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‘The Man with Bogart’s Face’ brings 1940s to arts center 

From the moment I walked through the doors of the theatre at the Granville Arts Center, the scene was magnificently set for Garland Civic Theatre’s production of a classic 1940s tale of a caper. Suspenseful sounds filled the room as the audience anticipated the action to come. The stage was set for the suspenseful and, at times, funny dark comedy, “The Man with Bogart’s Face,” directed by Josh Hensley.

Enter the cunning Sam Marlow, played by Andrew MacDonald. Marlow is a man with a dark past, looking for a new start and a new life. Long fascinated with television and movies of his childhood, Marlow decides to live out his dreams by transforming himself and taking on the face of renowned actor Humphrey Bogart.

Beginning his new life with striking good looks, Marlow arms himself with a trench coach, fedora and ammunition reminiscent of the crime stoppers of his childhood lore, and opens his own detective agency. His office soon becomes a revolving door bringing in a host of plot twists and clients all in pursuit of the same illusive prize: The Eyes of Alexander.

Lead actor MacDonald who also appeared in the Garland Civic Theatre play “Watson,” describes this play as a “film noire meeting a dark comedy” which is appropriate in this crime drama. The complicated mix of love between Marlow and the stunning, yet mysterious Gena Anastas played by Bridget Lynch, is sure to maintain the attention of viewers and keep the audience intrigued as the motivations and intentions of each character unfold on stage.

Each character brings his or her own flair and charisma to the production. One of the most impressive aspects of the production was how members of the cast show their dexterity by portraying multiple characters throughout the production.

According to Josh Hensley, the idea of having so many different characters portrayed in the play was a daunting task.

“It seems nearly impossible to pull off,” said Hensley.

However, the director took the challenge head on.

“Nearly impossible has never stopped me and it won’t stop this cast either,” Hensley said in an excerpt from his Notes from the Director section of the playbill.

Not only was the effort of the cast impressive, but the variety of locations represented with great props and scenery was impressive.

According to Hensley, “The sheer amount of scenic locations” was a challenge, but the cast and crew painted a perfect mental picture which brought the audience into the action.

The narration of Sam Marlow helped the play move seamlessly from scene to scene. The flow of the play benefited from the way Marlow kept the audience up to speed as events unfolded. The story was told in a captivating manner. Even those unfamiliar with Humphrey Bogart will be able to appreciate and follow the action of the play with relative ease.

“The Man with Bogart’s Face” runs until Feb. 13 at the Granville Arts Center in the small theatre. The next showing is Friday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.