Tri-State Theater

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Going to Extremes

   I had a case of theatre whiplash this weekend, after seeing two shows at opposite ends of the theatre spectrum.
   On Friday night I saw the wonderful Junie B. Jones the Musical, which was presented by Huntington's children's theatre - First Stage Theatre Company - at Huntington High School. 
   It's a terrific show about kids just starting out in First Grade, and going through the struggles of making new friends, losing old friends, getting eyeglasses, playing kickball and much more! Junie records her thoughts in her "Top Secret Personal Beeswax" journal, and that song (and several others) stick in your mind forever after. 
    Loaded with colorful dances, great characters (who will remind you of friends - or yourself - when you were in the First Grade), lots of laughs and high-energy songs, and you have a show that keeps you smiling and laughing from start to finish. 
   The show featured an amazing, talented cast of young performers, and it was terrific fun from start to finish!
   Then two days later I drove down to my hometown, St. Albans, and caught the Appalachian Arts Collective production of the musical The Last Five Years!
   That amazing production sits firmly on the adult end of the spectrum. It focuses on a man and a woman who have been in a relationship for five years. 
   One of the things that makes it unique (other than the fantastic songs) is that it plays hob with the usual timeline. 
   Cathy, played by the beautiful and talented Beth Winkler Bowden, tells (and sings) her story in reverse, starting with the end of her relationship and working back toward the beginning.
   Her love interest, Jamie, played by the amazing Cameron Vance, follows the traditional route, starting at the beginning and working toward the end. Their stories interweave (often in heartbreaking fashion) as we move through their story.
   It's a clever format, and the show is loaded with amazing songs - but it's definitely aimed at adults, as it features mature concepts and language.
   But it's impressive to see two gifted performers shoulder the entire show and carry it through with so much skill and heart. 
   Add in an ingenious set and some lighting-quick costume changes - and did I mention what outstanding singers Beth and Cameron are? It was a stunning production!  
   So I had a great theatre weekend, and it was a great reminder that the talent in this area is beyond impressive!
   We're so lucky to have so many outstanding shows to choose from!

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