W.C. Fields By Himself!: Dale Morris Revives the Famous Curmudgeon
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Sondheim is at his bloody best in Sweeney Todd, his macabre masterpiece about a barbaric barber and an even beastlier baker. Set in 19th-century London, this adult production from STAR Repertory Theatre "attends the tale" of the title character, who after being banished on false charges, returns to the city to exact his revenge. Teaming up with pie maker Mrs. Lovett, Todd opens a barbershop in which he slits the throats of customers and she bakes them into pies. A legendary smash in 1979, this darkly comic show won eight Tony Awards while The New York Times gushed it contained "more artistic energy, creative personality and plain excitement" than a dozen average musicals. Recently adapted by Tim Burton into a hit movie with Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd now comes to Avo Playhouse in a vibrant production directed by Brandon Sherman. Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from the reflective viewerRed Velvet
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Worth a visit.
In the grubby edge of downtown, up 4 flights of stairs (there is an elevator) in a room I am certain has a history before theater, a talented ensemble is putting on a new biography of WC. The title is by himself but the able Dale Morris who has Fields down well is not by himself and that appears a good decision. His two partners playing many roles are excellent and Eva Barnes has a fine comic touch going from little girl to old woman and all between.
I was not expecting too much. The recent Mae West show was not too revealing. Morris goes deeper using a lot more film clips, third party quotes and a few re-enactments. You get a sense of the guy effectively. Another reviewer saw an early preview and we can report that whatever problems existed are essentially gone. Technically, in execution and scenery this seemed quite ready for prime time if not yet a perfect show.
The challenge with performer biographies is the question is there anything more there then what we saw on stage or screen. It is always possible we got the best and the back story is not an improvement. I am still debating that about WC, whether what we learned enhanced what was available to the public or just put the sad edge of decline that people in many other lives experience. We are not dealing with Plato or Caesar, trying to get through levels and levels of reality.
At this moment my conclusion is it was a good job of portraying a flawed and fun entertainer quite unique in his persona. It did not show me a real that one would not guess at but I can live with that. Spending 80 minutes with WC well presented and this bright ensemble is no sacrifice. Go.
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Three strong actors make for an interesting evening.
I saw a preview and they had not yet worked out the graphics, some were hard to see. It would be better if the taped audio recollections were printed on the screen since some were hard to...continued
Quotes & Highlights
“Dale Morris is a gifted actor and played a great W.C. Fields, which is hard to do.” -Allen Fields, WC’s grandson
“[Fred Harlow is] a cross between Zero Mostel and Fred Flintstone … one could really see [Eva Barnes’] heartfelt affection for W.C.” —_SD Reviews _
“Morris has meticulously researched his subject.” - _North County Times _
September 29, 2012 at 3:00pm: A talkback with the cast, playwright, and members of the Fields family follows this performance.