Favorite review from a former student
Editor’s Note: The author of this review is Christina Major, an opera singer who studied as a young student with both Kelvin Dilks, who plays AMON, and play director Connie Sanchez. We reprint Christina’s review, which originally appeared on Facebook, because it’s so darn interesting!
“Amon G. Carter resurrects before our eyes”
By Christina Major Davis
I had the express pleasure of catching one of the final extended shows of “AMON! The Ultimate Texan” today at The Artisan Theater. Having been under the tutelage of Connie Sanchez and Kelvin Dilks in high school, I wasn’t going to miss it. After all they are directly responsible for my success in performing today.
An unassuming set brilliantly and simplistically designed using projections, a single office desk center stage, a suit , a magic hat with a very special actor inside is all it takes in this production to send us on a journey through history from the colorful perspective of the the loyal Texan Amon “Gosh Darn” Carter.
Connie Sanchez is at the helm of this ship and thankfully as she is known for insisting upon honest delivery and finding the real moments of humanity in a character as well as the actor portraying them. Here she directs this delightful and extremely informative experience with wonderful tidbits that I certainly didn’t know about the history of my own state.
With simple and clean blocking reflecting a normal everyday conversation with someone, that someone being the audience, we are included as “full page add” subscribers to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. The “fourth wall” was immediately removed to establish this fun relationship between us and Amon. This was very appropriate for the character who is larger than life, and Kelvin had ample room to explore details and deliver with sincerity. I forgot I was watching a former teacher of mine. He was brilliant.
This production is transparent, sweeps nothing under the rug and the play-write Dave Lieber even offers a companion book to the play with even more true stories and experiences that you can purchase at the theater. Many people were carrying them around during the show so I assume those are selling like hot cakes. (Amon would be so proud, being the ultimate salesman!) Dave Lieber gives us a warm, friendly yet ambitious and saucy Amon true to his life.
The show is filled laughter, and moments of raw emotion that forced more than a few rogue tears out of the edge of my eye due to the exposed and true delivery of Mr. Dilks.
Truthfully, I admired him in high school for being a supportive director, talented set designer and builder but I had frankly never seen him in a role.... until now. A one person show can be a daunting task to any actor and just the thought of it, even as a seasoned performer myself, gives me pause.
Kelvin has zero pauses in this performance. His “go with the flow” style of story telling with expressions and a convincing accent really gave me a clear understanding of who Amon G. Carter was. This coupled with Lieber’s descriptive script gave a convincing arc to this story. I was never wanting for more on this intimate stage.
The clever choice of using Amon’s notorious hat as a “time machine” skipping around events in his life was eloquent and efficient. He would stay just long enough to tell a story and when the emotion became almost too much, it was time to move on. In this method we were able to experience the painful moments of his life but not be weighed down too much to enjoy the giggles.
It closes this weekend after many extended and sold out performances. I hope they might consider a reprise of this world premier as it deserves to be seen again.