Curtain calls

Three local theater productions to catch or skip

Mel Schaffer stars in Miss Holmes, running through April 7 at Northglenn Arts. Credit: RDG Photography

In our latest survey of the local stage, we visited Arvada, Aurora and Northglenn for two classic plays and a new take on Sherlock Holmes. From the chaos of a production gone wrong to reimagined detective lore and the haunting reminiscences of a family clinging to their dreams, here’s a breakdown of what works and what doesn’t in each offering. 

Laugh it off

The Arvada Center’s production of Noises Off concludes its season on a hilarious high note. Directed by Geoffrey Kent, who helmed last season’s sharp staging of Our Town, this farce-within-a-farce accelerates with the momentum of a racehorse, delivering a look behind the curtains of a doomed play. 

The impressive, rotating set designed by Brian Mallgrave frames a comedy of errors in which the nine-person ensemble cast — led by standout performances from Noelia Antweiler, Gareth Saxe and Rodney Lizcano — navigates a minefield of misadventure. Leslie O’Carroll steals the show in drag as Selsdon Mowbray, an older actor playing the burglar who is always on the lookout for where to swipe his next drink. 

While the delineation between the characters’ onstage and offstage personas could have been sharper, the vibrant energy and chaotic charm of the performances command attention. The second act’s pantomime is a testament to Kent’s skill, offering a silent spectacle of mishaps. Despite a slow start as they set up the theatrical world, Noises Off crescendos into a cacophony of laughter thanks to a committed cast, a stellar technical team and Kent’s delightfully physical direction. 

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ON STAGE: Noises Off. Through May 5, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. $56-$83

On the case

Phamaly Theatre Company’s Miss Holmesreinterprets the classic Sherlock Holmes universe with a distinctly feminist twist. Directed by Mare Trevathan and written by Christopher M. Walsh, the production seeks to upend convention a Victorian backdrop yet is hampered by a convoluted script that ends on an unsatisfying, MCU-style cliffhanger. 

Walsh has written a sequel, Miss Holmes Returns, which makes this play, despite its nearly three-hour run time with intermission and opening remarks, feel incomplete. Krista Montoya’s scenic design stands out, offering an innovative blend of hand-drawn projections and physical set pieces.

Performance-wise, Mel Schaffer and Miranda Ireland, navigate their respective roles as Holmes and Dr. Watson with commitment, though their chemistry occasionally falters amid the script’s inconsistencies. The supporting cast, including notable turns by Maggie Whittum, Keenan Gluck and Andrew Small, find moments of levity and depth despite the play’s uneven tone. 

Phamaly’s dedication to providing a creative home for artists with disabilities is impressive, even if Miss Holmes itself does not fully capture the brilliance this company has delivered in its recent productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Rocky Horror Showand Spring Awakening

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ON STAGE: Miss Holmes. Through April 7, Northglenn Arts, Parsons Theatre, 1 East Memorial Parkway. $20-$28

Mourning zoo

Staged by artistic director Bernie Cardell on Vintage Theatre’s 67-seat Bond-Trimble Theatre, The Glass Menagerie is a stunning and introspective rendition of Tennessee Williams’ 1944 classic. 

The play’s delicate balance of memory, hope and disillusionment is masterfully rendered by an adept cast. This intimate portrayal of the Wingfield family’s fragile world is achingly real, with Matt Murry’s Tom serving as the narrator, navigating the fine line between duty and desire. Murry spars fiercely with his mother, Amanda, played by Emma Messenger. As she showed earlier this year as Annie in Misery at Miners Alley, Messenger is an expert at bending reality to fit her character’s desires.

Messenger and Murry dominate the first act with their towering performances, but it’s Clara Papula and Cameron Davis, as Laura and Jim, whose heartbreaking post-dinner scene sharply drives home how artificial the family’s world is. 

The set design by Don Fuller and costumes by Susan Rahmsdorff-Terry envelop the audience in the ethereal yet stifling atmosphere of the Wingfield home. As the story progresses, revealing the fragility of Laura’s glass menagerie, the play emphasizes the ephemeral nature of dreams and the crushing weight of reality, making for a deeply moving experience. The Glass Menagerie is Cardell’s 150th theatrical production, and it is a superb rendition that captures the essence of Williams’ work. 

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ON STAGE: The Glass Menagerie. Through April 21, Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora. $20-$34