From the co-author of You Can't Take It With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner, comes this rollicking backstage comedy about a group of theater people (the larger-than-life star, her mother, the tough-as-nails producer, his ice-skating wife, the overly emotional director, the idealistic writer and a host of other zany characters) getting ready to open a brand new play in Boston, prior to Broadway. Act One begins with everyone loving each other as they toast the play and prepare for the first performance. Things do not go well, and in Act Two everyone hates each other, but encouraging reviews from the first-night Boston critics require everyone to quickly make up and get back to work. Good Theater's crazy cast of ten will delight audiences with their antics in this screwball comedy.
HONAN and POIRER light up ‘LIGHT UP’
The Portland Press Herald By Steve Feeney 4/21/2009
Saturday night's performance confirmed that this Portland production is greatly enhanced by the presence of two of the finest comedic actors working in the area in recent years, Denise Poirier and Mark Honan. Both were again masterful in portraying slightly, and sometimes not-so-slightly, wacky eccentrics. They were just a whole lot of fun to watch.
As in her role in "Hay Fever" from a couple of years back, Poirier got the scene-making and scene-stealing diva role down to a hilarious science. She turned on a dime from mock vulnerability to accusing menace and made it all so delightfully arch.
Honan's director here likewise made being on the verge of tears into one of the best of several running gags in the show.
Tootie Van Reenen, as the star's mother, had several of the better lines in the early going, providing a withering review of a rehearsal she snuck into. Bob McCormack, as an older playwright, offered some kind, if slightly jaded, advice to the young writer of the play within the play. All the while Stephen Underwood and Janice Gardner, as husband and wife producers, added to the sense of what a roller coaster ride opening a new play can be,
Marc Brann, Laura Graham, Randall Tuttle and Mark Rubin complete the ensemble that may wonder if the play is an "allegory" but is more concerned that it has the critics' blessing and will have a long run.
The director of "Light Up the Sky," Brian P. Allen, and his team obviously have their hearts bound up in the laughter and tears of showbiz and deserve praise for bringing this little period take on the world of the stage to their stage.
The Portland Phoenix by Megan Grumbling 4/22/2009
Good Theater's cast has decadent and often very virtuosic fun. The role of diva Irene might as well have been written for Poirier, who glides and flutters, effuses and struts and frets, and looks fabulous in a series of luxurious costumes (many on loan from the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). She and Honan egg each other on as the sensitive artistic temperaments of the bunch; and the watchful, knowing gaze of McCormick's Owen, both amused and affectionate, is an elegant counterweight to their histrionics.
As the less-refined Sidney, the angular Underwood is a casting coup, with his blunt gestures and his crass but musical delivery of the financier's alliterative patter and wacky metaphors. His platinum-blonde wife Frances, in Gardner's hands, is another coarse-talking delight — brash, buxom, chirpy, all candy and big jewelry. The record should also show that Randall Tuttle does an unexpectedly convincing Swedish masseur, not to mention a robust drunken Shriner. And Van Reenen, whose snappy wryness I've come to relish over many of her roles, is in prime form; I'd watch the whole three acts again just to revel in her Stella's sharp, no-nonsense cynicism. The set of her mouth, so often puckered to the side in a smirk of disapprobation, suggests not just that Stella constantly holds a figurative wedge of lemon in there, but that she particularly enjoys the taste of it.
Finally, the arc of Brann's young playwright Peter over the course of these few hours — from naive to world-wise — is an important one: Hart ultimately presents an homage to the birth not just of one show to a stage, but of a playwright into a long theatrical life, and Brann draws it with both charm and fire. No business like it, and the Good Theater's radiant, witty, affectionate production embodies just what Hart sought to celebrate.
Directed by Brian P. Allen
Miss Lowell -Laura Graham
Carleton Fitzgerald - Mark Honan*
Frances Black - Janice Gardner
Owen Turner - Bob McCormack
Stella Livingston - Tootie Van Reenen
Peter Sloan - Mark Brann
Sidney Black - Stephen Underwood
Sven/William Gallegher/Plain Clothes Man - Randall Tuttle
Irene Livingston - Denise Poirier
Tyler Rayburn - Mark Rubin
Set Design - Craig Robinson
Lighting Design - Jamie Grant
Technical Director - Stephen Underwood
Production Stage Manager - Joshua Hurd
* Member Actors' Equity Association