Reviews

REVIEWS

AN INSPECTOR CALLS

Director Rob Anderson has crafted a gripping tale, one that provides a welcome — and telling — antidote to all the sugar of the holiday season. – Elizabeth Maupin, The Orlando Sentinel

A great cast, beautifully dressed and well directed, holds our rapt attention in the posh drawing room of an upper class British family, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.  – Joyce Wiatroski, On Theatre

In the hands of director Rob Anderson, the show featured the seemingly flawless casting and production values for which Mad Cow has become known and a beautifully evenhanded performance by Keith Kirkwood as the surreal title character. – Elizabeth Maupin, Best of 2008

 

THE RAINMAKER

Mad Cow Theatre’s production, directed with tenderness by Rob Anderson, accentuates all the qualities that make us love this play — its kindness, its humor, its acceptance of the frailties of human nature and emphasis on the bonds of familial love.  …What’s most appealing, though, is the way Anderson and his actors have humanized characters that can be played as stock. – Elizabeth Maupin, The Orlando Sentinel

N. Richard Nash’s tender, romantic comedy, The Rainmaker, which has received an equally warm and affectionate staging at the Mad Cow Theatre under the direction of Rob Anderson. A talented cast of seven, led by the inspired performance of Jennifer Christa Palmer as Lizzie, manages to convey all of the love and sympathy that playwright Nash instilled in his characters. The result is a winning production that washes over an audience like a welcome cool rain on a hot summer night. – Al Krulick, The Orlando Weekly

There’s everything to love about this production… – INK19 Review

Cynicism had to take flight in the face of The Rainmaker, Mad Cow's tender comedy about a plain young woman whose vibrancy and vulnerability, in the hands of actress Jennifer Christa Palmer, spread love all around herself like rain. – Elizabeth Maupin, Best of 2008
 

SHIPWRECKED: AN ENTERTAINMENT

Imagination is… present throughout the Mad Cow Theatre’s clever production, from the way a red-gloved actor and a tiny model ship depict a fierce octopus attack; to the use of old-time radio sound effects for thunder and lightning; to an ingenious clothesline setup that changes the scene by simply tugging on a rope and undoing some clothespins. – Matt Palm, The Orlando Sentinel

The result truly IS an entertainment, and far more fulfilling than one of those truth-filled documentaries on cable TV. – Archikulture Digest – Carl F. Gauze

 

THE MATCHMAKER

Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker will always be known as the play that begat Hello Dolly! But the dizzy little comedy, set in the New York City (and Yonkers) of 1900, doesn't deserve to be perpetually overshadowed by its song-filled, Carol Channing-ized offspring.  The Matchmaker can get laughs on its own, as the current production at downtown Orlando's Mad Cow Theatre ably demonstrates. – Matt Palm, The Orlando Sentinel

Highly recommended and never disappointing, “Matchmaker” shows that even getting the wrong partner is OK, as long as you’re both in love. We’ll save the after effects for O’Neil and Albee. – Ink 19

 

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Subterfuge, noun: A deceptive stratagem or device. Can you use that in a sentence?

There’s a bit of subterfuge going on in Mad Cow Theatre’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which starts off the theater’s 13th season with aplomb. (Aplomb: Self-confidence, poise.)

You notice it when one of the musical’s sextet of superior spellers makes a mistake and is ushered from the stage. You hear the audience collectively catching its breath — and then you hear a collective, heartfelt sigh.

That’s when you realize that you’re not just cackling at this oddball little show. You’re seeing its nerdy, ne’er-do-well characters as real kids, and you’re feeling for them every step of the way.

Spelling Bee may have that effect because, at Mad Cow, you’re sitting so close to the spellers that they could secretly —subterfuginously? — ask you for advice. Or maybe it’s because, under the direction of Rob Anderson, this show has such a swell group of actors on its hands. – Elizabeth Maupin, The Orlando Sentinel

 

SUPERIOR DONUTS

Letts has gone old-fashioned with Superior Donuts, a play with a decidedly narrower scope than August’s epic family drama. It takes the life-size performances of Mad Cow’s cast – which is to say performances that are extravagant, hilarious and resoundingly true – to remind you that this is a playwright for whom possibilities are endless.

Thanks to some inspired casting, director Rob Anderson’s production lets these characters sing. Joe Wyatt’s Max may be slight, but he’s such a pistol that he seems about to burst out of his skin; Stephan Jones’s Luther, the gangster, has the aggrieved air of someone who’s perpetually misunderstood.

Most of all, Michael Sapp’s smiley Franco is a force of nature – so full of himself that you think he has to be a con man, so exuberant that he fills the room. It’s an astounding performance from a very young actor, but Anderson doesn’t let him clobber the other characters: Every move seems right. – Elizabeth Maupin, The Orlando Sentinel

Mad Cow’s “Southeastern Regional Premiere,” directed by Rob Anderson, boasts a nicely naturalistic set (by Cindy White with Abdul Delgado) and a superior cast.

…But it’s Sapp who serves as the show’s heart, brain and spine: His outsized yet authentic presence burns so bright that everything else seems slightly dim in comparison. When that light is inevitably extinguished, the pain in his eyes is as heartbreaking as anything I’ve seen on stage this year. – Seth Kubersky, The Orlando Weekly

 

A NUTTY NUTCRACKER CHRISTMAS

The elves at Orlando Repertory Theatre have been working overtime on staging and lighting, and the results put a dollop of holiday magic into "A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas," directed by Rob Anderson.

…A magical tree transforms lifesize toys into playthings, lights dazzle and the adults in the audience, like me, might be oohing along with their wide-eyed children. – Matt Palm, The Orlando Sentinel

 

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH

The two stars of Roald Dahl’s “James and the Giant Peach” are young orphan James Henry Trotter, of course, and that magical, enormous fruit.

Both are delightful in Orlando Repertory Theatre’s lively, charming production of the 60-minute stage version, adapted by David Wood from Dahl’s 1961 children’s book. – Matt Palm, The Orlando Sentinel