The Column Online



By Ellen Fairey

L.I.P. Service

Director – Van Quattro
Stage Manager – Nicole Lugar
Stage Manager – Devon Miller
Set Design – Jason Leyva
Light Design – Scott Davis
Sound Design – Van Quattro, dB design
Costume Design – Jason Leyva

Sara – Emily Scott Banks
Joe – Andrew Kasten
Anna – Elizabeth Kensek
Sam – R. Andrew Aguilar
Miles – Miles Alexander

Reviewed Performance: 11/4/2017

Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Graceland at L.I.P. Service Productions has nothing to do with Elvis Presley. Since we cleared up that piece of confusion, Graceland is a historic cemetery in Chicago and it’s the backdrop of Ellen Fairey’s play of the same name. Sara and her brother, Sam, met for their father’s funeral. After some self-medicating mistakes are made and grief is processed and people in transitional stages of their lives come to an understanding.

Jason Leyva is credited as the set designer but its obvious most of the set is recycled from Firehouse Theatre’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, which closed last weekend. I did not see Little Shop of Horrors, so it’s hard to say how many changes were made. Some paving stones, dirt, and plastic plants rest stage left with a painted backdrop of a cemetery, while stage right’s platforms and walls create an apartment. It’s an effective and efficient use of space.

Scott Davis’ lighting design is simple but practical. General lighting in the two different performance spaces draw the audience’s attention as the scene’s change. A nice blue light with strips of orange represents a fading evening light. Overall, a good basic lighting plan.

Costumes for the show are simple, as it’s a modern play taking place in today’s world. T-shirts, jeans, and hoodies dominate. Miles’ attempt to appear more sophisticated by putting on a hat and sport coat and Sara tries to resemble someone younger than her years with “hip” torn jeans says a lot about their characters.

Emily Scott Banks turned in the strongest performance of the show. Sara deals with a tempest of emotions and Banks’ portrayal is believable and relatable.

Sam, her brother, is played by R. Andrew Aguilar. His heartbroken, stoner, slacker character comes across well but leaves a lot to be desired. He’s almost too subdued in his performance.

Andrew Kasten plays Sara’s post-funeral bar pickup Joe, who is also Miles’ father. He plays the cheesy Lothario and awkwardly over-sharing father extremes of his character convincingly well. It’s agreeable when Sara tells Joe he’s a good father.

Finally, Miles is the teenage son of Joe. He’s budding romantically and learning from his father’s example. Unfortunately, he tries his newly acquired skills on Sara, which causes problems. Miles Alexander, the actor playing the character Miles, is flat in his delivery but it works for the floundering teenager he plays.

Graceland is an enjoyable, short show at Firehouse Theatre by LIP Service Productions. It lacks some necessary resolution but fits nicely into a one hour run time.

All photos courtesy of PENDELTON PHOTOGRAPHY

LIP Service Productions at Firehouse Theatre
2535 Valley View Ln, Farmers Branch, TX 75234
Runs through November 18th

Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm. Tickets are $20. For tickets and info visit or call their box office at (817) 689-6461.