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

Late Nite Catechism You don't have to be Catholic to love Late Nite Catechism, the "one-sister" show running at Stages Repertory Theatre, though it probably wouldn't hurt. No matter your denomination, there are plenty of laughs, even if you're one of those unfortunate "publics" whose parents obviously didn't care about them and sent them for a substandard education at a nonreligious school. Well, that's what Sister (Amanda Hebert) tells us, and what she says during her evening class is Holy Writ. Discard her wisdom at your peril. Under her 20 pounds of black gabardine, Sister commands her after-school catechism class with smooth, sly humor and a martinet's tough-love discipline, teaching us, her unruly pupils, the finer arts of Catholic theology. Never fear, heathens, this is one sharp Sister. We learn about which saints should be eliminated from the 75,000 on the Vatican's official list, and the exact meaning of the Stigmata, and who in fact populated the earth after Adam and Eve. It's a free-form sort of show, with classroom participation leading Sister to deliver delightful asides while gently mocking her charges. As a piece of education, it works, but it falls short as theater, being much too long, meandering and, in Act II, repetitive. But Hebert, a former stand-up comedienne who's been performing Sister since 1999, still has us right in the palm of her ruler-clad hand. Through September 30. 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123. — DLG

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

Capsule reviews by D.L.Groover, Ishanee Parikh and Lee Williams

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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