Reviews

Travels With My Aunt (2011)

Don't let that photograph fool you.  They all look so polite and reserved, don't they? While we're on the subject, don't let any photograph fool you, as this raucous, fantastical comedy tells us again and again.  Appearances are inclined to deceive.

And if you ever saw the 1972 Maggie Smith motion picture, don't let that fool you either.  You might end up thinking the stage version of Graham Greene's novel would be equally dry and similarly sketchy on details.  But nothing could be further from the truth (except, possibly, for all the breathless explanations of this new production's Aunt Augusta herself, played with wild-eyed camp and a calculated, mysterious charm by Paul Cereghino). This is a full-blooded, flat-out, go-for-broke masterpiece.

This version, adapted by Giles Havergal and directed with outrageous truthfulness and straight-faced perjury by Emily Jones, is a brilliant psychological farce (in terms of its effect and implications), a jaw-dropping comedy, and a very nearly family-friendly fable, to boot.  The stylishly delivered story involves the kind of fraud that attracts Interpol or the CIA, or the local police, or even all three at once.  And, in the end, it sets the bar impossibly high for every other play this summer.

It never once asks you to adore it, as you'll have grown to expect from most summer fare—though Aunt Augusta herself seems pretty well-schooled in that kind of sly, ingratiating appeal.  And, really, after the police make their last visit, isn't it just the madcap tale of a boy's heartfelt search for a mother-figure? A "globe-trotting, suitcase-full-of-cash, with too many suspicious friends" mother-figure? Well, thanks to the beautiful writing, yes, it actually is.

Four young actors play different sides of the same leading man: an earnest, naive bank manager who took early retirement, and meets up with his somewhat aged but colorful maiden aunt at a funeral.  Stacks of wigs and hats and scarves for each of the men give them passage plenty of other personas as well.  And thanks to Graham Greene and the adaptation by Mr. Havergal (and the boundless energy of these four young men), any one of those fictional people would probably be worthy of an entire play themselves.  Yes, it iswildly campy here and there, but it's all so beautifully written and directed that we are carried far, far away, and a sense of poetic searching is right out there on stage, plain as day, whenever the frantic comedy takes a well-deserved rest.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that, out of "ten stars," this one gets about a million.

Mr. Cereghino carries a lot of the flouncy weight of the show with that hennaed wig and madcap manner that sparked right out his fingertips on opening night, but the other three actors are unstoppable and amazing, too.  Jake Ferree plays a wild assortment of rubber-faced, very particularly voiced and physicalized "characters"—enough to fill a Dickens novel.  Michael Juncal plays his share too, ranging from a frightening but adoring African manservant to a blushing 14-year old Paraguayan schoolgirl, all with equally unbridled charm.  And Jonathan Morgan, who may seem the most fresh-faced of them all, throws his dewy-eyed good looks straight into the wood-chipper when he slips into the role of a Nazi collaborator on the run, showing lots of wry humor as a potential spouse for Henry in South Africa.  There are also a surprising number of policemen involved, of every possible description, for reasons that I'd rather not go into.

There's a funny story, told to me by unofficial producer Eleanor Mullin at intermission, that Act Inc had expected to cast actors in their forties or fifties in the four roles—but that all four of those older performers went and tried out for a different show which, very sadly, ended up being cancelled just a few weeks ago.  So, by an unexpected stroke of luck, we get a young and energetic Ferrari of a show, from a theater group better known for stories of the kindly, comfy old Rolls Royce variety.  Make sure your neck restraints are locked firmly in place, to prevent whiplash until you exit the ride.

Richard Green
Talkin’ Broadway

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Whizzing Along with Aunt Augusta

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything quite like this wonderful adaption of the Graham Greene novel, Travels with My Aunt.

More than ten roles are played…no, brought to life…by only four actors and they take us on a dizzying, fun journey from Brighton, England to Istanbul and beyond, even giving us a joyful ride on the Orient Express.

Bank clerk Henry Pulling has retired to his country home in the English countryside there to live out the rest of his unspeakably dull life tending his dahlias and agonizing over whether or not to fully engage in a relationship with Evelyn, the only woman he’s even come close to loving.  Unhappy but resigned to living life in shades of tan, Henry is abruptly thrust into the insane world of his Aunt Augusta, younger sister of his recently deceased mother.  Augusta takes Henry on an adventure the likes of which are not readily described here, but time spent with Augusta and company changes Henry’s life and perspective like a burst of sun on a foggy day.

The intimate theatre in the round type setting puts the audience literally inside the action and the skill of the actors lies not only in their mastery of the dialogue, accents, and timing but also in the blocking which they execute with the precision of circus performers.

The set is comprised of only four trunks, four suitcases and various small props, wigs, and hats which the actors utilize to represent everything from a taxi to the Orient Express. To say this play is innovative without being self-conscious is an understatement.

Our four actors are never off stage until intermission, a feat of acting strength that defies description. They are seldom even still, constantly moving and morphing from one character at dizzying speed.

Paul Cereghino is the actor most charged with bringing Aunt Augusta to life and he is equal to the challenge. A little bit Rosalind Russel, a little bit Katharine Hepburn,Cereghino has only a red wig to aid in his transformation, but that seems to be all he needs. He is entirely believable in my estimation and although Aunt Augusta is a wild and flamboyant character, his interpretation is of a woman being so, not a man imitating a woman.

Michael Juncal proved to be the most adept at accents, moving from Jamaican to English to Italian and back, but his most beautiful character was devoted Wordsworth, who shows Henry what real love looks like.  He is crushed when Augusta chooses another and merely the look on his face gave me a lump in my throat.

Jake Ferree has a tour de farce as a pot smoking teen, a Russian Wolfhound, and a delightfully spot on impression of Christopher Walken as the maybe CIA Agent, O’Toole. It took me a second to catch on to that familiar voice and those twitchy gestures, but once I got it I had to restrain myself from cheering. He was amazing.

Jonathon Morgan rounds out the four man ensemble, taking his turns at being Henry and several other characters including the elusive Mr. Visconti, Aunt Augusta’s only true love.  Mr. Morgan certainly held his own in this cast of talented, handsome men.

Director Emily Jones has brought us a tightly wound, superbly executed piece of theatre worthy of high praise. The blocking alone must have been a nightmare and to her I say, Brava!

Connie Bollinger
KDHX


Kind Sir 
(2011)

ACT INC mounts breezy comedy “Kind Sir”

Years ago, when being onstage routinely involved beautiful evening clothes that a well-dressed audience could admire, Norman Krasna was an important American playwright, creator of characters who filled the stylish bill.

The audience at ACT INC may not bear much sartorial resemblance to the first-night crowd of Krasna's heyday; customs have changed, after all. But the actors in its production ofKrasna's "Kind Sir" fill the bill in both their costumes and their breezy comedy style.

More famous now in its movie version, "Indiscreet," "Kind Sir" centers on a famous stage actress, Jane Kimball (Kirsten Wylder, alluring in a black-and-gold evening ensemble and a host of other '50s-era fashions). Eyes wide open, she falls for a suave, wealthy married man (Jim Fuchs, who, like most men, looks great in white tie). But he isn't really married; it's a line he came up with to ensure that he never will be. Things go haywire when she learns the truth just as he realizes he needs to extricate himself from the story because this time, he really is in love.

Directed by Jane Sullivan, the show takes a good 25 minutes to warm up. Once it does, though, the dialogue proves witty and the characters fun to spend time with.

Wylder, droll and sophisticated, makes an appealing romantic heroine, while Fuchs manages to free his role from the grip of his predecessors (no less than Charles Boyer on Broadway and Cary Grant on the screen) to create a likable, albeit misguided, charmer.

They get strong comedic support from two other couples. Carmen and Jesse Russell, married in real life, deliver loads of broad humor as Jane's servants; Jesse Russell, a very big man, is at one point obliged to crawl under a piano, a sight theatergoers may turn to in memory if ever they need a good laugh.

Eleanor Mullin and David Gibbs, always good on stage together, add more laughter as Jane's protective sister and brother-in-law. Mullin (elegant in a copper evening suit complemented with a "yellow sapphire" parure) delivers the line of the evening: "Remember Mama!" She makes her sound as formidable as the Maine.

The show is a treat to look at, thanks to Emily Robinson's costumes and the luxurious set, designed by Tim Poertner and lit by Michael Sullivan. With a change of furnishings, it's also the set for ACT INC's other play about actors, "The Royal Family." The shows alternate.

Judy Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
June 9, 2011

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“Kind Sir” Crackles with Sophistication

There was no greater decade in American Theater than the 1950's, at least when it came to that woefully expired genre, the Sophisticated Comedy.

In those by-gone days, the term "adult situations" meant that adults would appreciate and understand the dilemmas posed in the plot, not that blatant, mindless pornography and rough language would abound; and "witty dialogue" meant just that...entertaining and literate words that were given life by entertaining, well-defined characters.

Those characters were always dressed to the nines. There was lots of good natured drinking, people punctuated their sentences by waving cigarettes, and though the plots were formulaic (boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl) it was the easy sophistication and style of the play as a whole that was the draw.

Kind Sir, written in 1953 by Norman Krasna, is a near - perfect example of the genre and a breath of fresh air in this modern world of stiflingly trite dialogue and deliberately oblique plotting. Kind Sir crackles with humor and wit; with lovely ladies in evening gowns, gentlemen in tuxedos and tails, the tinkle of ice against crystal and the hint of jolly naughty deeds performed just out of sight and ear shot.

Beautiful, mature, Kirsten Wylder is Jane Kimball, a famous Broadway actress who can't seem to find a man who keeps her interest for more than a few months. She's at an age where she wants to entertain thoughts of settling down, but her life is wonderfully satisfying as is, so any man changing her status quo would have to be exceptional.

Along comes Phillip Clair played by Jim Fuchs. Phillip is a master of foreign currency and economics. He's being courted by the State Department to join them in whatever it is the State Department does. He's handsome, charming, attentive and, he tells her, married. If the plot of Kind Sir sounds familiar, that's because it was made into the 1958 movieIndiscreet starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman

Kirsten Wylder is a marvel as Jane. Slight and graceful, she wears the 50's costumes beautifully and boy, the girl can act! Her voice is wonderfully smoky and low-pitched, delivering the banter with ease, and I felt she was really enjoying herself and the dialogue.

Jim Fuchs is charming as Phillip. When Phillip explains his "position" on the morality of his and Jane's relationship, his blind pomposity should have made me lose patience with him; but Fuchs somehow imbues Phillip with such likable innocence that I forgave him anyway.

Eleanor Mullin plays Jane's wealthy, protective sister to perfection and David Gibbs gives his character, Alfred, loads of style and an easy manner that's very attractive. It doesn't hurt that he looks pretty darned good in tails, either. Carmen and Jesse Russell are wonderfully alive and amusing as the maid, Anna, and her husband, Carl. They have a pivotal scene in Act 111 that is full out hilarious.

The set had to have been designed and constructed by a gifted professional. There's a full sized staircase complete with landing and an upper hallway that runs the length of the set. Costumer Emily Robinson did a lovely job, and my favorite dress was the tailored, muted bronze evening gown that Eleanor Mullin wore. The gentlemen in their tails were smashing and all the costumes were fabulous. It was a great night of "adult" theater.

Connie Bollinger, KDHX

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“Kind Sir”

. . .  Krasna’s deft script and Sullivan’s crisp direction of her entertaining sextet of players results in an enchanting presentation that delivers its three acts in two brisk hours sandwiched around two adroitly placed, 10-minute intermissions.  The cast looks smart and appropriately upper-crust in Emily Robinson’s elegant costumes that are counterbalanced by the working-class togs adorning Jane’s maid and her tailor (or wardrobe proprietor) husband.  The action plays out in Jane’s swank and tony Manhattan apartment that Tim Poertner fills with lavish accoutrements (it will double for the “Royal Family” set as well) courtesy of props mistress Peggy Knock, all handsomely lit by Michael Sullivan

Best of all, there are several engaging performances to illustrate Krasna’s witty dialogue.  As Jane, Kirsten Wylder has the look of an accomplished actress and precisely conveys her character’s patrician airs as well as Jane’s lingering frustration.  She’s complemented handsomely by Jim Fuchs, who brings both a debonair demeanor and a mysterious undertone to Phillip’s façade.  The two play off each other nicely, making their relationship easily believable

Eleanor Mullin and David Gibbs sparkle as Jane’s stately sister and brother-in-law.  While Mullin is amusing as the bluntly direct busybody Margaret, Gibbs contrasts appealingly as her low-key and sometimes exasperated husband.

The third duo are Anna the maid and Carl her husband, played in grand style by Carmen Russell and her real-life husband, Jesse Russell.  While Carmen is convincing as the well-meaning and dutiful maid, Jesse offers the show’s most hysterically funny moments near its conclusion as the near-sighted Carl makes a mess of things in a scheme concocted by Jane to seek revenge against the conniving Phillip.  Jesse Russell’s mastery of pratfalls and physical humor accentuate an already engaging production..

As their mission states, the folks at Act, Inc. have found another forgotten treasure.  True to its period, it may seem a bit quaint now, but that’s also part of its charm.  See it before it slips back into the misty shrouds of time.

Rating:    A 4.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Mark Bretz, Ladue News



The Royal Family 
(2011)

“The Royal Family”

“A delightful production . . . fine performances . . . lavish costumes . . . an elaborate set”

Gerry Kowarsky,  “Two on the Aisle”

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“The Royal Family”

 . . . How do you mirror the theatrics and bold-face headlines of the Barrymores and their in-law Drews on the very stage where they made their legendary marks?  Simply assign the task to a pair of noted American writers, namely playwright/director George S. Kaufman and playwright/novelist Edna Ferber.  That pair of accomplished scribes collaborated on other theatrical hits such as “Dinner at Eight” and “Stage Door,” and combined their collective wits in penning this three-act send-up of the notorious Barrymores, including siblings Lionel, Ethel and John.


Director Steve Callahan once again has resurrected a treasured theatrical masterpiece, the type of work that is Act, Inc.’s raison d’etre. While the production is charming throughout, it’s the larger-than-life bravado of Joshua Thomas as the thundering Tony Cavendish (read: John Barrymore) that really propels this presentation.


Other Info:    Thomas can bellow with the best of them, and his antic behavior is a much-needed tonic for the otherwise leisurely pace of this three-act work that consumes nearly three hours.  He’s fitfully funny as he lunges through his dialogue as recklessly as he chews up the scenery while making the grandest of entrances and exits.  It’s a magnificent performance that has ‘Kevin Kline nomination’ virtually imprinted upon it.

Lynn Rathbone also offers a splendid turn as Fannie, haughty matriarch of the Cavendish brood.  Rathbone delivers her lines with just the right flair, instilling both the Cavendish spirit and the concomitant air of superiority for every occasion.  Katie McGee embodies the free-spirited Gwen, who finds that blood is thicker than the pull of a wedding ring, while Liz Hopefl is a steadying influence as the reigning matinee queen, Julie, handling myriad family responsibilities like an unrivaled juggler.


Chuck Lavazzi and Laura Kyro provide their own humorous moments as the bickering Deans. Colin Nichols and David Cooperstein do fine work as ‘outsiders’ Marshall and Stewart, respectively, while Barry Hyatt relishes his role as the family’s busy manager.  Michele Dodson and Gold Wise have fun as the efficient domestic help, Della and Jo, Tim Grumich is Julie’s personal boxing trainer and Chris Jent and Bob Nickles nicely fill the roles of bag handlers, chauffeurs and even an Indian gunga brought back by Tony.  TopsyBaskerville, looking suspiciously like noted graphics designer Marjorie Williamson, capably fills out the cast as Gwen’s nanny.


Tim Poertner’s lavish scenic design sets the right tone for the elegant Cavendish digs, complete with handsome family portraits, and is well lit by Michael Sullivan’s design.  Sound designer Robin Weatherall cleverly puts together several fine old numbers reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties, Teresa Doggett brings flair to the costuming, whether the various attire for the ladies or Tony’s garish fur coat, Rathbone unearths some quaint props and Mike Monsey adds some sparkling, if brief, faux sword combat for Tony and the boxing coach.


“The Royal Family” is a well-written piece, but it’s Thomas’ outrageous antics that propel this rendition beyond a mere curio piece into true entertainment.


Rating:        A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Mark Bretz, Ladue News

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George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's comic skewering of the Barrymore family and their profession still gets over even if you're unfamiliar with the reputations of the individuals, but its old-school length—three hours with intermissions—drags it down.  The Cavendish family's three generations of famous actors have to overcome relationship trouble, professional trouble and legal trouble, all while vying for the spotlight in their shared home.  As current star Julie, Liz Hopefl provides a strong and consistent heart for the play, struggling to keep her daughter, Gwen (Katie McGee), from quitting the stage to pursue true love even as she herself wants to resume an affair from her own youth. McGee is a fine and funny ingénue, but Joshua Thomas' swashbuckling-blowhard take on Anthony Cavendish steals every scene he's in, even from the background.  An outrageous he-man prima donna who can't tolerate anyone upstaging him, Anthony is riotous even as he's terrible;  his petulant hatred of a new baby for drawing attention away from himself is engagingly rotten.

Paul Friswold, RFT



Abie’s Irish Rose 
(2010)

2010 Best Couple:  Ryan Cooper and Maggie Murphy

Judy Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In her annual “Judy Awards”

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Best Theater Surprise – 2010:  Abie's Irish Rose

Abie's Irish Rose, which ran on Broadway for five record-setting years beginning in 1922, might well be the first Teflon play (even though it predates the invention of Teflon by sixteen years). Reviewers had few words of praise for Anne Nichols' lowbrow comedy about the uproar that ensues when a good Jewish boy (Abie) brings home a Catholic bride (Rose Mary). For nearly 90 years, Abie's Irish Rose has been the theater world's Exhibit A of "successful but bad." Of course, most of us had never seen Abie's Irish Rose, but we knew it couldn't be any good. Leave it to Act Inc., an intrepid theater company that delights in resurrecting forgotten drama from the musty past, to stage a simple yet charming production that did us all the disservice of compelling us to alter our ignorant preconceptions. If Abie is not a lost classic, it at least delivered a well-acted evening of humor and sentiment. Thanks to all involved for filling in a missing link in theater lore.

Dennis Brown, River Front Times

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Despite broad stereotypes, 'Abie's Irish Rose' has appeal

In 1922, when "Abie's Irish Rose" opened what would turn out to be a record-breaking, five-year run on Broadway, the critics had nothing good to say about the show.  But audiences ate it up.

Now, as the venerable romantic comedy opens the 30th season at Act Inc., it's easy to see both points of view.

Playwright Anne Nichols certainly didn't trouble herself with subtlety. Her play about a young Jewish-American man and a young Irish-American woman relies on ethnic caricatures for humor and implausible coincidence for plot. That's not a promising combination.

And yet, the show has appeal.  Part of the credit for that goes to director Steve Callahan, who keeps things bright and brisk. But Nichols deserves credit, too.  Her play — the inspiration for the old TV show "Bridget Loves Bernie" and maybe also for "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" — acknowledges a fact of life:  In a melting pot, sometimes the cheese is going get attached to the meat. That's life in America.

Nichols doesn't even pretend to solve the problems that can create, except with a pasted-on happy ending.  But by writing a comedy instead of a drama, she turns down the heat and hints at the possibility of civilized, and even happy, ways that people from different cultures can live together in a society that belongs to them all. That's as reassuring today as it was almost 90 years ago.

Ryan Cooper and Maggie Murphy bring plenty of charm to their portrayal of Abie and Rose Mary, a couple who have secretly married because they know their families would disapprove.  But the play really belongs to Barry Hyatt and Jesse Russell, who play their widowed fathers.

So physically different that Mack Sennett could have cast them, the small, bustling Hyatt and the big, roaring Russell bring two stereotypes to life with unself-conscious warmth; the long, silent scene in which they "fight" with gift-wrapped packages is delicious.

Costumer Jane Sullivan secures the play's stylish period look, reserving the best outfits for Suzanne Greenwald. Greenwald gives a such lively performance as the Jewish family's kvetching neighbor, she earns every sequin that she sports.

Judith NewmarkSt. Louis Post Dispatch

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Abie's Irish Rose
 is a bona fide theater anomaly. The original 1922 New York production ran for more than five years.  All these decades later, it remains the third longest-running nonmusical (after Life With Father and Tobacco Road) in Broadway history.  Yet who today has seen this pariah?  The Romeo and Juliet spinoff about the uproar that ensues afterAbie Levy (Ryan Cooper), a dutiful Jewish son, secretly brings home Catholic bride RoseMary Murphy (the sassy Maggie Murphy), is rarely staged because it is reputed to be one of the most politically incorrect comedies of all time.  But although the evening is indeed a lumpy stew of clichés, obvious mistaken identities and mispronounced words (oh, those silly immigrants), the script is hardly malicious.  At times it even evokes a naive sweetness.

Director Steve Callahan has assembled an excellent cast. There's not a weak performance in the ensemble. In a script that invites excess, the evening is noted for its restraint. AsSolomon Levy, the father who would rather die than see his son marry a Catholic girl, Barry Hyatt transcends ethnicity. He reminds one of an impish Barry Fitzgerald, yet when he frowns he morphs into a surly Edward G. Robinson.  As Rose's hot-tempered Irish papa,Jesse Russell is the whale to Hyatt's sardine.  Hyatt and Russell are as incompatibly charming as Mutt and Jeff.

Legend has it that Abie's original New York reviews were terrible.  They weren't, at least not all of them. Critics seemed to be more offended by the comedy's longevity (five years!) than by its existence.  But the play will not outstay its welcome here, because it's only running for one more weekend.  Act Inc. is providing a painless way to fill in what for most of us has been a missing link in theater lore.

Dennis Brown,  River Front Times

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“Director Steve Callahan has assembled a cast I feel was absolutely perfect . . .”

“I found Abie’s Irish Rose to be full of schmaltz (sentimentality), and a very entertaining evening.”

Laura Kyro, KDHX



Waiting in the Wings
 (2009)

“ACT Inc. uses large cast to great effect”

“Imagine a non-musical play in today’s commercial theater with a cast of 18! . . .  But ACT INC has produced it.  And ACT INC has the women to do it.   . . .  Dorothy Davis is at the top of her game as the dear old soul whose mind wanders from decade to decade.

“Act, Inc. is a lovely summer theater noted for its sweetness and gentility.  While other local companies strive to be edgy, Act, Inc. revels in the past.  They're much more excited by rediscovering a play written a century ago than in something new.”

Dennis Brown, River Front Times



Ladyhouse Blues (2008)

[On having viewed production photos and heard recording of the songs by the cast:]

“It was a truly wonderful  experience -- the best since I saw, and was part of, the original production in NYC [in 1967].”

The play’s author, Kevin O’Morrison

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“Ladyhouse Blues
 is the type of nugget that Act Inc. has famously found and featured throughout its 29-year history. . . . O’Morrison’s two-act drama is very well written, poignant and affecting . . . Steve Callahan’s direction is loving and meticulous, with care and attention afforded the five talented actresses who comprise the show’s ensemble.” 

Mark Bretz, Ladue News

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“Scientists (and by "scientists," of course, I mean "men") have long speculated on a parallel universe of "women's hearts," operating on unseen, unknowable rules of female emotions in response to apparently insignificant events, rather than running on the good old laws of physics. And here, Mr. O'Morrison's play gives us a fuller, more sympathetic glimpse of that invisible parallel universe than any other play I've ever seen, including those written by women themselves, set in any time period you might care to mention.    . . . “All four actresses do great work under the sensitive direction of Steve Callahan.”

Richard Green, Talkin’ Broadway




The Romantic Age
 (2008)

“Director Rob Grumich keeps faith with the script . . . he never rushes the romantic comedy, and imbues his cast with style. Teresa Doggett gives a delicious performance asMelisande's silly mother, a woman who seems to float through the play on the strength of the air in her head.”

Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post Dispatch



The Man with a Load of Mischief
 (2007)

“Act, Inc. once again dusted off a pair of trusty old tales, works titled Enchanted April andMan with a Load of Mischief, with good work in the former by Julie Venegoni and AprilStrelinger and by Kirsten Wylder and Colin Nichols in the latter.”

Mark Bretz, KDHX “Radio Roses”:  Most memorable shows of 2007



 Enchanted April
 (2007)

“It’s a charming story, and a wonderful cast assembled by director Deanna Jent fills it with life, love and vibrancy in this delightful rendition.”

Mark Bretz, Ladue News



The Real Inspector Hound
 (2007 fundraiser)

“St. Louis critics take the stage as actors!”

Dennis Brown, River Front Times


Noises Off
 (2006)

“This mother of all backstage theatre comedies serves up an evening of seemingly limitless laughs.   . . . [Director Deanna] Jent and company have provided audiences with a night to remember.”

Dennis Brown, Riverfront Times


Drama at Inish
 (2006)

“. . . fascinating. . . an unexpected treat for audiences.” 

Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post Dispatch



Alice Sit-by-the-Fire
 (2005)

“For either the experienced or casual theatre-goer, Alice Sit-by-the-Fire is a fun show with a unique history that is easy to enjoy.”

Philip Bozich, KDHX, 88.1 FM

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“Comic timing that never fails….”

Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



Great Day in the Morning
 (2004)

“…St. Louis theatergoers are being given the rare opportunity to share in a resurrection.Great Day in the Morning serves up a grand evening of theater.”

Dennis Brown, Riverfront Times

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“ACT Inc.’s current staging of Great Day in the Morning rescues a fine script with strong local interest from undeserved neglect.”

Gerry Kowarsky, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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“The ACT Inc. production, sporting Deanna Jent’s well-tuned direction of a fine local cast … plays exceptionally well in the intimate studio space of Fontbonne University Theater.”

Nancy Crouse, KDHX, 88.1 FM



Meet Me in St. Louis
 (2004)

“…a lot of fun.”

Richard Green, KDHX, 88.1 FM

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“In its wry depiction of that eternal battle of man vs. wife, daughters and maid, once againMeet Me in St. Louis refreshes and charms.”

Dennis Brown, Riverfront Times



Diana of Dobson’s
 (2004)

“A young woman in possession of life’s ‘larger truths’ breaks the hearts of her betters, and is broken even from her own meager station by her defiance of convention.”

Richard Green, KDHX, 88.1 FM