Stage Thrust, with Bobo the Theater Ho
Facts, opinions, rumors and innuendoes about the theater scene in Spokane, Washington
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Troy Wageman and Haley New Ostrander
Broadway at the (Lake City) Playhouse
Fund-raiser in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday, July 1, with social hour (and actors mingling) at 6:30 pm and show at 7:30 pm
Food, drink, silent auction, and the following performers (familiar to LCP playgoers) singing show tunes: Catherine Treadgold, Marina Kalani, Brian Doig, Dennis Craig, Bekkah Monitz, Karen Hartman, Julie Powell, Bill Robison, Kent Kimball and Robbi French
LCP will also announce its new name at this event.
Lake City Playhouse
1320 E. Garden Ave., CdA
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Spokane theater awards, 2005-06
... arriving in *Inlander* racks on Thursday, June 29 (but if you're downtown, we have copies at our office, 1020 W. Riverside, noonish or one-ish on Wednesdays)
My understanding is that Jim Kershner is on sabbatical until Aug. 7, so this is probably it as far as local theatrical accolades go. (And what a thrill! Next year, we're going to add a secret handshake.)
I gave the awards a name which, to my surprise, was played up kinda big in the layout.
Surprises: Some shows I liked won lots of awards, other shows I liked didn't win as many as I would have thought. So I even surprised myself. BTW and FYI, I have never liked the "oh, we gave him one last year, let's spread it around this year" mentality. (Which is NOT intended as coded excuse-making for having given someone a repeat award.) But I say, let each category be evaluated on its own merits -- not on how this director or that actor performed last year, or even in another show this year. I'm with the Oscars not the Golden Globes, in other words -- judging on individual shows, not the year's collected works.
Messages I received on this blog --and, especially, via e-mail -- directly affected some choices; others, I rejected.
It's kinda lonely being the only critic-of-long-standing, at least for now, in town. (Insert your favorite overstayed-his-welcome joke here.)
Call me an imperceptive idiot, call me a snooty dishrag, call me whatever -- just don't think I dashed this off lightly. I spent hours rereading old reviews (few forms of torture worse, I know), sketching out drafts and combinations and re-combinations and re-rankings and new kinds of award categories.
In the grand scheme of things, I know, feh. But to those who saw a lot of these shows and care, at least they'll be food for thought.
"Parasite, parasite ..." I mutter to myself. It's a kind of mantra. Too harsh, but there's a kernel of truth: Without these people, these actor-types, I'm nowhere -- no job, no outlet for my passion for playgoing. "Criticism" has such a negative connotation. Critics can be a positive force -- but they aren't "part of the process," as they allegedly whine in *Anton in Show Business.* The process is sacred, takes place in rehearsal halls and hearts and minds. Critics are outside the process, alongside it, working to broadcast it and prod it along -- sometimes helpfully, sometimes unnecessarily.
Annual awards a part of that.
Sometimes wish I could just be one of the guys. Can't. Tension whenever I walk in, notepad in hand. Who the hell does he think he is? Overworked, underpaid stiff. But always the next show to look forward to. Gonna try a little experiment with *Peter Pan,* can't wait to see *Pippin,* looking forward to all the new seasons, might surprise a few people by showing up ... keep the fire in the belly. And has anyone read *Red Light Winter* by Adam Rapp, because I just finished it and I want to talk about it with somebody. Good sign I still have that. Books and music and plays and swim-bike-run and movies and playing with my daughter, reading to my daughter, worrying about my daughter. Gut check. End of a long day. Try again, fail again, fail again better.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Ignite! Theatre switches on for a second season
at the Cajun Room, 1003 E. Trent Ave.
The Mousetrap Sept. 22-30
Harvey Nov. 10-18
Plaza Suite Feb. 23-March 3, 2007
Philip King's See How They Run April 27-May 5
Ignite! will also present reader's theater at Auntie's Bookstore: An Ideal Husband, The Dining Room, an evening of Christmas stories, King Lear and Dangerous Liaisons
Visit www.ignitetheatre.org or call 993-6540.
*The Laramie Project* in Sandpoint
at the Panida, July 7-8 and July 14-15 at 8 pm
Tickets: $10; $7, seniors and students
sponsored by Sandpoint PFLAG and Bonner County Human Rights Task Force
Looking Glass Theater Company
*Bus* makes a second stop
Interplayers is holding auditions again for the parts of Elma, Will, Carl and Virgil in William Inge's *Bus Stop* (which opens Sept. 14).
Thursday-Friday, July 6-7, from 1-5:30 pm
call Joe Rietcheck at 953-8868 for an audition appointment
director: Scott Allan
He Said/She Said fund-raiser at Civic
Sunday, June 25, at 7 pm
directed by Troy Nickerson; musical direction by Carolyn Jess
a dozen and a half of the finest local musical-comedy performers, with the men singing the ladies' show tunes and vice versa
lagniappe on *Grace & Glorie*
Bobo will preview Idaho Rep's *Grace & Glorie* (June 29-July 16) in an Inlander Pick (i.e., a Calendar of Events blurb) in our June 29 issue, but here's a bit more.
Barbara Farrar Evans (Grace) participated in the original workshop of the play 15 years ago. In the New York production, she substituted for Estelle Parsons in the role. She has a long resume of leading roles at regional theaters, mostly in the South and Midwest, including having played Big Mama in *Cat* opposite Pat Hingle. Farrar Evans has studied improv with Viola Spolin and voice and movement at the RSC with Kristin Linklater and Cecily Berry.
Kelly Quinnett, associate prof of performance in UI's Dept. of Theater and Film, will play Gloria ("Glorie"), the transplanted big-city lawyer turned somewhat reluctant hospice worker in Tom Zeigler's play. She says the three roles she's best known for around here are probably Lizzie in *The Rainmaker,* Doris in *Same Time Next Year* and Grace in CdA's *Annie* (though Bobo best remembers her Guinevere in CdA's *Camelot*). Quinnett acknowledges the potential pitfall of maudlin excess in *G&G,* but she also comments that "Both of these women have some flaws that make them incredibly interesting, and how the two worlds they come from collide at this particular time is moving but also funny.... The mix of her cantankerous strength versus my neurotic need for control — and softness in both of us — makes for some great theater." Quinnett will sing the role of Anna in CdA's *The King and I* this August.
Director David Lee-Painter adds that "although Grace is indeed dying, the play isn't about that — it is context for the relationship these two women develop. So Kelly and Barbara play these very interesting, maddening and beautifully flawed people trying to figure out how to both live and die. It is the truth of their individual struggles and desperate need to know that keeps us away from maudlin sentiment."
Seven performances only, June 29-July 16
Idaho Repertory Theatre at UI’s Hartung Theater
Sixth St. and Stadium Dr., Moscow, Idaho
Tickets: $17-$18 (for seniors and youth, a few dollars less)
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
*A Chorus Line* review
at CdA Summer Theatre through June 24
They’re college students, teachers and struggling actors (which ones aren’t?). They’re theater gypsies who live out of suitcases between and during shows. They migrate to Coeur d’Alene every summer, subsisting in dorms and spare bedrooms just for a chance to shine for a few moments onstage. For the 19 actors in *A Chorus Line* at Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre (through June 24), the roles reflect the lifestyle to an unusual degree. You just know that the opening number, “I Hope I Get It,” crystallizes the emotions these kids had during the auditions for this very show.
*A Chorus Line* feels dated at times, and the recitations of birth dates that Mr. Bossy Director demands during tryouts for these aspiring dancers only reinforces that feeling. These fictional dancers were all born in the 1940s and ‘50s; if they were alive today, they’d be in late middle age, well past their dancing prime. That is, if they were alive at all — Chorus Line’s pre-AIDS vintage only reinforces its bittersweet mood. For example, Michael Bennett (1943-87) — who conceived, choreographed and directed the 1975 premiere of this show — appears in the current *Entertainment Weekly* as one of the much-lamented artists who have died of AIDS in the past quarter-century.
Bennett was a pioneer, and a lot of the inclusiveness (of ethnic minorities and gays) and soul-rending honesty (unhappy childhoods and self-loathing) that has bloated so many *Lifetime* movies is traceable to shows like *A Chorus Line.* Which is not a knock on the show: Bennett’s emotional honesty, willingness to take on taboos and sheer creativity innovated a great show.
The CdA season opener is a show filled with highlights.
Matt Flanders provides the intimidation factor as Zach, that bossy director. You know we’re in the disco era when Judith McGiveney has dressed him in bellbottoms, a tight sweater and flapping shirt collars that have been cleared for take off.
For “At the Ballet,” a trio of actor/dancers — Kelly Kunkel, Cara Cooley and Jessica Ann Low — embody their own vision of what an ideal dance world (or any ideal world) might resemble. Their song and their aspirations merge so well that we start asking Yeats’ question: How can we tell the dancer from the dance?
As Val, Karyn McNay provides a solo dance of a somewhat, ahem, earthier nature. In “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three,” McNay steps up to the challenge of announcing how proud she is of her new tits and ass. McNay fairly glides across the stage, flaunting her boobs and wiggling her butt in a comic/sad display of just how far some people will go to refashion themselves for the sake of fulfilling some guy’s idle fantasy. During McNay’s gutsy performance, we’re thinking naked bodies, but what we’re witnessing is naked desire.
The finale provides a glittering gold and white dream of dancers strutting their stuff, transcendent at the pinnacle of their dream. They fade out soon enough — and the routine was already old-fashioned, even when they conceived it — but still, it’s a fleeting vision of hope. They won’t forget, can’t regret what they did for love. We’d all like to be big stars, but Wasileski’s *A Chorus Line* has the smarts to show us all the sweat and disappointment that precedes our brief moments in the spotlight.
For the rest of this review — including comments on the play's shock value, Ross Cornell as Paul San Marco and Megan Bayha as Cassie Ferguson — see the June 15 issue of *The Inlander.*
Monday, June 12, 2006
sucking at Tonys
OK, so I only got 3 out of 8 or something. But Elysa Gardner of USA Today only got 4 of those same eight correct.
And she gets to see the plays.
His performance just makes us sick
Just the opposite, actually: George Green is quite good playing his namesake in the current Interplayers production of *Of Mice and Men.*
But the following is a true story.
Green is 15 seconds from making an entrance during Saturday's matinee when, while waiting in the backstage darkness, he takes a swig from a water bottle.
Except that weren't no water bottle, pardner. Another actor, playing Carlson, does a little chaw onstage and -- well, that was his tobacco-spit bottle.
Green vomited, took a quick drink (from another, different bottle this time) ... and walked onstage. Had to act for five minutes. Felt queasy the whole time. Kept wondering if he looked especially pale under the lights. Somehow kept it together during the scene. Made his exit — and immediately vomited again.
Which means there's been a slight change in Interplayers' backstage rules: Water bottles at waist-height, OK. But all spit bottles are to be placed at floor level.
Friday, June 09, 2006
A Chorus Line
A Chorus Line
June 10-24, 2006
directed and choreographed by Michael Wasileski
musical director: Kasey R.T. Graham
artistic director: Roger Welch
premiered in New York, April 1975
returning to Broadway, Sept. 2006
conceived of, directed and choreographed by MIchael Bennett
music by Marvin Hamlisch
lyrics by Edward Kleban
book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante
A Chorus Line at CdA Summer Theatre
Chorus Line rehearses
What does Bobo know ...
... about the Tonys this year? Nothing. But that won't prevent him from venturing some predictions for winners during Sunday night's 8 pm awards show:
History Boys over Lt. of Inishmore, but not by as much as you might think
Drowsy Chaperone will upset Jersey Boys (more regional appeal in the latter, but lovers of showtunes will vote for DC)
Richard Griffiths (Ron Weasley's father in Harry Potter!)
Cynthia Nixon for Rabbit Hole (many surprised, she's so closely identified with Sex in the City; BTW, I'm finishing LIndsay-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo, which is bittersweet and better than Fuddy Meers, which was disappointing in being so ostentatiously wacky)
Actor Musical: Michael Cerveris will upset pretty boy Harry Connick Jr.
Patti Lupone will help Sweeney sweep the two top musical acting awards
Revivals: Faith Healer in a slight upset over Awake and Sing; and Sweeney Todd
EW thinks Tony voters will reward Drowsy Chaperone with Book and Music, as a kind of booby prize for not winning best musical. But Jersey Boys, a very good jukebox musical by most accounts, is still just that; I think the slightly more innovative and definitely more insider-y Chaperone will best it
OK, laugh at my foolish choices, tell me how unbeliebably wrong I am ...
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Christian Community Theater *Dreamcoat* auditions June 16-17
Christian Community Theater (CCT) is a division of Christian Youth Theater (CYT), and will be producing its first show in Spokane this summer.
While CYT is a nonprofit performing arts training program for kids 6-18, CCT is a nonprofit theatre for all ages. (It's "adult-included" theater.)
CCT-Spokane’s first show will be* Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.* (Kind of like a preview for the *Dreamcoat* opening Nov. 30 at the Opera Hou ... er, INB Center.)
Friday, June 16, from 6-9 pm, and Saturday, June 17, from 9-11 am, with
callbacks on Saturday, June 17, from noon-3 pm
708 W. Nora Ave.
Performances: July 19-23
Visit www.cytspokane.com or call Nickle Van Wormer at 487-6540 or 953-7571 — or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Opening-night review: *Of Mice and Men* at Interplayers
through June 24
Led by Troy Nickerson’s masterful performance as Lenny, Interplayers is presenting a very good production of John Steinbeck’s American classic, *Of Mice and Men* (through June 24).
Two ranch hands, nearly destitute, one small and one large — they depend on each other, complete each other. The tight-knit duo of George and Lenny encapsulates an admirable kind of mutual dependence. As simple characters with simple desires, George and Lenny are just searching for a better life. But throw in some misunderstandings, some causeless animosity, and Steinbeck’s well-constructed play winds down a path toward visceral tragedy. And done right, with all its anguish and injustice, *Of Mice and Men* should hit us right in the gut.
Wes Deitrick’s production lands most of its punches. The world needs to care for its Lennys, after all, and Nickerson’s performance is extremely engaging. Perhaps encouraged by audiences that prefer their tragedies leavened with a little humor, he plays up the retarded giant’s goofiness at times, almost in music-hall style. But Nickerson is child-like and thoroughly likeable onstage, copying his buddy’s body language early on to let us know that while there isn’t a single original thought rattling around in his noggin, his affection for George is unfeigned and pure. When he listens — so eagerly — to George’s recounting about how it’s gonna be on the homestead of their dreams — all those chickens and horses and rabbits — Nickerson lies prone, his head in the crook of his elbow, cuddling up with his knapsack, all scrunched up with anticipation, his big rump practically wiggling with glee. He’s a human puppy dog, and it’s clear from then on how and why brutish-looking Lenny has such a connection to soft little animals — anything tender, like the dreams and little kindnesses that metastasize into tragedy for him.
His protector in this buddy-drama is played by George Green, who brings a lot of energy to the caretaker role. Green (who is The Inlander’s marketing and promotions manager) does many things well in this role: amusement over Lenny’s childishness; resentment at having such a bonehead to look after; boyish enthusiasm when it seems that the dream just might come through; anguish in the final catastrophe.
But often, the good acting sequences were disjointed, with Deitrick apparently allowing Green to let genuinely affecting emotions arrive unprepared for. An example: In the opening scene, George’s resentment of Lenny comes on quite suddenly. The two hobos are trading stories when — bam! — suddenly George is pounding on Lenny’s chest, angry not only about Lenny’s irresponsible stupidity in the last town, but about how George stupidly has to be responsible for Lenny now and in the next town and forever. Later, when a fellow laborer offers to help George out financially, we need to see the protectiveness emerge gradually. Once Green establishes a mode — joking with Lenny, flaring up into anger — he’s quite effective. But we need to see hints of the protectiveness, of the fun-loving wanderer, all along, and not in sudden and unmotivated outbursts. Green’s performance features several exceptional acting sequences, but they feel like very good strung-together moments.
Nevertheless, this pair works well together. The moment when Green stands behind Nickerson, with George squeezing Lenny’s shoulders, both of them smiling broadly and staring out at their shared vision of an unattainable future, is stirring in just the way it should be. And Green’s anguish in the final scene, juxtaposed with Nickerson’s unknowing, child-like faith, was heart-breaking.
Their supporting cast, however, is uneven: A couple of the ranch hands aren’t menacing, and a couple others rush through speeches without conveying their emotional impact. As Slim, however, Patrick McHenry-Kroetch, wears some commanding boots. In his lanky, measured performance, you can feel the aches deep in Slim’s joints, the grime in his sweat.
Early on, Chasity Kohlman’s tart-wife doesn’t sizzle enough with sex-longing, though her final speech, joining the chorus of Steinbeck characters who are willing to break away and make a better life, has conviction. As Candy, the washed-up ranch hand, Gary Pierce is better at conveying enthusiasm for the dream farm than sadness over a pathetic personal loss.
Dan Heggem’s lighting scheme, meanwhile, ignites an intriguing campfire onstage; costumers Janna Cresswell and Peggy Soden contribute sweat-drenched shirts so filthy that we know this isn’t any dude ranch.
*Of Mice and Men* underlines its symbols and themes, but it’s a story of such basic humanity that it still has visceral impact. This Interplayers production, clearly the best of the theater’s troubled second half of the season, takes more risks than any other Interplayers show all year and, as a tragic play, succeeds admirably.
After all, Lenny wanting to hear about his rabbits is the child inside all of us, yearning for happiness, lingering over the details of our dreams. In our polarized, contentious, time-impoverished culture, Steinbeck’s reminders are welcome. We should avoid being cruel, all of us; take time for little kindnesses, all of us; take responsibility for one another, all of us.
People say such “lessons” are trite. Then how come we haven’t learned them?
Tell us about the rabbits, George, because we all want to hear about our ideals, even when we know we’ll never get them. The gunshots in Steinbeck’s play ricochet well beyond it, puncturing the heart of our American dreams. During the final scene, it’s not just George and Lenny we’re crying for.
For a revised version of this review — including different comments on Wes Deitrick’s direction and George Green’s performance as George Milton — check out the Arts & Culture section in the June 8 Summer Guide issue of *The Pacific Northwest Inlander.*
Thursday, June 01, 2006
A wacky evening of Ives
David Ives one-acts will play at CenterStage, 1017 W. First Ave., every Thursday-Friday from June 29-Aug. 25.
Tickets: $39; $19, show only.
Bullshot Crummond at SFCC, June 1-11
Zinzetic Diamonds THEATER
In the Bay Area of the late 1970s, Bullshot Crummond was legendary: an over-the-top farce that ran for years.
The plot has German evil genius Otto Von Brunno and his seductive wife Lenya trying to kidnap a mad scientist to get the formula for synthesizing precious gems, thereby achieving world domination — only to be prevented by our well-meaning but obtuse title hero. (Think Boris Badenov and Natasha kidnapping Einstein’s goofy brother, only to be foiled by none other than Dudley Do-Right.)
In one of the funniest bits, actor Walter Welch (playing both Otto and an Italian gangster named Salvatore Scalicio) gets involved in a lengthy conversation — with himself.
“We’re having a special rehearsal just to work that out,” says director Sara Edlin-Marlowe. “He passes through an arch upstage and goes from Otto to Scalicio and back again. We have two costumers back there helping him with the quick changes.”
Crummond, an aristocratic Englishman whose sleuthing ability fails to reach the heights of his own ego, actually tries awful disguises and even carrier pigeons to save the day.
As a crime-solver, he’s full of Bullshot.
— MICHAEL BOWEN
Bullshot Crummond • Thursday-Saturday, June 1-3, and Wednesday-Saturday, June 7-10, at 7:30 pm; Sundays, June 4 and June 11, at 2 pm • Tickets: $6; $3, seniors, military and SFCC faculty and staff; free, SFCC students; $1 and a can of food (June 4 only) • SFCC, Spartan Theatre, Bldg. 5 • 3410 Fort George Wright Dr. • Visit: www.spokanefalls.edu/drama • Call: 533-4440
Shakespeare in the parks
Discussions are underway, and it appears likely that Nike Imoru and Bill Marlowe will direct a six-member cast in an abbreviated (and free!) version of a Shakespeare play on the evening of Saturday, July 29, as part of Allegro Baroque's Royal Fireworks Festival and Concert — and then, in later weeks, to tour the show to a few local parks. A welcome return after a year's absence from the summer Festival. And let's think big ... if Boise has an outdoor summer Shakespeare festival ...