Friday, April 07, 2006

Married Alive!

Two things can always be counted on from a production at the American Heartland Theatre, a happy (or at least satisfying) ending to the play and energetic, colorful productions. "Married Alive!"is no exception. This light hearted but sometimes bittersweet musical spoofs the trials and tribulations of modern day marriage via two couples, a pair of young newlyweds and an older couple settling into a "comfortable relationship" after several years of marriage.

This world premiere show features a formidable cast: the young couple is portrayed by Todd Alan Crain and Ginette Rhodes, both excellent comic actors. Rhodes especially was good in her shifting moods and rapid fire monologs during the "Communication" counsleing session. Crain was great, bearing some resemblance to Jim Carrey, but his character spent too long in the stereotype "clueless male" role.

The mature couple stole the show. James Wright was excellent in his varied roles as mature husband, father and counselor to the younger couple. Versatile Kathy Santen could range from a mature, sensible woman, a vulnerable girl then to a somewhat naughty vamp, usually in the same scene.

The show's composer Leah Okimoto and writer Sean Grennan have produced a lively, topicial show that should be a crowd pleaser in many smaller theatre venues.

As was alluded, the plot as it is (more of a series of scenes or skits)is a satire on modern marriage and relationships. It begins with the young couple's wedding, reciting their own vows filled with metaphors of dolphins and baseball. The mature couple are a couple of the guests. It progresses through starting out, communication, careers, sex, children, holidays, keeping the flame alive, and ends with the roles reversed; the mature couple renewing their vows with the younger couple as guests.

The songs were good, nothing special, but lively and well written. The "keeping the flame alive" scene was hilarious as the mature couple acted out a sexual fantasy with her as a cheerleader and him as Zorro. A forgotten Viagra dose sets the scene for an amusing song full of innuendo and acerbic comedy. The most poignant scene involved the young couple involved in advancing their careers, zooming all over the country, with little time for each other. "I see you so little" moans the husband as they arrange a meeting over cell phones in different cities, "that 'Palm Pilot' takes on a whole new meaning." Probably more real than one wants to think.

The show never lagged, the production bright, well thought out and versatile sets, the vocals spot on and energetic. What more could you ask for!

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