Ochre House Theater
Directed by – Matthew Posey
Music Director – Earl Norman
Set Design – Matthew Posey
Costume Design – Justin Locklear
Lighting Design – Kevin Grammer
Props Design – Justin Locklear
Stage Manager – Ellen Shaddock
Cassie Bann – Indigo Sue
Carla Parker – Rae Rae
Marti Etheridge – Barbara Ann
Elizabeth Evans – Lamma Lou
Danielle Bondurant – Dale
Ivan Jasso – Enrique
Dante Martinez – Karlo
Kevin Grammer – Officer Chiffon
Mitchell Parrack – Hank
Chris Sykes – Boomer
Christian Taylor – Sasso
Reviewed Performance 1/30/2016
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I found it interesting upon my first visit to Ochre House Theater that the woman behind me commented after the show: “That was about the silliest thing I’ve ever seen them do here.” For sure, the tiny packed house was chock-full of obvious supporters of the self-described “small but effective 50 seat Alternative Theatre with a team of artists and designers who get the job done” (from their website).
Matthew Posey, Founder and Artistic Director of Ochre House Theater, wrote and directed Brothers’ Harvest, and his bio states that he has written and directed thirty plays with the company. Again, this was my first time to visit, and I wasn’t sure what to expect so I kept my eyes and ears open. The first things I noticed once I settled into my seat were the beautiful paintings of a Texas sunset across most of the walls and the large portrait of a cowboy center stage that looked like it was straight out of an old John Wayne movie. Scenic artist Izk Dvs definitely made it interesting to look at. Nice work!
The show started with the talented band taking their places. The musicians were all excellent, from music director and composer of the original music Earl Norman on the accordion and guitar to Trey Pendergrass on percussion, Bobby Fajardo on xylophone and percussion, Jeff Keady on bass, and Deanna Valone on guitar. How they managed to fit all those instruments and people into such a tight space with elbow room enough to play was beyond me, but play they did and it was impossible not to tap your feet.
Once the cast came out and stomped and sang through the opening number, things started to go downhill somewhat. There is not a choreographer mentioned in the program, and perhaps that’s the root of the problem. Despite it being rowdy country line dancing for the most part, someone needed to at least make sure everyone was starting on the same foot. Perhaps the hope was that the enthusiasm would make up for the lack of dance ability.
Cassie Bann is our heroine, Indigo Sue, who just wants to get away from her ex-husband Boomer, exuberantly played by Chris Sykes, complete with faux mullet. His idea of trying to woo her back is treating her to cheese tater tots at the diner, so you might imagine why she’s less than satisfied with their relationship.
Even more than wanting to get away from her ex, Indigo Sue wants to get out of town and start a new life. All she has to do is win the town’s big drag race and she’ll have the dough. Until then, she’s stuck sniffing coke off the back of a pickup truck behind the convenience store and drinking Lone Star, while complaining with her friends about the lack of sexual skills the men have in this one-horse town. (To put it politely.)
Enter a handsome Mexican stranger, Enrique, played with exaggerated yet sexy Latin charm by Ivan Jasso. He sweeps Indigo Sue off her feet and within 24 hours has her ready to run off with him if he wins the race. Instead, he’s a smart enough man (perhaps the only one with brains in the show, actually) to know to throw the race and let her win. Naturally Indigo Sue knows he threw it, but she has fallen for him and leaves with him anyway, but not before telling us all how the rest of her cast mates paired up (or not) afterwards.
Most of the songs in the show don’t make a lot of sense or add to the storyline, and most of the cast members don’t have strong enough singing voices to carry off their songs. The acting fares much better, with Elizabeth Evans, Mitchell Parrack, Mr. Jasso, and Mr. Sykes as standouts. Jasso and Sykes have some extremely funny moments involving made-up attempts at Spanish insults.
At an hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission, Brothers’ Harvest tells all the story it needs to. There are no new revelations, nothing too deep, and it’s a happy ending. I’ll admit that the show wasn’t my cup of tea, but the packed opening night crowd was all smiles when it was over. If you aren’t offended by strong language and some racial slurs, and you don’t mind sitting real close to the person next to you in the audience, this might be one you’d enjoy.
Ochre House Theater, 825 Exposition Ave., Dallas, TX 75226
Runs through February 20
Actual days Wednesday through Saturday at 8:15pm, plus a pay-what-you-can performance on Monday, February 8 at 8:15pm. Tickets are $ 17.00 For info/tickets, go to www.ochrehousetheater.org or call the box office at 214-826-6273.