The Kansas City Star – Robert Trussell (excerpts):
This production from the Spinning Tree Theatre makes for a remarkable two hours.
I saw the Broadway version with Sutton Foster in the title role last spring. Although respectably done on every level, the show felt chilly and distant. Tesori’s dynamic score signals at the outset that this musical is supposed to generate heat. The Spinning Tree show, co-directed and co-choreographed by Michael Grayman and Andy Parkhurst, certainly does that.
Lauren Braton, who established herself years ago as one of the best singers in town, delivers a deeply felt, skillfully executed performance in the title role. Her voice, as usual, is flawless, but she has never been asked to perform a role as complex or as dramatically demanding as Violet.
As Flick, Matthew A. King again demonstrates a beautiful voice and delivers a thoughtful, poignant portrayal…
Daniel Beeman is memorable as Monty…Beeman is an impressive singer.
(Devyn) Trondson (as Young Violet) has a fine voice.
Music director Angie Benson leads a crack band, and the company often achieves amazing multipart harmonies.
“Violet” is a memorable slice of Americana…this production identifies the material’s strengths and runs with them.
The Pitch – Deborah Hirsch (excerpts):
…a touching and vibrant telling…
As travel often teaches us, the excursion is at least as important as the destination. Spinning Tree Theatre’s Violet bears that out – it’s a trip well worth taking, for its heroine and for us.
Spinning Tree founders Michael Grayman and Andy Parkhurst together directed and choreographed this local rendition, and their expertise is evident in the show’s production values and outstanding cast.
Devyn Trondson makes a strong impression as the younger Violet.
(Lauren) Braton makes her Violet a self-aware, layered young woman of 25 who has borne the brunt of others’ taunts and shudders, and knows her place on any social circle’s periphery. The actress’s mellifluent voice adds depth to her performance and keeps our focus on Violet and her inner life.
Daniel Beeman is note-perfect in his portrayal of Monty…
…Matthew King makes an impact as Monty’s friend Flick; his singing is a nearly spiritual experience in itself, adding resonance to the character and pulling us in.
As Violet’s farmer father, Tim Ahlenius is heartfelt as a man who watches over her yet can’t apologize for something he didn’t mean to do.
Bob Linebarger slips in and out of several supporting roles that range from the serious to the very amusing.
Costume designer Gary Campbell capture the styles of 19760s civilian and military garb with equal care.
The backbone of this musical is a superlative band assembled by Spinning Tree. Angie Benson…again excels as musical director.
…the musicians command our notice, and their work stays in mind well after final bows.
KCMetropolis.org – Senior Editor Karen Hauge (excerpts):
Spinning Tree Theatre’s second production of the 2014-15 season is “Violet,” a musical story of one woman’s struggles with faith, beauty, love and acceptance. It is a story that is well suited to the prodigious talents of star Lauren Braton and the dedication, innovation and sheer gumption of Kansas City’s little theatre company that could.
Lauren Braton is astoundingly good in the role of Violet. This is the most diverse and dramatic role I have seen her in to date, and her range of expression is equal to the exceptional skill I already knew she possessed as a singer.
(Lauren) Braton’s dynamic and sensitive soprano is an asset in its versatility, able to convey all the shades of Violet’s complicated journey with a skill spectrum that spans everything from gospel belting to serenade crooning to power ballad-ing. She made the show compelling with every move.
The powerful female triumvirate of Julie Shaw, Samantha Barboza and Linnaia McKenzie was used to best effect when the three sang together, making me long for more than just a handful of these instances.
Devyn Trondson’s voice is accurate beyond her years, and her enthusiasm for the role energized the interpretation of the total character of Violet.
Music director Angie Benson led a rock band style pit composed of guitars, drums and piano, playing Jeanine Tesori’s rock/blues/country inspired score with undeniable panache.
Violet is a story of scars, of those hidden and those embraced, and it is a story that we each have inside us.