“Rock Paper Scissors” – Childsplay and “The Music Man” – Theater Works

These reviews aired on KBAQ October 8, 2012


Theater Works
Peoria, AZ



Tempe, AZ

Weekend theater brings local audiences two extremes.  Childsplay mounts a reconceived “Rock Paper Scissors” in a wildly creative production conceived by the play’s Dutch theater interpreter that cleverly probes the generational gap and kids’ reliance on solitary technical play things.  Theater Works opens a weak staging of Meredith Willson’s look at 1912 America, “The Music Man.”

“Rock Paper Scissors” uses brilliant storytelling to expose the vast generational differences as Ollie, the older character, shows how repeating things is his normal while young Yuki is obsessed with a technological game that upsets Ollie.  As the two try to impose their ways on each other, the play shows that as each character moves toward the other, new horizons open.

Directed by Onny Huisink, the play is filled with exuberant movement and exaggerated carryings on but there are only a few words of dialogue so the story is told visually.  Jon Gentry’s Ollie is robotic initially as he repeats things until David Dickinson’s Yuki arrives with his game.  As the two begin to understand each other, they discover their limits as they adopt each others routines.  “Rock Paper Scissors” stimulates young audiences to use their minds while the dynamic staging entrances adults.

“Rock Paper Scissors” continues through October 14.  For tickets, call the Childsplay box office at 480-350-2822 or order tickets online at www.childsplayaz.org.

Grade: A

Theater Works’ “The Music Man” fails to catch fire.  Like the fire cracker that scares the Mayor’s wife as she performs classical dance, the tale must spark.  Instead this production is plagued by draggy scene changes, a dispirited ensemble that only occasionally catches the small town exuberance, and leading performers who aren’t believable.

Willson captures the town’s furor for living and the importance of consistency in everyday life.  River City, Iowa is closed to change until conman Harold Hill sells these gullible people a brass band.  Hill tries to woo Marian, the town librarian and local piano teacher.  She fails to expose him when the band helps her shy brother blossom.

Most disappointing is Mathew Zimmerer’s Harold.  He brings the required athletism that the original Hill, Robert Preston, used to sell his dynamic performance but Zimmerer’s flash never turns him into a real conman.  Patty Nieman’s Marian sings well enough but she doesn’t care that Hill revitalizes her brother.

The cast disappoints except Cathy Corbin who’s genuine as Marian’s mother.  The kids are cute.  A strong orchestra forces the ensemble to bring some gusto to the chorus numbers but visually only the costumes provide a glimpse at the period’s richness.

“The Music Man” continues through October 28.  For tickets, call the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts box office at 623-815-7930 or order tickets online at www.theaterworks.org.

Grade: D