A Wither's Tale

The Troubadour Theatre Company, led by writer-director and chief jester Matt Walker, is renowned for witty mash-ups of Shakespeare with pop tunes. Watching this lampoon of A Winter's Tale and Bill Withers, die-hard Troubie fans may lament the less-than-usual ratio of comedy to drama. Combining a handful of Withers' gentle pop hits with Shakespeare's problematic play (is it a drama? is it a romantic comedy?) makes for a more low-key experience than usual. Echoing Othello, an irrationally jealous King (Matt Walker) incarcerates his pregnant wife, Hermione (Monica Schneider), on suspicion of fraternizing with his best friend, King Polixenes (Matt Merchant), and orders the execution of their baby girl. The somber saga builds to Walker's showstopping rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine," enhanced by Jeremy Pivnick's elegant lighting design. Clocking in at 90 minutes (no intermission), this show's strength lies in the plaintive musical numbers. The five-strong band is superb and features some haunting underscoring and solos from John Krovoza on cello and violin. The entire cast sing, harmonize and dance exquisitely — credit Ameenah Kaplan for her deceptively simple yet tight choreography. Sets for a Troubie show are typically spartan, which makes Sharon McGunigle's luscious period costumes particularly noteworthy. Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; through September 26. (818) 955-8101. A Troubadour Theatre Company production.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: Aug. 20. Continues through Sept. 26, 2010

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