THE DEATH AND LIFE OF SNEAKY FITCHby James L. Rosenberg
The Garage Door Theatre
Director – Charlotte Ledbetter
Production Manager – Monica David
Stage crew – Reece Sartain, Heather Reynolds, Lane Maxey
Costuming – Tara DeWeese
Makeup – Denise Sartain
Lights – Ty Belger, Victoria Kovacs, Will Kovacs
Sound – Charlene Ledbetter
Set Design – Devon Hacker
Props/Special effects – Sheldon Ledbetter
Sneaky Fitch – Matthew Stauser
Narrator – Jace Bridwell
Rackham – Bryan Schulman
Sheriff Jack Oglesby/Bob Wislon – Tyler Boulton
Mervyn Vale, Undertaker – Beau Foster
Morticia Vale, daughter – Millana Smith
Mrs. Vale – Amy Maxey
Doc Burch – Perry Goodwyn
Reverend Stanley Blackwood – Darrell Coxsey
Mrs. Blackwood – Monica David
Billy Blackwood, son – Jaxson Kille
Bill Jackson – Lane Maxey
Miss Pritchett, School Teacher – April Goolsby
Maroon – Kalli Smith
Joe Carter – Ty Belger
Reviewed Performance: 2/21/2020
Reviewed by Cat Jimenez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
As soon as I entered this theatre, I appreciated the small touches like the centerpieces being steampunk themed and free refreshments being offered. The entire theatre is cozy, which I love. Smaller theatres have a way of being intimate in a way, and I wanted to note the charm that carries.
Tara DeWeese's costumes were done extremely well and perfectly captured the essence of the steampunk style. I commend her intricate work on each costume. She has her bachelor’s degree in theatre technology, specializing in costume construction. It was very evident to me that Tara’s grasp of steampunk fashion and the perfect blend of futuristic and past styles and designs were vital parts of making this show interesting and fun to watch.
Another aspect of this show that deserves attention is the props. The steampunk guns not only looked well designed but the mechanics for the gunshot effects when the guns were shot were very interesting to see on stage. The set design was also very well done, and I could tell it must have taken a lot of work to fit an entire western town onto a tiny stage.
Now, I saw this show on opening night and so it’s expected that nerves might work their way on stage. What is also expected, however, is that the actors remember their lines. There were a few actors who truly held together this show with their energy and memory of their lines, and nearly all the rest seemed to have only given their scripts three days before the show. I am well aware that the first night of a show can be nerve-wracking, so I truly hope that the cast can be more put together for the rest of the run because they have a lot of potential.
Matthew Strauser did an absolutely great job at playing the lead role and playing such a dynamic character seemed to come naturally to him. He was one of the actors who truly seemed prepared to put on a good show. He did great at embodying a messy drunk with no self-awareness and then did a great job at a quick transition into an almost completely different character. I will say that he might have done great as Rackham the gunslinger, seeing as that character was to be younger than Sneaky Fitch, however, the actor who played Rackham was very obviously older than Matthew. That has more to do with casting, but it was worth mentioning. I hope to see this handsome actor in more shows around the metroplex.
Though Bryan Schulman (Rackham) could have been a great Sneaky because of his age, he did a great job at playing the fastest hands in Gopher Gulch. He was fun, energetic, funny and truly stood out to me as one of the best actors in this show. His interactions with Sneaky Fitch were always kind of bizarre in the best ways. Though 37, Bryan is only now exploring his passion for bringing characters to life on stage. He is a father of three and I am always glad to see parents taking time to explore their interest. I very much enjoyed Bryan’s performance and hope he continues acting in more shows because he is a natural.
Beau Foster portrays Mervyn Vale, the undertaker. I loved the costuming and makeup on him and took special notice of how well it was done. He truly looked exactly as you would imagine an undertaker, and the detail of giving him greasy hair and very pale skin was very interesting to see. Beau and Millana Smith, who played the undertakers daughter, made such a good team. The young actress was playing an adoring daughter and mischievous child, and she was one of my favorite parts of the show. I also really liked the undertaker's song at the end of the show, a nod to Monty Pythons Life of Brian. It was a lovely touch. One song selection that didn’t seem to make much sense was Maroon’s solo. It seemed out of place and to be added despite the overall tone of the relationship that Maroon has with Sneaky. I thought it was just a bit awkward when the other songs seemed to have a clear purpose for being in the show. Maroon is supposed to be a bombshell character, a powerful character. I felt that wasn’t translated with this casting.
Overall, I left the show feeling a bit underwhelmed. I think the show could have been really good if the casting had been tweaked and lines could have been memorized. I truly think all the other components for a good show were there. The costumes, the set design, the props, most of the soundtrack, the lighting. I know how much hard work and long hours it takes that goes into a show, and it just seemed unfair that the overall production was dulled by certain areas that can be fixed with more performances under their belts and the company’s dedication to the play itself. The actors who were truly worth watching on stage made the show easier to watch, and to them, I say thank you for putting in the effort of bringing art to the stage.
110 S Washington St, Pilot Point, TX 76258
Showtimes: Friday and Saturday, Feb 28, 29 at 7:30 pm. Sunday Matinee, Mar 1 at 2:30 pm