D.K. Kristi Reviews The Perfect Game: Jim Naismith Invents Basketball
The Center for the Arts Bonita Springs First Community Theater Production

The Perfect Game opens Community Theater season in Bonita Springs, Florida

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The Perfect Game – Jim Naismith Invents Basketball kept its promise to entertain the audience with music, dancing, humor, a tight dialogue and actual history for the opening performance at the Center for the Arts Bonita Springs Community Theater, Estero Auditorium, February 21-23. Author, lyricist and playwright, John Grissmer wrote the script that honors Jim Naismith, the quiet and scholarly Canadian-American who invented basketball in December 1891 and entertains audiences with a historical plot.

DE Joseph played a scholarly and believable Jim Naismith who mysteriously traveled to the current century from the past.  The musical score and dialogue flowed smoothly as the quick-paced story led the audience to believe a new, indoor game was as inevitable as the budding romance between Jim Naismith and Maude, played by the lovely Jodie Fox, that culminated in their charming duet, “Something Happened Here.”    DE Joseph was on stage ninety percent of the evening and gave a flawless performance.

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Ex-coach Nancy, played by Beverly Canell, the romantic object of Coach Frank, played by Keith Gahagan, also provided flawless dialogue and a lovely rendition of the melody, “What’s The Word?” The infamous Coach Alvin Roach, played by Dan Klein provided comic relief, including a dead chicken tossed from the imaginary bleachers during the final and critical “Home Game.”  The audience enjoyed the antics of the six girls on the Pom Pom squad whose dance timing, singing and acting supported Ex-Coach Nancy as she evolved from Ex-Coach to Assistant Coach for the final game play.

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Director, Craig Price stepped into the play for a few moments as Dr. Luther Gulick during the 1891 challenge to create a new game.  Price as Director engaged his cast in sixteen musical numbers, often with dancing, that never missed a beat and enhanced the dialogue, contributing to the surprises provided in each scene.  There was no time to sit back and wonder what was next as the quick-paced dialogue kept the audience glued to the stage until the rousing musical number, “To the Rim” signaled a pause.

The final act culminated in a virtual “Home Game” that brought imaginary players to the stage with all the excitement of the final play in a hard fought basketball game.  “Steal the Ball” closed the game and the performance with the strong voices of the full cast and a bit of philosophy about winning in life.

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The Perfect Game – Jim Naismith invents Basketball has the music, dialogue and timeless plot to carry it to the top of the list of modern day musicals.  The “virtual basketball” and imaginary scenes were convincing and clever, fully taking in the audience.  A healthy sprinkling of humor provided comic relief to the potentially dull history in the making that was, instead, alive with excitement and sparkle.

 

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