We Educate and Entertain
Michael Grossberg, Theatre Critic for The Columbus Dispatch writes, “The five year old Theatre Lab’s performance of Slay Bells is rejuvenating, full of holiday cheer and giddy caroling. Set at a bell-ringing competition, the show isn’t much of a mystery. Yet, the perky cast members-especially Flais’ kooky Kayann, Amanda Gregg’s arrogant Geenie and Michael Trakas’ fey Ronald-have rowdy fun with double entendres and flirtatious deceptions.” (The Columbus Dispatch The Weekender Section Thursday November 14)
It’s No Mystery; Everybody Wants to Be a Star-Article on Audience Participation Comedies. Michael Grossberg, Theatre Critic for The Columbus Dispatch writes, “The success of Cloak and Dagger, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last month, has inspired competitors, especially in the past two years. The most popular (dinner theatre in Columbus, Ohio) is The Theatre Lab. The Theatre Lab stages shows Tuesdays at The Spaghetti Warehouse at 397 West Broad Street. ‘The biggest challenge is the audience,’ Flais said. ‘A lot of people come in not knowing what kind of theatre it is. Our troupe improvs quite a bit off the crowd, and some people go with the flow. But even if we explain how the show works at the beginning, it throws some people. If people don’t participate, it can bring the show down.’ Flais has written about two dozen of the 30 productions staged since her company began in 1997. Unlike Cloak and Dagger, which relies on elaborate plays, The Theatre Lab limits scripts to 20 pages-to leave room for improvisation. One challenge of the genre: finding enough twits within the formula to satisfy repeat visitors. ‘You’ve got to have the jokes, the audience participation and the catchy title to draw people in,’ said Flais.” (The Columbus Dispatch Arts Section Sunday, July 7)
Stayin’ Alive satisfies appetite for dinner theater- by Judith Newmark Post Dispatch Theater Critic St. Louis, Missouri (January) “Under the direction of founder Theresa M. Flais, The Theatre Lab, Main Course Productions conforms the basic rule of interactive comedy-mystery dinner theatre: the audience is as important as the show itself. As a matter of fact, it can make or break the show. To some extent the same is true for performances of any type. But this kind of breezy, hammy comedy depends on the audience that’s willing to get into the act: dancing with the actors, yelling out suggestions and ideas, and ultimately solving the mystery. For a big crowd in the right mood, it can be a lot of fun. The crowd was some-what big when Stayin’ Alive opened last Wednesday, and at least those who were on hand got into the spirit. Especially a few guys who didn’t need much encouragement to get up and dance with the actresses. Flais also wrote the show, a broad spoof of Saturday Night Fever and appeared in it along with Robb Davis, Steve Wozniak, Diane Ordelheide and Caren Evers, who is especially appealing as an aspiring hairdresser who is maybe a little too eager to win the dance competition.”
Hot Spots by Sally Vallongo The Toledo Blade (January) "Spontaneous Combustion (The Theatre Lab group) a comedy-improv group from Columbus, Ohio, made its local debut at the East side eatery, Tony Packos, last week. From their hilarious “Fractured Fairy Tales” to audience involvement and quick character sketches, the high-energy quartet kept the crowd in stitches."
Dead is Alive by Doug Hoehn (Theatre Critic for Columbus Alive September) “Only The Dead Die…Twice is a fast-paced crime comedy set in a sleazy bar in some unidentified big city. The newest production of The Theatre Lab proves that mystery drama at The Spaghetti Warehouse is not a thing of the pasta. The delightful who-dun-nit is another creation of Theresa Flais and her energetic company, and it rounds up all the unusual suspects. First is Sam Brice. Sam puts the “um” back in “gumshoe”. Next is Veronica. A woman whose steamy sexuality makes Mae West look like Mother Theresa. These two characters can salvage any sagging moment with pointed play by play, and whatever Dead lacks, it isn’t spontaneity. The plot is as thick as a bourbon-drinker’s tongue!”