REVIEW: THE PAVILLION at Aurora Fox

by Michael Mulhern

After two decades of failed relationships, Peter returns to his high school reunion hoping to rekindle his romance with Kari, the girl he abandoned after an unexpected pregnancy. As the night progresses both Peter and Kari face the consequences of choices made long ago … and the daunting prospect of starting again. This is…Craig Wright’s THE PAVILLION.  

Once upon a time I fell in love with a boy. I had just moved to Wisconsin and he was a student in Minnesota. We had a very passionate and intense relationship during my college years.  While I was his first boyfriend,  breakup and heartbreak….it took me awhile to realize that he was my first true love. Almost 20 years later we reconnected and it was wonderful. And even though we had one amazing evening together…..the euphoria faded and reality set it – I was divorced after 14 years and he was involved. And while a piece of me clung to the fantasy of us getting back together – a lesson from this play resonated with me – YOU CAN ALTER THE UNIVERSE, BUT YOU CANNOT CHANGE TIME!!!

And that is exactly what these fine actors portrayed in this hauntingly memorable play onstage that I coined an Ethereal Schizophrenic Tragi-Comedy of Unrequited Love.

Love is joy

Love is pain

Love is real 

Love is raw

And ultimately Love is Sacrifice!

I have to commend playwright Craig Wright for such a raw and intriguing play. While I was a little confused at the beginning, once you succumbed to the fact that the Narrator and all of her parts were secondary to the main plot, it was easy to follow along. I absolutely adored the opening monologue of the show that could have been a play within itself. The pain, acceptance and reconciliation arch was the crux of this play and was fascinating to watch. And I must say that my favorite part of the show was the ending when the estranged couple were dancing and the Narrator was playing and saying every other attendee of the reunion almost to the point of a mental breakdown.

Kelly Uhlenhopp was radiant as Kari. She showed such range and depth for her character and was a joy to watch. Honestly I don;t know if there was an emotion that she didn’t show during this production and she did it with such charisma. 

Andrew Uhlenhopp showed such tenderness as Peter. His portrayal or his tormented character had such a lovely arch and his inner hope and turmoil were very compelling to watch. I also love the fact that Helen cast this talented husband and wife duo in this show. Their chemistry was apparent and they worked so well off each other.

If you want an actor to play 15 plus roles with distinction and flair then look no further than Maggie Tisdale. As The Narrator, Maggie was engaging and took the audience on a ride from her very first words. While it was confusing at first to distinct what parts she was playing, after awhile it was easy to translate. She did such a good job at physically and vocally transforming her body for each role and was just fun to watch.

Director Helen R. Murray truly honored this script with perfect casting and thoughtful execution of the play. I loved how she incorporated the masks and social distance and still was able to move the audience. The blocking was so effective and the flow was effortless. Even without an intermission, the play never stalled. Job well done!

Like the play, the set had a certain vulnerability that worked perfectly and was gorgeous to look out. Honestly it made me miss being on a lake. I also have to compliment the design team for the gorgeous digital backdrops, effective lighting and the perfect reminiscent reunion music. My only critic would be that I would have chosen Madonna’s Take a Bow for the last slow dance song – but that may have been a little too on the nose.

I also need to give high praises to The Aurora Fox Arts Center for taking a risk that definitely paid off. I know that at this time it is risky to open the theater up for patrons. Believe me, I was bouncing off the walls to see my first live theatrical performance in over a year. While we were smartly spaced apart and had to wear masks the entire show, it was well worth it to see this fine and memorable production. Thanks again Aurora Fox – I have missed you!

THE PAVILLION is moving audiences now through March 21st. Performance are Thursday -Saturday: 7:30pm and Sunday: 2:00pm. For tickets or more information, contact the Aurora Fox Arts Center Box Office by calling 303.739.1970 or online at https://www.aurorafoxartscenter.org/pavilion

PHOTO CREDIT:  Gail Marie Bransteitter

PHOTO CREDIT:  Gail Marie Bransteitter

 

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