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Theater review: 'Glorious' show wraps up college season

Sunday, April 25, 2010  
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By Victor R. Yehling
SPECIAL TO GO.RRSTAR.COM
Apr 25, 2010 @ 08:00 AM

The Rockford College academic theater season closed this weekend with an energetic production of "The Glorious Ones,” a bawdy little musical based on the novel by Francine Prose that dips into 17th-century Italian theater history for its form.

The seven characters are members of an itinerant commedia dell’arte troupe on the cusp of the transition from comedic improvisation and mime to fully scripted plays. Some go willingly, and one doesn’t.

The book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty (who also gave us "Ragtime” and "Seussical”) are nice enough but not particularly grabbing. The 20-or-so musical numbers are largely bright but none is truly memorable, despite very nice renditions by the cast members — when you could hear them.

The production is staged on Noel Rennerfeldt’s delightful representation of an Italian town square, with a platform that thrusts forward from the buildings and separates the seven-member orchestra. This placement causes problems with hearing lyrics on several numbers, a special concern on the musical prologue, which attempts to set the scene.

Rockford College senior Michael Bloom plays pompous, egotistical troupe leader Flaminio Scala to a T. He has an excellent voice, and he floats through the various phases of his character with ease.

His leading lady Columbina is played by senior Amber Gray, also in fine voice, with a few more ways to strut her stuff than Scala’s role offers.

Also finishing his college career is senior David Jacobs as the clown character Francesco Andreini, who transforms from slapstick harlequin to leading man quite effectively — and he sings well, too.

The supporting underclassmen all are strong, with special kudos to Andrew Pollock as the Dottore and Michael Palmenderi as Pantalone. Lauren Emery is lovely portraying noted writer/performer Isabella Andreini, and Hanna Church is a delight in the juvenile/animal role of Armanda Ragusa.

Director Jeff Hendry — who also designed wonderful period costumes — has a great deal of fun (as do the actors) with the physical humor in this show and makes the tiny Cheek Theatre venue work very well to meet his needs.

Victor R. Yehling has been reviewing, directing and performing in plays in Rockford and elsewhere for more than four decades. He has a degree in theater from Beloit College.

This story appeared at http://go.rrstar.com/arts/x749215153/Theater-review-Glorious-show-wraps-up-college-season on April 25, 2010.

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