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THEATRE/Heaven Can Wait

Kirsten Obadal
By Kirsten Obadal
Posted on Mar 01,2012
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,
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Photo by Doug Olmsted<br /> <br />John Shackelford (Max Levene), Brandon DeGroat (Joe Pendleton), and Cal Whitehurst (Mr. Jordan)<br />
Photo by Doug Olmsted
John Shackelford (Max Levene), Brandon DeGroat (Joe Pendleton), and Cal
Whitehurst (Mr. Jordan)

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - What would you do with your life if you died, and God gave you a second chance? The Little Theatre of Alexandria is presenting Heaven Can Wait, written by Harry Segall, a light-hearted look at death and the choices we make.
 

Photo by Doug Olmsted<br /> <br />John Shackelford (Max Levene)and Brandon DeGroat (Joe Pendleton)
Photo by Doug OlmstedJohn Shackelford (Max
Levene)and Brandon DeGroat (Joe Pendleton)

The production was directed by Roland Branford Gomez, and produced by Leighann Behrens and Mary Ayala Bush.  
 
The protagonist is a good-hearted soul who is heaven bound, but gets taken up by a Messenger before his time.  
 
So, they have to send him back.  
 
The problem is, his body has been cremated, so they have to find him another one.  Then the comedy starts!  
 
Joe Pendleton, our hero, is an athlete—a boxer—who dies in a plane crash.  He is capably and believably played by Brandon de Groat.  De Groat is an LTA veteran, since 2003.  He has enough energy to light up a small town, and with it he keeps the pace moving and the viewer entranced.  
 
Other LTA veterans gracing the stage in this production include Steve Lada as Tony Abbott, the cunning and murderous private secretary to another character played by DeGroat, Mr. Farnsworth.  
 
Pendleton has returned to earth to inhabit Farnsworth’s body when Abbott tries to murder him.
 

Photo by Doug Olmsted<br /> <br />Colin Davies (Doctor), Brandon DeGroat (Joe Pendleton), Geoffrey Baskir (Passenger), Michael Gerwin (Williams), Geoffrey Brand (Lefty), and John Shackelford (Max Levene)
Photo by Doug Olmsted
Colin Davies (Doctor), Brandon DeGroat (Joe
Pendleton), Geoffrey Baskir (Passenger), Michael
Gerwin (Williams), Geoffrey Brand (Lefty), and
John Shackelford (Max Levene)

A particularly strong, comedic, and colorful actor is John Shackleford, who plays Max Levene.  Levene is Joe Pendleton’s boxing manager.  
 
Shackleford is every inch true to his character’s type, right down to his Jersey accent and sideways wool cap.  Shackleford is also an LTA veteran.
 
Theatergoers Connie and Patrick Fitzgerald commented that they really enjoyed the play: “The casting was very good,” they said, “and the characters are very believable.”
 
A special nod goes to the experienced costume design team of Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley, who dressed the actors circa 1930.  
 
Especially glamorous onstage was the rich spoiled cheating Mrs. Farnsworth, played by Hanna Wolf.  Wolf commented, “I watched a lot of Joan Crawford to get the character right.”
 
Sets at LTA are seldom a disappointment, and designer John Downing scores another hit with his rotating set and depiction of the waiting room of the pearly gates.
 
In a last-minute cast replacement, Mary Ayala Bush plays the Messenger 7013.  
 

Brandon DeGroat
Brandon DeGroat

The play runs until March 17. 

Tickets may be purchased online at www.thelittletheatre.com

Chanuka Jane Lilburne, Brandon DeGroat, Cal Whitehurst
Chanuka Jane Lilburne, Brandon DeGroat, Cal
Whitehurst

Kirsten Obadal, Jordan Wright, Mark Adams, Jeanne Theismann
Kirsten Obadal, Jordan Wright, Mark Adams, Jeanne
Theismann


Geoffrey Brand, Roland Gomez
Geoffrey Brand, Roland Gomez






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