Life’s bruises and beauty have purple in common

mkitaoka_140324_6311-color-purpleBy Ande Jacobson

Hillbarn’s final show of its 73rd season is The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker’s novel of the same name. The story winds its way through the bruises and beauty that life has to offer a poor black woman living in the Southern US from 1909-1945. This production is packed with emotion and power, and yes, plenty of purple.

Walker’s most famous work has enjoyed success in many forms making its debut in 1982 and becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning novel in 1983. The Steven Spielberg film adaptation followed soon thereafter. Finally, the musical adaptation (with book by Marsha Norman, and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray) hit the Broadway stage in 2005. Continue reading

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The night smiles three times

Hillbarn-night-music-MKitaoka_130507_3906By Ande Jacobson

Hillbarn Theatre Company’s latest offering is A Little Night Music which opened on Friday, 10 May.  This highly acclaimed Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical, suggested by the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, follows the lives and loves of several mismatched couples in early 20th Century Sweden.  As Sondheim recalls in his memoir Finishing the Hat, director Harold Prince once described A Little Night Music as “whipped cream with knives.”  An apt description as the plotline is both sweet and sharp.  Sondheim claims he focused on the knives and spent his energy pursuing his dream of writing a “Theme and Variations,” in this case, using a metric theme, or more specifically a triple-meter theme exploring the myriad options available to him beyond the waltz. Continue reading

Sister and brother, mother and son, and a journey through time

johnjensliderimagelrgBy Ande Jacobson

Hillbarn Theatre’s latest offering, John & Jen, is best described as a chamber musical.  Written by Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald, the show calls for two actors and three musicians to bring the audience the winding story of Jen Tracy and the two Johns in her life.  Alicia Teeter plays Jen, and William Giammona plays her baby brother and her son, both named John.  The story covers almost 40 years from 1952 to 1990, and as the plot unfolds, we see humor, pathos, and drama, all in slightly less than 2 hours.  In the beginning, Jen is 6 and her baby brother is a newborn.  At the end, she’s 44 and her son is 18 and just getting ready to start college. Continue reading