Saturday, June 30, 2012

Studio Roanoke Sets a New Standard for Itself

"To the New Girl from the Former Mrs. ________: Sound Advice for My Husband's New Wife or Mistress" by Samantha Macher is right smack in the middle of the reason Kenley Smith founded Studio Roanoke a couple of years ago.

This is a series of 10 short monologues about--well, from the title, you can guess--written by a Hollins University grad, who has found some success on the West Coast and who looks like somebody we'll need to keep up with.

The writing here simply crackles with intellect, wit, insight and a kind of theatrical introspection that makes live performance unparallelled in some ways.

Friday's wind-assaulted performance (which knocked out my power and left me to run to Panera Bread Saturday to write this) elicited a deserved standing ovation. Roanoke audiences are often more generous than necessary, standing at the drop of a punch line, but this one was richly earned.

Eight of the 10 actresses gave superior and the two weaker links had such good material that it didn't matter they weren't great.

My favorite was the performance by Stevie Holcomb as the wife of a slick-haired, hard-bodied, Christian evangelist who has fallen in love with a man. She's considered the options and decided to stay with velvet tongued preacher and she's even up for allowing his new lover to share time with her. It's about being shown the money. Stevie has already earned veteran status among Roanoke actors with some sterling performances in the past 18 months and this one fits in the box nicely, as well.

Cheryl Snodgrass, another of those excellent directors being brought in occasionally by Studio Roanoke, has a firm grasp on this production throughout. Her 10 women are real, vulnerable, pained, angry and thoroughly believeable.

This one will be Studio Roanoke's standard for a while, I suspect.

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