Sunday, May 13, 2012

Invisible Man and Jekyll AND Hyde

Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre continues the comedy with a new show at the Alchemist

By Russ Bickerstaff
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If Memory serves, Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre's unique blend of old-timey radio comedy started off as a stage-only affair. Time has made matters a bit more sophisticated and now the group performs once a month they perform over the air with actual performances over Frontier Radio Theatre on WMSE every Sunday morning. 

 

Quite a lot of those shows are available over the internet on WHT's website. 

http://www.radiowht.com/onwmse.html

The group performs live again this month as WHT brings its take on The Invisible Man  to the stage of the Alchemist Theatre. And although the MP3 versions of the show are perfectly entertaining all on their own, there's something inexplicably enjoyable about seeing WHT perform live. 

 

The cast has shifted much over the years. Nearly every performance is a distinctly different group of people. This particular show features Four WHT regulars and one new face. Randall T. Anderson is as charismatically comic as ever in the role of Jack Farwell--an old-timey radio actor playing multiple roles here including that of newspaper reporter Frank Candor. Beth Lewinski returns to the stage with a natural instinct for comedy that goes a long way in any production. The sensual turn with her as Dr. Jekyll is a particularly clever switch on the part of writer Charles Sommers. 

 

Sommers skews The Invisible Man and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the program. Hyde opens the brief program in a show ever so slightly more humorous than the title program for some reason I can't quite pinpoint. Jim Owczarski brings his usual comic dynamic to the stage in the role of high-strung Ira Hampton who play Hyde and the Invisible Man. He's on his game here, but the repetition of The Invisible Man shtick gets ever so slightly repetitive towards the end of the show. As it is as tragically brief as any WHT show is, it never has the chance to become anything less than enjoyable straight through. There really isn't any depth to the comedy, but that doesn't matter. A Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre show always manages to avoid being anything other than an unexpected amount of fun.

 

Here the random factor ends up being newcomer Sammi Dittloff in the role of Joan Van Buren who aids Charles Sommers with the sound design. The sudden appearance of a bespectacled tattooed woman at a synthesizer in and amidst all of the rest of the old-timey trappings of a WHT show isn't nearly as obtrusive as one might expect . . . largely because of Dittloff's overwhelmingly charming stage presence. The character she's playing is supposed to be kind of nervous and timid, but Dittloff brings off the cliche of a nervous first-timer with a little something more. She's a welcome addition to the cast--giving it just a little bit more of a pleasant kind of anachronism that helps keep everything fresh. 

 

Radio WHT Presents The Invisible Man runs through May 19th at the Alchemist theatre. For ticket reservations, visit the Alchemist online. 

 

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