Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rising Action Theatre: Take Me Out (5 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out on August 28, 2009, an ambitious project for the company.
Darren Lemming, the star center fielder of the world champion New York Empires, is young, rich, famous, talented, handsome and so convinced of his popularity that when he casually announces he's gay, he assumes the news will be readily accepted by everyone.
David Goldyn directed a cast that includes Larry Buzzeo, Laris Macario, Terry Cuzzort, Cyril Cerrao, Carlos Palacios, George Vince, Bill Dobbins, Eric Jensen, Daryl Lennard Walton, Ted Dvoracek, and Louis San Luis.

(for the record, I have seen this production; Rising Action has done a credible job with it. Is it as good as Caldwell's production of a few years back? Of course not. But the consensus of the reviewers - and my own experience - is that this a production worth seeing)

John LaReviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The Rising Action Theatre turns in a surprisingly solid production of Take Me Out. Though some of the actors are a bit older than most baseball players, the performances are quite good. Darren Lemming is played by handsome Laris Macario. He has enough confidence and charm to carry the part without being too cocky to be sympathetic. He also gives us just enough of a connection to the character of Mason Marzac to let us believe that there could potentially be something more between them. Marzac is played by Ted Dvoracek, who whips through lengthy dialogue with comedic deftness. His fussy, nervous energy earns him entrance laughter more than once. Though Terry Cuzzort is a bit old for the role of Shane Mungitt (who is twice referred to as "a kid" in the script), he captures the desired simple roughness of the role. He is quietly menacing. Mungitt is someone best left alone with his thoughts. Cuzzort gives us a believable anger that results from being prodded to open up. Larry Buzzeo as Kippy Sunderstrom does a nice job with the narrative nature of his role, but is missing a tangibly affectionate connection to Lemming.

While there are good cameo acting moments by supporting actors in the show, such as Louis San Luis as Kawabata, Take Me Out is by nature an ensemble piece. There were some lighting issues on the night attended, but the technical aspects of the show serve the show well enough in this small space. Filled with nudity and coarse language, it is a realistic portrayal of the world of baseball behind the scenes. This production in three acts is well worth seeing for the performances and for Greenberg's intelligent writing.
Dmitry Rashnitsov reviewed for the South Florida Blade:
When a gay theater puts on a play about pitchers and catchers, you would think a lot of innuendos and subtleties would find their way on stage, but Rising Action Theater’s version of Take Me Out plays it “straight” in telling the coming out story of a superstar baseball player in New York. The result is an enjoyable show with a solid performances from the ensemble cast.
Macario hits a home run in his steady performance, boasting the God-like stature and disposition needed at the start to convey his characters beyond mortal abilities. Macario’s character range is long, and vulnerable moments show this young stage actor’s versatility and ability to carry a show.
Of particular note should be paid to Dvoracek’s comedy-foil role of Mars, a fish-out-of-water, lonely, older gay gentleman who’s thrown into the sports world and essentially becomes the gay community’s mentor for the newly outed baseball star.
Walton, a newcomer in the cast, seems to be learning on the job and needs to convey a stronger stage presence for audiences to take him seriously. He does fit the part physically, however, as opposed to several of the actors who are obviously older than the Major League Baseball players they portray. But ignore that obvious fact, and there are still some nice performances. Buzzeo... in particular is older than his character, but he delivers an engrossing performance in this supporting role.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Take Me Out has been staged in South Florida before, in a bigger budget 2004 production at the Caldwell Theatre Company. The key difference between the Caldwell's Take Me Out and Rising Action's isn't money, though: It's casting.

A few happy exceptions aside, Rising Action's performers neither look nor act like World Series-contending baseball players. And that's precisely what the members of Greenberg's fictional Empires are supposed to be.
Director David Goldyn has some real assets in Macario, Dvoracek and Larry Buzzeo, who plays Darren's best pal on the team and serves as the play's narrator. Macario exudes both a mischievous confidence and the wariness of a man who spent years compartmentalizing his life. Dvoracek radiates Mason's captivating quirkiness, and Buzzeo is solidly engaging.

Louis San Luis rocks his Japanese lines as pitcher Takeshi Kawabata, a frustrated man in a slump. But most of the other ``boys'' of summer haven't been boys for a long time. Cuzzort, especially, will make you hoot when his Shane describes himself as a dumb ``kid.'' There are plenty of laughs in Take Me Out, but that's not supposed to be one of them.
The Sun Sentinel sent out Rod Stafford Hagwood, who inflicts another smattering of fragmentary jottings he calls a review:
Like baseball itself, the drama Take Me Out is inning after inning of sweeping allegories and big ideas.
Which Rod never does tell us about.
But in the three-act production directed by David Goldyn at Rising Action Theatre, the best moments — and there are many — are not in the big, swing-for-the-fences scenes, but in the smaller passages.
The clumsy silences; the blank looks as something sinks in; the loping grace of athletes crossing the stage; the tight smile after swigging a beer – basically any time the 12 actors aren't acting all actorly... y'know: acting with a capital "A."
Darren Lemming (played in sulking monotone by Laris Macario)
Kippy Sundstrom (Larry Buzzeo in strong, acerbic form)
Shane Mungitt (Terry Cuzzort doing a passable job of channeling a John Rocker type)
Mason Marzac (Ted Dvoracek substituting cutesy for innocence and repression)
Most of Rod's...'article'... was his recitation of the entire story, and a thumbs up for the three times the stage is full of naked men. - "quite the marketing tool" is how he puts it. Me, I pick plays for the quality of production; I can find nekkid folk at Haulover Beach.

Take Me Out plays at Rising Action Theatre through October 4th, 2009.

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