Flat Rock finishes season with rousing 'Oil City Symphony'

By Tim Reid, Senior Writer
Dec. 2, 2004 11:44 a.m.

flatrock3.jpg - 23192 BytesIt's amateur hour on steroids as Flat Rock Playhouse presents the irrepressible "Oil City Symphony," a musical spoof in which four music "geeks" are all grown up now and have returned to their old high school to perform a grand recital in honor of beloved teacher and mentor, Miss Reeves.

Billed as the Oil City Symphony, the four proclaim themselves "professional musicians" while preening and posturing like seventh-graders in their first school talent show.

Michael Rice is hilarious as Mark, a church minister of music in "real life," who is so pleased with his performance on piano and accordion that he smiles like a beaming woodchuck.

Darcie Deaville is marvelous as uptight Mary, whose stern visage is in sharp contrast to her unrestrained violin playing. But the biggest crowd pleasers are Debbie, the dentist's wife turned drummer, and Mike, the former flower child who holds forth on synthesizer.

Klea Blackhurst, a superb singer who has thrilled Flat Rock audiences in a number of shows including her Ethel Merman tribute, plays a mean set of drums with all the oom- pah-pah of a high school band on homecoming night.

Mike Craver, one of the original creators of "Oil City," is delightful as Mike, whose wistful, oh-so-meek voice and mannerisms belie a past of youthful rebellion, including even a stint with an acid rock band.

Songs range from the sublime to the ridiculous - from a soulful "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" to the raucous "Beaver Ball at the Bug Club."

"Oil City" is short on plot but long on laughs, and the audience even gets into the act with a mass performance of the "Hokey Pokey."

Director Amy Jones and the cast keep up the madcap pacing that is essential for this high-energy show, and the set has the nostalgic look and feel of an old high school gym with an improvised stage.

"Oil City" requires actors who are also accomplished musicians and singers. Flat Rock delivers the goods with this engaging production that celebrates rather than ridicules home-town values and the joy of being part of a community.

Tim Reid reviews thater for the Citizen-Times. He can be contacted at timreid4@charter.net. When: through Dec. 19, Flat Rock Playhouse, U.S. 25 and Little River Road, Flat Rock Performances: Dec. 3-5 at 7:15 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2:15 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Dec. 8-12 and 15-19 at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday-Sunday and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday- Saturday. How much: $28.00, 26.00, discounts for seniors, students, groups Information: 693-0731 On The Net: www.flatrockplayhouse.org
photo: Ewart Ball