Stage Capsule Reviews

Forever Hold Your Peace The singing Fertle Family is back with a story nothing short of hilarious. As the eve of Gwenda and Uncle Al's wedding approaches, guests are frantically trying to get to the wedding. Meanwhile, menopausal Justicena, who can't seem to understand her husband Pete's love, kicks him out. He's left to fend for himself, when none other than the Lord Himself provides him with guidance from up above. And the cold feet of the couple-to-be cause stress for every member of the wedding party. What about sex? Can an old man whose hip is out of place still manage to please his future wife? Radio Music Theatre's productions would be incomplete without music, and the musical stylings at Uncle Al's bachelor party effortlessly amuse the crowd. While the initial humor took a few scenes to settle into, after intermission there were no scenes which didn't call for at least a chuckle. Every character, played by actors Steve and Vicki Farrell and Rich Mills, had a distinctly different style, and even scenes that required more than three characters were flawlessly performed. The transitions from awkward girl to scandalous lady to singing nun by Vicki Farrell were impeccable. Steve Farrell's minister giving sex advice and senile old man caused lots of laughter. But Rich Mills's transitions from biker to menopausal woman to old man were, by far, the favorite. Through Sept. 1. 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722. — IP

Pride and Prejudice Stitched from bracing wit, remarkable characters and enormous tenderness, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is one of the smartest and most entertaining social commentaries ever written. It's been turned into some terrific films featuring the English countryside, but a workable theatrical production presents its challenges — the cast of characters is enormous, and the vast number of settings would be enough to shake the confidence of even the most accomplished designer. The folks at A.D. Players are clearly up to the task. Their production of Austen's story (adapted by James Maxwell and revised by Alan Stanford) handles multiple settings, along with a stage full of young people falling in love, with grace and surprising beauty. Most impressive is Mark A. Lewis's deceptively simple set. The unadorned bright-blue walls turn from country living room to cloud-flecked sky in moments. When the lovers walk through bucolic gardens, the effect created from a scrim and lighting is utterly convincing. Director Lee Walkers keeps the characters moving; even the ballroom scenes, which can be so slow with all those characters and all that dancing, are amusing. And while this Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Dean) and Mr. Darcy (Jeffrey McMorrough) are not the most passionate couple, they do suit each other; it somehow feels absolutely right when they find each other at the end. In fact, the entire cast is persuasive and often funny enough to satisfy any Austen fan needing a fix this summer. Through August 26. 2710 W. Alabama, 713-526-2721. — LW

Tuna Does Vegas It's somewhat less than hilarious to see what those two wily stage magicians, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams (abetted by cowriter/director Ed Howard) have in store for the inhabitants of Tuna, Texas, our state's third-smallest town, when they pack all the inhabitants off to Sin City for this world premiere two-man show. Our loopy favorites are pretty much front and center (sweet and crafty Aunt Pearl, gun-totin' Didi Snavely, man-hungry Inita and Helen from the Tastee Kreme, pinched Vera Carp, P.E.T.A.-obsessed Petey Fisk, et al.), but so are a few new crazies, with cheapo Vegas impresario and female lounge lizard Anna Conda leading the pack, and two Elvis impersonators right behind. These new faces are welcome additions indeed and nailed by Sears and Williams with the patented pinpoint accuracy and gently biting satire that's a hallmark of their Tuna franchise (Greater Tuna, Tuna Christmas, Red, White and Tuna), but Vegas, for its many charms and belly laughs, treads water. Too many scenes lack focus or simply meander until a snazzy punch line pricks us awake. And the guys' split-second costume changes (the two actors play all the characters) have slowed down a bit, which may be nothing more than backstage mishaps, but the sluggishness also shows up in the script. Although this is the weakest Tuna of the four, there are enough laughs to compensate for the story line. Just to see Didi Snavely dragging on a cigarette like it's life support, or sweet Bertha exposing herself to a water pistol-packing Arles, or Aunt Pearl and Vera scrambling for the winning coins that spew out of a slot machine are enough reasons to drive to Galveston, where these large-hearted Tuna cartoons are amply displayed. Through August 19. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice St. in Galveston, 409-765-1894. — DLG

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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover
Ishanee Parikh
Lee Williams