Directed by Charles Ballinger
Assistant Director/Stage Manager – Penny Johnson
Scenic Designer – Alejandro de la Costa
Lighting Designer – Richard S. Blake
Sound Designer – Mark-Brian Sonna
Costume / Wig Designer – Larry E. Groseclose
Props Designer – Alejandro de la Costa
Jewelry – Douglas Adams
Casey – Dylan Peck
Lovely Uranus – Mark-Brian Sonna
Roberta – Charli Armstrong
Keith – Adam Nick Hill
Paul – Kyle Amos
Reviewed Performance 7/18/2013
Reviewed by Scott W. Davis , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The most popular drag queen in Dallas, Lovely Uranus, is back. Forever Lovely is a comedy following the lives of four men and a transsexual. Lovely Uranus leads you through the story of her relationship with her partner Casey and their past lovers Keith and Paul. The story begins at their three month anniversary and we watch as their lives unravel as time progresses. Roberta, the transsexual lesbian nurse and friend to the boys, becomes the glue that holds this house together when the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS turns the house upside down. From the living room to the dining room to the bedroom, the life of Lovely Uranus must go on.
You get a clue that this show’s going to be adult oriented by the three minute warning prior to the show starting. If words that begin with the letter “F” makes you blush, then you will be blushing from three minutes before this show to five minutes after it ends. As well, if a naked buttock bothers you, you may need to be ready to cover your eyes. I will give the guys in this show kudos for baring it all (almost) in front of 75 people every night; I couldn’t do it.
When the lights came up I notice Set Designer Alejandro de al Costa’s set was a simple interior section of Lovely’s house. The stage is split with dining room stage right and living room with a futon and great looking modern black leather chairs stage left. The dining room is decorated with shelving set up with several chrome rings sitting on top of each other producing a look that is unique and eye catching. Costa did a great job decorating the set full of knick knacks and a stereo, all looking like a real home.
Director Charles Ballinger blocked the show nicely, having the actors use the whole stage. For the most part the play was well-acted, sighting some minor timing problems in line delivery.
Dylan Peck’s portrayal of Lovely’s partner, Casey, was quite good. The facial expressions used in his performance truly enhanced his character. The Stone Cottage is a small, intimate space which makes an actor’s job twice as hard. The audience can see everything so actors have to take advantage of that which Dylan did through his whole performance.
Mark- Brian Sonna was absolutely fabulous. Lovely Uranus made a statement from the minute she walks in. She’s a 6 foot tall drag queen that commanded attention. How this man kept a straight face throughout this show was beyond me. I also have to give Mark some points for wearing 8 inch heels while in a skin tight dress. For a tall man that’s a feat in itself. I found Mr. Sonna carrying the show at times. His ability to pull the other actors through when lines were missed was impressive.
Charli Armstrong pulled off a pretty strong performance as Roberta. I was impressed with Miss Armstrong’s performance. There is the moment in the show where Miss Armstrong’s character starts to show the emotional toll that the disease is taking on the group. The realism and tears of that moment just made you want to get out of your seat and hug her.
The character Keith, who used to be the third wheel in the house, is portrayed by Adam Nick Hill. Unfortunately his performance fell flat. Keith is supposed to be the playboy in the show who tries to sleep with everyone including Roberta. Mr. Hill’s performance didn’t deliver that. Line delivery in a comedy is important to keep the show flowing. Hill’s poorly delivered lines made it really hard on the other actors in almost every scene. His character moved lethargically throughout each scene and for most of the show, he held a dead pan expression that made him as though he was stoned. He just didn’t exude the confidence a playboy should have.
Lastly, there’s Paul who happens to be the past lover to Casey and Lovely and the current partner to Keith. Kyle Amos tried to take on the challenge of this role. Once again, I didn’t get to see the emotions of the character. I was disappointed in the reaction, or lack thereof, when he finds out he tested positive. You just figured out you have a disease that has killed millions and you have no reaction to it There was nothing, no expression, just ho-hum delivery of lines.. I just wasn’t sold on this performance.
Richard S. Blake designed the lights for this production. It was adequate but basic. It’s hard to light every area of the stage with only ten instruments but Blake did a fairly good job with it. The dream sequence looked great with the entire acting area bathed in a blue green side light. The only negative I had was when the actors walked through the middle of the set they turned blue from the LEDs.
Mark-Brian Sonna’s sound design was rather simplistic, only hearing music during preshow and between scenes. But this is one of those shows where less is more.
At first I was skeptical of Larry E Groseclose’s design of the costumes and wigs. The first character to walk onstage was Casey and he was dressed rather modestly, very Plain Jane. Then it happens, Lovely enters. Lovely’s costumes steal the show folks. I don’t know where he found polyester stretch dresses like that but Groseclose pulled it off.
Alejandro de la Costa’s script is well written. It makes an important statement that HIV/AIDS is not gone and shouldn’t be forgotten. There were some problems with this production but all were things that can be polished and fixed. Even with the timing issues, this show has merit. MBS Productions new work, “Forever Lovely” is something that should be on your list of shows to see this summer.
Stone Cottage at Addison Conference and Theater Center
15650 Addison Road
Addison, TX 75001
Running through August 10th
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday matinee at 2:00 pm.