Artisan Center Theater
Direction: Jody Madaras
Music Director: Richard Gwozdz
Choreography: Jody Madaras
Director's Assistant: Emma Colwell
Stage Manager's: Emma Colwell and Jameson Taylor
Set Design: Jody Madaras, Jason Leyva
Lighting Design: Jason Leyva and Robert Molina
Costume Design: Jody Madaras' The Costume Mine,
Nita Cadenhead, Jennifer Cadenhead
CAST (NOTE: This production is double cast, critic reviewed the
John Handley: Michael Pandolfo
Ted Crosley: Jody Madaras
Daisy Maxwell: Claire Stewart
Betty Blake: Natalie Berry
Show Announcer: Tim Dewhirst
Reviewed Performance 1/7/2012
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Most people probably wonder how things were when our grandparents were our ages. I had the opportunity to see how a traveling show was presented in the early 1940's around the time my grandparents got married, in All Hands on Deck! at Artisan Center Theater in Hurst, TX. Overall the show is very enjoyable with a very strong cast, few technical issues, and a good live band that will make you want to sing-along.
It is a special treat that this musical features the writer/director Jody Madaras for the regional premier of All Hands on Deck! Madaras, a native of Ohio who last appeared on Broadway in a 2003 production of Finian's Rainbow, wrote All Hands on Deck! as a musical tribute to the Hollywood Victory Caravan of 1942, this included stars like Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Cary Grant, and Bing Crosby. Songs such as "Chattanooga Choo-Choo"," I'm in the Mood for Love", and "Moonlight Bay", are reminiscent of those popular during World War II and were arranged by Jody Madaras for the show.
My favorite number was Der Fuehrer's Face, a satirical jab made popular by a Donald Duck cartoon. Bumbling choreography and silly costume pieces, made sillier with the inclusion of Natalie Berry wearing the familiar mustache, made this ridiculous piece a real stand out moment of hilarity.
This production features a rotating cast, providing audiences an opportunity to see a different show depending on which performance they see. I was fortunate enough to see Michael Pandolfo, Claire Stewart, Natalie Berry, and Tim Dewhirst join Jody Madaras on stage. All of whom showed wonderful talent as they sang their way through the hits of the 1940's for two solid hours.
Michael Pandolfo, in particular, gave a well played, veteran performance. He makes sharing the stage with a real veteran, Jody Madaras, look easy. At 17 years-old, I'm sure great things are awaiting him in the future.
The performance of the music by both the actors and musicians is reason alone to see All Hands on Deck! Not only are the actors extremely talented with lovely voices, the band plays beautifully on stage with them. I hoped for more band highlights. However, the band plays without any great flourish or accent with the exception of Jared Absher's trumpet solo in the first act, which adds a soulful bridge in "Waiting for the Train to Come".
Movement in All Hands on Deck! has its bright spots. In addition to the previously mentioned Der Feuhrer's Face, the tap dances, especially "I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" in the first act by Jody Madaras and Michael Pandolfo, add an element of excitement to the performance.
I have to question the use of three microphones set at the cardinal directions of the performance space in the first act. Mic stands don't take up too much room. However when they're two feet away from the audience giving the performance space a cattle pen look, and are not utilized in the performance in any way, the microphones are more of a distraction than a decoration.
The biggest technical obstacle with the show is the lighting design. For full cast and energetic numbers the lighting needs to fill the stage appropriately. However, during the slower, sentimental songs, the lights on the periphery of the performance area are brought down to such a level it is limiting to the performance. More than once Natalie Berry sings a fine, loving song, appearing to want to move but has nowhere to go because of the restrictive lighting.
Finally, like the music played by the band, the costumes are well constructed but lacking in any memorable design. Natalie Berry and Claire Stewart look great in their costumes. However, the costumes could use something to break up the solid color of Berry's green dress or divide the polka-dot pattern of Stewart's.
In the end, All Hands on Deck! is an enjoyable night out for anybody with the opportunity to see it. It provides a wonderful opportunity to travel back to a simpler time full of patriotism and community spirit.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Artisan Center Theater, 418 E. Pipeline Road, Hurst, TX 76053
Runs through January 28th
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Saturdays at 3:00pm
Tickets are $14?18 for adults. Seniors and students discounts are available on Friday and Saturday. Children's tickets are $7.00?9.00.
For info & to purchase tixs call box office at 1-817-284-1200 or go to www.artisanct.com