‘Trying’ a touching play, deftly produced at Clague Playhouse

There’s an exchange in the heartfelt, humorous and tear-jerker play “Trying,” a true story, during which the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. is mentioned.

One of the play’s two characters, the aging, weak former attorney general under President Franklin Roosevelt, asks his young secretary if she knows any blacks who’d discuss the tragedy.

She doesn’t.

“Neither do I,” he responds. “Therein lies the root of the problem. We don’t live with them, we don’t go to school with them, we don’t work with them. One of their poets, Zora Neale Hurston, said, “You can’t know there ‘till you go there.”

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Delightful! ‘A Civl War Christmas’ is cause for celebration at Dobama Theatre

Boy, could many of us use the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln — especially with this season of giving, hope, redemption and reconciliation marred in part by the raw wounds festering in the aftermath of racial tension following shootings of young black men by white police officers.

“With malice toward none…with charity toward all….”

They’re words the people of Ferguson, Mo. and other cities where similar acts have occurred need to hear. That’s especially the case if it’s true, from what I’ve heard, that Ferguson’s residents are destroying their fellow citizens’ businesses and property instead of helping one another get through these tough times. Lincoln’s alive, well and reassuring, but never placed on a pedestal of sainthood, in Dobama Theatre’s moving, refreshing production of the rejuvenating epic play with music “A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration.”

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A revamped, richer ‘Newsies’ at PlayHouse Square

As any journalist knows, a few tweaks to a story can mean the difference between an ordinary article and a truly memorable one. The same holds true for a playwright and that’s proven by Harvey Fierstein revision of the 1992 Disney film “Newsies,” which critics derided and fared miserably at the box office.

Enter writer/actor Fierstein.

He’s helped inject new life into the true Dickensian story about poor children selling newspapers on New York City’s streets in 1899 after they’re forced to pay more for their papers. 

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“Writers block” might be dirty words to writers . . .

But the condition can prove fertile ground for someone looking to create an original, unique work of art. Just ask composer and lyricist Jeff Bowen and librettist Hunter Bell. Their proof is the musical “{title of show}.” The name of the musical might raise eyebrows and cause English teachers fits, but it won Bell a nomination for Best Book of a Musical on Broadway.

The show, a musical comedy about a pair of struggling writers writing a musical about writing a musical, is on-stage through Nov. 16 in an inspiring, vivacious production at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood.

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Show is heavenly

I saw dead people Saturday night — with heart and soul.

They weren’t ghouls, zombies or anything like that. No, these “dead” people were members of a fictional 50s musical group called “Forever Plaid” when they were alive.

It’s fitting that one of the songs they sung was “Heart and Soul.” Because the four cast members of the Off-Broadway musical revue “Forever Plaid,” playing in a quality production at the Beck Center for the Arts through Oct. 12, sang with heart and soul.

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