The Column Online



by Steven Dietz

Rover Dramawerks

Director – Jason Rice
Set Design – Bill Parr
Lighting Design – Jack Wilkinson
Costume Design – Paul McKenzie
Property Design – Terrie Justus
Sound Design – Jason Rice
Stage Manager – Darcy Koss

Donny – J.R. Bradford
Buck – Robert Shores
Trisha – Shelby Scott
Rita – Melissa Hartman Couture
Louise – Melissa LeCompte

Reviewed Performance: 2/26/2016

Reviewed by Angela Newby, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Regrets, choices, and decisions all surround the life of Donny as he struggles with the world that he lives in and the parallel one that he believes is where one makes the right choices. Rocket Man by Steven Dietz is an amazing script that adds humor and religion to the thought process of how does one find the best journey in life.

Rover Dramawerks gives a profound performance through the emotional journey of Donny, his family and friends as they all struggle with the life they live. This cast and crew had the unique privilege to portray not only the way the world is that we live in, but one that shows a contrast to all that we know as normal. This provides a direct contrast in many areas, yet truly shows the talent that Director Jason Rice brought to the show.

Bill Parr’s clever set design was the attic of Donny’s house. The attic was perfect showing the dusty, drop cloth covered beaten up furniture and mass of wires and cords which mirrored the despair of Donny in Act 1. There was a vast difference in Act 2 as the parallel universe shows the use of the attic as living quarters that are clean and organized and ready to be worked in. Parr does an excellent job using the set to enhance the performance of the actors.

Lighting Design by Jack Wilkinson was mainly bright spotlights on the full stage throughout Act 1. Transitions were smooth and balanced the scenes well. Act 2 though displayed the depth of thought behind the lighting. The transition between the two was a beautiful fade that ended with a narrow spotlight on Donny and then went straight to black.

Paul McKenzie’s costume designs were matched well to each character, but I absolutely loved the color scheme that was matched with each character. Donny’s blue theme was evident in his jeans and plaid shirt and then again in shorts and blue shirt. Buck’s khaki color was perfected to his character in Act 2 with the explorer feel of cargo shorts, shirt, floppy hat, and rain boots. Trisha looked beautiful in red in the contrasting jeans and shirt, and her form fitting dress that showed the contrast of her character. Rita’s yellow tones highlighted both the disdain and affection she has towards her family. Louise’s purples highlighted her character’s religious tones.

Sound Design by Jason Rice was spot on for the play. Through the transitions, the musical ensembles were perfect for the script. The static voices and sounds only enhanced the true meaning behind Rocket Man. Each and every sound element was purposeful to the play and brought the audience to an emotional attachment to what was unfolding on the stage before them.

J.R. Bradford’s performance of Donny was outstanding. Bradford’s use of hand gestures and strong tones show the dedication of Donny to his quest to find this parallel world. Once in the parallel world, Bradford’s demeanor is calm and each movement was fluid as Donny strives to make a better life in this other world. Bradford was perfectly cast for this role and his performance was spot-on.

Buck, played by Robert Shores, was the comedic relief to the show and the thoughtful neighbor. Shores was able to show Buck’s frustration with Donny in his exasperated and bewildered looks, frenzied speech, and constantly scratching his head. Shores portrayed Buck’s contrasting personality in the parallel world through his calm tone, confident stance, and caring eyes.

Shelby Scott, Trisha, was the epitome of a moody teenager with her crossed arms, stand-offish attitude, and exasperated tone. Scott was able to fully transform to the parallel world by using perfect posture and aloofness to perfectly portray this new way of life. Scott delivered a flawless performance and has a bright future before her.

Rita, Donny’s ex-wife, was played by Melissa Hartman Couture. Couture’s angry tones, crossed arms, and eye-rolling indicated Rita’s true hatred for Donny. Again, in perfect contrast, her saccharine tone and gentle caresses show the life that would never be. Couture was able to capture and display the very different elements of this complex character.

Melissa LeCompte’s performance as Louise was Donny’s life-long friend and encourager. This dynamic character was enhanced by LeCompte’s no-nonsense voice and showed Louise’s inner turmoil. LeCompte was wide-eyed and well enunciated to show the fullness of her questioning religious side.

Rover Dramawerks’s Rocket Man was a thought provoking show that delved into the thought process of is there parallel worlds that are better than the one we are living in. It is left to the minds of the audience to determine which world is better, the one we know or the unknown.

Rover Dramawerks, 221 W. Parker Road, Suite 58, Plano, TX 75023
Runs through March 19th

Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday, March 5th at 2:00 pm
Tickets are $16.00 Thursday and $22.00 Friday - Saturday.
Student, senior, and group discounts are available.

For info and to purchase tix go to or call the box office at 972-849-0358.