CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp Review
Popcorn Falls

Don't underestimate the people of Popcorn Falls, Mr. Doyle. They are fighters. Like George Washington.— Mr. Trundle .
popcorn falls
Tom Souhrada & Adam Heller. (Photo: Monique Carbon)
A bunch of incompetents creating a fundraising theatrical production may be a comedic theme as old as theater itself. But James Hindman's Popcorn Falls gives the old girl a fresh face . Adroitly directed by Christian Borle, this two-hander features Adam Heller and Tom Souhrada playing over twenty roles in lightening quick scene changes.

With little more onstage than a few chairs, tables and the occasional mic, as cue cards and transition music establish the scene, the two actors present the story of Popcorn Falls. A sleepy little town some place in middle America, its only asset is its historic falls, where George Washington once had a picnic lunch before going on to win independence for the thirteen colonies.

Now the town is faced with bankruptcy because the country has diverted the water from its historic falls in order to build a dam. The only help the county offers is to redraw boundaries so the town will no longer exist, and demolish the downtown area and turn it into a sewage plant.

. There is one saving grace. The county arts council is willing to make good on a request the town made years ago for a theater. If the town only had a theater, its citizens could get their hands on the money. And so, despite all odds, Mr. Trundle, the new mayor, is determined to put on a play. A recently divorced, recovered alcoholic, he knows saving the town may be his last chance to get his life together.

Trundle's main confidant is Joe, a not very competent janitor whose wife is expecting the couple's third set of twins. But Trundle quickly gathers other resources:
Becky, who left town to go to acting school and now tends bar at a local pub, having returned a single mother and with with dashed dreams. She also has a history with Joe. . . Ms. Parker, the town librarian, who now devotes much of her time to her many cats, was once the leading lady of the Anchor Bay Players. She is put in charge of finding a play. . . Floyd, the one-armed owner of the lumber yard, who will construct the set. . . Mrs. Stepp, the chain-smoking middle school teacher and town vamp, who knows how to do costumes, posters, make-up and wig. . .and a few more individuals, all with their own idiosyncrasies and outlandish tics.
Are all these characters ridiculously familiar? Certainly. Is the plot a mashup of every comic skit we've ever seen? Of course. But none of this takes away from the sheer joy of watching two veteran actors ply their trade under the skilled direction of the multi-talented Borle.

Souhrada does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to portraying the many different inhabitants of Popcorn Falls (they prefer being called kernels). While Heller makes Mayor Trundle both believable and sympathetic.

Not every joke hits its mark. A few even fall quite flat. But overall, the comic hilarity of this farce carries through until the triumphant end.






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PRODUCTION NOTES
Popcorn Falls by James Hindman
Directed y Christian Borle
Cast: Adam Heller, Tom Souhrada
Set Design: Tim Mackabee
Costume Design: Joseph La Corte
Lighting Design: Jeff Croiter
Original Music Composer: Jefrey Lodin
Production Stage Manager: Yetti Steinman
Running Time: 90 minutes
Davenport Theatre 354 W 45th between 8th and 9th avenues)212-239-6200, www.popcornfalls.com
From 9/14/18; opening 10/08/18; closing 1/08/19
Tickets: $75-$85
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Oct. 6, 2018


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