Counter Men: New Dramedy About Life on the Iraq War Homefront
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The last date listed for Counter Men was Saturday August 27, 2011 / 8:00pm.
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Hailed as "the best musical of this century" by Ben Brantley of The New York Times and "the funniest musical of all time" by Entertainment Weekly, The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards -- including Best Musical -- in its first year on Broadway. Now the national touring production is back at the Pantages for a second round of hilarity. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with Robert Lopez, the Tony-winning co-creator of Avenue Q, this musical comedy is a show that The Daily Show's Jon Stewart has called "a crowning achievement. So good it makes me angry." Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from Matthew McLean
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I have seen worse, but this is definitely on the south side of the curve. Not so much for lack of acting talent (although there were no brilliant, standout performances), but more because the story was a mess. All over the map is the best way to describe it. Picture a shelf with five or six jars of paint, none of them bright, primary colors. Muddy greens, blues, browns and grays. Earthquake! ...they all fall to the floor, spilling their contents all over the place, running into and through each other, but not really making "art". Just a mess of muddy, overlapping blobs that become diluted as they try to get out of each other's way. This, sadly, was our story.
There were multiple plot lines that really had nothing at all to do with each other. None were strong enough on their own to make a complete, compelling story--at least not here. Unfortunately, several plot lines were given far too much depth, leaving us to wonder what the actual STORY was supposed to be here. If you asked me what this play was about, I really couldn't tell you; I literally don't know. Supporting characters need only enough back story to lend the support of their character, believably, to the story. Unfortunately, the stage was filled with nothing BUT supporting characters and their vague, muddy stories.
Plenty of good acting talent seems to have been squandered here on a meandering, tangled story that really goes absolutely nowhere. I keep thinking of a plate of under cooked spaghetti. This was a half-finished collection of muddy ideas all thrown together, with a great set as the sauce (it really was a fantastic set).
- Great set = 1 star
- Decent acting talent = 1 star
- Bonus points because I feel like the cast really tried to make the best of what they had = 1 star (they really tried very hard)
Total, 3 stars. Give us some of the same cast in a better play and we would have a winner. This play needs a lot of rewriting (and less cheese, please--the Department of Water and Power singing and dancing bit made me cringe) until it becomes something coherent. Something you can understand easily without having to untangle the mess.
Afterthought: I recently saw Superior Donuts. This felt like it might have been inspired by it. If you are going to try and reproduce your own version of a winning recipe, it can be done, but you have to start with high-quality ingredients. Like a well-written story, for example...
Quotes & Highlights
- "Touching monologues...charged with empathy." --Variety
- "Director Richard Kuhlman's impressive maneuvering....good feel for this world premiere...a character piece, and a funny one." --LA Weekly
- "Riveting...the actors are wonderful...the stories are moving." --BroadWayworld.com
- "Exceptionally well written and well directed" --LA Theatre Review
- "Wonderful ensemble…honest and openhearted performances..this new play is both timely and touching." --Topenga Messenger
- "Terrific direction by Richard Kuhlman...This timely play gives us the opportunity to think about how we feel...you will leave the theatre more compassionate." --NoHoArtsDistrict.com
Love, war and occasionally music break out as the mother of a Marine in Iraq waits on the Counter Men, all single, some vets, who frequent the L.A. restaurant where she works. The country’s mood and its military entanglements, the frustrations of unemployment and sex are on the menu. Counter Men is poignant and prurient - - a play punctuated by song compliments of a counter man who uses his laptop as his orchestra. This new play, both timely and touching, exposes the fundamental truth that in the end - - love is the solution.
The cast features Marion Ramsey, Bart Braverman, Naila Browne, Ted Elrick, Paul Haitkin, Vanessa Herrera, Dave Kirkpatrick, Shelly Kurtz, Anna Nicholas, Marion Ramsey, Michael Ruesga, Amro Salama, Carol Soldo, Michael Uribes and Alan Woolf.
Marion Ramsey, who is best known for her starring role as the timid, squeaky-voiced officer LaVerne Hooks in the six Police Academy movies has also starred on TV and Broadway. Other films are Recipe for Disaster and Maniacts. She has starred on Broadway, Europe, UK and the West Coast in Cinderella, Grind, Little Shop of Horrors, Eubie, Body and Soul and Scarlett/Gone with the Wind. Some of her TV credits include: The Nanny, 90210, The 3rd ABC Comedy Awards, Daddy Dearest, Robot Chicken and Tim and Erik's Awesome Show.