The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas April 2010 Theatre Review
Alan Bresloff; aroundthetownchicago.com

Circle Theatre, a tiny storefront theater in Forest Park has taken on the gigantic chore of putting a large scale Broadway musical on their very small stage and guess what?  They have pulled it off!  While I am not a lover of the show itself, the true story of a house of ill repute in Texas, this production has some wonderful moments.  The book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson and music and lyrics by Carol Hall Based are based on an article that was published in Playboy magazine back in the 1970's and the corruption that took place in the actual town of LaGrange Texas for many years.

As most of you know, I believe that the ensemble is the core of making a show truly work, and this ensemble of young and energetic actors/singers/dancers really gets the job done.  Dan Beno, Sara Michelle Bickwear, Jennifer Bludgen, Christopher Boyd, Michael Buonincontro, Maxwell Burnham, Toni-Lynice Fountain, Sydney Genco, Elizabeth Lanza, Melody Latham, Justin LeClare, Jeremy Myers, Andriana Pachella, Gregory Payne, Shawn Quinlan, Blake M. Russell, Vanessa Schroeder, Monica Szaflik, Sheana Tobey, Carrie Weis and Gregory Wenrich all should take a bow for the marvelous work put forth in making this show really come alive.


UWM Stages 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown'
Harry Cherkinian; Shepherd's Express

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is best known as the 1988 film by director Pedro Almódovar which scored big with movie audiences in its tragi-comic depiction of the battle between the sexes and all its emotional fallout, funny and otherwise.
Last week, UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts staged the 2010 musical adaptation by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek, featuring its theater majors in a stripped down, thrust stage-like production. And for those who had a chance to see it, a number of those student performances held steady and impressed, despite the book’s wandering storyline and undeveloped characters.


Under the direction of Raeleen McMillion with choreography by Krislyn World, the cast of 21 filled Kenilworth Studio Theatre 508 with exuberance and energy and a glimpse at some strong talent in the making. A number of the senior students excelled in their lead and supporting roles. As the jilted wife, Vanessa Schroeder-Weber owned the show, her vocal range and stage prowess demanding the audience’s attention.


"Vibrant 'Avenue Q' at Greendale Community Theatre"
Russ Bickerstaff; Shepherd's Express

Lopez and Marx's Avenue Q is a fun, adult triute to hildren's programming, especially for audience members in their 20s and 30s who grew up with the programs being satirized in this show.  The puppet-based musical continues to be successful nearly a decade after its premiere.  Greendale Community Theatre stages a vibrant production featuring some sophisticated performances by foam puppets and the ex-children who animate them.

The most impressive puppet work comes from Vanessa Schroeder and Zak Keil, who play a variety of roles.  Schroeder is a great deal of fun to watch.  Not only is she hilarious as Lucy the Slut, but she also plays, among other things, the right hand of Nicky-a performance that requires tremendous coordination.


"Seussical": a big show by a tiny company
Mary OHara Stacy; thirdcoastdigest.com

Soulstice Theatre opened its 10th season and inaugurated its new space with a candy-colored splash: Seussical the Musical, Thursday evening, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, creators of Ragtime, My Favorite Year and Once on This Island, wrote the show, based on familiar characters from the beloved children's books by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel).

The Soulstice version features the ingenuous puppetry of Angry You Men. Ltd., and eye-popping costumes.  The feel of it is Dr. Seuss goes to Sesame Street, with echoes of The Lion King and The Wizard of Oz.  The big cast, including 25 students from the Soulstice summer theater camp (STArs), filled every inch of the Keith Tamsett Theatre. (The space honors the memory of Keith Thomas Tamsett, a founding member of Soulstice, who passed away in 2008.)

Vanessa Schroeder, a standout as Mayzie La Bird, soulfully carried some of the bigger production numbers, including Amayzing Mayzie and How Lucky You Are, in true Mermanesque fashion.  A chorus of glamorous Bird Girls backed her.


The voices are perfection in 'Piano'
Andrew Tallackson;The News-Dispatch

The true test of whether "I Love a Piano: The Music of Irving Berlin" succeeds has little to do with the play itself...the easiest way to gauge if this revue is worth the fuss is if the cast has the pipes to sing many of the greatest works of the 20th century.  How thrilling it is that Canterbury Summer Theatre's ensemble is up to the challenge.  "I Love a Piano" proves there is not one weak link in the bunch.  Their voices are perfection.

Singing everything from "Cheek to Cheek" to "White Christmas" are Elisa James, Mandy Nousian, Vanessa Schroeder, Molly Tower, Casey Bozenski, Michael Dhesse, Daniel Ermel and Brandon Zale.

Each gets moment to shine.  Standouts include Schroeder, who sings the heck out of "Alexander's Ragtime Band," holding her final note in ways few "American Idol" finalists can, Tower, who belts out "God Bless America" like a pro, and Dhesse, charming in the "White Christmas" segment.

As a group the combined voices gave me chills.  Their harmonies, the way their voices run counterpoint to each other, are flawless.  When they back up soloists, the blend is seamless.  No one gets overpowered.
Director Ray Scott Crawford gives the proceedings a refined, sleek look, and makes effective use of a screen to project visuals, facts and song titles.

Canterbury does Berlin's music proud.  "I Love a Piano" is pure joy.


Canterbury cast has great fun with still-irresistible 'Nunsense'
Andrew Tallackson; The News-Dispatch

MICHIGAN CITY - Nearly 25 years after its original debut, "Nunsense" remains irresistible, good-natured silliness.  It helps, too, that the ladies of Canterbury Summer Theatre are having a great time with it.  They make the play seem effortless.
The story of "Nunsense" is just present enough to give the action a sense of purpose.  The play really exists as a triumph of improvisation and vocal acrobatics.  The actresses are required to interact with the audience, to go with the flow, while having fun with the playwright Dan Goggin's music.

For Schroeder, her journey to exuding confidence on stage is now complete.  This is the most relaxed we've seen her.  When Rev. Mother accidentally inhales a substance that makes her "high," her inability to keep a straight face is a howl.


'Tale as old as time' comes to Racine
Lee B. Roberts; The Journal Times

Strong, smart and self-assured, the character of Belle in "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" is a princess that Vanessa Schroeder has long admired.

When the Milwaukee native found out that her high school had done a production of the show a year after she graduated, she was disappointed for the missed opportunity to play the role.  Now a senior at Carthage College, Schroeder will have that chance this weekend, when she takes the stage as Belle in the Racine Theatre Guild's production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast."  The musical, which tells an enchanted story of love between two unlikely friends, opens Friday night and runs through December 21.
"I was really excited to find out they were doing this show," said Schroeder, who is majoring in music theater and has performed in a number of shows at Carthage.

Schroeder's voice - which earned her first place in the 2007 National Association of Teachers of Singing Vocal Competition - is one of the highlights of this "Beauty and the Beast," a production for which the Theatre Guild has pulled out all the stops.


Music theatre student wins major competition
Jacque Luettgen; The Current

Vanessa Schroeder, '09, has made her presence known by participating in four musical theatre workshops, Lambda Kappa Professional Music Fraternity, Carthage Choir, National Assosciation of Teachers of Singing (NATS) vocal competition and multiple on-campus recitals including her most recent "Judy Garland Tribute."

Although Schroeder is a music theater major, she expands her music repertoire classically through her participation in on-campus choirs.  Her freshman year, she sang with the Women's Ensemble.  The following semester, she made the Carthage Choir.
Conductor in Residence for the Carthage Choir/Chapel Office, Weston Noble was delighted with the news of Schroeder's first place prize won at the NATS vocal competition earlier this month.

For the first time in Carthage music history, Schroeder brought home a first place award from the NATS vocal music competition.  When asked to describe her experience, she kindly first mentioned a word of thanks to her private voice instructor, [Corinne] Ness, and accompanist, Assistant Proffesor of Music Greg Berg.  She mentioned her three selected vocal pieces, "Life of the Party," "My Ship" and "Tell me Why," which earned her the title of First Place Upper Collegiate Women's Music Theater winner representing the Carthage College Music Department.

When asked to comment on Schroeder's outstanding achievement, Ness had nothing but positive reviews of her voice student.
"Vanessa is very self-motivated; she is eager to try a variety of different songs.  She is a quick learner and can quickly assimilate new ideas into her vocal technique.  Her rich, clear voice is versatile: she can handle pop belt, traditional song tunes like the Judy Garland repertoire, and classical repertoire with ease.  She possesses a vocal gift that she honors by consistently practicing and diligently studying."


Joyous 'Women' Blessed With Fine Cast, Beautiful Score
Andrew Tallackson; The News-Dispatch

"Little Women" is the best Canterbury Summer Theatre musical in quite some time.  It honors Alcott's work by using a most-pleasing score to remain faithful to its spirit and message.  The cast embraces the material with such heartfelt emotion, you are moved by the end.  Set during the Civil War, "Little Women" follows the March clan as it remains close amid tumultuous times, falls in love and, in Jo's case, finds its voice as women.

[Denise] Dumper, as Jo, is joined by Kaitlin Fleharty as Amy, Lauren Paris as Meg and Joy Feller as Beth.  These four actresses create a genuine sense of family.

The most uneven performance, however, belongs to Vanessa Schroeder as Marmee, the matriarch of the March clan.  In Alcott's novel, and the subsequent film versions, she is a towering beacon of strength.  In the Canterbury production, Schroeder is uncomfortably rigid.  She seems unable to relax.  And yet, when she opens her mouth to sing, she has the best female voice of the ensemble.  Her performance of "Days of Plenty," in which Marmee reveals to Jo how Beth's legacy will go on after her death, is the first Canterbury musical number in the 10 years I've been with the News-Dispatch to move me to tears.  When Schroeder develops a confident stage presence, a star will be born.

"Vanessa is a true pleasure to work with and her positive attitude always made rehearsals and performances enjoyable."

- Cole Grabowski, Oak Creek High School Student