Category Archive for: ‘Greg & Suzanne Angeo’

“Jolly Juliana” and “The Festive Holiday Vaudeville”, 6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa CA

Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo

Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

 

Photos by Eric Chazankin

Fruits and Nuts Take the Stage

A delightful slice of nineteenth-century Americana is being served up in its world premiere at 6th Street Playhouse complete with old-timey footlights, just perfect for the holidays. “Jolly Juliana”, with the loaded subtitle “Her Fruitcake Has Nuts”, is an original melo-dramedy written and directed by local renaissance man Larry Williams. It’s a play-within-a play set in the Santa Rosa of 1905 performed by “Osgood’s Traveling Vaudevillians” and serves as the first act. For the most part Williams keeps the energy wheel spinning, and it only slows down in a couple of spots. There are place references and local jokes galore (Lucifer’s Rancheria draws a huge guffaw).

Evan Attwood, April Krautner in “Jolly Juliana”

“Juliana” is faithful to the exaggerated and hyper-emotional style of acting that saw its heyday in the 1800s. Williams adds a generous helping of broad comedy which makes this show really fun to watch. The cast mostly has the melodramatic thing nailed down, especially April Krautner  as our sanguine Heroine and major fruitcake-baker  Juliana, and Williams as the evil Lucifer Bellows. Remember the now-cliché scene where the villain ties his victim to a railroad track with a speeding train approaching? It was first seen in 1870 in a play called “Under the Gaslight” and  ever after was shown again and again in early films like “The Perils of Pauline”. Naturally, Juliana soon finds herself in this predicament, with Evan Attwood as our Hero Teddy saving the day.  A nice assortment of nutty performers rounds out the cast. Just one tiny issue with the play-within-a-play concept: if you were watching the show without seeing the playbill, you never would know that you are watching actors playing other actors.

The second act is “The Festive Holiday Vaudeville”, a series of lively vaudeville-style skits that are pure pleasure and really hold your attention, relying heavily on audience participation. Notable are the spectacular vocals of Robert Ellison who, in addition to playing the singing Narrator of “Juliana”, also delivers one of the high points in the vaudeville part of the show, a thrill that brings down the house. The wildly funny finale features a rousing and zany version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Through it all, it’s plain that Krautner – here at her lovable, goofy and gorgeous best – is the star of the show. The girl can’t help it.

Ensemble cast, “The Festive Holiday Vaudeville”

The ensemble in both acts worked well, with Williams doing a nice job blocking and staging the movements of the cast and guiding the difficult techniques that are used in the melodramatic and vaudevillian arts. Seeing Krautner, Williams and Ellison do their stuff is well worth the price of admission. All in all, it’s jolly cornball fun for the whole family.

When: Now through December 21, 2014

8:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (no show on Thanksgiving Day, November 27)

2:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Tickets: $15 to $32

Location: GK Hardt Theater at 6th Street Playhouse

52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA
Phone: 707-523-4185

Website: www.6thstreetplayhouse.com

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