The Barn Players, Inc.
Community theatre vs. Professional theatre. Interesting comparisons are at hand in two productions of similarly sized musicals running now in our wonderful city of theatre.
"Xanadu", at the Barn Players, is a blast. The cast is having a great time and it shows. This musical, of course, is a fun spoof of the eighties movie of the same name and nothing is taken too terribly seriously. Which works well for the Barn's limited resources. The set is a little crude, but it works just fine here and is in concert with the style of the show. The costumes are imaginative, fun and sometimes homemade. But clearly, a lot of thought and care has gone into the construction of this piece. The musical direction and the band are, for the most part, very much in tune. Not all the singing is superb, but it is certainly good enough to carry the day and here and there sublime notes are hit. There is a range of performance skills here, but the major players manage to pull it off with great spirit and lots of fun. I was smiling throughout and recommend anyone to go and see it.
"Little Shop of Horrors", at the Kansas City Rep, is also quite a blast. Loud and confident, this equally small sized show is pumped up with the fine resources of the Rep and made to look and sound like a blockbuster. The band is flawless, the singing is superb and, at times, amazing. The costumes are quite elaborate, the lighting is like a huge rock concert and the set is huge. But somehow, yes, you knew it was coming, this one is not near as much fun as the Barn Players show. Does professionalism sometimes crush the indefinable spirit that makes a show compelling? Or does overproducing a show that was written as a small, bare bones event render it neutered? Bottom line, I was not smiling throughout this one. I admired it's professionalism and the money spent on it, but I didn't really enjoy it that much.
Go figure. And go see "Xanadu".