Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? - UMD Theatre

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UMD Theatre Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Review
by Lizzy Larson

The play, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, an off-center comedy performed by UMD’s own students was a hilarious spectacle. From the musical numbers and dancing, to the serious words exchanged between the two leads, it was a phenomenon. Comedy played a big role in this production. At times the whole audience was laughing and at others just a select few, but it was still amusing for all. There was some slight foreshadowing to a few jokes (such as the nuns having wheels for feet) that caught nearly everyone off guard. The comedic aspects of this production fit in magnificently every time. Another factor adding to making this play a sight to see, was that each person on stage could act well, sing beautifully, and dance on tempo. Also, the illusion performed by those on stage as the children started in elementary school, all the way through high school, and then as adults, was as harmonious as it was believable.
This play told a story of Catholic school children growing up together in a smaller town and all of the trifles and obstacles they overcame. Over the years, as the lead man, Eddie Ryan (played by Erin Miller) becomes closer to Becky (Nikki Tatge) their relationship has its ups and downs, but the audience is delighted to have a happy ending. Miller and Tatge did a marvelous job portraying mature feelings for each other’s characters, making the relationship very believable. During the hospital scene, the audience was so quiet a pin could be heard dropping. This was because the audience was hanging on every word, hanging onto the edge of their seats, eager to wait and hear what would happen. After that dramatic scene, this comedy almost caused tears, but not of laughter. All of the other characters in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? did a wondrous job of making the characters appear credible. The casting was ideal for each character.
During moments in the play, the writing seemed awkward. It did not flow well with what was currently happening, whether it was poor word choice or something unnecessary that did not need to be stated. When this happened, the audience was caught slightly off guard and sat there confused for a second. But once they found their spot again, the laughter came back easily. One character did slightly flub one word while reciting a line, but recovered smoothly and probably went unnoticed by other members in the audience.
And of course the music! This production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? had a live orchestra providing musical accompaniment. That supplies a fantastic reason to make the trip to go see it! The musical numbers and emotion-elevating tunes were played remarkably well. At times the audience forgot there was a band and assumed professionals prerecorded it.
As a whole, this production was definitely a success, and something UMD students, as well as all Duluth residents, should take time to go see. The cast worked together very well, and chemistry was definitely there. They created a memorable performance that far exceeded the expectations. From laughter to tears and dramatic gasps, this play has it all! This play is great for people of all ages, producing an exciting adventure that will not soon be forgotten.

Review based on the final dress rehearsal of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? 10/10/12
By Sara Hughes

The experience of UMD’s production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was more than I could have imagined. I knew nothing about the play before seeing it and that made it much more enjoyable for me. If I had read the plot beforehand I think I would have had subconscious expectations. It was like seeing a movie without seeing it’s trailer, the experience was that much better. To be honest, I didn’t even know the play was a musical! It was exciting to find out as it happened.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a comical blast from the past experience for lead character, Eddie, played by Erin Miller. Miller’s character, Eddie, was reminded of his spastic elementary, awkward middle and sex crazed high school years. Audience members were given a real life preview of Eddie’s early years through song and dance with the occasional normal scene in between. The UMD Theatre Orchestra accompanied the musical performance. Due to renovations, the orchestra was playing underneath the stage and had to use a live camera feed as a visual cue. It was fascinating to experience a play with a live orchestra. They performed well and given change in circumstances, it was impressive. The singing was mind blowing. There was never an awkward moment, everyone delivered.

The actors’ portrayal of kids was hilarious. Given the acting was “over acting” it was consistent in everyone. Obviously these actors aren’t elementary aged kids, so the image of adults behaving in this manner was hilarious. It was awesome to see each character played out to their extreme. There was never a moment where someone broke character, which was impressive. One almost expects someone to be doing something unrelated to his or her character, but that never happened. The “goody two shoes” character Mary, for example, played by Emily Fletcher, was incredible to watch because the mannerisms connected with the character were spot on.

The costumes in the play were great as well. They fit the time period they were hoping to portray quite effectively. The classic high school gym clothes the boys were wearing (thin white tee with short shorts and converse) were spot on. The girls were wearing something as equally unflattering, but that was the point. Their body language made their outfits look scandalous. The crazed boys perceived an outfit that wasn’t intended to be good looking as the opposite.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was performed well and was really funny too. The audience was laughing almost consistently throughout the play. Importantly, the audience was laughing at appropriate times. The scene where Eddie was giving a confession in sounds rather than words was hysterical. Miller was good at reading the audience in terms of laughing time. He would pause during his confession, the audience would laugh, and he would continue. This cycle continued for just the right amount of time. Father O’Reilly (Jayson Speters) whom Eddie was confessing to didn’t break character the whole time. What fantastic skill that would take…

I recommend Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? to anyone looking for a good laugh and some phenomenal music, singing, dancing and acting. It was an experience unlike anything I’ve had.


Everyone knows someone who suffers from the unfortunate ailment of silent laughter. These individuals seem to only laugh out of obligation, not because they find a situation humorous. These people all need to see Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up immediately. The show was irresistibly funny and would cause even the most reserved of these un-humorous people to let loose and laugh. The audience was well engaged, both laughing and crying with the main characters. Despite a few bumps in the road (which was expected; it was the final dress rehearsal before opening night) the cast successfully mesmerized the audience in a ride that seemed much shorter than it’s nearly three hours.
A highlight of the show was definitely the children! Not real children, mind you. During the show a dozen of the actors grew up from a young age into adult hood. The ability of the actors to imitate young school children was astounding. Their fidgeting and squirming was exactly what one imagines an elementary classroom to be wrought with. Strange noises, funny faces, and most importantly—the inescapably innocence that all children have— were well illustrated by each of the actors. True to being in a room filled with children, they all had their own personalities, and they were each interesting to watch.
Despite the fact that the show was in its final rehearsal (set not yet completed), it had a relatively polished feel. The actors were able to role with various mishaps so smoothly that most onlookers were most likely oblivious to the error. It seemed that the pit was struggling to keep time with the actors singing at times—perhaps the monitors were not always functioning properly? Several lighting cues came much too late, and a few lines might have been fudged (there was a priest/pastor mix up early on?), but none of these small errors detracted much from the final outcome of the show.
Throughout the show several fairly intensive choreography numbers dazzled the audience. The actors very successfully projected their voices while dancing to and fro, up and down. The issues with the pit orchestra being quite off tempo during one number in the first act did not seem to even significantly rattle the actors; the dancing stayed mostly together. The performers neatly ended the song and remained in character—a very admirable feat.
Sister Lee, played by Emily La Bonte, stood out and beyond the rest of the nuns and the cast as a whole. She, of course, played the more likeable character when compared with the other notable nun, Sister Helen, but she brought more to the table than just likeability. She had a certain charismatic spunk that was infectious—to the audience as well as to who ever was on stage with her. It was joy to watch La Bonte perform.
The outstanding performance of the night had to be by Erin Miller, who played the main character Eddie. He was the first person on stage and the last person to bow. He was very personable and familiar. Miller’s performance was reminiscent of the boy from next door. Cute, charming, friendly, but just friends until Becky realized what she was missing.
The ending of the play, though perhaps a touch rushed, was the perfect warm and fuzzy ending to such an amusing play. Well-done UMD Theater!
Madisen Quesnell

This play was hilarious and anyone looking for a laugh should make time to see this. This musical is about a group of kids at a Catholic school and their journey from elementary school through high school.
The final dress rehearsal felt like it was the opening night performance. Although the set wasn't complete it everything fit just right. The UMD Theatre Orchestra was playing under the stage using a live feed for visual references. There was a few instances where the music seemed off yet given they circumstances they performed extremely well. The actors didn't seem to be phased at all during this which was impressive.
The acting made this show better than expected. The faces and gestures made throughout the elementary days were hilarious. Eddie in his first confession got the entire crowd laughing. The way he kneeled and mumbled with the terrified look on his face was priceless. Every actor/actress could sing and dance well. Each also made their character beliveable and relateable to at least one person. This gave a sense of audience conectivity.
This play was awesome and anyone debating on seeing this should go. This play had it all; great acting, singing, dancing, music, happiness, suspense, and humor. The ending let everyone leave on a happy note. Congrats UMD Theatre on a job well done.

The singing, the dancing, and the catholic school kid jokes, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was no disappointment. The UMD Theatre did a spectacular job with this production. This play brought me back to my awkward teenage years, and had me laughing even harder as I reminisced.

This comedy takes place in a catholic school during the 1950s. The story follows Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller), Becky Backowski (Nikki Tatge), and their classmates as they move from the goofy elementary days, to the awkward years of high school. They receive lessons in everything from God and the patron saints, to dating and sex! It was hilarious watching as the nuns and pastor tried their very best to entwine the Catholic religion and sexual education. But like most teenagers, they were left with even more concerns and questions about the opposite sex. Watching the adorable relationship between leading roles Miller and Tatge mature from a childish crush to young love was heartwarming.

The actors did a great job opening the play as young elementary kids, and then finishing it as graduating seniors. It was hysterical watching how the student’s views of each other changed throughout the play. As children, they all had short attention spans and obnoxious personalities. When they became teenagers, they were as uncoordinated with their words as they were with their limbs. The boys battled wandering eyes and impure thoughts. The girls tried to find a balance between faith and dating. It was hysterical watching these coming of age kids battle the hardships that most adults know all too well.

The nuns were portrayed as serious and tough, but were all secretly a little bit fun and goofy. During the “Freshman Mixer” scene the nuns supervised the boys and girls closely, but also had their own fun as the patrolled the floors in very high, high heels.

All actors were very talented singers and dancers. I particularly enjoyed Virginia Lear’s (Vanessa Barr) part during the song “Mad Bomber”. She had a strong voice with good attitude to fit the part. There were a few dances where the actors were not in step with each other, otherwise the dances were fun and made the scenes more lively and interesting.

This production was amusing, heartwarming, and filled with lots of good laughs. Do to the maturity of some of the material, I would recommend it to teenagers and adults.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Review
By Matt Quinn

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is a musical comedy with a mediocre love story. This production was good in some areas and not so in others. Musically the play was very good but as far as a story this is where the play struggled.

This play revolves around a group of catholic school kids and their journey through grade school under by Father O'Reilly (Jayson Speters) and the Nuns. Our main character Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller) and the kids deal with growing up and staying true to their catholic beliefs. This could have been the whole story but the love story is the main one. The love story between Eddie and Becky (Nikki Tatge) is forced and doesn't seem to be the main story through much of the production. The main story in this production seemed to be the class growing up together. The duet of Eddie and Becky isn't as fun to watch as the group of kids together. When the class is together they really feel like a real class in school. The dialogue between the class was hilarious and realistic.

Along with the class Father O'Reilly and the nuns were entertaining to watch.
O'Reilly had some really funny interactions with the kids in confession and on the playground. His patience was often tested and resulted in some good laughs. The nuns were not as featured in this play and they had minor roles with the exception of Sister Lee (Emily La Bonte) who had a number with Becky and helped her in a needed time of guidance.

The cast performed well together and some really stood out. Erin Miller did a decent job with the character of Eddie Ryan. But Erin's strong point was his ability to sing. He had a few good numbers and he wasn't the only one. His love interest Becky also sang well and had nice duet with Eddie in scene 4. Nancy (Elise Benson) also had a great voice along with Louie (James Goodman) who had an Elvis like number that was well done. Most of the group musical numbers were entertaining visually with the choreography which was another strong point in this play. Aside from singing the characters came off as humorous. Father O'Reilly and the nuns were really funny as they guided the kids through catholic school and their characters were realistic and believable.

Musically a great cast with some great voices. The story wasn't as good and that really is the most important part of a production. Overall a decent production and mostly entertaining.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Sam McCurry
Play seen on October11th and 14th
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Is a hilarious play. Between the dancing, the songs, and the conversations between the students the priest it was a great way to spend the evening. The students of UMD certainly did the play justice on the stage. The performance seemed to fly by between the laughs and jokes and the forshadowing the play went really quick.
The actors did an amazing job of being children in the beginging and then aging into adults in the later scenes of the play, the way that the play starts and finishes in the same place is really neat. The way that the play almost seems to take place in the head of Eddie is amazing.
The music is amazing the way that eh actors were all able to move and dance so fluidly was astounding and magical. The way that the band and the actors/actresses were so in sync was amazing also.All is all I would say that this was a great show.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? They did more than reflect; they shined on opening night. The director/choreographer of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up is Ann Aiko Bergerson. She was able to bring the dancing, acting, and singing all together to make a spectacular play.

Bergerson’s transitions made the play flow. The actors were able to go from speaking to singing to dancing without a pause or hesitation. The transition from scene to scene also was very smooth. The dialogue and the acting set up the scene and the story unfolded as the audience watched.

Another essential part of the play was the music. It became an extension of the dialogue because the songs had meaning and insight into the character’s mind. Also the live theater orchestra set the tone of ambiance for the audience.

Becky Buckowski played by Nikki Tatge was an unbelievable singer and actor. Tatge must have put a lot of hard work trying to remember all those lives as well as the dancing she did. Watching Becky grow up before the audience’s very eyes was something great to watch. The audience could relate to her struggles when she was in elementary school of being the awkward girl instead of the popular girl. When Becky went into high school she had and struggled with what she was going to do with her life. One of the themes of the play is God doesn’t use cookie cutters for his people but instead molds them with his hands. Two people are not made the same and that everyone is created different and unique. Sister Lee who was played by Emilie Labonte helped Becky realize that everyone is different and everyone one has meaning. This was one of the main themes in the play that just about anyone could relate to. For kids watching this play, they could relate to Becky and of the struggles growing up.

The other character that complimented Becky in Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up was her sweetheart Eddie Ryan played by Erin Miller. These two had great commentary working off of each other. Miller also had a wonderful voice and you could feel the intensity from his voice all the way in the back row. Eddie did extremely well in never giving up on who you are. This is just another theme that we saw throughout the play. Eddie stayed close friends with Becky all through school. Even when he got rejected to go to the prom, he spent that night with his best friend Becky. Then Eddie came back to her after college even when Becky became a nun. It just shows that true love still exists. Eddie knew after years of being apart they would come back. The two getting married at the end of the play was the cherry on top. Everyone loves happy ever after stories.

Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up is a great theatric musical that will sure to have the family having a great time at this play; either for dancing, acting, or singing. Either way it’s a must see.

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s rendering of the hilarious play Do Black Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a sidesplitting performance that was over the top witty with a dash of Catholic humor. This play has everything to offer! Love, singing, dancing, humor, childhood memories, and nuns. The strong point, however, would have to be its impeccable humor and sense of wit. Ann Aiko Bergeron, the direct and choreographer, did a marvelous job using the surroundings to employ absurdity at every end. Also, the ability for Bergeron, and the actors, to capture the timeliness of childhood was astonishing. The costumes, designed by Patricia Dennis, all hiked up and lose, made the actors seem not like the full grown adults that they were, but rather little balls of pure energy that kindergarteners are. Most performances would stop there, never to really adding more to the ploy of childhood. Bergeron, however, felt the need to add a little more. The actors, all squirming, held their bodies at awkward poses, and snickered to their peers loudly as if the teacher could not hear them.
On the topic of actors; each actor and actress could hold their own. Not only did every actor know how to act, they also knew how to sing well and dance in time. These three combinations are hard to find in one person, let alone an entire cast! To act in a play that partakes over the lifetime of an individual is hard. Not only do the actors have to adjust their tone of voice, but they also have to adjust how the hold themselves. Once again, the actors and actress had no problem adjusting to their characters’ lives. Watching the children react, with eyes wide and moths gaping open, when their teachers gave them the sex talk in Act I Scene 7, was to die for. Not to mention the hysterical scene in which the children went to their first confession.
Along with the real life imagery the actors presented, many illusions and foreshadowing were casted forth upon the audience. One of the funniest had to be when the girls were singing about the nuns, and described how they slid a crossed the floor. As if they had wheels on their feet. Staying true to the comical tone of the play, thirty seconds later, the nuns came out on roller blades, gliding across the stage. At this point, the audience broke open with laughter. Not only did they nuns come across the stage once, but then they made several return trips, each reopening the wound that laughter caused moments before.
Some theatrical performances over stimulate the audiences’ senses with a behemoth amount of props and an overpowering stage design. The set design, done by scenic designer Topaz Cooks, however was simple a master piece. Such a simple yet elegant platform upon which the actors used to their full advantage in bringing amusement to the audience. The use of limited props was also, in itself, and advantage. This allowed the actors to make do with what they had, not in a bad way, but in a way that did not over stimulate the audience.
As the play came to a close, I slowed realized what I had just witness. The lives of children, grown so fast, had flashed before my eyes. Their triumphs and their defeats where known to all. I felt humble that I was able to share these moments with the characters. I would not only highly recommend seeing the play, I would also recommend bring the entire family. Heck, bring your entire neighborhood because this play is one you do not want to miss.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up? is a classic comical play straight from the 1950’s that was done by the University of Duluth students. The play brought many different aspects to keep the audience entertained.


The play was directed by Ann Aiko Bergerson and lasted a little more than two and a half hours. Bergerson kept the play moving with dancing and singing but kept it lively with its amusing comedy. She also incorporated humor into a few songs which one song had nuns come out on rollerblades because they supposedly had wheels for feet. This clever idea made the audience chuckle and was just one of the humorous acts for this play.


The first act is based in a Catholic elementary school, with kids who are growing up together in a small town. Erin Miller plays the main character role in this play as Eddie Ryan. At the beginning of the play and throughout the whole act the audience learns Eddie is in love with Becky, the “fat girl” who is played by Nikki Tatge. These two are shown throughout the play as close friends, but much more. They are shown from elementary school, through their sex-crazed middle school ages, and throughout high school.

Transitioning to high school is the beginning of the second act in which the boys and girls now go to different schools because of their gender difference, but they meet up at a “mixer”. These kids who have grown up together get to know each other again and some even start to dance. In this scene the song “Doo-Waa Doo-Wee” is sung by a young man who throws on a shimmery navy jacket and plays such a believably fun role. These characters bring so many different talents to this play, from their funny children voices to their dancing and singing. In this act it is clear that these kids are actually quite grown up from when they were first introduced. Going to separate schools doesn’t change anything for these kids; the audience can clearly see that Becky and Eddie still have a connection.


A main factor of this play is the live orchestra. This live music brings in another level to the paly that gives a better musical tone than it would without it. Without the live orchestra this play would most likely have had a different outcome for the musical numbers. The music had no noticeable errors and didn’t seem to have any troubles. The conductor and director did a wonderful job to corridinate the music into this play. There were no special effects to this play; the lighting was really quite simple and nowhere to go wrong. At one point the disco ball was brought down and filled the room with glimmering lights everywhere. This not only was secluded to the play but it also spanned out to the whole audience, making this the most lighting technique they used for this play.


The costumes got better as the show progressed, thankfully. The elementary school costumes were quite ugly and hard to get over. The green and white plaid striped shirts and pants for boys were revealing and disturbingly funny to see on men. The girls had dresses that were equally as horrific but luckily these costumes weren’t for the whole play. As the act continued and the kids grew up, the costumes got more tolerable and easier to follow along with. The nuns had costumes like most people would have expected. Except for the part when the nun’s wore platform heels in wild colors. Some nuns had black platform heels and another one would have bright red. The thought of nuns in heels was so funny and almost as ridiculous as nuns on rollerblades! No one could have expected this outrageous costume idea but seeing the nuns in all black with crazy platform heels was quote the shocker.


Each character is played so well by each actor, which makes the play so much more fun to attend. The accent by the priest is a little shaky at times, but the Irish accent comes through in other scenes and is humorously done. Every actor that played a student had unique behaviors that came through with their actions but their voices were even better. These actors had great skill not only to talk in child voices, but also to sing as a child. Hearing the children’s voices alone made the audience laugh but it was a relief to see them grow up and turn into adults, with normal voices.


Attending this play is simply something fun to do in one’s spare time or a fun family event. In no way will people be missing out on a spectacular showing, but it’s a good chance to see a good show done by local students. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is bound to intrigue people with the comedy, singing, dancing, and acting. The University students did a job well done and are bound to please the audience.

Cassie Gazzolo's Review on: Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?10/18

I got the experience to see the performance of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? a couple days before the closing of the show. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was performed and directed by UMD students. The performance included many musical numbers with dancing throughout, to some very serious scenes exchanged between the lead characters, it was a well-rounded performance. Comedy was not lacking whatsoever and fit into the production very well, in fact the audience laughing throughout the performance. The performance was also very believable every step of the way, the actors were exceptional performers, who could sing and dance perfectly.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a story about Catholic school children growing up in a small town and showed how they had to overcome religious obstacles in their lives. Growing up Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller) establishes a close relationship with Becky Buckowski (Nikki Tatge), throughout the years they go through ups and downs, but in the end we get a happy ending. The relationship and the feelings Miller and Tatge portrayed were very believable. When Becky was in the hospital and Eddie came to see her everyone wanted to see what was going to happen with the relationship. The actors were all exceptional and quiet humorous. Eddie had a scene during confession where no one could understand because he was babbling sounds instead of telling Father O'Reilly (Jayson Speters) what he had done wrong. Miller read the audience and made the house laugh with all the humor that was presented along with the rest of the cast.

The performance Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? had a live orchestra provided the music. Even though this play was required for the class, the fact that the orchestra was under the stage was a cool factor for the remodeling situation that was taking place. The cast and crew used the time between scenes especially well, they had actors singing during the time it took to remove and add props for different scenes. The costumes were exactly what came to mind when thinking of Catholic school uniforms. The boys were wearing a white tee with short blue shorts and converse during gym class and this was another predictable Catholic school uniform for the gym hour. The girls on the other hand, wore a onesie with very scandalous body language during the scene. The set design, done by scenic designer Topaz Cooks, was a perfect fit for what Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was about. The actors took full advantage of the set design and used the limited amount of props very well.

I recommend Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? to everyone looking for a humorous play with singing, dancing and exceptional actors. However, needs to be able to handle mature religious topics such as sex. Hands down this has been the best play I have seen in Duluth so far! The cast worked together very well and you could definitely see the chemistry between them all.

Kaitlyn Hukriede
Review for Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?


Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up? performed by the theatre students at the University of Minnesota Duluth took a fresh look on a classic comedy from set in the 1950’s. Directed by Ann Aiko Bergeron, the play took an inside look at the catholic religion, and the schooling that young catholic students undergo. Using these ideas, the play was set to live music and incorporated singing and dancing from all of the characters involved, even the priest and nuns. The entire play takes the audience on a journey from the early catholic elementary school days, transitioning into a look into the students’ high school years, and finally a look at the children all grown up as they reminisce on their early, younger years. Bergeron took a fresh take on this timeless comedy by using clever techniques such as rollerblading nuns, when referencing how holy they are; they just seem to float on by. Witty additions, such as the roller blades are just one way this play steps up its game to the next level. The whole performance pokes playful fun at the strict rulings of the catholic religion as the students enrolled try to learn the ropes and stay obedient.

Differing in this play compared to others being performed around the Duluth area this fall, Patent Leather Shoes houses a live orchestra. All the musical medleys and background music is done live by UMD students and adds just the right touch of personality to round out the whole of the entire play.

Another aspect that was truly astounding was the costume design done by Patricia Dennis. She found a way to truly “make” the characters their age by dressing them so precisely they seemed like elementary children, or even hormonal middle school children, when in actuality they are all college age young adults. The actors took these tools given so far, and took one more step at emphasizing their youthfulness by portraying typical young children by their actions. They stood hunched over, constantly moving, anxiously moving to portray children stuck in school learning, when they would much rather be playing outside. Along with their physical presence, the actors did a great job individualizing each character. Even now, a week after viewing the play, each character is still present in my mind, every single person having his or her own identity and story that is left behind. From the trouble maker boy to the tomboy girl, the play was much more lively having colorful personalities exploding from each character, instead of most plays which portray a crowd or group as a whole talking, mumbling body of people.

Overall this musical play was a hysterical peak into the idea of growing up and learning as you grow older, from the angle of the catholic lifestyle. It was a pleasant surprise to view a performance on such a serious topic, yet so refreshingly funny. This is a production to be seen by all and anyone, definitely unlike any other play performed before.

Justin Kostecka
October 18, 2012
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Review


A good performance and well done design made it a fun night at UMD’s showing of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Pre-teen and high school mischief, as well as Catholic jokes and great singing, really brought the performance to a good level. While not the greatest musical, this play was still effective and the actors brought out the best in it.

Erin Miller (Eddie) and Nikki Tatge (Becky) were fantastic with the lead parts and really made the performance great. Both had strong singing voices and carried their characters very well. Emily La Bonte (Sister Lee) and Jayson Speters (Father O’Reilly) helped add a lot of humor to the play. All four really strengthened the play. The only apparent deficiency among them was in Speters’ Irish accent at times. While for the most part he managed it well, he had his weak moments with it.

The first confession scene for Eddie and Father O’Reilly was hilarious. Miller’s incoherent whimpering, shouting, and physical acting mixed with Speters’ facial expressions and mannerisms, made it a phenomenal scene that achieved in getting a strong laugh out of the audience. Speters and La Bonte also had a funny little scene. When the students were gone and Father O’Reilly and Sister Lee were dancing for joy because of it, the audience simply had to laugh. On the other side of the spectrum, Tatge and Miller did a fine job showing the romantic side of the play. The hospital scene was especially well done in the way that Tatge and Miller portrayed such a touching moment.

The musical aspect of the play was exhilarating. The cast was especially well chosen in terms of vocal strength and capability. The only noticeable weakness musically was the boys’ lines during the song “Mad Bomber.” With the music at a nice quick pace, the boys pushed the tempo a bit too much for a while. But, other than that, the music seemed in sync with the vocals.

Dr. Mark Whitlock and the musicians were excellent in what they did for the musical. They really helped to creatively and effectively add to the performance. It is always great to have that live music to accompany theatre.

The dancing and choreography was what seemed to break the play down a little. While done okay for the most part, there were times when the actors were not all in sync and not necessarily spaced very well.

The design of the play, done by Topaz Cooks, was rather appealing. The confessional and "stained glass" props helped relate to Catholic churches and that sort of imagery. Patricia Dennis, the costume designer, was phenomenal with her work. The students’ clothes were colorful and reminiscent. Clothing for the nuns and priest related very well to that sort of Catholic dress. It was great to see that unique religious clothing done so well.

In the end, this play did a nice job amusing and getting a good laugh out of the audience. It carried out its purpose of being entertaining and made for an enjoyable evening.


The play Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect UP? has recently been going on at the UMD theater performed by students at UMD. The play included different scenes of dancing, singing, jokes on Catholics and an overall great humor.

The play starts off with Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller), going back to his Catholic Elementary school and turns into being about him and his past classmates going through their school years. They all start out at their Catholic Elementary school, where they learn how to do things and learn the right and wrongs of things you do in life, including how a list of rules on future relationships they may encounter.

Becky Buckoeski (Niki Tatge) and Miller both don't fit in that well with the others, so the two become the best of friends. The audience is all wanting them to end up together, and when Tatge doesn't become a sister anymore, they are able to meet up again and be together.

The characters played by the actors were very excellent. Each of them portrayed the type of character they were well. When they were younger and all had to be nerdy, seeing all the actors acting was just hilarious to watch and listen too. What they said, how they said it and how their actions were played out all together so well. Even how they looked at their younger parts was great. I wondered if all of them were even college students because they all looked so young.

The design of the play was very well thought out. The set was quite well for the play. It wasn't anything to special, but it worked out great with the scenes. The colored windows were really fascinating and the idea of the confession area was really nice. The lighting and sound was never too much, or never too little.

The play is not a must see. It was a good play, but nothing to be drooling over to see. There could have been more different scenes or just had the play shorter. Some scenes got dragged on too long. The scene where they are just dancing was a little pointless, it had nothing to do with the play itself. That could have been better if that part wasn't so long or just was cut out. Some other scenes were good, but got out to be too long. For instance, the scene where the kids were split up by boys and girls and were getting told different rules went on a little too long. That was a funny and good scene but it just could have got cut shorter.

At the end of the day, the play as a whole was a good play. The plot of the play was good and the scenes flowed very well together. The actors were a great touch as well with their great acting and making the audience laugh. It was a good performance but you don't need to beat up yourself for not seeing it if you don't.

Kaitlyn Knutson
10/19/12
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Review

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a very good play. It showed the audience what it is like for catholic students to go to school at a young age all the way through high school and then on into their lives after school when they reflect on their decisions they made then. It was a very comical play with many different catholic jokes. It was a very good show put on by the UMD Theatre.
The play had great actors playing the characters that made the play believable. The actors really got involved on stage and expressed great emotion for their characters. The singing was very good with everyone in tune. When there was more than one person singing or the whole cast was singing everyone was very well together. Eddie, played by Erin Miller, and Becky, played by Nikki Tatge, did a great job at acting together. When they would sing to each other they made it seem like they actually had feelings for each other and loved each other by how they expressed their emotions towards one another. They looked so comfortable together.
The dancing was very good and funny at times. When the boys and girls would dance together they would actually get close together like they actually had a connection and were comfortable with each other instead of looking awkward and uncomfortable. When the girls had to dance along the fence while the boys stared and watched they were actually provocative with their moves and seemed comfortable and okay doing them.
The play was very comical too. There were many different catholic jokes that were very funny. A lot of them tended to be about sexual things which made them more funny since the students were attending a private school. When the guy had to sing at the dance and gyrate his hips was hilarious and very good. He seemed very comfortable doing it and was not afraid to get into it at all. Overall the actors did a great job at their performance in making the play believable for the audience.
The set up of the play on stage was very good. The large items stayed on at all times and only little things would be taken away or added when there was a new scene. That was a very good idea because then the audience did not have to wait for large amounts of time for the set to be changed and instead made it go by fast and have the play get right back going on. All parts of the stage set up were used well and effectively, all the parts had a purpose.
The lighting was very excellent. The disco ball was very cool when the lighting hit it just right so that the whole auditorium lit up from it which help made the audience think it was more believable and that they were actually a part of it. The lighting was very good at showing what part of the stage and whom to focus on at certain parts. If there were many people on stage the light would sometimes just shine on one person so the audience knew who was talking and who to look at. The lighting would sometimes fill the whole stage so the audience would have to focus on everything.
In the end this play was very good. The actors did a great job at making the play believable. The play was full of comedy which made the audience enjoy the play and keep enjoying finding out what was going to happen next.

Dan Jackson
October 19 2012

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Was a great play done by UMD’s own students. I was expecting it to be a little shaky because I saw it on open night, so I thought the actors would be nervous but it did not show. I could not point out one thing that was off. During the play, there was never a dull moment. There was always laughter and signing and that made the two and a half hours go by very fast.

From an artistic perspective, the actors did an amazing job playing the characters. There is always that one stand out student that will do anything to suck up to the teachers and get the teachers to love them. And then there is the rest of the class that is annoyed buy them and do not want to be there. I do not want to offend any of the actors on a personal level, but it looked like they fit the role perfectly and were like that when they were kids. That's how believable the performance was to me.

From a person perspective, this play was definitely worth attending. I had high expectations coming into this play from Boeing Boeing and this one was just as funny, if not funnier. Patent Leather Shoes had me always laughing at the students were doing in and outside of the classroom because that is how kids are in school. After getting back from the play, I told friends about the play, and they all said it sounded funny. They are trying to go to it this weekend now because of my recommendation!

The artistic design of this play was incredible! The costumes that the actors had on fit the description of kids in a Catholic school. The most impressive part about the design of the set was the sound. The actor’s voices sounded amazing when they were sing and they did a great job allowing the audience to hear things that they should hear, and things they should not hear. Lighting for the play was always good. It was dark when the kids had to go to their confessions, but it was light enough so we could see what they were doing.

On a social perspective, Black Patent Leather Shoes did a great job fitting the stereotypes of a Catholic school, students, and nuns. Everyone knows that nuns are supposed to be mean and tough on their students, and they were in this play. They would get after the students who misbehaved by hitting them with the ruler. The student’s outfits fit the stereotype of dressing up with ties and having dress shoes with high socks. The actors looked like they had just been taken out of a Catholic school, and put into this play they looked so real.

Personally, the most important part of the play was when the nun told the girls in school, that black patent leather shoes, really do reflect up. It was a question throughout the play to me and wondered if they would answer that question.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was quite the humorous experience with a relatable storyline. The most contributing element to the play was definitely the actors. They way that each character took on a different personality and executed it perfectly was really the core to wonderful comedy, not to mention the singing was spectacular.
With the play being a storyline of all these characters growing up (primarily focusing on Eddie and Becky), the directors managed to add a very balanced amount of singing, dancing, and talking throughout the entire production while they progressed from grade to grade. The relationship between Eddie and Becky was interesting to watch bloom, and their fellow classmates contributed enough insight to help complete the overall atmosphere of the school life, as well as narrate the emotion portrayed in the production.
Another important element was the props and setting for the play. It was enjoyable to watch different settings come into perspective, but they were just little things that illustrated the atmosphere in a much more effective way, such as the swings or confessional. Its hard to image the play without these little elements, because the interpretation of certain acts would have not been the same.
A last thing to touch on is the singers in the production. To sum the musical performance up to one word, it would be phenomenal. The characters had such harmony together, and every song was executed perfectly. With the musical being so perfectly in tact, it made the performance that much more enjoyable.
To conclude, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a play to recommend to everyone. Age groups starting with pre-teens all the way up to the elderly would really enjoy the excitement and laughter that is brought on by this production, and there is a little something that can contribute to everyone. With a combination of romance, heartbreak, laughter, friendship, and an overall sense of community depicted by this play, Black Patent Leather Shoes is really a treat to watch and a good little life lesson for all.

Katie Hood
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

Aside from finding a favorite character in the play, audience members are sure to pick out their favorite song that they can’t get out of their head, which may end up being more than just one. The song selection and talented voices were more than anyone would expect from such young actors at UMD. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was also skillfully cast to find just the right actor or actress to portray either a “goody-two-shoes” student or a “crazy rebel child.” Not only will audiences want to be singing, but they will want to be dancing after the show is over too.

This UMD Theatre production portrays twelve Catholic school children progressing from grade school, to the high school Prom, and to a wedding. Playing so many ages and levels of maturity looked easy when performed by the UMD students. It was impressive how they all made you fall in love with each of them in the first few scenes through each of their quirky, childish personas. Having twelve children, altered from the original play consisting of eight, could have been overbearing, but director Ann Aiko Bergeron made the cast feel complete and possibly even empty if any character were to be missing. The amount of “children” on stage was at first distracting, but in the best way. You were drawn to each character’s different body language and personality and you were tempted to jump back and forth between them all instead of watching the real scene being performed.

Challenges with maturing characters were not the only obstacle in this production; the many set changes also posed a blocking ordeal. The set background of the stained glass, which you would expect to see in a church, was the best way to keep a consistent tone throughout the play. Also, attaching rollers to the desks made set changes quick and entertaining. Blocking the desks in different styles was a creative way to also show the progression in school for the students.

In the lengthy song list, many actors were given the chance to showcase their talent and each actor sang with such confidence that you want to envy them for their performance. Between hard hitting songs that make you think and silly doo wops about nuns, the audience was entertained throughout the play. Favorite numbers such as “It’s The Nuns” caution best behavior otherwise the Nuns will get you. One actress with astounding singing talent was Elise Benson, playing the part of Nancy Ralansky. In the song “How Far Is Too Far?” her confidence echoed throughout the theater as she mesmerized her audience with a powerful, yet soft and soothing voice.

One aspect that was distracting was Father O’Reilly’s accent, played by Jayson Speters. The context was briefly explained for why he had an Irish accent, and Speters portrayed it well, but his character became more focused on how he was saying his lines rather than what the lines meant in the scene. A few transition scenes seemed awkward to watch as well, including the dancing to music without singing. The actors danced very well and the choreography was an adequate transition, however, it was not captivating enough and left the audience feeling distracted and disconnected to the play. The audience was caught off guard a few times with silly movements, such as the nuns floating across the stage on roller-skates creating comic relief, which was appropriate and hilarious.

Whether you understand the religious humor or not, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is a production worth attending this season at UMD. It guarantees laughs for audiences of any age and sheds light on each actor and actress for their amazing, emerging talent.

How Far is too far? Does God love little fat girls too? A list of interesting questions are asked and then later answered by the cast of UMD’s production of Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? From second grade catholic school all the way up through high school and adulthood, this musical will charm, amuse, and tear at the heartstrings at any audience.
The musical, written and performed for the first time in the 70’s about a catholic school in the 50’s, does have a few songs that can be considered dated for our time now, however, that does not mean that they were not still beautiful. Any audience member could be caught singing to one of the many amazing songs from heartfelt to hilarious. The first confession scene was both hilarious and truthful. Any Catholic, even today, will say that confessing to the priest is an embarrassing and confusing for anyone, let alone a child. The cast overall did an amazing job at portraying their character as both a child and an adult, a difficult task, but done incredibly well by all.
The two main characters, Becky and Eddie, had a beautiful and heartfelt chemistry throughout the entire show. Becky’s song, “Little Fat Girls,” was about whether or not God loves her despite her weight. Eddie over hears this and, driven by his premature crush on her, tells her he would be her friend, and that he thinks God loves her. This scene was so incredibly beautiful between the two actors, and it was carried over into the very last scene with them on Prom night. Becky announces to Eddie that she is planning on becoming a nun and that she cannot see Eddie in a romantic fashion anymore. This moment was absolutely heartbreaking. The look on his face was like everything he had ever wanted was just ripped out from underneath his feet. The audience fell silent, and everyone felt the same complete sadness and sympathy for this character. The relationship they built throughout the play was beautiful and sweet and realistic.
Last but not least, some of the most hilarious characters in the show were the nuns and Father O’Reilly. Sister Lee, who is considered the oldest nun in the order at St. Bastion’s Catholic Church, is also considered one of the meanest. However, she is the only person to see beneath Becky’s weight into her beautiful soul. The actress who played Sister Lee was absolutely perfect. When she is first introduced, it was difficult to tell if she was legitimately an elderly woman, or a college student. She straddled the line between harsh and mean, and sweet and caring incredibly well. Of course Father O’ Reilly was hilarious as well. While his Irish accent trickled in and out at times, it is part of what made his character so hilarious. He used this accent in a completely ridiculous fashion to bring a little extra comedy to the ‘Holy Order’ of the show. Sitting in a Catholic Mass, the priest always seemed so gentle and kind, but as a child, when he visited Sunday school classes, he always seemed so frightening and intimidating. The actor who portrayed Father O’Reilly did this perfectly. He was often a sweet man, but because of his moments of intensity, the children grew up feeling afraid of him.
Overall, this show was amazing. The upbeat songs juxtaposed by the adult and intense topics were a completely perfect portrayal of Catholic schools, and the Catholic religion in general. These kids always seemed to feel guilty for every sin they made, however, as they grew older, sinning seemed to matter less and less, except for those with true souls, such as Becky and Eddie. The musical was hilarious; the actors were amazingly cast and very talented. Do pearl necklaces really reflect down? Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? I guess one would need to see the show to find out.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Was a delightful performance done by the students at UMD. The plays follows students, in a Catholic school setting, starting in second grade and continuing all the way through high school and their later lives. It's no doubt that the audience was captured by the heart warming relationship between Eddie Ryan and Becky Buckowski. Watching Becky change from the awkward unpopular girl, into an adult was quite the transformation, since God doesn't use cookie cutters when he makes people, he shapes them with his hands. The chemistry between these two actors on stage made a huge impact on everyone in attendance. The most unexpected comedic element was the nuns. When you picture a nun, you definitely don't picture her with huge, bright platform heels on. And especially not roller blades. This was a perfect way to add some comedic relief into some of the more serious topics in the play.

The live orchestra music also added a new element to the show. The music was catchy, not one person walked out of the theater without at least one song stuck in their head.

There's no doubt that this play has it's fair share of questions: Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, Does God love little fat girls?, How far is too far? One question that You shouldn't even ask yourself is if the play is worth going to. The answer is YES. Overall, The combination between the serious and the comedic elements were right on point. An excellent show all around!

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? The UMD theater students performing the show did, providing a very "insightful" and "interesting" view at growing up in Catholic school and living the "ideal Catholic life".

The cast chosen for the show was wonderful and really pulled of the young type of student the director was looking for, but the performers also "grew up" with their characters very well also throughout the show. The comedic time of the cast was also phenomenal, delivering tons of well timed jokes throughout, some which require the "innocence" that only a little child could deliver. Many would think actors doing comedy so well could only come from comedians, but alas, these actors also showed their dramatic side with a few of the scenes. The scenes were delivered so wonderfully, one could almost tear up from the serious nature being presented in the theater. The lead actor and actress, Erin Miller and Nikki Tatge, worked together beautifully and created that "ideal" couple one would see in a love novel or something of that nature. The other members of the cast were not out of place either, and almost fit the personality of the character perfectly. The actors and actresses fit well into their parts and casting them differently would have not allowed the beautiful comedic time and serious nature that was delivered by this group of performers.

Other antics of the play were very hilarious and completely unexpected, but just added more to the humor of the play. From nuns on roller skates, to a singing Irish Father, some of the humor was drawn from the complete randomness of it. The play delivered a variety of jokes, with ranging ages of jokes being used. All though, still provided a moment for the audience to chuckle, or rather a lot of chuckles.

The timing of the music, along with the live pit band, was also a delight to observe. The "unsung" heroes of the play, the band and the cast delivered exceptional timing and were not off key or time once during the play, which is quite a feat sometimes, especially in plays with many songs. The conductor and the actors really blended well and provided an experience many do not get to experience often in this day of age.

All and all, Ann Aiko Bergeron really did a great job melding all the parts of the play, musically, comedically, and dramtically like she was cooking a "simple stew". Adding the "spice", that is fitting the actors and actresses with roles that really allowed them to shine, the backgrounds and lights provided by the stage crew, and the delightful sound from the instrumentalists, she has come up with a perfect "recipe" for a play, one that might even beat Grandma's old recipe for a good play. This play definitely impressed many and left many winded after laughing so much from the many one-liners and crazy antics delivered wonderfully by all of the performers. This play is must see for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, young and old or just anybody! Wonderful performance by all.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
UMD Main Theatre
Review by Janelle Kloth

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was the last question on everybody's mind due to the fact that no one could stop laughing! Yes this musical was hilarious with short little one liners and actions that had people clutching their sides.

We follow the life of Eddie Ryan a little backwards. The show starts out with him coming to talk to the principal of his old school, then we jump back into elementary years age seven to be exact. Now this could have been a very hard task for the cast having to act much younger than they were. But they displayed it beautifully! Playing the characters so well one almost forgot that they were college students. The set was simple but effective with stain glass in the background the whole time to remind you that it is a catholic school you are in. Most of the time props rolled in and out very quickly and was done most efficiently. The lighting was timed very well with the spotlight staying very much on track. Another effective aspect was the music. The pit was behind the stage instead of open like most so the actors had to use screens to see what the conductor was doing, and they did a terrific job at it.

Next we jump into middle school years where the actors did a excellent job again. We end up following the cast until high school where the actors got to act more like themselves. Also a somewhat predictable love story between Eddie and Becky who sadly becomes a nun breaking his heart, but later leaves the nunnery to be with him leaving happy feelings in all of our hearts and minds.

The only setbacks to this musical is there may have been to many musical numbers. Some were timed well and indeed funny, but others were just unnecessary to the plot line. Which leads into the other problem which was length. The musical ran for two and a half hours including intermission, which kept the audience thinking when is the end. The show could have been shortened.

Despite the drawbacks, the musical overall was an amazing show with one exceptional final detail..... the harmonies, so good you could feel the awe in the whole theatre when that certain note was hit. Definitely worth seeing for all types of people whether Catholic or not.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
UMD Main Theatre
Review by Jon Fundine

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was an exciting, hilarious, delightful portrayal of a group of of kids growing up in Catholic school. Performed by UMD Theater students and accompanied by the UMD Theater Orchestra. From start to finish it was filled with humor, comedy, dancing, singing and drama.

Strong performances abounded throughout the play. The combination of costumes with the antics and mannerisms of the cast during the opening scene as young elementary students put the audience right into the classroom. The entire cast was able to adapt and change their characters from elementary, to high school without skipping a beat.

The UMD Theater Orchestra performed wonderfully. They met each que and the quality of the sound was marvelous. As we listened it was hard to believe that it was a live performance because of the quality and clarity of the sound.

The confessional scenes were hilarious. Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller) with his whimpering to the Priest, and Louie Schlang (James Goodman) trying to decide what sin from the many he committed during the week started the audience into a round of laughter.

Nuns floating across stage on roller blades, and their dance scene where they flash a little thigh created respectful fun at what can be a boring Catholic education.

One of the highlights of the night was the outstanding singing throughout the play. Voices were strong and clear, and without fault. All cast members showed their incredible singing voices and displayed the true talent that exists in the Duluth area.

Director Ann Aiko Bergeron was able to create an interesting, exciting, comedic performance from a subject that can be boring and dry.

Strong performance by the entire cast. Outstanding singing accompanied by an outstanding musical performance. A play filled with humor that will make you laugh and smile. And a play filled with drama that may bring tears to some. From young to old, a fun play well worth experiencing.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Review by Joslyn Danielson

UMD Theatre’s production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was hilarious and engaging. The story follows the lives of Eddie (Erin Miller) and Becky (Nikki Tatge), his childhood friend turned love interest and their friends as they attend Catholic school. The play starts with quirky, typical elementary school and goes all the way through their complicated sex-crazed high school years.
The show very well demonstrates the hijinks every child or teen has gotten into, and they do it in a hilarious way so you can’t help but laugh at how true they are. Lots of jokes are cracked about the Catholic church and it illustrates all of the experiences and questions most everyone has had growing up in a religious environment. It is a show everyone can relate to, since everyone has been a child at some point!
The acting was superb and every actor portrayed a specific character and stuck to it throughout the whole show. They very accurately were able to show their maturing and growing up while still clearly sticking to what defined the character. Goody-two-shoes, Mary Kennedy (Emily Fletcher) starts out as a peppy little pig-tail clad 5th grader and grows to be a snooty holier-than-thou high-schooler. I think we all have had someone in our life like Mary and her character is an essential part and it pretty much makes the script.
The supporting cast was fantastic and each actor played their separate roles wonderfully. Flirty and popular Nancy Ralansky (Elise Benson), troublemaker Mike Depki (John Crane), and playboy Felix Lindor (Ryan Fargo) are just a few of the varying characters and personalities.
Also deserving great credit are the actors of the adults in the show. Father O’Reilly (Jayson Speters) is the wise yet human priest of the school. Speters did an excellent job of portraying the Father to be forgiving, authoritative, and also irritable. He brought a very authentic Irish accent to the character and it was clearly well rehearsed and very believable. Father O’Reilly had many hilarious scenes with the children and kept complete composure through all of them, never breaking character. One example is during Eddie’s confession in which he blubbers and mumbles in a very childlike way instead of speaking. Speters admirably listened straight faced through the whole scene. That’s hard to do!
The four nuns that teach the children also have unique character personalities. There are the more loving ones, and the old crotchety Sister Lee, whom eventually reveals the compassionate side of her to Becky during their song, Cookie Cutters.
We can’t deny that Eddie and Becky were meant for each other from the start, and the audience was delighted at the happy ending in which the two finally end up together. Their relationship begins with a childlike friendship when Eddie says he doesn’t care if Becky is chubby, he’d still be her friend. It slowly blossoms into a romance as they mature and Eddie admits that Becky grew into her figure very well. However, Becky doesn’t feel the same for Eddie at the time. She admits this to him in the hospital scene, and the realistic-ness of it had the entire audience captivated and silent. Eddie’s pain and disappointment was felt by almost everyone in the room as he is rejected. Years later, Eddie finds Becky after she dropped out of the convent and they finally end up married.
The costumes and set were authentic and consistent and left no doubt to what the designers were trying to achieve. The catholic school uniforms varied slightly from year to year as they entered different grades but kept the same feel. The rest of the costumes gave off a vintage vibe, which fit the show very well. The set design was the inside of the school with classic church stain-glass windows and pillars. Every scene took place either inside or outside of the school, so the set was very well incorporated in the entire show.
The music and group numbers were definitely above par with the exception of the song Doo-Waa Doo-Wee. While the dancing and choreography was great, soloist Louie (James Goodman) was very clearly a bass and the song seemed a bit out of his range. I think this contributed to a slight lack of confidence, which made the performance a bit shaky. Other than that, all soloists were exquisite. The most impressive was Tatge with her range of solos each needing to be sung in a different voice and style since she sings differently as a child. Sounding like a child but still staying on pitch is difficult and Tatge executed this wonderfully.
The main goal of this show seemingly was to be relatable and make people laugh. It did both of these very well. It incorporated the innocent and naïve comedy of the children and the deep troubles that befall people as they enter into their adult lives. Everyone can relate to it and enjoy it and it’s an awesome show to see if you want a laugh!


Hannah Franzmeier
Review on Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is a fun-loving musical put on by UMD students. The cast is very talented including leading man Eddie Ryan (Eric Miller) and leading lady Becky (Nikki Tatge). All of the actors portrayed their characters very straight forward without much room for personal opinions to be formed. The cast fits so well that lines that may not have been meant to be funny became funny because of the incredible chemistry between the actors. A story of catholic school kids, nuns, and an Irish priest dealing with many uncomfortable, funny moments that most everyone has come across while growing up. This play includes many singing and dancing numbers which keeps the audience’s attention during some dull points in the production. The material did eventually become expected which affected the audience’s attention to detail; most of the jokes or punch lines in the play are subtle and may not have been caught because the audience did not feel they had to hang on to every word. For the most part, it is very clear what is going to come next, but some shocking, comical scenes made up for it. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is appropriate and entertaining for every age. This play was a very good fit with UMD theatre and orchestra. UMD orchestra kept the play alive and personal during times the audience may have been losing attention. All in all this production Is entertaining and amusing. If musicals interest you this play will keep a smile on your face until it changes into a laugh. Bring the entire family, and spend a night reminiscing memories and making many more.

Review of UMD’s production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
By: Sophia Carlson

The production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was an uplifting comedy about a group of Catholic school students growing up from grade school all the way to high school graduation. It primarily follows the love connection between main characters, Becky and Eddie. While watching their love grow as well as themselves, the show was accompanied by comedic and catchy musical numbers. No matter who the audience is, there will be laughter. This production includes many references to nuns and the views of Catholic schools. Some examples are when they said that nuns have wheels for feet, or saving yourself for marriage. The play was very well put together in terms of timing and and hitting that humor mark.

This was the final dress rehearsal so some of the props and lighting was still being played with and tweaked. Other than very minor prop issues and difficulties, the performance was spick and span. The transitions between scenes were surprisingly not noticed by much of the crowd. The transitions were so smooth that they were un-noticed by most. This was definitely a positive aspect of the show. Also, the props in general were well thought out and well placed so that everyone in the audience could view the show form any angle and still see what was going on. Everything was very well thought out in terms of angle perception and how the audience would view the performance.

The actors in the performance did a very well job at portraying the characters the way the director had wanted. The characters’ timing and facial expressions were definitely a highlight of the show. For instance, when the students were in grade school, the actors had to act much younger then they are, which made this part of the show amusing. Without even saying anything, the characters could make the audience laugh hysterically. Even when the Catholic school boys had to wait in line for confession they were still putting smiles on the audience’s faces. This wasn’t even the opening show yet it felt as if it was. The energy in the room was gleaming and everyone was so into the show. The experience going to see this production was uplifting and heartwarming. The playwright seemed to fit the director’s planned view successfully.

The musical numbers used in the show were very well put together and catchy. After the show the songs were playing in your head for hours on hours. The dancing was joyful and funny. It made the audience just want to get up and join along. The references about catholic schools in the songs made the play very amusing how it poked fun at the religious parts of the play. It made the show enjoyable for everyone and anyone. The music really tied together the performance.

Overall, UMD’s production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a play worth seeing. The energy, humor, and uplifting spirit of the show was something to not miss out on. Even though the performance was a final dress rehearsal, the characters and everyone working on the show treated it as if it was the real thing. The characters, playwright, props, timing, and just about everything else was very well put together and it deserves two thumbs up.

UMD Theater Review I: Do Black Patten Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
By Jordan Kranick

The play, Do Patten Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, was nothing short of a humorous performance that was based on the Catholic subculture. Focusing more specifically on the artistic perspective, the success of the play was implemented through a combination of convincing actors and creative visuals.
During the first act, all of the characters are in elementary school. This meant that the actors, who are current students at UMD, had to act as children. One could easily over-exaggerate or misinterpret the characteristics of an adolescent, but this was not the case. One scene where it was especially believable was when “Becky,” played by Nikki Tatge, got a haircut and was worried about the other girls teasing her; it felt as if she was truly self-conscious and genuinely hurt by the way she had been treated. On the other hand, “Eddie,” played by Erin Miller, was a bit more dramatic, but to a necessary extent. In order to portray a timid child, Miller used rather large facial expressions and body gestures such as slouching and leaning away from other students in the classroom. This communicated effectively with the audience by making it obvious how he was feeling, even when he didn’t have any lines. The only character that wasn’t quite as convincing was Father O’ Reilly, played by Jayson Speters. As discussed in class, accents can be tricky. It wasn’t as noticeable until he started singing; only then did the accent seem to fade in and out. One of the most important parts of convincing is to have consistency. Considering the difficulty, it was executed well and other than a few minor slips, it was overall very believable.
After having class in the theater, it was interesting to see how much thought had to be put into developing a set, in addition to the other props being used throughout the play. Having the three stained glass windows in the background gave the play a sense of cohesion and constant reminder that it was taking place in a Catholic school. In order to keep the play moving, scene changes need to be quick and efficient. With minimal, but strong props, the setting was developed and easy to understand. For instance, the swings and jump rope represented a playground, and a bed and night stand for a hospital room. Something equally important as the props, are how the characters interact with them. A great example of this was in the outdoor scene with the fence. If it was untouched and permanently divided the actors, the scene may have felt stretched. Instead, the actors interacted with the prop by spinning and switching sides. This technique helped immensely with the play’s unity. Lastly, costume choices enhanced the success of the play even further. Although this was found throughout the entire performance, it was especially present during the scene before prom when everyone was formally dressed. If the actors had dressed in clothing from present day, the play wouldn’t have seemed like it took place in the past. It was imperative to stick to the specific style during that time period, to again, tie everything together.
In end, the play was very entertaining and exemplified cohesion between all of the acts by using convincing actors and creative visuals.

UMD Theatre Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Review by: Courtney Johnson
The play, "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" is a hilarious play that was able to keep the audience intrigued by all of the singing, and dancing that was present throughout the play. This play was a little over two and a half hours long and was directed and choreographed by Ann Aiko Bergerson. Bergerson was able to keep the audience in a comfortable environment based off of the amusing scenes that were going on throughout the show, and also some humor was shown through a few songs. Not only did Bergerson did an excellent job overall on making it seem realistic, but so did the actors and the costume designers. Patricia Dennis, the costume designer, was able to help make college students look more like little innocent and energized kindergarten students. The actors not only knew how to act like how kindergarteners, by giggling and sneering to the other students on stage, or doing awkward gestures, but also every actor knew how to stand their ground and present themselves in the ways a good actor does. The two main characters, Eddie and Becky, were wonderful! The connection that was growing between the two seemed real, the way they sang to one another and expressing their emotions. Also, each actor was able to remember their lines, knew when to act a certain way in a scene, and they all were amazing singers and could dance to the beat. To have each of the actors and actresses be able to do this, gave the play an even more higher of a rating!
Not only did the actors and actresses, director, and costume designer do an excellent job with this play, but so did the people who were in charge of creating the different settings, the people who were in charge of the light effects, and last but not least: the UMD Theater Orchestra that performed the songs throughout the play. Each of these aspects of the play, are what made the play come out to be realistic and powerful. The UMD Theater Orchestra did an outstanding job on the songs they did, the lighting during certain scenes and the different settings seemed so real that it was almost unreal.
"Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" was a story about children that grew up in a small town overcoming certain obstacles that they had to face that dealt with their Catholic religion. The two main characters in the play was Eddie Ryan acted by Erin Miller and Becky Buckowski played by Nikki Tatge. In the beginning, you see a relationship forming between these two characters. Throughout the play, this relationship continues. Yes, they have some ups and downs but their relationship remains. Both Eddie Ryan and Becky Buckowski did not fit in well with others, which helps them both become best friends. Originally, Becky Buckoeski was wanting to become a sister, but decides not to and therefore her and Eddie Ryan are able to reconnect and live together!
Overall, this play was a play that could be for a crowd of anyone. It is kid-friendly, yet there were some funny lines that were said throughout the play that only adults would be able to understand. This play makes you want to reminisce and bring you back to your childhood. It is a must see!

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

David Jones

The final dress rehearsal of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, performed on October 10th, was a performance worthy of a paying audience. The set may not have been complete, but the actors quickly captivated the audience, making them forget about the set.
The play was about a group of young people and their experiences growing up in the catholic school system. It was an animated comedy which had a few sparse moments with serious undertones. The play also focused on the sweet, but predictable romance between Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller) and Becky Backowski (Nikki Tatge). Overall, the audience was provided with a top notch performance and they were genuinely entertained.
The first act of the performance places the students in second grade at St. Bastion’s catholic school. The fact that the actors are around twenty years old could have made that portrayal difficult and unbelievable. The actors, however, were able to convince the audience that they were mere eight year olds. It was entertaining to see the characters mature and grow as the plot developed.
The set, designed by Topaz Cooks, was simple enough to allow for easy changes in between scenes but never left a doubt in the audience members’ minds as to the locations they were viewing. The thrust stage was also a great touch which was able to basically bring the actors out into the audience. The costumes, designed by Patricia Dennis, were very era appropriate and assisted in setting up the location of each scene.
One of the edgiest scenes was at the end of the first act. It placed the children in eighth grade and in the middle of sex education, taught by the Father O’Reilly (Jason Speters) and Sister Lee (Emily La Bonte). This scene brought the audience back to the awkwardness of their own teenage sex education and incited almost unending laughter.
The second act provided the audience with two of the most comical song and dance numbers of the production. “Doo-Waa, Doo-Wee” was an Elvis-style number performed by James Goodman. The best part of this song was the fact that he dreamt the whole thing as he nervously attempted to ask Mary Kennedy (Emily Fletcher) to dance with him. In his “dream state” even the nuns were captivated by his charming demeanor. The other song and dance number that provided many laughs was titled “Mad Bomber”. It was a hilariously relatable number that revealed the less than honorable intentions of both teenage males and females.
This UMD production was a fun performance for audience members of both catholic school and public school backgrounds. The themes and situations were able to provide the audience with an experience that brought them back to their own humorous childhood memories.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Justin Servellon

The play “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” was musical about the life and times of Catholic School students as they progress from elementary school to middle school, to high school and after. One character that was given the spot light was Eddie Ryan; a rather “slow” student who learns how to work up the courage to be with the girl he has loved since elementary school. The musical was very touching in all the right places, and I was personally impressed with some of the accurate references to Catholicism.
The acting for this work was truly great, but could have used a few things to have been better. Most of my complaint of the acting comes from the singing. What would have been better is if all of the actors who had a solo would have had a hidden microphone to amplify their voices. There seems to have been some difficulty in hearing some of these otherwise great singers from the front row. Another thing that seemed odd was that during those elementary school years, some students could already sing bass. Just a bit odd it seemed.
The acting in general was well done throughout all of the ages of development. It would feel like one has actually stepped into a third grade room with how annoying and load they sounded, how self-centered a few of the students sounded showed just how some little kids are. Middle schoolers being curious and starting to be interested in the other gender was done very well, questioning how much is too much for the girls while the guys being naturally interested in “getting some.” High school was truly done very well, especially the prom scenes. The scene had so much emotion that it would draw back on a time where you would remember those hard times with a crush. All ages of life being incorporated with dancing was also fitting to the characters as they were in their scenes. A lot of complex movements were used well both in form and in execution, personal favorite was the use of the chain link fence as both part of the scene and the dancing.
The stage, home to all that we will witness, was used excellently for the kind of musical it was. It seemed easy for all actors to move in and out of the stage. Everyone used all of the various entrances and exits to their advantages especially when it came to bring in more people for a dance number. Lighting was used to emphasize portions of the stage that was the main center of the event and of the lead character of said scene, this is a great thing considering as the stained glass windows were always on the set. Lighting helped cover them up, giving a different feel to a scene. Not once did it ever feel like there was “too much” going on in the stage.
Overall, this was a very good play. It definitely was worth seeing it, and if it is ever offered up again anywhere else, don’t pass of the chance to see it. You know you have good actors when they make one hate them, make one love them, make one cheer him on. Truly a touching musical for everyone.

Do Black Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? directed by Ann Aiko Bergeron, was a delightful comedy that skillfully mirrored the lives of twelve catholic children as they progress through second grade into high school and beyond.

Set in the 1950s, the show was very comical to watch as the kids made even the most average school days hilarious to the audience and a constant thorn in the side of the nuns and Father O'Riley. From acting just like little kids would on their very first confession, to the awkward sex ed class in eighth grade, the entire production was a joy to watch as real life issues were intertwined with an innocent and witty humor.

All the actors fit well in their parts, but the children stood out the most. They had to act the parts of second graders, fifth graders, eighth graders, freshman, seniors, and young adults. Becky, played by Nikki Tatge, was a sweet but overweight young girl who was forced at a early age to deal with others kids making fun of her for being fat and socially out of place. Eddie, portrayed by Erin Miller, was something of a mindless youngster who befriended Becky partly because he was as awkward as she. These two main characters formed a close friendship which weathered the test of time, and in the end proved to be a love which tied their hearts together.

The performances of Tatge and Miller were supported strongly by the rest of the cast as well. John R. Powers, the author of the work, masterfully illustrated the problems and successes of the children as they grow into young men and women. In act one of scene four, Becky struggles with wondering if God really loves fat girls too? While not everyone has the same issue, almost anyone can relate to the feeling of wanting despertly to change how we look, sound, or act. The seventh scene in act one, comically depicts Father O'Riley (Jayson Speters) trying to explain the changes which puberty will bring in the bodies of the boys. And in the second act of scene one, the children ask themselves if they each found true love after their freshman "mixer".

Since this was a play outlining the ins and outs of a Catholic school, the nuns and Father O'Riley played a major role in creating an over-the-top Catholic culture. The sisters were casted as stereotypical strict, but laughable women. Father O'Riley was a stickler, no-nonsense man. Both the Father and the nuns were comically painted as typical Catholics, and were the brunt end of many jokes.

Along with the visible actors, the orchestra also added a musical dimension that made the play even more believable. The music swung the audiences emotions first one way and then another in a artistic display of lively and serious pieces from the 1950s.

Overall, the play was well worth seeing. The way the author tied together the hardships of growing up along with ingenious humor about all the different situations was really fun to watch. A very enjoyable play with a wholesome message.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? What an excellent musical. From the hilarious catholic school jokes, to the emotional and intimate scenes, to the wonderful portrayal of elementary school children by adult actors. This play was not only entertaining, but also thought provoking as it explored the troubles children go through growing up. Not only in catholic school, but many other things such as puberty, and how to approach dating, that every young person will go through at some point. There were jokes that are geared towards a large variety of different people, and some that might have made an insecure teenage boy uncomfortable, because he can personally relate all too well with what the actor just said.
The actors convincingly portrayed the children as they grew up. They had to change multiple times to fit a new role as the same person, only a few years older. The awkward stances and fiddling with their hands when they were very young, along with innocent, or young sounding voice made the audience believe that who was really on stage was a bunch of elementary students. At the middle school age there was an obvious change in the way the actors held themselves. Whether it was slouching down in a desk or a little bit of awkward speech, the change was obvious.
Another incredible part about the musical was the ability of the orchestra and singers to stay together. The orchestra was underneath the stage so they had to use a live camera to cue the singers when to come in. Having a visual impairment such as this may seem like a major setback, but the audience probably didn’t even think about it.
The confessional scenes were arguably the funniest scenes in the entire show. One confession by Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller) he was too scared to even make words come out, and another where Mike Dempki(John Crane) said he had over a thousand sexual thoughts that week. During these scenes the audience barely stopped laughing long enough to hear the next line, before erupting into laughter again.
Jayson Speters was a great fit for Father O’Reilly. He had a “fatherly” air about him. He is a strict head of the school, and in one he saw Eddie and Becky(Nikki Tatge) walking home and holding hands. They immediately stopped holding hands, but Specters shows another side of his personality that he portrayed very well, which was an understanding and approving side.
Not only were there funny scenes, but also a couple that might cause an audience member to feel bad for Eddie, as Becky decided to become a nun, a decision that would separate them, and explained her different sense of love for him. The audience did not make a sound for most of this scene as the connection with the actors was so real, and probably every audience member could relate with the situation to some extent.
Overall Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a very entertaining, and well performed show. The quality of the acting was top notch, the music was crisp, and the laughs just kept coming. The actors convinced the audience that the characters were real, and reality and story were meshed into one.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect up?
by Jarad Reiser
Nice clothes, tucked in shirts, straight posture, mixed in with some comedy and mild sadness is the formula that makes up the play "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Shine up?". Throughout the production emotions are shifted from many humorous generalizations about catholic and high school, to brief moments of sadness involved in ones first love. Fueled by persistent and exuberant acting, this play was something to get off the couch for.
The acting of the cast was very well defined. The transition from young, antsy, playful children to mildly more mature high school students was fun to watch. Father O' Reilly (Jayson Speters) was a crowd favorite by far. His ability to attain his character tickled a lot of people. Keeping a straight face during the scene when he was getting whispered to in the confession booth is a hard task to tackle. Details as slight as maintaining his facial expressions were handled very well. His dancing between sets provided many giggles as well. Another excellent actor was Erin Miller (Eddie Ryan). His unprepared, exceptionally shy personality was a great state of mind for the guy who gets the girl in the end. The awkwardness could be sensed in the air anytime he was near his love Becky Backowski (Nikki Tatge). The small talk and pretzel shaped body movements added to the feel of the relationship between the two young lovers. Not only was the acting great but the use of theater space and the orchestra was a great addition to the play.
The Thrust stage style is always a great choice. It has a personal feel to it, as you can almost touch (which would be frowned upon) the actors as they walk past. Props feel more realistic as you can hear the hum of the wheels as desks are being moved around, and sounds as slight as the footsteps during the dancing parts was also absorbed in the experience. The songs were sung with great enthusiasm and plenty of smiles to go around. The nuns were a good example of how the actors could establish a weary, yet fun mood at the same time. Behind great singing is a pristine sound. The orchestra did a fantastic job at all songs they performed. Chorography was planned out nicely as well. The dances towards the end really showed the complexity of the choreographer's skills. Many people in many different places, but nothing seemed premeditated or a pattern. There was still a sense of raw play performance to the dances, and not just a rehearsed line dance of sorts. Along with the use of theater space, was an abundant amount of props to bring the stage to life and plenty of seats with a great view of the performance.
The stage was set up better than expected. Use of pillars and a very lovely make-shift stained glass window set the tone for the environment of the play. Most of the props were easily adjustable such as the sliding desks, which also made for an interesting shuffle when they were first introduced. Such well planned props provided easy transitions between scenes and left the audience with little time to prepare for what was next. Seating in the venue gave the audience the chance to pick the type of experience they wanted to have. Views from the balcony made the dances much more enjoyable to watch, but the seats on the floor bring a much more personal atmosphere to the production.
Overall the play was very entertaining to watch. The only noticeable mistake was a flower left on the ground after the hospital scene, which is a minimal of mistakes to make. Enthusiastic acting followed up with a playful sounding orchestra made for a pleasantly funny time. Great Job!

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Review by Hannah Olson

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was whimsical, well polished and filled with talent. The show itself is a well written portrayal of a group of students coming of age as they attend a Catholic school in the 1950’s. It is filled with clever one liners and playful banter as well as heartfelt encounters of compassion and acceptance as the characters struggled to discover who they were and what they wanted to do with their lives.
All of these aspects are brilliantly delivered and portrayed by the cast. Each cast member did an excellent job of creating a unique and well-embodied character whether they were the lead or in ensemble. What is most commendable about their performances is that they never broke out of character and even when dancing, sitting, or standing in line, they were that character, not an actor on stage who does not have a line. This is something many actors can have a hard time doing, and it was one of the small things that really heightened the play from a good production to an excellent production.
The actors in the performance also wonderfully portrayed their characters at all of the various ages. For the many actors who played students this means they believably grew up in front of the audiences eyes from a playful first grader to a mature high schooler. But this is also true for the actors portraying the adults in the production; all of which seemed older and wiser than the students they were teaching. This is especially true for Sister Lee played by Emily La Bonte and Father O’Reilly played by Jayson Speters. Both of whom convincingly expressed discipline, compassion, pride and humor when teaching the students and helping them with their problems. Specifically, when Sister Lee talks to Becky about Becky’s friendship issues and when Father O’Reilly speaks with Eddie about the Patron Saints. These scenes connected the audience to the characters and really brought them into the story. Also, Speters’ Irish accent was impeccably well done; being noticeable and humorous but not overdone.
The most memorable performances were those of Nikki Tatge who played Becky Backowski and Erin Miller who played Eddie Ryan. Each of them gave a moving performance easily winning over the hearts of the audience with their shy and awkward friendship and then their sweet relationship. The chemistry was apparent and believable and the audience was rooting for them the entire show. Both also had wonderful voices and performed brilliantly on their solos and duets, specifically the moving number “Little Fat Girls”, the giddy number “I Must Be In Love”, and the touching number “Friends, The Best Of”.
The cast all had wonderful voices filled with emotion which really brought the show to life, and kept the audience interested. Not to mention the impeccable dance numbers which were filled with precision, difficulty, and fun. The only complaint would be the dance break in the Act One Finale was a tad too long and even though the dances were brilliantly performed, it left the audience impatiently waiting for the story to continue.
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? may be a mouth full when it comes to the title, but the production leaves the audience wanting more. It is filled with whimsy and humor and loads of talent. The actors do a marvelous job at reeling in the audience and bringing them along their journey of growing up and discovering who they are. It is definitely a production worth seeing.

Do Black Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
review by Michael Timm

This UMD play was a pretty decent production about a group elementary student kids growing up together in the 50s. From laughs to some very serious moments, this play had all of your basic emotions packed into this thing (though if i may say, it was much more of a comedy). It had some funny jokes and some periods of sadness.

The play started off when the kids were very young, just in elementary school. The grade school was led by Father O' Reily and the nuns. The lead roles were Eddie and Becky. Though the story followed them, i kind of wish they hadn't because their relationship seemed lacking of the much needed chemistry on stage. Though i must also comment, that the cast fit very well into the their parts and the acting was very good. I would have to say my favorite cast member was Father O'Reily, i believe the casting role did a wonderful job. The students had excellent chemistry on stage, i felt like i was watching an actual class room of students. As the play continues, i felt that there were some lines out of place? I can't place my finger on it, but there were a few moments where the lines didn't flow well.

The lighting and the costumes were also pretty believable. Something that this production did very well was make the audience actually believe this play. I had absolutely no trouble with this aspect of the play. Also the orchestra was astounding! Sometimes i didn't even believe that, as well as the play being live, there was a live orchestra too. I haven't attended very many plays where there was a live orchestra, so i sometimes got a little bit distracted with the music and wasn't paying full attention to the play.

Overall, this play was a very decent college production. There are a few things that could be tweeked, but overall it's a play that i did not view as a waste of my time.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Review by Daniel Adams-Meade

UMD’s performance of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was an enjoyable experience overall; a nostalgic look on the lives of 12 catholic school goers and their experience with love, sex, religion, and nuns (a little heavy on the sex). The thrust stage made it easier for audience members sitting in the balconies and off to the sides to see the play. However, the show was 2 ½ hours long, which in some cases is all right, but in a show like this it could have definitely been around 1 ½ hours to an hour and 45 minutes - the extra 45 minutes made it difficult for the audience to pay attention towards the end of the show. The director could have definitely made intermission shorter, and also cut the dance numbers right before the intermission. It’s hard to understand why every character in the show would dance on stage for 15 minutes after the first act has ended, it doesn’t really add to the story a whole lot, at least not 15 minutes worth.
The actors on stage were easy to connect with, they did an excellent job of portraying charming little 2nd graders in the beginning of the show. The first confession scene was hysterical. It’s easy to tell that the actors put a lot of work into their characters for this scene and it paid off. One issue, however, was that the actors didn’t make it apparent enough that their characters were aging. It seemed as though they were 2nd graders for the entire first act until they randomly jumped to 8th grade graduation right before intermission. There could have been stronger character choices for each characters’ ages to make the difference, and lapse of time, more apparent. Costume and make-up could have done a little more too to make the difference in age more visible to the audience.
The singing was more than adequate for the most part. There were a few areas where pitch was a little off, specifically during “The Greatest Gift.” When the nuns were singing like a choir, one of them was singing noticeably out of tune. It’s hard to say whether this was for comedic affect or not because it sounded a little too convincing. Perhaps if the singing was a little more noticeably awful, then the joke would be a lot more effective. The two main characters have great singing voices, “Little Fat Girls” was very funny and also pretty to listen to.
On the technical side of things, lighting and sound could have been a little stronger. For the majority of the show, the lighting almost never changed - it was awesome looking, it just never changed. During songs like “Little Fat Girls” and “How Far is Too Far?” where there were spotlights, the main lighting stayed just as bright, so the spotlights were barely visible. Those songs would have been much more enjoyable for the audience had there been more drastic lighting changes. As for sound, the orchestra was VERY quiet. It sounded great but the music just needed to be louder. Mics should have been used for the singers as well. For many parts of the play it was difficult to hear and understand some of what the actors were singing.
Overall this show was GOOD, some small tweaks to bits of the performance could have taken this show to the next level, but definitely still worth the ticket price to go see.

"Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up" was the first UMD Theatre production I have seen, and it left me with a very good impression. Although musicals are not my favorite type of play, I was very impressed with the quality of the singing the actors had. I am usually weary of school musical productions because you just never know what type of talent will show up. The quality of this talent was definitely pleasantly surprising.
Along with the quality of singing, the musical numbers as a whole were very good. The play provided a few catchy tunes that weren't overly annoying or obnoxious. "Private Parts" was just one of those tunes. It was humorous and relatable which really made it enjoyable to listen to and experience. That whole scene in their Sex Ed class reminded me of the scene in the movie Mean Girls. I'm glad it was included in the production because it really adds to how relatable the play is.
I thought the entire play was a really exceptional balance of humor and serious moments. The cast delivered really great one liners and their portrayal of elementary aged children was so spot on and really added to the humor the show provided. The nuns on roller blades was one of my favorite parts of the show. The sequence leading up to it was great and it was a really great touch.
The most impressive part of the show for me was the smoothness of the music and the acting even with the orchestra being in a completely different room with no view of the show besides a TV screen feeding both the actors and the conductor the views. If there were any miscues, I certainly didn't catch them. It is really a great nod to just how hard the two groups worked together to make sure that disconnect in locations didn't throw off the whole show.
Overall, this was definitely a really great production. I would definitely recommend it to anyone else looking for a night of laughs!

The production of UMD’s Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was a comical musical about a group of students growing up in a Catholic school. The acting during the opening scene must have been very difficult to pull off but was done very nicely by the actors and actresses from UMD. The actors had to act like second graders, throwing temper tantrums and making fun of each other.

Growing up in a Catholic environment much of the audience could relate to a lot of the jokes and references that the play, it was enlightening to look back and be able to relate to the awkward moments of childhood and all of the questions we all have growing up. The scene décor was very accurate of what I remember from my time spent in the Catholic Church. The stain glass windows were a nice touch, there was scene where the children were going to confession and there was a light shining down on them that was in the pattern a cross in the window above, it was a very small touch that added a lot to the scene.

The plays costumes also added a lot to the production. All of the students were wearing uniforms and as the years progressed their hair and uniforms changed with them, the nuns and Father O’Reilly also were dressed the part.

Listening to the strong voices of the cast members and the beautiful orchestra made the play very enjoyable. At first it seemed as though that it was a recording playing in the background, but when I saw the director of the orchestra live on the television and quickly realized they were performing in harmony. It was really interesting to see how the two matched up so well, it was very beautiful to listen too.

The adorable songs that were performed were very well put together and brought a comical and fun element to the play. One of my favorite scenes was when the nuns came across the stage on roller blades to insinuate they were floating, it was very comical.
The characters did a very good job of changing their singing and speaking voices to make them sound more mature as they grew up during the production.

One of the negatives about this production would have to be the length. It kept seeming like it was going to end but then continued, the ending was a little unexpected though. After thinking of how the play was going to end between the main characters Becky and Eddie. It was very sweet and left many of the audience happy with the outcome between these two.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
By Tim Abrahamson
Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was marvelously performed by the students of the University of Minnesota Duluth. The performance was enthralling from the get go as we were able to see adults acting as they would have back in the second grade. However difficult (or easy for some) this might have been, the audience was unable to tell because each actor and actress did a remarkable job in making their younger aged characters extremely believable. They did so mainly by using very detailed body language and mannerisms that are stereotypical of elementary school kids.
Having no prior knowledge about the play Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Caused me to pay that more attention to what was actually going on. I didn’t even realize that the play was a musical until it was almost time for the intermission. However, every single one of the actors and actresses were very accomplished singers and that made the performance all the more entertaining.
Another interesting aspect of this play was to see each character progress through the awkward years of middle school and high school. It was impressive to see how each actor and actress was able to maintain certain childhood facets of their personalities while also showing signs of maturity while maintaining their characters as the play went on.
One major problem that I saw with this play was the lack of a story line. It felt as if the relationship between Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller) and Becky (Nikki Tatge) was supposed to be the focal point of the play. However they didn’t give it enough chance to develop as there were so many other things going on. In the end, it really felt like they tried to rush the “happy ending” of the two coming to be together.
All in all, this was an incredible performance. This performance was just as, if not funnier than Boeing Boeing. It felt more like going to see a play on Broadway than going to see your fellow students put on a performance. Although the story line could have been a little bit different, each actor and actress made the most of their parts and made the play very entertaining for the audience.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
Review By Ryan Olsen
To start off, the play Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? was excellent. Making a play based on the educational process of Christianity, and creating a comical turn on the ideas seemed very creative on the play writer’s part. Attending this play put a smile on everyone’s face in the audience; even the little jokes made the crowd chuckle. The actors, stage, and personal attachment helped make this play more entertaining.
The choice of actors for each character could have perhaps been what made the play so productive. Each actor portrayed their part marvelously with little loss of acting. Even during the songs, characters never lost focus on acting while singing. During the song The Greatest Gift, the actors sounded and appeared like children, as they should have been. The change in age as the play proceeded also appeared like a normal aging process, even though the actors never changed. From being about 6 years old to 18 and older, the actors changed appearance to fit the age ideally. To compare, watching the actors as kids in confession, one could tell it is a child. As adults, on the other hand, confession seemed more proper and idealistic. Good actors help make a good play.
The stage was another piece of the whole production that created the mood of a real church. One good thing about the stage was its simplicity. There was little transition, and the play used the main design for every act. This simplicity worked, possibly, due to the lighting; the change in lights meant a change in scenes, such as outside had a bluer lighting compared to inside the church or at confession. One knew where the scene took place without the background designed to fit the look. Also, with transitions being very quick and short, the change in scenes took little time, keeping the play going smoothly. The stage crew could even move small pieces, like the door, off stage during a scene with little interruption of the play. Examining the stage, simplicity was best.
The final and most important piece to making this play impact the viewer is a personal attachment to the concept of the play. Growing up with a mother who kept a book of saints on her night stand like any good Catholic women, going to mass every Sunday, having a first confession and just learning about Catholicism could give the viewer a perfect background to see this play. The book of saints is remembered during the song Patron Saints when Eddie, the main character, sings about every saint and what each saint is for. That scene seemed to bring back a lot of memories. Even if a viewer didn’t have the Catholic background the stereotypes that they know about good Catholics would be enough: the stern Irish priest, nuns with rulers and the way good catholic girls are. ‘How far is too far?’ was always a great question before and still is now.
Throughout the play, many kinks and quirks made this play unbelievably great. Catholicism might and might not have been the greatest religion for different people, but for this play, even if the jokes were for an inner circle of Catholics, they were never hard to understand. Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? can put a smile on any viewer’s face.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up? was presented last week at the UMD Marshall stage. Overall thoughts about the play are that is was a well-directed and well casted production. This play was very humorous and relatable for those who actually attended a Catholic private school, and also touched on many stereo types related to them. One thing the play was lacking was an interesting plot. The plot was very week and alone would have not been interesting at all. It lacked a lot of the complexity that more interesting plot lines have. Instead of having a complex plot it relied on funny one liners and short comedic commentary to keep the audience interested. In which it did a very good job of, the audience was always on the verge of falling out of their seat in laughter. The overall plot of the two lovers was very dry at times but the comedic timing of many lines relieved some of the dryness.

The cast in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up? did a magnificent job of really developing the characters even with the lack of plot. Especially the actors did a good job portraying the age group they were acting in. As the characters grew up, subtle changes in the actors made it seem as if they were actually aging in the time frame of the play. With the giant age gap from the beginning to the end it is hard to make the actors seem different. By the way they dressed and acted it was obvious to tell that they were now much older and wiser. The actors were well casted and did a good job.

The setting of this play was very good. Those who contributed ideas to the scene did a very good job. They really knew how to use the stage to the best of their ability. There were not many big scene changes but they cleverly changed one solid background into both indoor and outdoor scenes. Along with the scenery there was a great use of costumes. Each of the costumes very closely portrayed the actual uniforms used in Catholic schools. The costumes also helped to portray the age of the characters, starting off younger children clothes and finally ending in more sophisticated skirts and suits.

Throughout the entire play the singing was great. It really helped the plot along and also brought a lot to the play in general. The voices of the actors were very good and blended well together. The songs were mostly up beat and fun, to go along with the feeling of the play. The only thing that was distracting in this was the random dance number. It lacked coherence with the plot and took the audience’s attention away from the actual plot of characters. It felt out of place with how long it was and how it was randomly placed in the plot. Overall the music and singing in the play was intriguing and added to the play, however the dance number distracted the audience.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? This play was preformed in the MPAC at University of Minnesota Duluth. It was a musical comedy with a little mix of some kindgarten love crushing. Using the MPAC for this production was clever and fun to see a lot of college classmates performing in this one. This was a play to kind of say lightly “Mocking” the catholic school system. With witty catholic school jokes and humor. Lasting not more than two and a half hours, I was a little anxious to get out of my seat and move around some.
As for me, I attended a catholic school in high school so this was right up my ally. I got to see a special preview of the play in the dress rehearsal stage of everything, so the whole set was not fully done. From what was done I was very impressed with the use of the stage. It was staged more out in the front of the stage, so I think they could have used more space.
They had the Father, on the far right side of the stage and it was kind of hard to see everything that was going on. I think the costume designs by Patricia Dennis were absolutely perfect from the shoes to the schoolgirl dresses. Patricia really did a stellar job. She also had the pink dresses in the end of the play that topped it off. She perfectly fit the theme in the outfits making the performers look young at times and also making them fit the art in the high school version. Mary Kennedy played by Emily Fletcher was phenomenal. She really worked the part of being the teacher’s pet.
Becky was by far the most relatable character. Every girl gets some kind of picked on in grade school all the way to senior year of high school. I really like the way they portrayed her character as being the “fat girl”. I was hooked once I watched Nikki perform the song Little Fat Girls in Act 1 scene 4. The way she just acts is so harmless and she really makes her character feel like that fat girl in school.
Over all I really enjoyed this play and I would really recommend it for high schoolers because it is very easy to relate. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is a must see.

The play Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? is a must see. The actors portrayed their characters fully and functionally although they did fumble some words they kept their composer and went on like nothing at all happened. The casted roles were perfect for every person who played them. The costumes that were picked were just right for the catholic privet school, and how they changed as they grew. The props that they used worked just right for the play. The best part about the scenery was the “mosaic glass”. The way they brought the Catholic Church resemblance was great. All of the lighting in the play was amazing. All the work that they put into it was worth it. The playwright’s intention for the play was to show the audience about growing up in a catholic school and being different and about God. The play provided a little insight on social issues today, by having someone grow up and find their way in life. The director did a marvelous job in what he/she did. She/he figured out what the script wanted the audience to see and put it into real life. All of the dancing and singing was perfect and all on time with the beat. It made me want to get up there and dance along with the cast! But there is one minor thing that could’ve been changed, the big dancing scene did drag on a little too long, if that was to be shortened a little bit the play would be marvelous, but all in all the play was a big success.

Saturday night UMD theater department put on a spectacular performance in the Marshall Performing Arts Center showing, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? This play was a humorous interpretation about what life was like growing up in a Catholic school system. The main character, Eddie, went back on a trip down memory lane and recalls his experiences at St Bastian’s elementary and St. Patrick Bremmer High School.
The stage was set with windows made from colored paper that made the illusion of traditional fiberglass Catholic Church windows. Also along side of the stage there was a confessional to the right and a doorway on the left side. The props that set the stage such as the desks and the fence were all on wheels. This made for quick and easy transitions between the scenes keeping the audience engaged, as the play was nearly continuous throughout each of the two acts.
The costumes consisted of traditional Catholic school type uniforms. The girls were all in jumper dresses for the first act and the boys were in their shorts and collared shirts, which is very typical for private schools during this time period. The Nuns dressed in the standard Nun attire looked very realistic and father O’ Reilly had all the makings of a great priest uniform. Costume designer Patricia Dennis really did a great deal of homework showing of a very realistic cast when it came to their costumes.
The cast for the show was a group of all Caucasian students, which may be accurate in some Catholic private schools. The students played their roles really well encompassing all of the different personalities in a typical small elementary and high school class. Nancy Ralansky (Elise Benson) was the popular girl. Mary Kennedy (Emily Fletcher) was the perfect student with the stuck up personality girl in the class. Becky Backowski (Nikki Tatge) was the girl that wasn’t accepted by the others and was overweight. Louie Schlang (James Goodman) was the class clown along with Felix Lindor (Ryan Fargo) who was the jock character. Eddie Ryan (Erin Miller was the male character who didn’t really fit in the group of guys. Each personality had their own humorous way that they contributed to the play. The cast was loaded with musically talented singers, dancers actors who did not fail to put on an entertaining performance.
The underlying plot of this musical romance told the story of Eddie and Becky, the two “misfits” of their class, and how their friendship began, the challenges they faced along their journey and ended with their marriage. Also, this play told the story of a group of children that grew up confused in the complicated life of a strict Catholic school system. The play demonstrated the frustrations they faced with curiosity about aspects of life that the school didn’t teach well from the viewpoint of the children. The directors and producers did a great job with this play and seeing this performance is highly recommended for those looking for a good laugh.

UMD Theatre Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? Review
 Ellie Mueller
UMD Theater gave a ridiculously funny, two act production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? where I recently attended.
The characters presented a comical story of the life of students at a Catholic school in the 1950s. This is a production from a book written by John R. Powers’ which tells a story of young Catholic schooled kids who are experiencing life and growing with each other from fifth grade to their high school years.
The Director Ann Bergeron used a very simple set up for the stage, which was just right and effective. Patricia Dennis the costume designer for this production provided a youthful and fun feel with the costume design. This was effective in creating an illusion that the actors were younger and childish rather than their actual age. The costume design really captured the time of the play along with the age although the actors and actresses are playing much younger roles. I couldn’t have pictured the costumes to be any better than how Patricia Dennis created them.
There were a couple characters that stuck out to me more than the others. These are the characters that I felt really captured the portrayal of their character very well.
Introduced at the beginning of the production, the audience meets Eddie Ryan played by Erin Miller. He informs us about his love, which we meet named Becky Backowski played by Nikki Tatge. These two characters are who lead the play and tell the audience of their story of growing up, going through struggles, and falling in love.
Nikki Tatge’s portrayal of Becky couldn’t have been better. She really presented her role well from being the innocent, sweet, “fat girl”, to the older, more sophisticated young high school student who is searching for what she wants in life. This character had to presented in a more serious way and that is not always easy. I think Nikki Tatge’s portrayal of Becky Backowski couldn’t have been any better.
I was impressed by the portrayal of Sister Lee by Emily La Bonte. This role was more serious being the nun schoolteacher and very strict personality. La Bonte made her character believable to the audience and I thought made a great Sister Lee.
While Emily La Bonte played a more serious role, Vanessa Barr, who played the out-going, crazy, Virginia Lear. This character was a wild, carefree, say what she wants kind of girl. Barr really captured the young typical teenager from her actions and what she had to say. Even though this character wasn’t a very serious role, I think she definitely captured the role of a typical teenage girl.
I highly recommend seeing this production if you haven’t before. I guaranty you won’t leave without laughing. Each character plays a role in creating a great production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

The musical, Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, was a riveting comedy put on by the students attending the University of Minnesota Duluth. It was an outright hilarious comedy featuring, singing and dance, outrageous laughter, and amusing acting. It was definitely a show worth watching, and the cast at UMD deserve a big hats off.

The playwright’s intent for this play was downright comedy, and they achieved just that. The play was outright hilarious in most aspects; although there were some serious parts they always held an underlying tone of comedy that always kept the attention of the audience. There was never a dull moment. From the adorable little children, to the awkward teenagers, and finally young adults it was fun to watch as the actors progressed and acted out the typical stereotypes that each stage carries.

It was a blast to watch the actors portray their specific roles. Each individual actor was a fabulous actor. There is not one actor that did any poorly than another, no matter their role. They all knew their lines and knew the best way to present them to the audience in an appropriate manner. The cast also knew the characters they were supposed to be and all acted accordingly.

The scenic design was quite simplistic but it worked. The thrust stage that it was presented on was scarcely set with a few stained glass windows, a door, and the occasional desks. Not to mention the confessional that was placed in the corner. The design of the stage and the set worked because since the desks were on wheels, it allowed the cast to help out with scene changes while making them an interesting part of the play where as many times scene changes can often times be dull moments within the performance. The stained glass windows stayed throughout the whole production which worked because as the children aged, they remained in the same classroom. The simplistic set also made sure that it did not take away from the actors’ performance. It only enhanced, it did not make the overall production.

The production was a very well done play and was very much worth seeing. The mixture between the singing, dancing, and acting was mastered to at science. There is not one change that the director could have done to improve the performance. It was clear also, that the audience thought so as well. The audience was involved in the performance and it was well received among them. When the actors would crack a joke, the whole theatre would ignite in laughter. The audience was also well receiving when it was a serious scene between the two main characters. It was a very entertaining show and it lived up to the purpose of the playwright. Well worth the $6 to see it. Again, hats off to the actors.

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

This play was probably one of the funniest plays I have been to here at UMD. Going into this play I was a little worried because I heard that it was going to be a musical. I am not a big fan of musicals but since it was funny I enjoyed it for the most part. I thought that the play was really long and you never knew when the play was really going to end. I attended this play on the final dress rehearsal day and even though the set was not done it was still really good. I am curious how it would be different if they had the set complete.

This play reminded me of when I was a kid and how I am growing up. They acted out when they were kids and then growing up. The UMD students did a great job of acting, singing and dancing. It amazes me how such great actors can sing and dance as well. That takes a lot of great talent and dedication and it is really hard to do. It is also hard to play as a kid and “grow up” throughout the play as well. The costumes were great and their catholic uniforms changed as they grew up. It really helped understand that they were growing up and that it was a different year.

This play originally had 8 catholic children during the 1950’s but UMD added 4 rolls and turned this version into a play about 12. This play is a journey throughout the children’s lives up to their high school years and when they are all grown up. The play starts off in their Catholic Elementary school and they learn rights and wrongs in life and the rules of your future. I loved watching how they “grew” up throughout the play.

This play was really funny and I thought it was very cool how they had nun’s rollerblade this is just one thing that made this play so funny. The entire play just reminded of me growing up and causing all sorts of mischief. I thought the most important lesson in this play was when the nun told the girls in school that black patent leather shoes reflect up. It was brought up several times during the play.

I think that Ann Akio Bergerson, the director/choreographer of this play at UMD did a great job of bringing the acting, singing and dancing together. I like how she used the different uniforms as well as the children went into a new year of school. She did a great job of twisting this play from the original play and the book that was published in 1975 by John R. Powers. It was later turned in a musical playwright.

I really enjoyed this play and they did a very good job of connecting the song to the play. It connected very well with what was going on. Everything felt so real like I was actually there reliving my childhood memories. I was so happy during this play just because it was so funny and with the music, acting, singing and dancing and I was intrigued. I am glad I went to this play and I really enjoyed this musical.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on October 10, 2012 8:50 AM.

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