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Theatre NOVA presents the Play of the Month series

A new play written specifically for Zoom each month

 

THE MICHIGAN PREMIERE OF

4 GENRES

by Ron Riekki

Premieres February 24, 2021
Available to Festival passholders through May 31, 2021

In 4 Genres. four characters reveal what they've learned after being trapped within four respective film/theatre genres (musical theatre, documentary, slapstick, and horror.) A hilarious comedy exploring the role of art in life and society. 4 Genres is directed by Theatre NOVA Founding Artistic Director, Carla Milarch and features Jennifer Graham (An Almost British Christmas), Nate John-Mark (A Hero of Our Time, 2020), Dan Johnson (Kill Move Paradise) and David Moan (I'm Streaming of an Alright Christmas).

Ann Arbor Family Review
Theatre Nova Provides Entertainment and Introspection With Fantastic ‘4 Genres’

 

“The script for 4 Genres is witty, charming, and engaging, and the idea is a compelling one. But the success of the play largely comes from its cast. Each of them fit the stereotypes of their genre perfectly while also reminding us of the subtleties underneath. Dan Johnson (documentary) has a deceptively difficult role as the play’s least over-the-top character, and sets just the right tone with his cerebral, nervous performance.

Jennifer Felts, who is a movement specialist as well as an actor, is perfectly cast as the character trapped in slapstick. Her pratfalls, silly voices, and facial expressions show her not only to be a gifted physical actor, but also one who is not afraid of putting her entire body and heart into a character. 

David Moan’s character is trapped in a musical.  Moan deftly shows us the stereotype of the cheesy, over-zealous musical theatre performer, and the real person underneath who is cringing with every note.

Nate John-Mark has the most physical work to do in the show, with his character running from or fighting various monsters in the horror genre. In spite of his character’s almost constant movement, John-Mark’s over-it, yet terrified portrayal is completely grounded and compelling. Theatre NOVA Founding Artistic Director Carla Milarch directed 4 Genres with a grounded, guiding hand, allowing the actors to really showcase their talents along with their storytelling abilities.

Like the characters, who must really reflect on what they’ve learned in order to truly be free of the genre they’re trapped in, I found myself reflecting on the pandemic while watching the show. What have we learned? What will it be like when it’s truly over? 4 Genres does a terrific job of making us think about the world we live in, and what we would do if we got the chance to try living in a different one."

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Reel Roy Reviews
There won’t be … orphans: Theatre NOVA’s Play-of-the-Month “4 Genres” by Ron Riekki

4 Genres moves briskly. More than a few technological mishaps (I’m assuming unintentional) – dropped sound, internet wobbles – aid and abet the viewing experience. We ain’t looking for polish in quarantine.

The four performers are marvels of commitment. John-Mark has the showiest role, and he doesn’t miss a trick. He mines comedy gold from the anxiety of being trapped in a “summer camp/asylum/orphanage” populated by werewolves, witches, chainsaw killers, but NO orphans. The richest laughs come from his exasperated delivery of quips aplenty.

Moan has a ball leveraging his musical comedy chops. Ironically, singing seems to cause his character physical pain, even as his dulcet tones delight the viewer. Spoiler alert: you may never hear “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen the same way again. And Moan’s “Rose’s Turn”-style nervous breakdown medley at the play’s conclusion is pretty damn brilliant. For that moment alone, this is one of the few Zoom shows I wouldn’t mind seeing staged IRL when and if this quarantine ever ends.

Director Carla Milarch knows how to position new works effectively. She has a marketer’s eye for pulling out a unique hook that will engage the audience.

The show is a helluva lot of fun, as witty as it is thought-provoking, and serves as a nifty little showcase for four very talented local performers. Definitely check it out. If nothing else, it provides a lovely waiting room distraction as we all still figure out how in the heck to get vaccinated.

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