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Jerry Cutler On Film & Theatre —Bening Makes ‘The Seagull’ Take Flight, ‘School Of Rock’ Lives Up To It’s Name

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2018 – 1:00 PM

If you’e still pondering as to whether Annette Bening is the reigning queen of today’s American cinema (that is, if you have nothing more important to ponder about), ponder no more because once again she delivers a brilliantly crafted and flawless performance as Irina Arkadina in Anton Chekov’s classic The Seagull.

At the summer lakeside estate of Sorin (an always excellent Brian Dennehy), a group of friends and family, all of whom are in love, but not necessarily with their own mates, arrive for a weekend of laughter and relaxation.

Adapted from Chekov’s classic play by Stephen Karam and directed by Michael Mayer, the film captures the essence of the humor and pathos of the great playwright, especially when Elizabeth Moss as Masha is asked why she always wears black and  answers: “For my life.”

There is even the age-old entanglement of a love triangle between Nina (the wonderful Saoirse Ronan), a naïve young woman whose father cares for the estate, and Boris (Corey Stoll), a famous writer who is Irina’s lover. Irina, however, has her own love affair going with….Irina.

The acting is uniformly excellent and Mayer’s direction captures every nuance, frustration and whimsy.

The Seagull tends to tire midway, but picks up flight toward the end. While not a great movie, thanks to Bening, it’s a good one and very much worth seeing.

3 Bagels out of 4

• • • • •

School of Rock, now at the Pantages Theatre, is the story of rockstar wannabe Dewey Finn, who is kicked out of his band for being a bit too demonstrative. Desperate for money, he assumes the identity of his close friend and is hired as a substitute music teacher at a well-to-do prep school.

Rob Colletti as Dewy is completely out of control.  All limbs of his body are loose and seem detached from his body as he takes control of the stage as a teacher of young kids introduced to the freneticism of rock music, much to the dismay of the uptight parents of the prep school.

The kids are, each and every one of them, the most talented bunch you will ever have the pleasure of seeing. They sing, act, dance, play musical instruments and had the opening night audience cheering wildly from the beginning of the show. To be honest, when I was growing up, I thought a “rock group” were a bunch of biblical zealots stoning people who strayed from the law. Realizing who they really were, I still couldn’t understand the spastic movements and cacophony of electric instruments. 

However, it’s easy to be caught up in the frenzy of the spirited music and performances of the artists on stage at the Pantages. They are “crazy man,” especially Colletti and Lexie Dorsey Sharp, the school’s principal who has the power and range of anyone I have seen on the musical stage. She is awesome. Same goes for those adorable and multi- talented children.

If you have a kid, any kid young or old, take them to see School of Rock. They’ll have a great time. My young wife did!

3-1/2 out of 4

 

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