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Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:27

The neverending 'Show Within a Show, Putting On Chicago'

Written by Missy Heinemann
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The Details

KTK Productions is self-described as an independent amateur theatre company, performing works with an ensemble spirit.  Operating for nearly three decades, KTK is presumed to have a solid understanding of how to stage quality theatre, regardless of how amateur they claim to be. 

With their latest production, “A Show within a Show, putting on Chicago,” KTK fails to showcase themselves as a veteran theatre company, putting together a mismatched cast and grouping of songs that belts “rookie” throughout.

The two-hour production begins with a flooded stage of over 25 cast members performing “I Hope I Get It” from the musical, Chicago. As an actress calls out “Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch!” a portion of the cast kick, others leap, and some barely move at all.  Fast forward 33 choreographed songs later, and the needle on the performance dial rarely reaches “applause.” Were it not for the adequate vocals of Jen Henry and Belinda Alexander, the production would have possessed an even greater resemblance to American Idol auditions featuring tone-deaf Hollywood hopefuls.

Though challenging to sit through a majority of this production, there were sporadic moments during KTK’s “A Show Within a Show” where it was difficult not to feel mildly attached to some of the performers, as if routing for your fifth grader to hit that high note in their school musical.  And when an actor or actress pulled off choreography without missing a beat, it was as if watching an infant take their first steps without falling.  Miraculous.  Once it became blaringly obvious that the caliber of performance would remain low, it was easier to sit back and take note of the shows few accomplishments, including the comedic commentary offered by actresses Christine Newport, Jackie Aumer, and Marie Moore. Playing the cliché trio of old ladies whose function is to distract and entertain in between musical numbers, their minor roles provided some of the productions major laughs.     

Written and Directed by Mike Fedak, “A Show Within a Show, Putting on Chicago” contains little in the way of a story line. Out of the 30 plus songs, a few numbers feature repeat characters who are courting one another throughout the show.  And aside from a few songs taken from the musical “Chicago,” there is nothing to indicate this is a group of actors auditioning for a musical.  In fact, the selection of songs, which runs the gamut from musical arrangements to current pop tunes, makes the show feel more like a road-trip mix than a piece of theatre.

Ultimately, it was difficult to look past all of the missed dance steps, forgotten lyrics, and lack of mature talent among a majority of the cast. As if watching a Christopher Guest film, I found myself wondering; is the joke on them, or me?    

While one can appreciate the inclusive approach KTK Productions takes in its casting, it is difficult to applaud the outcome of “A Show Within a Show, Putting on Chicago.”

You can catch remaining performances of KTK Productions “A Show Within A Show, Putting on Chicago” at the Southampton Presbyterian Church February 24-26.

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