REVIEW: “Twisted Theatre” knocks it out of the park


Photo credit/ Elizabeth Deroba

Ellis Vogt dances with a feather boa during Mary West’s performance of “All I Care About” from Chicago. The song was one of many during the Twisted Theatre performance on Saturday.

I went into The Marywood Players’ “Twisted Theatre” with fairly low expectations, hoping for a couple of good laughs, and instead had an uproariously good time.

If you are unfamiliar with “Twisted Theatre”, it is a tradition for the Marywood Players, the university’s theatre group, featuring role reversals. That means men sing and perform songs intended for women and women sing and perform songs intended for men.

The performance was put on in the Black Box Theater on Saturday, November 13, starting at 7:30 p.m. and ran about an hour and a half.

I had the good fortune of being able to see the show not once, but twice—once on official Wood Word business and once for pure pleasure. I saw the show first performed during a dress rehearsal because I was taking photos for The Wood Word’s Instagram page, but I enjoyed it so much that I had to come back and see it again as an audience member.

On Friday night, the show was very good, but in front of a live audience on Saturday, the show came alive. In a few words, this show was clever, playful, and a barrel of laughs.

Having never attended a performance in the Black Box Theater before, I will admit I was skeptical of how it would work, but in retrospect it was the perfect choice. The small space lent itself to a more intimate experience that made the audience feel included in the act.

And the audience was included. As emcee, Ellen Frantz spoke directly to the audience, cracking jokes for their enjoyment and responding to audience reactions, often improvising effortlessly on the spot.

I think part of the success of this show was how delightfully self-aware it was. Yes, there were plenty of serious moments that left you forgetting the gender of the actor—Gabriella Nowak’s performance of “Being Alive” from “Company” is a good example—but as a whole, the inconsistencies were what made the show fun.

Seeing the male actors sing about a pregnancy test, or the female actors singing, “Nothing Like a Dame” from “South Pacific” made the audience chuckle. The show was by no means perfect, but often the slight flaws added to its charm.

It is funny to see a male actor try to hit a high note in a traditionally female song and not quite hit the mark, just like it is funny to see a female actress chasing a male actor around the stage professing love. In most cases, the actors embraced any slight flaws for comedic effect, and it worked.

However, there were a ton of things that this production did that were completely on point. The choreography, for example, was very clever and often comedic in and of itself. In particular, I loved the choreography of “Bend and Snap” from “Legally Blonde”, and the closing “Grease” medley, but there were great moments throughout the entire show.

An A+ also goes to Technical Director and Production Manager Ryan Houser for the lighting design. In most cases, the lighting changes were subtle, but they always reflected well on the pieces being performed. Two moments that stood out to me were the rock concert lighting for “Will Power” from “Something Rotten” and the subtle use of shadows to give the effect of a giant on the wall in “Giants in the Sky” from “Into the Woods.”

I also appreciated the consistency of the primarily black and white costumes because it added a feeling of cohesiveness across the multitude of diverse pieces being performed. Likewise, the set and prop choices were simple yet effective.

However, above all else, the thing that sold this show for me was the energy. You could tell that every cast member was having fun and giving it their all.

The highlight of the show for me was Isabella Snyder and company’s performance of “Will Power” from “Something Rotten.” From Frantz’s introduction to Snyder’s exit, the song reeked of enthusiasm and hype that was utterly contagious, making me want to yell, “We want Will,” right along with them.

This show was fantastic. I would have seen it again in a heartbeat, and I would encourage everyone who did not get a chance to see it to check it out in future.

When the lights came back up at the end of the night, I heard one voice behind me break the silence saying, “That was awesome!” and I could not have agreed more.

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