Saturday, November 29, 2003

St. Xavier 'Red Noses' is a breath of fresh air



Cincinnati Enquirer

The Greater Cincinnati chapter of Cappies, or Critics and Awards Program, is in its third season, with students writing reviews of other high schools' productions. Today, St. Xavier's "Red Noses."

(For more information, see www.cappies.com)

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St. Xavier High School's fall production of "Red Noses" was a satirical, but poignant take on how Europe got through the plague years. "Red Noses" followed a mirthful group of performers on its mission to spread God's message to the ill.

Leading the pack of clowning crusaders was Matt Borths as Father Flote, an energized missionary. Borths' portrayal was consistent throughout, staying true to his character's ambitious and loud personality.

Anchoring Borths' wildness on the female side was Betsy Holt as Marguerite Delair, a former nun who found physical love more appealing than the spiritual sort. Holt's performance was a mix of sass and vulnerability, a combination that made her one of the more interesting characters in the show.

On the technical level, St. Xavier raised the bar. Crew head Dan Martin led the effort which turned gymnasium space into the desolate fields of Europe. The set design allowed for the openness needed for the persistent comedic slapstick while enclosing the area enough to give the show a storybook-like feel. Thanks to the soft lighting design (crew head Brandon Schamer) the otherwise disturbing subject matter was comfortable to watch.

The text was entertainingly disturbing - a careful balance of humor, the grotesque, contemporary references, farce and music.

The cast's energy and focus were the driving forces of the show. From the diseased's opening pleas for mercy to the final scene of standing at heaven's gate, the cast was completely dedicated to the task at hand.

-Kathryn Novak, William Mason High School

EXCERPTS:

Sister Marguerite Delair, played by Betsy Holt, joined the vaudeville "Floties" after her plan to be ravaged by a mercenary fell to pieces. She successfully demonstrated the complexities of seeking, finding, and losing love. Her chemistry with Sonnerie (Nick Wolterman) was the sweetest moment in this era of death.

-Connie Yeh, Cincinnati Country Day School

From the first time Matt Borths entered the stage as Flote, he displayed brilliant control over the audience and radiated hope. His dead-on portrayal of the character captured the audience's heart and made it feel for him and his cause.

-Ben Tanzer, Cincinnati Country Day

The lights and sound were well done, with very few glitches, and the props and effects were superb. A fire effect in which air pressure and lighting were used to "burn" guilty men at the stake was magnificent, and set pieces such as 20-foot gallows ... turned the Black Plague into a show of humor and comedy.

-Michael Newland, William Mason High School

The intricate costumes, designed by Vesper Williams, were beautifully authentic and fascinating with flashes of color warmly painting the stage to contrast the bleak surroundings.

-Jeff Lynch, Cincinnati Country Day School

Matt Borths kept the audience rolling with laughter. His slapstick comedy set the mood for the show.

Borths took pies in the face and juggled like a professional clown. He displayed true knowledge of his character and a deep understanding of comedic timing.

-Katie Trent, Turpin High School

Daniel Campbell as Father Toulon had a notable performance.

As Toulon, he grounded the rest of the Red Noses with his uptight, holy-roller attitude, but eventually he realized that being a good person is better than knowing every word in the Bible.

-Liz Rettig, Mt. Notre Dame High School




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