Monday, February 13, 2012

Roanoke Theater Just Keeps Getting Better

Writer Macher (from left) with Ristau, Young, Mullins and Moss during discussion following the play.
If there was any doubt that the drum I've been beating to salute the quality of theater in Roanoke was in tune, it should have been completely erased in the past few days. Three plays by three different companies in less than a week--all entertaining, wildly different and thoroughly creative--would tend to do that.

You've read about the two previous productions (and if you haven't, just scroll down) and the latest, Samantha Macher's "The Arctic Circle and a Recipe for Swedish Pancakes" opened with a preview tonight at Mill Mountain Theatre's Waldron Stage. It is part of this week's Marginal Arts Festival and was heavily dotted with Hollins University staff, students and former students--which is a good thing, a very good thing.

 Macher, who is part of the Playwright's Lab at Hollins, teams here with director Bob Moss to present this inventive, funny, clever, touching tale of a woman who loves too much without really having a clue what it's about.

The production presents some of a growing number of talented young Roanoke actors (developed by Hollins and Studio Roanoke), including Susanna Young (who steals this one), always solid Chad Runyon, and Drew Dowdy, he of wide enough range to play several roles in "Artic Circle," including two women.

Todd Risau, who heads the Playwright's Lab and has a lot of other local and regional credits, plays the narrator well. Even musician Shay Mullins, who has been around the stage here far too long to be as young as she is, is an important element to the mood of this play.

What is impressive beyond this small production--which is quite good and runs Feb. 14-18 at the Waldron ($15 at the door $10 in advance; order here or by calling 540-556-5396)--is the theater development on display in front of you. I've seen just about everybody who is associated with this play at other venues in Roanoke, where opportunities to be involved in theater are abundant. We're all being rewarded for those opportunities by being treated to a lot of good theater, much of it in premiers (everything at Studio Roanoke is a premier).

I've been attending theater in Roanoke since the early 1970s and have never seen a more exciting time or more interesting works.

(Photo: Gene Marrano)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dan! Great to have you there last night! Here's the direct link to buy advance tickets: