Monday, March 21, 2016

theatre review - QUILTERS - Fountain Hills Theater - March 17, 2016

Jenny Harrington, Angela Kabasan, Danielle Hale, Cynthia Elek, Larah Pawlowski, Jennifer Whiting, and Colleen Corliss
Photo by Patty Torrilhon
Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 27th.

 "If you ever find yourself complaining about the hardships of life today—the short battery life of your cell phone, not having free wi-fi access, an extra-long line at Starbucks—you only need to think about the problems the American pioneer women endured to realize how easy your life actually is. With courage, dedication and an almost unfailing determination, they dealt with numerous natural disasters and the threat of fire, while almost all also having a dozen children, a farm, and livestock to tend to. Quilters is a valentine to these women and, while the musical itself has a few shortfalls, the production on stage at Fountain Hills Theater has a stellar ensemble of gifted ladies who bring these women vibrantly to life. The plot of the show is fairly basic. Sarah is reaching the end of her life so she has decided to create a "legacy" quilt that she will then pass down to her daughters. Each block of the quilt will represent a significant moment in either her or her daughters' lives, or the life of a friend or family member....Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek have crafted a book with a series of vignettes that move us along the journey of these hardy women. Damashek also wrote the score, which has an emphasis on folk music. However, while the book is interesting, there is no linear tale and no character arcs to keep you engaged, since as soon as the story and woman behind one block of the quilt is finished the cast moves on to the next. ...Damashek's score is slight and not very memorable. ...director/choreographer Noel Irick has not only found a superb cast to pull this material off but she has staged and choreographed the piece exceptionally. Her varied movement adds dimension to the songs and she achieves unique and diverse performances from each of the seven women in the cast. Robin Peterson's music direction and the vocal talents of the cast create some of the most luscious harmonies I've heard in years...As the headstrong Sarah, Cynthia Elek has a huge dose of spunk and a sure-footed portrayal of this commanding woman. Colleen Corliss, Danielle Hale, Jennifer Harrington, Angela Kabasan, Larah Pawlowski, and Jennifer Whiting play the six daughters and each one is given the chance to shine and show off both her vocal and acting chops. ...While there are some shortcomings in the score and book there are many rewarding moments in Quilters, such as showing how life on the frontier was for these women and also sharing an appreciation of the quilting process. Highlighting the women's stories by the blocks in the quilt is a smart way to show us just how difficult, but also rewarding, these women's lives were. While you may not come away humming any of the songs, the stories, Irick's direction, and the characters and harmonies the talented Fountain Hills cast achieve are all stirring in their beauty."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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