Audience Review: The Explorers Club by Roxy Orcutt

Roxy Orcutt "The Halloween Honey"

Roxy Orcutt
"The Halloween Honey"

It's such a treat to go into a show knowing very little to nothing about it, and walk out delighted, entertained, and eager to recommend it to your friends!  That's exactly how I felt after watching The Explorers Club at Lyric Arts on Friday night. 

The show is set in a very stuffy 1870's London, but the play is anything but that.  The energy of the show starts off high and doesn't come down for a second.  The Explorers Club is made up of six men with tales of adventures and creatures from around the globe. They cheer “to science!” and happily brag amongst themselves about what they've done and seen and are about to be thrown for a loop when a member of the club, Lucius Fretway, wants to admit a woman.  Not only is the woman in question, Phyllida Spotte-Hume, a scientist in her own right having recently discovered an entire lost civilization, Lucius also has a not-so-secret crush on Phyllida, even going so far as to name a plant he recently discovered after her. 

Harry Percy (Peter Ooley, left), Phyllida Spotte-Hume/Countess Glamorgan (Jessica Scott, Center), and Lucius Fretway (Brandon Osero, Right) star in "The Explorers Club"

Harry Percy (Peter Ooley, left), Phyllida Spotte-Hume/Countess Glamorgan (Jessica Scott, Center), and Lucius Fretway (Brandon Osero, Right) star in "The Explorers Club"

When Phyllida comes onto the scene, played by the always delightful Jessica Scott, she brings along a “savage,” a member of the lost civilization she discovered and names him Luigi.  Luigi, all blue skin and curious movements, is the absolute highlight of the show, played by Brendan Veerman, who I last saw contort and transform into Igor in Lyric Arts' production of Young Frankenstein.  Veerman's portrayal of Luigi could have gone a million different ways in the hands of a less skilled actor, but his Luigi was an absolute riot.  Luigi isn't portrayed as some foolish brute that must be taught in the ways of Victorian society, but a fully formed character who is comfortable with his own customs, but does his best to learn new ones, including learning the art of bartending and how to properly bow to royalty. 

Aside from the dynamic cast, the world this show inhabits was executed beautifully with the set design.  It is with such (seeming) ease that the talented crew at Lyric Arts' is able to use this little space in Anoka and take the audience all around the world with each show they produce.  The club in this show is exactly what you would imagine, and then some, when conjuring up the idea of a 19th century adventure tale.

This show was a brilliant choice to kick of Lyric Arts' latest season.  It had endless laugh-out-loud moments, non-stop energy and a fantastic cast!

Oh, and the refreshed lobby looks great!    

Roxy Orcutt, The Halloween Honey, is a local author and theater enthusiast. Her book, “History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital,” explores Anoka, MN, its spooky tales, colorful characters, and why it is named the “Halloween Capital of the World.” It is available for sale online at

Welcome to Lyric Arts' 20th Anniversary Season!

Laura Tahja Johnson Artistic Director

Laura Tahja Johnson
Artistic Director

Welcome to Lyric Arts’ 2015–2016 season!

We are celebrating our 20th anniversary with a season that provides a little something for everyone. You’ll find musicals big and small, hilarious comedies, touching stories about
what makes us human, and productions chosen to delight the child in each of us.

The Explorers Club is one of the funniest comedies I have read in a really long time, making it a perfect choice to kick off our season. Besides just being funny, playwright Nell Benjamin cleverly skewers the misogyny of “jolly, old” Victorian England and the blind entitlement of imperialism— themes that continue to be relevant more than a century later—from a light-hearted, post-modern point of view.

In a New York Times article, regarding society’s inherent sexism, Benjamin was quoted as saying, “Nothing is a level playing field, but we’re bringing the dirt.” We’ll consider this production our own shovelful of “dirt.”

We hope you enjoy all our 2015–2016 has in store for you!