"Showboat" Media Theatre September 30 - November 1, 2009
It is time to recognize what an absolute treasure the Media Theatre is. What makes this place so special is the amazing talent that it attracts...and lots of it. In this economy it is extremely rare to see large casts and live orchestras at non-profit theaters. The Media Theatre is somehow able to do this and without charging patrons an arm and a leg. This wonderful little showplace in the heart of Delaware County is offering a delightful mix of old and new, and thereby keeping theater alive and well...and affordable. Throw in a ornate old building steeped in history and you have the makings of a terrific theater experience.
The current offering at the Media Theatre is the 1927 classic hit "Showboat" by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book & lyrics) and based on the book by Edna Ferber. The majestic set by designer Joe Leduc is clever and functional. It sets a tone for the entire show. It employs two projection screens that help to create the required mood.
Director Jesse Kline has assembled a first-rate cast and his direction allows the cast to shine. Philip Boykin's portrayal of Joe is downright stunning. When he opens up his mouth to sing the classic tune "Old Man River," the audience immediately senses that it is in for something special. The ovation that follows is deafening. It is hard to imagine that this role could be done any better by anybody.
Stephen Bonnell is a lovable Cap'n Andy who totally wins over the audience. Romantic leads Michael West Padgett and Elisa Matthews make an attractive couple and their voices make a classic such as "Make Believe" absolutely come to life. John Jarboe displays a real presence as the character of Frank and his scenes with Janet Rowley (Ellie) are nothing but fun. Throw in Barrymore award winner Jennie Eisenhower as Julie and an outstanding ensemble cast and this boat is rocking.
If you love the classic old musicals, run...do not walk, to the Media Theatre. Take a trip back in time to 1927 when the Media Theatre was built and a beautiful story put to music dominated the stage. "Can't help lovin that show."
Why you may want to see this show? You want to hear a version of "Ol' Man River" that will send chills up and down your spine.
Why you may not want to see this show? You prefer newer or shorter shows. (Running time is close to 3 hours).