challenging to portray an unredemptive character, but Carey rises to the occasion. Staying true to course with no crack in Maggie’s resolve, the result becomes terrifying.

 

Fine work is also turned in by the rest of the cast. Amanda Martini-Hughes, Paul Dedrick, Patrick Rooney and Annie Bunce as the put upon children, each have moments that growl and snap. Isaac Newberry’s slapped down salesman Teddy is well played, and the moments of levity offered by Patrick White as a hapless suitor for Maggie and Kate Hans and Phil Sheehan as the town’s busybodies are more than welcome. — Daily Gazette

 

 

‘All My Sons’ by Arthur Miller, dir. Aaron Holbritter, 13-14 season

Chris is almost a one-dimensional symbol rather than a real person. As such he lacks the texture and complexity of other characters.  This makes Ian La Chance’s marvelous portrayal of the man even more exceptional. The gifted actor is able to find the pain, guilt and personal angst of a decent man who must reject the father he idolized. It is, arguably, the best work of his local career.  It’s all played on a fantastic set by Rich Montena, evocatively lit by David Caso.– Bob Goepfert, Troy Record

 

 

‘night Mother’ by Marsha Norman, dir. Nate Benyon, 13-14 season

Most of the evening’s crucial moments are well placed by director Nate Beynon, allowing his actors the naturalistic rise and fall of the story’s tricky emotional journey. Both Amanda Brinke as Jessie and Joan Justice as Thelma bring much talent to the table. — Matthew Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘Faith Healer’ by Brian Friel, dir. Carol King, 11-12 season

“Faith Healer” is a delicate, elusive piece of theater that demands keen attention and excellent actors, which Albany
Civic supplies. Joan Justice is beautifully desperate as Grace and Garry Maggio splendidly finds all of Teddy’s
entertaining moments as well as the poignant ones.– Matt Moross, Daily Gazette

 

 

‘Farnsworth Invention’ by Aaron Sorkin, dir. Aaron Holbritter, 11-12 season

“The Farnsworth Invention” is super storytelling about two legendary figures. And like most legends, the truth is in the telling. Albany Civic Theater tells the tale well. — Bob Goepfert, Saratogian News

 

 

‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ by George Bernard Shaw, dir. Juliet King, 10-11 season

King is wise to keep the focus on the role of women in society and by playing the piece dead straight she forces the audience to consider their own contemporary feelings about propriety, business and fealty.

 

 

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare, dir. Carol King, 10-11 season

Eleah Jayne Peal leads a quartet of star-crossed lovers as Hermia. She’s new to the troupe but she has a keen understanding of the rhythm of the Bard’s verse and she enlivens each scene she’s in, especially when she’s in a flying snit with Katie Weinberg’s Helena. Best of the bunch is King’s daughter, Juliet, as Robin Goodfellow, the sprite better known as Puck.  King is perfectly cast and effortlessly captures that odd mix of wisdom and wickedness so central to the character. She delights in casting spells and delights even more into watching the damage they do. — Michael Eck, Times Union

 

 

‘Proof’ by David Auburn, dir. Aaron Holbritter, 10-11 season

Last weekend, Albany Civic Theater closed out its rendition of David Auburn’s play Proof. It was a sold-out crowd–and for good reason…Aaron Holbritter’s direction also deserves mention, as he sequenced the acts in such a way that promptly delivered the point, but didn’t overextend the drama. — from The Free George, by Dave

 

 

‘Plaza Suite’ by Neil Simon, dir. Margaret King, 10-11 season

Porter is very funny as the housewife fighting her hormones and hiding her pain. Belenchia isn’t quite suave enough to pull of the hotshot producer, but that very fact gives his portrayal a vulnerability and poignancy it might not otherwise boast. — Michael Eck, Times Union

 

 

‘Our Town’ by Thornton Wilder, dir. Carol King, 09-10 season

The ice cream shop engagement scene with George Gibbs (Jeremy Kester) and Emily Webb (Jessica Hoffman), for example, is sweet without being cloying, and it provides a perfect set-up for the couple’s wedding and the bittersweet graveyard scene that closes the play. — Michael Eck, Times Union