Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Fantasticks

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble
directed by Roger Welch
Dec. 1-17, 2005

Theresa Kelly as Luisa, Christopher Bange as The Mute, Lou Olsen as Matt


Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
The Fantasticks
at Interplayers

Patrick Treadway as Bellomy
Theresa Kelly as Luisa
John Frazier as El Gallo
Troy Nickerson as Hucklebee

Patrick Treadway and Troy Nickerson

as Bellomy and Hucklebee

"Happy Endings"

The Fantasticks
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
The Fantasticks

Patrick Treadway as Bellomy
Lou Olsen as Matt
Theresa Kelly as Luisa
Troy Nickerson as Hucklebee

Absurd Person Singular

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Nov. 25-Dec. 10, 2005
Actor's Repertory Theatre of the Inland Northwest
Spokane Falls Community College, Spartan Theater
directed by Chad Henry

from left:
Kathie Doyle-Lipe as Jane Hopcroft
John Oswald as Geoffrey Jackson
Page Byers as Eva Jackson

a shocking moment for Michael Weaver

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Act 2 electrocution scene

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Therese Diekhans, Reed McColm, Michael Weaver and Kathie Doyle-Lipe in Absurd Person Singular

dance finale

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
the absurd, sadistic dance in the final moments of Act 3
From left to right: Kathie Doyle-Lipe as Jane Hopcroft, Page Byers as Eva Jackson, John Oswald as Geoffrey Jackson, Michael Weaver as Ronald Brewster-Wright, Therese Diekhans as Marion Brewster-Wright and Reed McColm as Sidney Hopcroft

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Absurd Person Singular review

at Actor's Rep Theater (at SFCC) through Dec. 10

The title of Sir Alan Ayckbourn's comedy of sadness, Absurd Person Singular, has it about right: Our motives and actions are more absurd – and our lives more peculiar – than we'd like to admit.

A good production reminds us of why a play is worth reviving, and director Chad Henry's version of Absurd Person (through Dec. 10 at Actor's Rep) makes the case that Ayckbourn mingles serious commentary with slapstick farce about as well as anybody in the business. While Henry sometimes allows farce (a kitchen accident) and moodiness (marital squabbles) to linger on, he leavens emotions enough that we realize how much we're enjoying ourselves even as we're realizing why we're usually so sad during the holidays.

Three Christmas Eves, three distinct kitchens, three dysfunctional couples. Everyone living in denial, unable to face their own imperfections -- sounds like a real hoot, doesn't it?

Kathie Doyle-Lipe sets the opening scene, singing "Good King Wenceslas" in a falsetto, color-coordinated cleaning bottles dangling from her festive red holiday apron. Doyle-Lipe finds real sadness and desperation in all her compulsive cleaning. But then she's agoraphobic, so her husband has to pick her up and heave her through the kitchen door and out into the living room. Like so much of Ayckbourn's comedy, that's both a little funny and a little sad.

As the first-act underling hosting his superiors at a Christmas party, Reed McColm makes clear that he lords it over his wife around the house because he's getting bossed around all day at work.

McColm and Doyle-Lipe's characters, the social-climbing Hopcrofts, are the only two of the six characters we meet who don't at some point express contempt for themselves or the others. They may be inept, but in their own way, they do manage to extend the tradition of Christmas cheer. For his part, McColm delivers a master class in comedic acting – reacting to a condescending arm placed over his shoulder, laughing with an explosive ha-HA!, inserting an ineffectual wave when he's included into the men's confidence, but only as an afterthought.

As the banker's wife, Therese Diekhans swirls on imperiously, her blonde hair in a repressed bun, her martini glass extended just so. She's rich, dripping with condescension, and usually busy getting drunker. Diekhans delivers a scathing attack on middle-class tastelessness that, even as we know it to be hypocritical, emerges just as smooth as all the false compliments she’d been strewing about earlier.

Ayckbourn’s -- and director Henry’s -- mastery is most evident in the high-traffic farce of the second act, when a bunch of blind do-gooders scurry about, trying to improve their surroundings while comically oblivious to the real human suffering right beneath their noses.

Humor, after all, involves being insensitive. Guy slips on a banana peel, it’s hilarious; your feeble old grandma does the same, suddenly you’re the picture of concern. But when a wife laughs drunkenly at the humiliation of her husband, Ayckbourn is showing us an emblem of our own insensitivity: It’s funny, but it’s also cruel – and we're complicit in it. One fellow's affectionate enough to his wife, but also bosses her into cowering submission. We laugh, but a little uneasily. Some of our foibles sting.

ARt's APS features a lot of accomplished, confident actors. In a single, booming outburst at his drunk and complaining wife, Michael Weaver startles us into realizing the resentment his accomodating hubbie keeps pent up all the time.

Page Byers, in her finest performance at Actor’s Rep so far, wordlessly conveys the despair of a woman intent on killing herself. She's black around the eyes, black under the eyes, convinced that her husband regards her as "just a smudge on his marriage license." Wordlessly, she makes her character's second-act suicide attempts funny and yet, in the interim, full of desperate sadness -- not an easy acting stunt to pull off. Byers is the picture of sadness and frustration.

John Oswald catches the cynicism and self-loathing of an architect desperate for a commission and the next cuddle with a woman other than his dowdy wife.

The uncredited costumer accentuated several characterizations: the penny-pincher bundled up inside his own home, too cheap to turn on the heat; the too-perky hausfrau, resplendent in bright red Christmas apron with matching bottles dangling in color-coordinated pockets.

Set designer Michael McGiveney makes the three kitchens distinct, though the last two kitchens don’t seem nearly cluttered enough -- the whole point is that these couples are increasingly dysfunctional and we need a visual mess to reinforce the mess they’ve made of their lives.

Some reviewers (of the current Broadway production) have deemed Absurd Person a dated play. But what's dated about it? The women seem not to work outside the home, though in fairness they're all incapacitated in various ways. There's some snickering over adultery that suggests pre-AIDS insouciance about sex. (It's an early-'70s play.) But what else? Certainly being unhappy during the holidays hasn't gone out of style. The play could stand a little Americanizing, however – there's nothing quintessentially British about it. Just rewrite a few lines, and it might drive home for audiences here both the comedy and the sadness.

Still, the final dance of these six absurd and singular persons, while festive and funny, also has more than a touch of the sadistic in it. We may dance during the holidays, Ayckbourn seems to suggest, but we're also quite conscious of who's playing the music. We may not like it, but we know whose tune we're dancing to, and we'll survive by putting on a show of Christmas cheer.

Friday, November 18, 2005

_Absurd_ director speaks

Bobo couldn't resist one last tidbit before departing ...

Chad Henry, who's directing Absurd Person Singular at ARt, is used to weathering temperamental actors. The New York production of his show, _Angry Housewives_, "was like getting thrown to the sharks," he says. "They don't follow the group-hug approach to acting. In that show, one of the housewives punched out another one. And one of the leads accused the others of trying to poison her -- seriously. Two of them had nervous breakdowns and had to leave the show."

No reports of anything like that from the current rehearsals at ARt, held every day ASAP at the UU church near SFCC.

APS takes place in three kitchens on three successive Christmas Eves. In Act One, we’re in the home of Sidney and Jane Hopcroft (Reed McColm and Kathie Doyle-Lipe). She escapes his criticisms by being a compulsive cleaner. Poor depresssed Eva Jackson (Page Byers) spends most of Act Two trying to kill herself -- it's a comedic scream -- while hubbie Geoffrey (John Oswald) fends off their (unseen) monster dog and all the clutter they've created. By Act Three, the Brewster-Wrights, Ronald and Marion (Michael Weaver and Therese Diekhans) are the formerly upper-crust couple who have fallen low. (He escapes into trivia; she, into a bottle.) And the social-climber Hopcrofts seem more or less triumphant by the end -- at least as much as anyone triumphs in Alan Ayckbourn's world of Schadenfreude comedy.

Is this a play that’s funny because each of the six characters is cocooned in his or her own world -- so we laugh because we recognize our own myopia? Or is APS funny because it’s about sad, dysfunctional people -- making our laughter the nervous laughter of people who see the theater reflecting our own quiet lives of desperation?

"Oh, I’d say it’s a hilarious play, just for entertainment," says Henry. "Oddly enough, it looks at the dark underbelly of the holidays. It’s a fun show at the holidays” -- when so many of us are miserable -- “to see other people having an even worse time. In some ways, it’s a relief to see people struggling through their lives at the holidays. The combination of laughter and things that are more difficult make for a wonderful experience."

But Henry also thinks "people are taken by surprise by some of the darkness in the play. It's structured in such a way that we see each of the three couples as different signs of the biorhythms: The Hopcrofts are on an upward climb all the way, but by the end, they're at the top, staring down. Geoffrey and Eva, while headed low in Act Two, provide some hope at the end."

Henry says the most difficult part of the farce to direct is "probably Act Two -- it's got the most going on. You always have at least two if not more primary activities going on. And when the whole ensemble is out there, I'm just directing traffic."

Oswald describes Henry as "very much an actor's director," and that may well derive from Henry's years of experience onstage at Denver Theater Center. Intriguingly, when asked about his prime acting memories, he doesn't go back to his starring roles at Denver, but to a couple of shows in which he played small parts -- but in which the cast got along famously.

He's still ruminating about the actor's craft. When he was an actor at Denver, says Henry, “Someone came up to me after show once and asked, ‘How do you think up all those facial expressions?’ And of course I don’t think them up. I said, ‘I guess my face just does that.’ I think people who aren’t around actors that much must think we all sit around in front of a mirror, making faces at ourselves. And it’s not like that at all.”

What did he think of Spokane audiences and their reception of his production of last season’s _Dirty Blonde_? “I was impressed,” Henry says. “It’s fairly edgy for almost any community. They just went with it and embraced it.”

Harboring similar hopes for APS, ARt hopes you'll show up PDQ at SFCC.

even Theater Hos need a vacation

... and Bobo is taking one. See ya in late November.

It's a Wonderful Life at Lake City Playhouse

George Bailey is pretty sure everyone would be better off without him – but he's proved wrong in this stage adaptation of the Frank Capra movie. Performances on Nov. 26-Dec. 17 on Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets: $14; $12, students and seniors; $8, children.
Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene Call (208) 667-1323.

The cast includes LCP newcomers Mark Hodgson in the leading role of George, and Denise Parks as George's wife Mary. LCP veterans include Dan Gookin as Clarence the Guardian Angel, Barrie MacConnell as the conniving Mr. Potter, Al Metz as the bumbling Uncle Billy, Alba Jeanne MacConnell as George's mother, and Kathy Hatcher as Aunt Tilly. Directed by Tom Nash (a relative of Jimmy Stewart!).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Christmas Carol

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Spokane Civic Theatre, Main Stage
Nov. 18-Dec. 18, 2005

Scrooge and ghost

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Spokane Civic Theater
Nov.-Dec. '05

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

adapted by Barbara Field
directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson
musical direction by Mike Saccomanno
choreography by Michele Whalen

Nov. 18-Dec. 18
Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays-Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm

Tickets: $17; $14, seniors, $12, students

Spokane Civic Theatre’s Main Stage
1020 N. Howard St.
Call 325-2507 or 325-SEAT

Interplayers fund-raiser

Fantastic Friday Holiday Fund-Raiser
Friday, Dec. 2, at 6:30 at the theater, 174 S. Howard St.
An auction is scheduled before that night's preview performance of The Fantasticks, which runs Dec. 1-17 but officially opens on Dec. 3
Call 455-PLAY.

Friday, November 11, 2005

cast for The Fantasticks

at Interplayers Dec. 1-17
directed by Roger Welch of CdA Summer Theatre

with Jack Bannon, Christopher Bange, Damon Mentzer, Troy Nickerson, Patrick Treadway, Louis Olsen, John Frazier III and Theresa Kelly

ran 1960-2002 on and off Broadway; Jerry Orbach of Law & Order created the role of El Gallo
done in 1982 and '97 at the Civic, in 1990 at CdA Summer Theatre and in 2002 at Lake City Playhouse

Thursday, November 10, 2005

SCC fall production

The Real Queen of Hearts Ain't Even Pretty
directed by SCC drama instructor Ron Heiss
At the 1976 Queen of Hearts Beauty Pageant at a small-town high school in Alabama, into the girls' locker room walk two women who aren't competing in the contest - and two who are.

Mon-Tues, Nov 28-29 and Thurs-Fri, Dec 1-2, at 7 pm; and on Wed 30 Nov at 1:30 pm
Tickets: $5
SCC Lair Auditorium, Bldg. 6, Mission Ave. and Greene St.
Call: 533-7387

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Marilyn and Scarlett

Marilyn Langbehn, formerly marketing director at the Civic, has been promoted to associate marketing director for CalShakes, the California Shakespeare Company in Orinda. She'll be directing Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock's She Loves Me at California Theater Arts in Walnut Creek, opening Feb. 10.

Her partner, Scarlett Hepworth, who was such a memorable Vivian Bearing (the leading role) in Margaret Edson's Wit at the Civic's Studio Theater in April 2002, will perform the same role at the Town Hall Theater Company ( in January in Lafayette, Calif.

OSF actors at SCC

Danforth Comins and Jeff Cummings of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival will perform scenes from Shakespeare and other classical and modern works on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 11:30 am and 12:30 pm at SCC's Lair, Bldg. 6, Mission Ave. and Greene St. Free. Call 533-7090.

CenterStage board of directors

They're looking for new members. Contact Connie Sagona, director of development and media relations:
Call: 74-STAGE

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

audition for Broadway Bound

Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 7 pm at the Civic's Studio Theater, 1020 N. Howard St. (Dean Street entrance)
Andrew Ware Lewis directs
both men and women needed; not age-specific
one performance only of this Neil Simon play: Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 pm

Biloxi Blues

Reading Stage at Civic's Studio Theater
Sunday, Nov. 13, at 7 pm (one performance only)
directed by Rick Hornor
Eugene grows into a man as he trains in the Deep South for World War 2.

Braden Abraham and Interplayers

Braden Abraham is literary manager for Seattle Rep; he directed two recent and successful productions at Interplayers, The Underpants and True West.

In response to questions about Nike Imoru's resignation as Interplayers' artistic director, the possibility of his succeeding her, and the state of Interplayers' finances, he wrote the following:

Nike's departure is indeed a great loss for Interplayers, and it has been a privilege to direct at Interplayers during her tenure there. Nike is a phenomenal artist, and I look forward to seeing what she does next. Whoever takes over the job as artistic director will have a tough act to follow. In response to your questions: I'm honored that my name would come up as a possible candidate, but at the moment what you're hearing is pure conjecture. I've not spoken to anyone from the board about my candidacy at this time. Although my name did appear on some sort of short list of candidates two years ago, I did not apply for the position then. I knew Nike had the best qualifications for the position, and was thrilled when she received the appointment. I'm not in a position to comment on Interplayers' financial solvency. But I will say that as a guest artist, I have always been paid in full for my work there.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Wind in the Willows

Mole, Rat and Mr. Toad will appear on Thursday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7 pm.
Tickets: $8; $5, students.
Dinner-theater performance on Friday, Nov. 11, at 6 pm.
Tickets: $35.
Northwest Christian High School, 5104 E. Bernhill Rd., Colbert, Wash. (east of Hwy. 2)
Call: 238-4005, ext. 140

Sunday, November 06, 2005

audition for I'll Be Back Before Midnight

Spokane Civic Theatre, Main Stage production, Jan. 13-Feb. 4, 2006
(about a couple who rent a farmhouse from a scary, story-telling old coot)

Tuesday-Wednesday, Nov. 8-9, at 7 pm
in the Civic's Studio Theater
five actors, ages 25-75
Call 325-2507

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lake City Playhouse shows

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow closes Nov. 5

Readers' Theater: Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Sat 19 Nov at 7 pm
Erlendsen Coffeehouse
116 Lakeside Ave., Coeur d'Alene

It's a Wonderful Life
Nov. 26-27, Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 15-17
Thurs-Fri-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sun at 2 pm
$14; $12, seniors and students; $8, kids

ax murders are a scream!

The Mystery of Irma Vep

Irma Vep
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

The Mystery of Irma Vep

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble
Oct.-Nov. 2005
Spokane, Wash.
directed by Nike Imoru
Damon Mentzer (left) and Christopher Bange

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Readers' Theater: David Ives

Ignite! Community Theater presents its Booklight Readers' Theater: an evening of short plays by David Ives (All in the Timing).

Emily Richman, Will Gilman, Scott Lockwood, and Scott Findlayson will direct English Made Simple, Arabian Nights, Captive Audience and Seven Menus.

Friday, Nov. 11, 6:30 pm. Free. Auntie's Bookstore, third level, Main Ave. and Washington St.

Visit or call 993-6540.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

EWU 2005-06 theater season

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail
by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Nov. 11-12 and Nov. 15-19 at 7:30 pm
EWU Theater Bldg., Cheney
directed by Gene Engene
Tickets: $5

The Mikado
by Gilbert and Sullivan
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-3 at 7:30 pm
Showalter Hall Auditorium
directed by Don McLaughlin

music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb
March 3-4 and March 7-11, 2006 at 7:30 pm
directed by Don McLaughlin

senior one-acts
May 12-13 and May 16-20, 2006, at 7:30 pm
EWU Theater Bldg.