REVIEW: Transmigration 2014

It’s funny . . . I am writing this review at my favorite Clifton hangout and just saw at least one and maybe two of the young actors from TRANSMIGRATION serving.  It’s a good reminder that these students not only work incredibly hard at their studies and their shows – but also have to support themselves.  That they have time and energy for all of it is impressive.

And so was the festival.

TRANSMIGRATION 2014 featured six different student created, produced, and directed pieces in the Corbett Center at the University of Cincinnati.  The atmosphere was fun and you could tell that these students were enjoying themselves.  They also should be very proud of their work.

Annie Grove and the cast of The 17th Annual Snipes, Arkansas, Harvest Festival
Annie Grove and the cast of The 17th Annual Snipes, Arkansas, Harvest Festival / Photo by Zach Crowley

I was especially taken by the piece The 17th Annual Snipes, Arkansas, Harvest Festival.  Not only did it feature one of my favorites, Shaun Sutton, but the piece had an emotional arc that you wouldn’t expect from a short play like this.  It started predictably, with down-home fun, quirky characters, and a chaotic play-within-a-play.  But all of a sudden, the shocking death of the town’s favorite father was discovered.  And then the show really got interesting.  There is something mesmerizing about the energy of Bartley Booz.  With minimal dialogue, he conveyed a darkness in the soul of his character that really impacted me.  I don’t think I’m overstating the potential this actor has if he can harness this natural charisma as his career progresses.  I also thought Annie Grove as “Lady Mayor” found a nice balance between comedy and pathos and there really wasn’t a bad performance in this strange, well-written piece.

I was also very high on P.O. 11259: Sincerely Yours.  This unique drama about a man who’s discovered a magical mailbox and is sent to a psych ward where the other patients try to use him to get their postal desires to the outside was captivating.  I especially enjoyed the use of the piano skills of Spencer Lackey, who can really play!  He can also act.  He had my rapt attention the entire time he was on stage.  Hannah Halvorson was also impressive in her portrayal of different characters.  I enjoyed this show a lot.

The cast of MISFIT: In Loving Memory of My High School Hell / Photo by Zach Crowley
The cast of MISFIT: In Loving Memory of My High School Hell / Photo by Zach Crowley

MISFIT: In Loving Memory of My High School Hell was a little all over the place.  Part absurdist comedy, part science fiction, part morality play it struggled to find an even pace.  I enjoyed it for what it was and I wonder what it could turn into with some editing and some restraint.  The tech for this show was great, though, and I found myself laughing out loud a few times.

COMPLEX: A Structure of Sound, An Organism of Vibrations and Dreams R Us: Tonight’s Answers to Tomorrow’s Questions both showcased the imaginative spirit of the festival and I thought Ever Mine. Ever Thine. Ever Ours: Things We Do for Those We Love had some strong performances using minimal talking.  I did think that there was a section of movement that went on just a little too long in the middle of it, but the overall use of staging, dance, and shadows was effective.

Overall, I was very impressed with the professionalism of the performances and their inventive use of space and props.  Most important to me was the warm reception given to all who attended by the students involved.  From the moment I walked in, everyone was beyond willing to help, answer questions, and just seemed grateful that we – the audiences – were there.  This is something you can’t learn in a classroom but must be taught and I’m glad to see CCM once again exceeding my expectations.

Up next for CCM Drama is LIVING DEAD IN DENMARK opening April 17th.  Tickets will be available starting that Monday at the CCM Box Office or by calling 513-556-4183.  Plus, check out the DRAMA SHOWCASE 2014 on Friday, March 14th at 2PM and 7 PM for free.  Click here for more info.

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