Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Final Entries for Halloween Team 2017

Kendra's pick was Get Out.  This wins for being the most intense movie we watched.  Without giving too much away, a guy goes to meet his girlfriend's family and things get bonkers.  I hadn't really seen trailers and new almost nothing about this, which definitely played in my favor.  I had no idea what to expect.  Every curve ball that came my way was a shock. There was some over the top violence, but overall I found it more enthralling than scary.  It was a great pick though.  We were all on the edge of our seats. I rate this 4 Tea Cups!

Hilary brought things to a close with Crimson Peak.  This was one we'd wanted to see when it was in theaters but it looked to scary so we never did.  She was having trouble finding something right and Crimson Peak just clicked.  None of us had seen it, so that was cool.  We all really liked it.  This had some jump scenes and some pretty upsetting violence, but was more mysterious than scary.  It definitely worked for Halloween.  Ghosts, spooky houses, menacing elements.  It was just right. Coincidentally, I also give this 4 Tea Cups!

Final thoughts, I think I had the most fun watching FirestarterGet Out was the most intense.  Crimson Peak was the best.  Beetlejuice was long overdue and did not disappoint.  Eight-Legged Freaks was the only stinker of the bunch, and that's just personal taste.  (Sorry Pickles.)

Now for some bonuses.
Eric, Kendra, Hilary and I watched the Rob Lowe 'Salem's Lot miniseries.  We had low expectations but were pleasantly surprised.  The actors were all in and it stayed pretty true to the book.  Like the novel it suffers from too many characters, but they were easier to keep track of on screen.  3 Stakes.

Hilary, Sally, Westy and I watched Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie.  This was spookier than we realized and Westy was white knuckling the arm rests the whole time.  There's a Heffalump frame story and some classic Pooh shorts are highlighted.  Pretty good over all.  3 Hunny Pots.

Hilary, Borch, Ishtar and I settled in with beef stew for Ghost Story based on the novel by Peter Straub.  The movie was pretty good, and definitely scary at places.  We were really in to the plot and were all confused by the out of place nudity.  I guess they figured they had and R, so they might as well.  The ending was chilling and satisfying.  4 overflowing sinks!

Halloween Team 2017: Firestarter

What do you get when you combine Stephen King, Marty Sheen, a mondo creepy George C. Scott plus a little post-E.T. Drew Barrymore? A hot time in the old town tonight, that's what!  My pick was Stephen Kings retro classic(?) Firestarter

I don't know, this movie was a kinda bad.  But, it was bad in just the right way. Everyone involved was 100% committed and I was pretty curious as to where things were heading.  It was not scary.  It was not thrilling.  But it had a certain something.  And things got real crazy towards the end.  I liked it.  It was perfect for a do-it-yourself MST3K night.  I kinda wanna read the book now.  I also feel compelled to watch the TV sequel. 

I give this 3 flames.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Halloween Team 2017: Beetlejuice

For movie #2 we went to Sally's place. She chose Beetlejuice!  Oddly enough I've never this movie despite the fact that I loved the cartoon as a kid and am a life long Michael Keaton fan.  It did not disappoint. Though, as with Batman Returns, when the credits rolled it I couldn't help but notice that Michael Keaton wasn't in it that much.  I suppose that's a smart move.  That's a tough character to build a movie around, but as a supporting antagonist (?) in small, but potent doses, he's pretty great.  That first shot of him doing a commercial for his services in the style of a used car salesmen was  priceless.  He's just all energy and charisma.  Keaton does a great job of taking an unlikable character and making you kinda root for him.  The rest of the cast is strong too. Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are fun to watch and Catherine O'Hara nails the Day-o number.  Little goth Winona Rider was just right. All in all this was a clever, pleasant movie.  I give this 3 out of 3 Beetlejuices.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Halloween Team 2017: Eight-Legged Freaks

Without meaning to, we are mimicking the same order we did last year.  Eric began, then Sally with me slated for the third spot. 
Eric's streak of picking oddball, humor/horror hybrids continues.  I've liked the ones from previous years, but I couldn't muster interest in this years pick, Eight-Legged Freaks.  David Arquette always strikes me like an awkward cousin who was the funniest guy in middle school. It's not charming in an adult.  It's weird and confusing, like this movie.  I couldn't settle in to it.  I didn't find it funny or scary.  I still don't get what it was going for. It comes close to so-bad-it's-good territory, but falls short. The Halloween Team is fun, so I had fun, but I hated that movie.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Press Release: A Grand Night for Singing

The Valley Theatre is pleased to present a special production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing! This charming musical revue features nearly 40 of Rodgers and Hammerstein's best loved songs, from both popular and lesser known musicals.   The cast, made up of performers from around the county, sing their way through Rodgers & Hammerstein classics all the while showcasing snatches of romance and humor.   The show is directed by Hilary Gunning with musical direction by Amanda Cox and choreography by Sarah Keeler Badger.

Performances will be held in Houghton and in Wellsville.  You can see the show on the Nancy Howe Auditorium stage on September 21 at 7pm at the David A. Howe Public Library in Wellsville.  This performance is sponsored by the Friends of the Library and the Allegany Arts Association. Shows will also be presented on Friday, September 22, at 7pm and Saturday, September 23, at 2pm at the Houghton Wesleyan Church.  For more information please contact director Hilary Gunning at

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Acts Debrief

On July 14, 2017 Valley Theatre partnered with the David A. Howe Public Library to present an Evening of One Act plays recreating an event that took place there in July of 1937.  It was different than the kinds of things we typically do with Valley Theatre productions, but it was a nice change of pace.

    We first experimented with presenting multiple short plays with our second production back in 2009 when we partnered Yasmina Reza's Art with Jack Finney's Telephone Roulette.  We liked the structure of that production.  We used the same set for both shows and the all female cast of TR contrasted nicely with the all male cast of Art.  We never really considered doing that again, but when the idea for this years production popped up we were intrigued.
   The shows presented included Thursday Evening by Christopher Morley, Wisdom Teeth by Rachel Field and Catherine Parr or Alexander’s Horse by Maurice Baring.  Each dated in their own way, but they all had wit and punch that we thought we could do something with.  I decided early on that I wanted to do a readers theater format for these.  I figured that would give the audience an idea of what the 1937 production was like without doing a full scale recreation.  Readers theater allowed us to play up the humor without getting bogged down in all of the trappings. I hadn't participated in readers theater since college and it was definitely a first for Valley Theatre.  I asked some of our regulars to take a hand directing them.  
     Sarah Badger, who has been involved with most of our productions since 2011 took on Thursday Evening.  Aside from Graham Badger who played the role of Gordon Johns, her full cast consisted of actors who have not been in our shows before: Emily Rhoades Pundt as Laura Johns, Mary Ann Reisdorf as Mrs. Sheffield and Mary Eckstein as Gordon's mother.  It's always nice to have new faces and they each did a wonderful job.  Of all the shows, this was the most dated so I took a pass at updating some of the humor that wouldn't play to a 2017 audience.  
    For Wisdom Teeth, Debbie Young directed and played the role of Henrietta Wellington.  We learned later that her 1937 counterpart did the same thing.  I love a good coincidence.  The rest of the cast was made up of Valley Theatre veterans including Amanda Cox, Hannah Mills Woolsey and Mike Cox.  They had a lot of fun doing this one and it was evident in the performance.

   For Catherine Parr or Alexander's Horse I thought it might be fun for Hilary and I to take the roles of Catherine Parr and Henry VIII.  We hadn't been in anything together in quite a while and Hilary hadn't been in a Valley Theatre production since Cinderella in 2011 (and really not since Guilty Conscience in 2010).  I asked our niece Evie to play the role of the page, so she finally got to make her Valley Theatre debut.  Even though readers theatre is a simple affair, I'd learned my lesson on acting and directing at the same time.  Instead, I cajoled Eric Mikols into directing.  He did so reluctantly, but had some good insight.  I'd like to see what he could do with a full show.  I bet it would be good.  We had fun working together.  Ours was shorter than the others and had a zinger heavy batch of dialogue.  We really got in to it for the performance.

    Overall the the night went very well.  I hadn't seen or heard the other plays, and while I had faith in the cast and directors, it was a relief to see that they were all good.  They flowed together well and each cast had a good chemistry which is always crucial, but even more so in something like readers theatre. I don't see us returning to the format any time soon, but it was energizing to do something so different.  
     Now we are free to turn our attentions to another non-standard Valley Theatre production... A Grand Night for Singing is set to open on September 21, 2017.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Press Release: Reader's Theatre at the David A. Howe Public Library

Our most recent Valley Theatre show, The Star Spangled Girl, opened exactly one year ago today.  It's hard to believe it's been that long!  We are planning a bigger event later in 2017, but right now we are working on a night of reader's theater with the David A. Howe Public Library.  Here's a little teaser of things to come.

2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the David A. Howe Public Library in its current location.  To celebrate this landmark year they will be re-creating an evening of one-act plays that were first performed in the Nancy Auditorium in July of 1937.  Presented in a reader’s theater format the plays include Thursday Evening by Christopher Morley, Wisdom Teeth by Rachel Field and Alexander’s Horse by Maurice Baring.  The evening will be hosted by Director Nic Gunning and his two predecessors, Michelle La Voie (director of the Olean Public Library) and Brian Hildreth (director of the Southern Tier Library System).  This library sponsored program is free and open to the public on Friday, July 14 at 7pm in the Nancy Howe Auditorium of the David A. Howe Public Library located at 155 N. Main Street, Wellsville, NY, 14895.