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Firehouse Theatre Project The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

By • Feb 12th, 2014 • Category: Reviews
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Firehouse Theatre Project: (Info) (Web)
Firehouse Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through March 8th
2:10 with intermission
$25/$29 Seniors/$16 Student, RAPT, Military
Reviewed February 8th, 2014

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is both simple and complex. Even the title of Firehouse Theatre Project’s current show is simple and complex. It simply tells you that the show is about professional wrestling (ALA the elaborate entrances of classics like Hulk Hogan); yet it is quite a wordy and complex title for a play.

For the first act and a half it is a simple comedy; but it becomes more complex and turns into a drama for its final minutes.

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist by Kristoffer Diaz tells the story of Macedonio “The Mace” Guerra (Axle Burtness) a Hispanic Pro-wrestler from New York City. He is one of those wrestlers who wait on stage and never get to beat the champions like Chad Deity (Josh Marin), who get to make the “elaborate entrances.” After meeting a charismatic Indian-American kid from Brooklyn,Vigneshwar “VP” Paduar (Mauricio Marces) he finally decides to take his fame and fortune into his own hands and create and manage a new arch nemesis for All American Chad Deity — The “Terrorist.” The duo become a mish-mash of every racial stereotype imaginable.

Director Kerry McGee’s show is perfectly cast, flawlessly executed and filled with non-stop action, laughter and entertainment. Burtness is energetic and totally likeable as the lynch-pin of the play and the one who narrates long sections. Marin and Marces are thoroughly believable, charismatic and commanding as the over-the-top rivals. Nicklas Aliff is loud, gruff and perfectly disagreeable as the head of the second-rate wrestling federation — the “T.H.E.” and James Long makes the most of multiple comic moments as various supporting wrestlers The Terrorist faces along the way. Together, all they work off of each other with expert timing and perfect comedic flair.

Geno Brantley’s lights and Joey Luck’s sound thoroughly enhance the production — especially during the “elaborate entrances” and high energy original rap numbers. Edwin Slipek’s set is authentic albeit smaller than a real professional wrestling stage, to fit the Firehouse’s stage (it totally took me back to the 1980’s when I took my first foster son to see WWF wrestling at the Glens Falls Arena in Upstate NY) right down to the springy trampoline like ring that makes the body slams and other moves seem so much bigger. Likewise, Starrene Foster’s costumes were spot-on.

Back to the simple yet complex theme, while Diaz’ script won many awards, I felt it became a bit heavy-handed in the final moments when it tries to bring its message across, causing an otherwise fast-moving play to slow down drastically. Also, while I understood those messages about the arbitrariness of nationalism, racism and our choices of what makes “good guys versus bad guys” I had a hard time seeing how this fits into the Acts of Faith Festival.

On another positive note my teenage son absolutely loved the play with its slick and modern themes, audience participation and multi-media visual effects. However, while lighthearted and fun, the play contains a great deal of strong language, so parents will need to choose carefully whether it would be appropriate for their teens.

The fast paced, action filled “hip” and humorous play is the perfect evening of entertainment for every teenage boy who loves professional wrestling, every man who is still a teenage boy at heart and every woman who loves them. I can see us “wrestling” in the future over which performers and members of the production staff might be receiving additional recognition.

Photo Gallery

Katherine Wright (Ring Girl) and Josh Marin (Chad Deity) Mauricio Marces (Vigneshwar 'VP' Paduar) and Axle Burtness (Macedonio 'The Mace' Guerro)
Katherine Wright (Ring Girl) and Josh Marin (Chad Deity)
Mauricio Marces (Vigneshwar ‘VP’ Paduar) and Axle Burtness (Macedonio ‘The Mace’ Guerro)
Mauricio Marces (Vigneshwar 'VP' Paduar) and Axle Burtness (Macedonio 'The Mace' Guerro)
Mauricio Marces (Vigneshwar ‘VP’ Paduar) and Axle Burtness (Macedonio ‘The Mace’ Guerro)

Photos by Andrew Bonniwell

The Cast

  • Macedonio “The Mace” Guerra: Axle Burtness
  • Everett K. “EKO” Olson: Nicklas Aliff
  • Chad Deity: Josh Marin
  • Vigneshwar “VP” Paduar: Mauricio Marces
  • The Bad Guy, Billy Heartland, Old Glory: James Long
  • Ring Girls: Arunima Abraham, Sasha Wakefield, Katherine Wright
  • Ring Announcer: Chad Painter

The Crew

  • Director: Kerry McGee
  • Assistant Director: Phil Vollmer
  • Stage Manager/ Light Board Operator: Nata Moriconi
  • Production Manager: Annie Colpitts
  • Set Designer: Edwin Slipek
  • Assistant Set Designer/ Master Carpenter: Joshua Bennett
  • Lighting Design: Geno Brantley
  • Costume Design: Starrene Foster
  • Technical Director, Sound Design and original music: Joey Luck
  • Projections Design: Benjamin Burke
  • Promotional Videography: James Long
  • Props Master: Katherine Wright
  • Directing Intern: Chelsea Burke
  • Sound Board Operator: Tessa Hoerst
  • Run Crew: Patrick Holmes, Katherine Wright
  • Set Crew: Brian Hahl, Jimmie Lee Jarvis, Jackie Lowe, Weldon Smith, McKenzie Werner, Colleen Wooley

Disclaimer: Firehouse Theatre Project provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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