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Blog Posted in avatar   Tim O'Brien's Blog

UPDATE: Catch 'Red Herring' at TLP; meet the performers

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By Tim O'Brien
Posted Jul 20, 2011 in Lifestyle
MT. CARROLL, IL - "I've been chasing Moby Dick for seven years and all I came up with is a "Red Herring."
Now, it's time to go back to the beginning and figure out what that means. And you can do that by heading to Mt. Carroll's Timber Lake Playhouse and catch "Red Herring," which is now being staged as part of their 50th season.
This play is a tour-de-force for the six performers, in which many play multiple parts. It's fast-paced and fun - - and funny. Not to mention, it is laced with some adult-themed humor, as it gives the 1950s a shot a sex, adultery, espionage and murder.
"Red Herring" takes place during the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 1952 mainly in Wisconsin, around Boston - - and quite remarkably done right here on the stage. Note the date and times and relive those days, fresh with the McCarthy hearings, spies, Cold War antics and commercials of the time, plus Velveeta. Do not forget Velveeta.
In between scenes, which are fast-paced, as noted, and even then, the actors are given another chance to show their stuff. Make sure you pay attention to those scenes by the doors
The players
* Katie Wesler is Maggie Pelletier: A sexy detective working the beat in the 1950s. That's not the ordinary in those times and it makes for some fine one-liners laced with sexual overtones. And why not? She plays it smart and sexy while holding a secret that eventually bites here in the end. But does it really? To be honest, it's hard to take your eyes off her.
* Dryden Meints is Frank Keller: Stellar performance here as he has to deal with the secrecy of Pelletier's character. And he must try to resist her charms and that isn't so easy. A FBI man who must come to terms with his decisions. This easily could have been a partner play with just Meints and Wesler and we would watch.
* Julia Mitchell is Lynn McCarthy: Yes, the daughter of the famous senator from Wisconsin. She unwittingly gets involved in this world, if only her dad knew. Her part is delicious and innocent as it is wild and naughty. Give this character a strong look and she carries herself so strong it hurts. You feel for her as this play progresses. A hot and innocent performance.
* Andrew Harth is James Appel: He is two for two as far as comedic roles (the other being "Sweet Charity").As watching his performance one cannot help but let your mind wander and wonder who he reminds you of and then, it comes to you - - it's himself. He has it. And IT is good.
* Kelsey Andres is Mrs. Kravitz: Still riveted from her role in "Sweet Charity" and then this role is sprung on us. Kudos for letting our minds shift to this character and laugh along with her and her antics. And somehow, the role is a bit sexy as well.
* Brandon Ford is Andrei Borchevsky: Here is an actor that shines in every role he has been in this season at TLP. Whether "Sunset BLVD" or even a smaller role in "Flight of the Lawnchair Man" the charisma boils over. One can only hope he is like that off stage because he can dominate and steal a scene and nobody get jealous. It only enhances the other performances.
Note: they play multiple parts so look for that and enjoy. One such highlight is the coroner and the confessional scene.
- The wardrobe caught the eye this time. That doesn't always happen.
- Adult-themes and playing around the sensitive subjects is often quite hilarious. Not to mention the positioning.
- Nice touch of having the radio accounts on and the commercials and headlines of the day over the sound system.
- Nice work by Director Derek Bertelsen, formerly from the Quad City area. Getting the fast-paced nature of the play going had to be an undertaking. He is assisted by Amboy resident Melissa Robinson.
So, TLP's "Red Herring" tips the scales of laughter in the right direction. Catch it before the curtain comes down.

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