Mar 08, 2012 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
What’s all that noise coming from the Presbyterian Education Center on weekends? It’s the sound of delighted audiences booing the bad guy and cheering the hero as Baldwinsville Theatre Guild stages a musical version of the ageless melodrama, “The Drunkard.”
The entire cast of 17 revels in the show’s old-fashioned fun as they sing, dance and drink their way into your hearts, but a few performances merit special mention.
Maxwel Anderson, who last graced the BTG stage in the title role of “Othello,” affirms his range here as our hero, Edward Middleton. While Anderson’s Othello was serious and restrained, his Edward bounces all over the stage battling the demon alcohol. His knees knock, his hands tremble, his face contorts and his eyes bulge. His resonant baritone is showcased on several numbers including Act 3’s “Garbage Can Blues.”
Chicago-bred actress Ceara Windhausen portrays Edward’s long-suffering spouse, Mary, who weeps more than she speaks. But the real treat comes when Windhausen sings! Her supple soprano soars on tunes such as the opener, “Something Good,” and “Peace and Love and Apple Pie,” her cute duet with Anderson.
Veteran performer Kathy Egloff does double duty. As Edward’s demented foster sister, Agnes, she screeches out “A Bird in a Gilded Cage.” Later she appears as a torch singer belting out a breathtaking “Nobody Knows and Nobody Seems to Care.”
Although he plays the villain, Lawyer Cribbs, Jon Wright’s self-assured stage presence and solid singing help hold the show together as he is on stage more than any other cast member. After vocalizing a menacing “When You’re Dead,” Wright rises to the occasion for a faux soft-shoe with Anderson on “A Cup of Coffee.”
As a Salvation Army leader, Sarah Wright sings like an archangel on the rousing show-closer, “Do You Wanna Be Saved?”
Audience involvement is encouraged throughout by The Rake played by Patrick Bridenbaker who—from his front row seat—comments sarcastically on the action and appearance of the characters. His carnal craving for card girl Korrie Taylor is hilariously replayed at every scene change.
Pianist Michael Stapleton goes with the flow as he ably supports the singers, while Korrie Taylor created simple but effective choreography. Her work was especially impressive in the Act 1 closer, “Mrs. Mary Middleton,” as 12 onstage characters cavort in a wooded glen.
Actress Briana Duger turns heads as Edward’s daughter, Julia, who seems to have inherited demented genes from her foster aunt, as if that were possible. “Julia’s Song” punnily declares that “grass is better for you than wine.”
Rounding out this rambunctious cast are Mary Tall, Jay Burris, Harlow Kisselstein, Gregg Bilyeau, Kathy Baker, Leslie LaVine, Stephanie Long and Denise Ballou.
Directed by Jon Barden and Deb Taylor and produced by Steve Borek, this run of “The Drunkard” is dedicated to Mary Ellen Van Tassell who worked as BTG costumer for more than two decades. Van Tassel died Feb. 29 at age 77.
Based on the 19th century melodrama by W.H.S. Smith and adapted by Bo Herrod and Barry Manilow, “The Drunkard” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 11, at 8 p.m. March 16, and closes at 7:30 p.m. March 17, at the Presbyterian Education Center, 64 Oswego St., Baldwinsville. Complimentary desserts and hot beverages will be served at intermission. Tickets cost $20 adults and $17 students; seniors can see the show for $17 at the Sunday, March 11, matinee only; 877-4183; baldwinsvilletheatreguild.org.