Cape Fear Regional Theatre
"...terrific performances by a talented cast...
A packed, enthusiastic house greeted the actors on opening night Saturday...
The cast ... did not disappoint, delivering spirited performances and diving into their roles with aplomb.
Highlights included Nicki Hart and [Jock] Brocki’s sprightly performance of “Take a Chance on Me” and [Joanne] Javien’s raise the roof show-stopper, “The Winner Takes It All.”
Director Suzanne Agins and choreographer Ryan Migge kept the proceedings moving at a sprightly pace....
[The crowd] responded enthusiastically to every song, cheering kitsch classics like “Chiquitita” and “Super Trouper,” which were performed expertly by a crack band led by Zeek Smith. Even a disco ball that was lowered during the play got some cheers.
...CFRT’s production succeeds on the strength of the performances and its sheer sense of fun."
"There is a party happening here in Fayetteville that you do not want to miss!
...Among the night’s outstanding performances were those turned in by Scenic Designer Sarah Harris and Scenic Artist David Rawlins, who managed to make an entire Greek island resort, including the surrounding sea, come breathtakingly alive...credit the able direction of Suzanne Agins, along with the choreography of Ryan Migge, and the sterling performance of Zeek Smith and his orchestra for keeping the show fast-paced, lively and fun.
...Alexa Cepeda, making her CFRT debut, played Sophie, and hers was consistently the strongest voice of the evening. In addition to her vocal talent, she infused her character with sparkling charm.
Joanne Javien played Donna, Sophie’s mother, with the dramatic passion one would expect from the lead of Donna and the Dynamos, her throw-back 70s trio. Her rendition of “The Winner Takes It All” was superb. Heather Setzler played Tanya, the seductive member of the trio, and had fun with her “Does Your Mother Know” number. Nicki Hart played Rosie, the third Dynamo, and managed to be funny, sexy and a little bit vulnerable as she propositioned Bill, one of Donna’s former lovers, to “Take a Chance on Me.”
Graham Stevens, Brent Schraff and Jock Brocki, playing Donna’s past loves and Sophie’s prospective fathers, worked well in the backup male roles as did Simon Schaitkin, who plays Sophie’s fiancé. The Ensemble, composed of multitalented players, delivered stellar vocal backup and dance moves.
The entire production consistently drew cheers and thunderous applause, and the finale had the entire theater audience up and dancing in their seats."
Cape Fear Regional Theatre
"The story of “Memphis” reminds us that standing up for your beliefs is and always will be important and often requires courage. It is a story of equality, love, acceptance and striving to reach your potential. It is also a story about learning to deal with ignorance, bigotry and hatred. It is a story that, unfortunately, still needs to be told in 2019.
Director Suzanne Agins brings together a cast and crew of local, regional and national talent to deliver a unique and entertaining performance. Some of the cast and crew also worked on Agins’ production of last season’s “Dreamgirls.”
...Gooden and Burke wow the audience with their performances as Felicia and Delray. Gooden delivers vocals and emotion that bring home the story highlighting the effects of racism and inequality. Mucha is heartwarming as Huey. His zany performance is just the right mix of naivete and measured refusal to draw color lines. His indifference to color is really the message of the story of “Memphis.”
Gooden, Burke, Robbins and Mucha deliver rousing performances with “Someday,” “Colored Woman,” “Underground” and “Big Love.”
The audience also gets wonderful surprises when Huey’s mama, Gladys, deliver the character-awakening songs “Say a Prayer,” and “Change Don’t Come Easy.” Gator, a soft-spoken bartender, and Gladys demonstrate how love and tolerance can help us all learn and grow together, supporting each other despite our differences.
...The talented ensemble helps make “Memphis” a spectacular show and reminds the audience that we have a treasure trove of local and regional talent. In this show, the ensemble literally brings Memphis radio to life. Their performance also highlights choreographer Ellenore Scott’s fun, creative and energetic dance routines."
"For me, a good musical consists of a good story, good music, and a good book (where many musicals fall short in my opinion). Sometimes, the story might be somewhat interesting, but the book as it’s written, not so much so. Throw in some good performances, choreography, or theatricality and you have the makings of a great show...
Fortunately, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre (CFRT) production of the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis checks all those boxes.
...Matthew Mucha’s boyish charm makes his charismatic, enthusiastic, and exuberant portrayal of Huey that much more believable. Shonica Gooden is coming off a turn in the Broadway production of Hamilton and is without a doubt a consummate pro. Her fiery portrayal of Felicia is vulnerable, unpretentious, and spirited. From her devout delivery of the spiritual Make Me Stronger to her fierce performance of Colored Woman, she tears down the house. But perhaps the most intense performance of the evening belongs to Dani Burke who takes on the role of Delray Farrell, Felicia’s sister, in a gender fluid casting decision that is a first in the history of the show.
Many musicals falter or lag a little bit in the second act. This one doesn’t due in part to Suzanne Agins’ efficient direction and Ellenore Scott’s high-energy, high-stepping, infectious choreography. No need to wait for the big 11 o’clock number here, because Act II is packed with lots of show stopping numbers, including David Robbins’ falsetto-squealing, scene-stealing performance of Big Love, Kathy Day’s career-defining performance of Change Don’t Come Easy, and Mucha’s impassioned rendition of Memphis Lives in Me.
...I wasn’t planning on reviewing Memphis because, in terms of our theater coverage, Cumberland County is outside our geographic area. However, this show is so worthy of a hockadoo holler and hurray, that it would be a shame not to show it some big love."
"When a supposed "straight-on" play, based on an early 19th-century British novel, opens with the cast parading out singing a late 20th-century, quasi-pop tune ("How Sweet It Is to be Loved by You") with live piano accompaniment, and then launches into a rather extended game of musical chairs in period costumes, all to the delight of the wondering audience, we know that this is a very liberal adaptation that has the possibility of piquing our interest. And it is, and it does.
Fact is, this play by Kate Hamill and directed by Suzanne Agins gives the term "adaptation" a new definition. Hamill manages to squeeze out every bit of humor that possibly exists behind the controlled behaviors and pretensions of the era, and turns the piece into what might even be termed a "comedy of (ill) manners" that is fraught with boisterousness, physical humor, biting commentary and character behaviors more akin to 2013 than 1813. It's a fresh and welcomed approach to adaptation.
...Centered around the headstrong and determined Lizzy, the central premise of securing a respectable marriage for daughters in order to comply with inheritance laws, allows for the inclusion of much of the biting commentary (particularly by the anti-marriage Lizzy), interesting, often "goofy" characters, physical humor, and off-handed, smart-alecky remarks (handled with great timing and precision by Jones' father character).
...The show's merit is not only its ability to mine humorous possibilities hidden between the lines of the novel, but also its fresh grappling with theater conventions, from "exposing" backstage activity to the inclusion of several musical anachronisms played live on an orange piano."
"A gaggle of men and women in the gorgeous silhouettes of English Regency fashion, dance a parlor game of musical chairs as Pride and Prejudice opens at the Hangar. They emerge playfully onto Raul Abrego’s colorful set, adorned with giant cut-out birds and garden flowers, its floor an abstract garden maze, cradled by 3 French doors. A small pianoforte is on a ledge to one side, and green turf completes the staging.
Playwright Kate Hamill, born and bred in Ithaca, and an alum of Ithaca College (and the Hangar’s own Next Generation program) returns home in triumph.
This is one of the best ensemble casts in years at the theatre (which given the Hangar’s high standards is saying quite a lot), especially for comedy.
Mari Via-Golden leads as the formidably intelligent, slightly waspish, and gloriously forthright Lizzie...Socorro Santiago buzzsaws into the space like an unholy termagant, to hilarious and purposeful mistake. This is a woman on a mission, a military commander (there is an amusing recurrent training moment in fact.) Santiago is a grand lesson in how broad comedy can be honed to a fine stiletto point. (And she gets to flip into high hauteur as the snobbish Lady Catherine.)
Craig Wesley Divino brings a huffish air to the much talked of Darcy. He is brusque and withdrawn, but cannot help but find Lizzie magnetic. Their sniping advances and confused retreats are the central energy of romance amid the tomfoolery.
Austin Jones wears the loving if distant father, Mr. Bennet, like an old slipper; then has a field day slipping on the weaselly cousin Mr. Collins, all bizarre strutting and slathering (highly Dickensian). Jared Brendon Hopper has the prize comic double role of frightful (and more than plain looking) daughter Mary, and the doggishly affable suitor Mr. Bingley, easily distractible but oh-so-earnest.
India Derewetzky plays the romantic Jane with a lovely openness, and a quickness of response, while Sandrinne Edström is all giddy rashness as the youngest, Lydia. Hal Miers plays with punctilious precision as both the bored Miss Bingley, and the rakish Mr. Wickham. Rachel Ravel completes the sparkling ensemble as the neighbor Charlotte Lucas, practical yet forlorn. A huge shout-out to the elegant and cleverly transforming costumes by Sydney Maresca. Bright, brilliant, hilarious yet moving, theatrical, warm, smart, unmissable."
"Kate Hamill’s frolicsome, rapid-paced adaptations have been produced everywhere since she first emerged at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in July 2017. Suzanne Agins’ direction of Pride and Prejudice for Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre was as much fun as any show anywhere over the last 12 months. Veteran player Soccoro Santiago scored in dual roles, as flibbertigibbet Mrs. Bennet and the august Lady Catherine De Burgh; by simply changing hats and vocal range, Santiago could have the two characters talk to one another."
The Heart of Robin Hood
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival
"David Farr’s 2011 play, directed by Suzanne Agins, turns the familiar legend on its feather-hatted head, and is all the more interesting for it. The Sherwood Forest denizen, charismatically played by Benjamin Bonenfant, is a highwayman who robs from the rich and keeps the loot for himself. It takes the influence of the noble Marion (a feisty Robyn Kerr) to inspire a charitable change in the outlaw. Drawing amusingly from influences as diverse as Shakespeare and the Little Rascals, the play contains a number of elements that this summer company is primed to knock out of the park: an arch-villain, Prince John, acted with quiet, insinuating intensity by Sean McNall; Marion’s faithful sidekick, Pierre (Wesley Mann, pulling out all the comedic stops); the clash of steel in some acrobatic sword fights; and a theatrical backdrop perfectly suited to the region’s beautiful natural setting."
"In this revisionist update, written by David Farr for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2011, Maid Marion (Robyn Kerr), a bored royal with a penchant for social justice and a desire for adventure, is the star of the show. Until her arrival, Robin Hood (Benjamin Bonefenant) and his band of brigands are just a bunch of low-down cutthroats out for personal gain. Luckily for the kingdom, Marion convinces Robin to change his ways and fight false king John (the deliciously villainous Sean McNall) until King Richard returns from the Crusades. The actor who steals the show however, is Wesley Mann, who plays Pierre, manservant to Marion...As Pierre, Mann sets the antic pace for the show, timing every gesture for maximum laughs. (The comedic highlight of the show, however, is a song-and-dance ensemble number at the beginning of the second act, "When You're a Soldier in the Middle Age," written specifically for this production by house composer Andrew Butler and choreographed by Tracy Bersley.)...It's a downright magical atmosphere, and the cast of "Robin Hood" use it to their advantage in this fresh and spirited take on the well-worn legend."
"Get thee to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival!... The finest theatrical performances in the Hudson Valley can be seen this year with a variety of productions...Each production offers the audience something different while providing a beautiful evening of entertainment for the eyes, ears, heart and soul....In THE HEART OF ROBIN HOOD, written by David Farr and directed by Suzanne Agins, Sherwood Forest is brought to life with a unique twist on a classic tale. Yes, this production is filled with an impressive display of stage combat but it also contains a bit darker beginning for our hero. “The Heart of Robin Hood, like other adaptations, picks and chooses what to include,” explains Agins in her director’s note, “But it also turns common tropes upside down and asks us to think differently about what we think we know about Robin Hood. The Heart of Robin Hood asks WHY.” Making his HVSF debut is Benjamin Bonenfant as Robin Hood. He embodied the character to perfection and provides Robyn Kerr with a love interest for her Marion and an enemy turned friend for her Sir Martin. Wesley Mann is a delight as Marion’s manservant, Pierre. His cheeky sarcasm and comedic despair are as entertaining as his compassion and loyalty to Marion are endearing. The moment he started his opening monologue, the audience was enraptured."
Cape Fear Regional Theatre
WINNER 5 BroadwayWorld Raleigh Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical
"If you’re going to stage “Dreamgirls,” it’s absolutely necessary that you nail “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
No worries. As Effie White, Nattalyee Randall brings the roof down with the show-stopping number, bringing the first act of the musical to a rousing conclusion.
Many of the best moments in the first half belonged to Kwame Michael Remy as singer Jimmy Early, a kind of cross between James Brown and Little Richard. Remy brought energy and charisma to the role of a blazing talent who is forced to compromise against his own best instincts.
First act highlights included a funky “Steppin’ to the Bad Side.”
Then Randall ripped into “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and the show went up to a higher level.
The dramatic song is ready-made to shake the rafters and requires a powerful singer to bring it off. On opening night, Randall didn’t disappoint, earning a rare, mid-show standing ovation.
The musical offers up non-stop enthusiasm with energy to spare."
"“Dreamgirls” is a roller coaster of emotion that the talented cast handles beautifully.
[Nattalyee] Randall brought the audience to a standing ovation with her powerful performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” Her raw emotion made me feel every bit of sadness, disappointment and anger the character was feeling. Randall’s energy was evident and definitely a highlight of the show. But it was her performance of “I Am Changing” later in the show that really displayed her talent and range. As frenzied and raw as the former song was, the latter was balanced and calm, yet gripping.
Another musical treat is...“Steppin’ to the Bad Side.” The performance, early in the show, lets us know that we are in for a talented range of vocals and fun dance moves.
Director Suzanne Agins brings the music, emotion, costumes and dance together with motion. The constant motion of the actors and props brings the stage alive with energy and excitement. With a live band onstage throughout the show, it feels like we are getting a peek backstage for the musical numbers. Although much of the story is about performing onstage, it still felt very intimate and personal."
"‘Dreamgirls’ has a winner at Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
Miss this season-opening show, and you miss evidence of why this old, converted movie house has been a treasure in this community.
Miss this performance, and you miss the thrusting voice of Nattalyee Randall, aka Florence Ballard, that reaches from center stage to the back row of the 309-seat theater, down the stairwell and out the doors to Morganton Road.
Miss this performance, and you miss the engaging talent of Kwame Michael Remy, aka a cross between James Brown, Little Richard and Prince, that will dazzle and delight, and you’ll surely not want to miss his sequin outfits, replete with red silk underwear that he’ll devilishly exhibit in the second act.
WINNER 5 SALT Awards including Best Musical, Best Director, Best Ensemble (11 nominations) - Syracuse New Times
Named “Best of Ithaca 2016” - Ithaca.com
“In the Heights at the Hangar, under the ebullient direction of Suzanne Agins, mixes hot and cool rhythms, generous splashes of color and a huge beating heart to seduce you from its opening number.
The elders own the strongest songs: Danny Bolero hauntingly sings of his feeling of uselessness in the face of his obdurate daughter, recalling days in the sugar cane fields (Bolero’s performance is rich, varied and nicely layered.) [Amy Jo] Phillips brings down the house with the majestic “Pacienca y Fe (Patience and Faith)” a striking catalog of a life from leaving Cuba with her mother in the ‘40s till this day, vibrant with pride and yearning. Phillips digs deep into this kind woman’s fierce emotions.
Once [Natalie] Ortega begins her exchanges with the warm and slightly devilish [Austin] Scott as Benny, she blossoms as an actor, their morning-after duet is very touching. Celina Polanco commands as Camila Rosario, alternating fondness and stern feminist fury.
Usnavi is the glue; Perry Young is dynamic and captivating, carrying the story forward with rue and humor in equal measure.
Julio Agustin’s superb choreography (joyous to sultry) is full of Latin moves, a bit of jazz, and much hip-hop, done in a character-driven manner, with few unison or showbiz moments. Design is topnotch from the romantic setting by Raul Abrego, to the summer urban-tropical lighting by Hangar vet Matthew Richards to the stylish costumes of Kendra Johnson. Music director Diane Louie weaves in the varied rhythms.”
“The Hangar production sparkles and pops under Suzanne Agins' direction, and is stuffed with ingratiating performances. [Perry] Young endows Usnavi with soulfulness. He finds an able foil in [Nick] Martinez, who thoroughly inhabits the wisecracking Sonny. [Amy Jo] Phillips warms the stage with "Paciencia y Fe," which movingly explores Abuela's history and philosophy. [Danny] Bolero and Celina Polanco do fine work as Nina's earnest parents. [Gerianne] Perez lays out Vanessa's aspirations in "It Won't Be Long Now." Especially noteworthy is the spirited "Carnaval Del Barrio," fueled by Julio Agustin's firecracker choreography and led by Donnie Hammond as Vanessa's boss Daniela.”
“Director Suzanne Agins and choreographer Julio Agustin make the most of the 10 full ensemble numbers, where the diversity of this musical really shines. Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, Cuban — all these ethnicities are celebrated and connected, in dance and dialogue, memory and pride.
Raul Abrego’s set, lit by Matthew Richards, gives us a bodega, car dispatch office, apartment stoop and fire escapes, with the G.W. Bridge in the background. Kendra Johnson’s costumes perfectly reflect the characters’ varied tastes and styles — from practical to sultry and everything in between.
But the ultimate diversity manifests in the casting, a wide range of physical types, everyone average, yet everyone special. The effect is fascinating… There are plenty of quiet moments, in songs like “Sunrise” and “Atención,” but it’s the chaos of the street, with everyone in motion, that most captures the barrio — and the dance numbers where everyone’s freestyling are the best. The energy is constant, uplifting, festive; the pulsing beats buoyant — it’s hard to sit still… Guaranteed: When you leave “In the Heights,” you’ll find yourself homesick for an extended family and a neighborhood you never knew.”
“Almost half the numbers put the whole company on the floor, well guided by choreographer Julio Agustin and director Suzanne Agins. Eschewing the uniformity of standard Broadway shows, both the male and female choruses in Heights embrace a variety of physical types, often juxtaposing dancers following different steps…The Hangar’s exuberant In the Heights is a landmark of a busy summer. Brag to your friends that you have seen it when they tell you they have tickets to Hamilton.”
Labyrinth Theater Company
“Ms. Agins’s production cloaks the action in a studied movie-ish veneer that evokes both film noir and war pictures from the 1940s and ’50.”
“[Cusi] Cram's insightful text is given a firm platform by director Suzanne Agins’ tight, well-designed production. Sound designer Daniel Kluger makes good use of the real audio of the Tanimoto episode as it plays through the bar's crackly old radio. David Meyer gives his set an air of dusty rec room authenticity that is further aided by Nick Francone's naturalistic lighting. (Nothing is more depressingly sobering than a bar with all the lights on.)
As Lewis, [Kohl] Sudduth captures a certain gruff emotional detachment that often seems typical of members of what is now commonly referred to as "the greatest generation." More impressive is his ability to seamlessly transform into a younger, more cocksure version of his character during the flashback scene that takes place before his fateful flight over Hiroshima.
As the ditsy and desperate May, [Ana] Reeder serves as the voice of American conventional wisdom when she tells Lewis that he saved millions of lives by dropping the bomb on Japan and that, "Everyone thinks that…probably even the Japanese.”
It is clear that not only is Lewis unconvinced by this notion, but so is the author, who has created a drama ripe for post-curtain debate.”
“Suzanne Agins’s neat and tidy direction validates her continuing connection to Cram (Lucy and the Conquest at Williamstown Theatre Festival where she was Artistic Associate for New Plays from 2005-2007). Agins has also brought out some engaging performances from LAByrinth Theater Company members [Kohl] Sudduth and [Aaron] Weiner, as well as from [Ana] Reeder as a bar girl non-pareil and from [Kelly] AuCoin. AuCoin and Weiner's double roles were impressively expressive.”
“Under the lively direction of Suzanne Agins, the second half of the play moves briskly and showcases the talents of a versatile ensemble.”
“LAByrinth Theatre does solid justice to Cram’s play. David Meyer’s set design is a wonderfully detailed work of art - instantly transporting us to a less than savory locale in 1955 LA. Complete with pressed tin ceilings, distressed linoleum floor, period furniture and a well stocked bar. Lighting by Nick Francone supports the action, time and place perfectly and Emily Pepper’s period costumes go a long way in assisting the cast with their multiple characterizations.
Suzanne Agins directs with a steady hand, expert timing and an ideal fluidity. Agins has also assembled a top-notch cast. Kohl Sudduth does an exemplary job in the role of the conflicted Rob. He is a walking contradiction of handsome, smooth talking charmer, and broken human being, troubled by self-doubt and regret that he only wishes to drown in drink.
Ana Reeder is appealing in the dual roles of May and Evelyn. She particularly excels as May, a one time Hollywood wanna-be, utterly devoid of talent or ability but filled to the brim with dreams of a better existence. Aaron Roman Weiner shows off a superb range in the roles of the pompous Tibbets who renamed Rob’s plane after his own mother “Enola Gay” and the persistent Waxman whose mission is to wrangle the straying Rob.”
“Under Suzanne Agins’ claustrophobic direction, the actors — all, except Sudduth, in dual roles — deliver assured performances. And scenic designer David Meyer has created a seedy bar setting so detailed, it would probably do solid business if left open after the show.”
Dorset Theatre Festival
“DTF’s FALLEN ANGELS A ROMP. Audiences will be delighted by this fun romp through the ups and downs of love, lust, and alcohol consumption...The director and actors are to be given credit for providing substance, modern relevance and tremendous energy to the simple story... Audiences will find themselves laughing riotously at the women's antics and commentary.”
“ANGELS FAR FROM FALLEN. Dorset Theatre Festival continued its renaissance 35th anniversary season under new artistic director Dina Janis by turning to a classic farce, Noel Coward's longtime audience favorite, "Fallen Angels." Directed by Suzanne Agins, the action flows from morning to evening to the next morning, to the heights of titillation and back, all with rollicking humor. Veteran performers [Amy Lynn] Stewart and [Jeanine] Serralles, Ying to each other's Yang, took the near-capacity audience through an evening of innuendo, arousal, and downright guffaws. They proved that hiding a bit from view still builds allure. Both pushed us to the brink of expectation. They used their physical gifts and period dress to flaunt their sensual selves in a tapestry held together by Coward's clever repartee...Ryan Palmer's set design was beautifully done. Jacqueline Firkins' costumes of Julia and Jane were an array of rainbow hues and high fashion for the times, a visual cornucopia not to be missed.”
“Directed by Suzanne Agins, Coward’s 1925 comedy of manners is worthy of applause thanks to significant efforts by the cast and director... By the time Act 1 comes to a close, you’ve fallen in love with the charming, yet morally questionable duo, as they anxiously await the arrival of their ex-lover. Mayhem ensues, culminating in a tour de force as Stewart and Serralles stumble and slur their way through an increasingly drunken Act 2...Both the direction and set design deserve special mention. The set is understated, with a pale blue design, allowing you to focus on the actors and their decadent costumes. The direction is also tight and professional. While Coward’s writing is at times dated, the director and company clearly worked diligently to create such a laugh-filled show, which is where the heart of the show lives - in the interpretation and delivery of each line, and the design and production of the set.”
“It takes this company of young, invigorated American actors only 92 minutes to play out the 24 hours of this piece...Together alone, for the most part, in Act Two, these two actresses give us every possible stage of friendship from uneasiness to antagonism to love and trust and even to ugly disdain. As their collaborative reunion with their former lover turns into a drunken brawl they become funnier and sillier and even more loveable than they were before. And watching them play through the third act’s twists and turns is hilarious...Suzanne Agins has pulled this production together without flaws. She has delivered delicious Coward on a summer stock platter with young hopefuls playing bigger and better than they knew they could. It looked like the twenties, sounded like the twenties and for 90 minutes it felt like the twenties. You can’t ask for more than that while "wallowing in a quagmire" (see the show and get the reference).”
Berlind Theater/Princeton University
“It is the sign of a truly great production when the performances, design and direction come together to succinctly communicate a story to the audience. "My Fair Lady"...does just that.”
“It’s a pleasure to hear them sing... [Laura] Hankin portrays a somewhat delicate Eliza, with a very lovely and pure soprano voice. She is especially delightful in “I Could Have Danced All Night.” Fennell sing-talks his way amusingly through some of the funnier pieces, notably “I’m an Ordinary Man” in Act 1 (the humor in this show is one of its fortes). Among the very large cast, those with prominent and strong contributions include Gabriel Crouse as the rough-hewn, cocky Alfred Dolittle; Andrew Linz as Colonel Pickering, Higgins’ alter ego and stabilizer; Liana Kissinger-Virizlay as Higgins’ disapproving mother; and Dan Corica as Freddy, who does a plaintive turn outside Higgins’ door, “On the Street Where You Live.” Set design and lighting by Mimi Lien and Nick Francone, respectively, are elegant, economical, and period perfect. From the plush purple curtain to the Edwardian-style footlights, the mood is restrained elegance. Even the street-urchins and peddlers in the opening scene at Covent Garden seem to have been drawn from an illustrated Edwardian novel. This carries over to Emily Pepper’s costume designs, which are in a range of very tasteful, muted earth tones, or black and white. And what a luxury it is to have the expanse of the Berlind performance space for this lavish production. To fill it, Ryan Migge’s inventive choreography is another standout.”
Cherry Lane Theater
"They're cruel, they're reckless, and they're dangerous as hell. They're teenage girls, and Deirdre O'Connor has their number in Jailbait, a terrific little play. Funny, shocking and sad. Dynamite production.”
“Packed full of awkward pauses and things left unsaid, Deirdre O’Connor’s carefully observed and occasionally wobbly coming-of-age drama, Jailbait, is a more mature take on the kind of losing-your-virginity narrative that has been trivialized by countless hours of television drama. Ms. Payne, the most persuasive performer in the cast of the director, Suzanne Agins, does some marvelous acting here.”
"Deirdre O’Connor’s drama— well written, well acted, and well directed (by Suzanne Agins) — makes a strong inaugural production for Cherry Lane’s new venture, the Cherry Pit."
"Under director Suzanne Agins's unfussy hand, the talented cast expertly transforms would-be stereotypes into painfully real and complex people."
“O’Connor provides a humorous take on the excitement and pitfalls of dating at any age. The four cast members are sensitive to the nuances required for their respective roles. Suzanne Agins’ minimalist direction focuses attention on plausible character development.”
“The possibility of statutory rape may not seem like the most appropriate subject to laugh about, but Deirdre O'Connor's Jailbait -- the first production in the Cherry Lane Theatre's new Cherry Pit space on Bank Street -- is full of humor. However, this bold and dynamic new play is also filled to the brim with genuine emotion and a complex treatment of a controversial subject. O'Connor's writing is character-driven, and director Suzanne Agins strikes a nice balance between playing up the comic moments and giving weight to the more thoughtful and dramatic scenes.”
“Jailbait could be the most searing portrait of teenage female longing since Joyce Carol Oates’ 1964 short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (later adapted into the 1985 film Smooth Talk, with a very young Laura Dern). Flavorful dialogue aptly captures adolescence peering into maturity, and the exchanges amongst all four actors are natural-sounding and often quite funny, but never in a preciously designed manner. And director Suzanne Agins has used the difficult Cherry Pit space (once the former Bank Street Theater) to great advantage.”
—Jason Clark, TheaterOnline.com
“Boy, do they hit a home run. Director Suzanne Agins does a fantastic job of telling the story simply. Agins avoids being too clever. Instead she guides her actors to genuine connections with each other and revelatory discoveries within themselves. What could easily become melodramatic is light and comic, allowing the poignant moments to hit home. Deirdre O'Connor has given us a show that is at once funny, entertaining, intellectual, endearing, and at times heartbreaking. With a script that is spot-on, a director who has crafted a simple piece of human truth, and a cast with impeccable commitment, Jailbait proves to be one of the most enjoyable things I've seen in a long time. Go see it!”
“Jailbait starts with a simple moral issue--two fifteen-year-old girls getting involved with two thirtysomething "boys"--but thanks to Deirdre O'Connor's exceptional writing, the cast's dead-on characters, and Suzanne Agins' lightly emphatic staging, it quickly becomes something far more emotionally complex. It's as compelling as it is comedic: it's bait, in other words, that you won't mind being hooked on.”
“Intelligently handled by the young author, this coming-of-age story presents us with a quartet of characters to searingly show us what happens when teens get in over their head, and passion spins out of control… The director at hand is Suzanne Agins, and a good hand she has.”
Williamstown Theatre Festival
“The Williamstown Theatre Festival has invested much in the way of talent and resources to present Wing It, which is one of the best productions in the history of its Free Theatre…The reasons to rush to Wing It are for Cox’s clever lyrics and cocky repartee, Kris Kukul’s refreshingly tuneful music and Suzanne Agins’ inventive direction and crisp pacing. There aren’t many freebies in theater, and when there are, one often gets what he pays for. Here is that odd duck that has been created with such love, craft and enthusiasm that it is priceless.”
—Ralph Hammann, North Adams Transcript
“There is lively, catchy music, zippy dancing, a couple of puppets, a snarly villain (two, in fact), a few moral lessons and an awful lot of talent both on stage and from the show’s creators – composer Kris Kukul, librettist/lyricist Gordon Cox, and director Suzanne Agins, who also conceived “Wing It.” It’s about the most disarming 75 minutes you are likely to spend in a theater.”
—Jeffrey Borak, Berkshire Eagle
A High 5 Pick of the Week
Theater Talk’s Top Five Favorites
“Moira Buffini's Silence renders her audience spellbound. Each member of Silence's first-rate cast conveys a necessary dramatic element to evoke emotion and honesty. Boosted by its shining performances and clever writing, Silence conveys a much-needed message of hope...providing a few laughs along the way for good measure.”
—Nicholas Luckenbaugh, Show Business Weekly
“Director Suzanne Agins gets comedic timing from the cast in even the most unexpected places. Agins also gets a well-executed and energetic performance out of her players.”
Williamstown Theatre Festival
“Lucy and the Conquest is a wild ride.”
—Jeffrey Borak, Berkshire Eagle
“Suzanne Agins and her design team have therefore given it an aptly and piquantly abstract staging.”
“The WTF production on the Nikos Stage is under the peppy direction of Suzanne Agins, with a cast that’s appealing.”
—Jonathan Levine, The Pittsfield Gazette
“The technical sophistication of this of this production is impressive. Suzanne Agins, director, ably handled the physical staging of the piece.”
“Director Suzanne Agins keeps this wild ride from veering off its tracks.”
—Ron Lee, WBRK, Pittsfield MA
“This is going to be what’s called a rave review. Lucy and the Conquest, written by Cusi Cram, is a triumph for this company. Directed by Suzanne Agins, it offers uniformly stunning performances and an original script that captures the imagination.”
—Carol King, Schenectady Daily Gazette
The Kraine Theater
“It’s a kick…to hear the actors…deliver [Gordon Cox’s] dialogue, under the direction of Suzanne Agins.”
“The simple design of the stage and the costumes throws the spotlight on the acting, which is superb. The crucial questions which are addressed in this play are defused by the often hilarious comedy.”
—Anastasia Donde, Show Business Weekly
“Very cool, very entertaining—a satisfying work by a talented playwright…Director Suzanne Agins keeps it moving at the requisite fast clip…The Secret Narrative of the Phone Book is a lot of fun. It’s so well-crafted and so clever.”
“Suzanne Agins’ [production is] adrenaline-filled and rapid fire.”
—American Theater Web
“Directed by Suzanne Agins, the production moves at a fast clip and provides acute commentary on global conspiracies as well as human relationships.”
UC San Diego
“Excellently, impressively, acted and directed…The beautifully haunting play is deliciously unpredictable, and thanks to an outstanding cast, under the expert direction of Suzanne Agins, it builds to multiple climaxes that both stop and touch the heart.”
—Pat Launer, KPBS San Diego
“Director Suzanne Agins…seems to have such a terrific feel for how to bring Weitzman’s scripts to the stage.”
—Rob Hopper, San Diego Playbill
“Weitzman’s play as staged by the imaginative Suzanne Agins is a rip-roaring comedy, again with deep stuff running just under the surface.”
—Charlene Baldridge, La Jolla Village News
UC San Diego
“Director Suzanne Agins, the technical staff and performers create a sense of heightened drama that suits the near-tragic, faintly comic tale of incest, vengeance, murder and suicide…Director Agins is in command all the way. Everything ties into the development of the story, from Sarah’s off-key singing and Lavinia’s intensity in the first scene, to the crude sexual wrestling near the finale. She isn’t afraid to be obvious, as in Orin’s incestuous behavior toward Christine, or to underplay strong gestures, such as Ezra’s dismissal of his daughter Lavinia in favor of his wife, Christine.”
“Sterling acting from top to bottom and artful direction by Suzanne Agins.”
“Suzanne Agins intelligently stages Mourning Becomes Electra.”
—Charlene Baldridge, La Jolla Village News
UC San Diego
San Diego Playbill Award for Outstanding Direction
San Diego Playbill Top 10 of 2002
“Ken Weitzman’s new play artfully blended together dark and original comedy, brilliantly conceived characters, and a captivating plot with a cast and director (Suzanne Agins) to match, creating one of the most surprising and enjoyable shows of an amazing year in San Diego theatre.”
“Quirky, whimsical and wonderfully well written, excellently acted and designed, and outstandingly, inventively directed, by Suzanne Agins.”
“A fantastic production packed with a beautiful ‘arrangement’ of hilariously inventive comedy and well developed, touching drama.”
“Suzanne Agins directed the multilocale piece with a keen visual sense, pulling fine performances from Makela Spielman as the obese, intuitive Donna, and Christine Albright as her compulsively skinny sister, Ros.”
—Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union Tribune
UC San Diego
KPBS San Diego Patté Award for Outstanding Direction
San Diego Playbill Award for Outstanding Direction
“Well-produced, well-acted, well-directed…a spiffy, funny, poetic and profound production directed by Suzanne Agins….Extremely clever visuals…The cast is uniformly excellent and imaginatively directed by Agins.”
—Charlene Baldridge, La Jolla Village News
“Director Suzanne Agins deftly trimmed the story quite a bit for the stage. She also added much to the humor with some modern day references, including the chorus breaking into a chorus of Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream).”
—Rob Hopper, San Diego Playbill