Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Brighton Beach Memoirs in CdA, Jan. 13-28

Next show at the Lake City Playhouse...
by Neil Simon
directed by Todd Jasmin
A Brooklyn teenager in 1937 lives with his family in crowded, lower-middle-class circumstances as he comes of age. A bitter-sweet comedy/drama that glimpses into the life of the famed playwright.This first in the trilogy to be performed at the Playhouse will be followed in seasons to come by Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound. Rated PG-13 (some adult language and situations).
Jan. 13-15, 19-22, 26-28
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays 7:30 pm
Sundays 2 pm
Adults $14, Seniors/Students/Military $12, Children $8 (children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult to this production)
Lake City Playhouse
1320 E. Garden Avenue
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(208) 667-1323

Sunday, December 18, 2005

the Proof is in the cast list

David Auburn's Proof, Jan. 27-Feb. 19 at the Civic's Studio Theatre
directed by Marianne McLaughlin

J.P. O’Shaughnessy as Robert, the math professor genius and Catherine's father
Wonder Russell as Catherine -- Has she inherited her father's mathematical genius or his mental instability?
Paul D. Villabrille as Hal, the ambitious grad student who's also interested in Catherine
Rita O’Farrell as Claire, Catherine's bossy older sister


Friday, December 16, 2005

At the Civic, 40-year-old boiler cracks, must be replaced

Spokane Civic Theatre needs our financial help.
Bobo's not in the habit of simply reproducing press releases, but this seems like an emergency crying out for your attention.

Problem: Original boiler unit cracked.  Must be replaced immediately.

Sold-out audiences all weekend for A Christmas Carol and upcoming I’ll Be Back Before Midnight.

Amount needed: $50,000

Request: Please get the word out to the community of Spokane. 

Requesting donations to replace boiler unit.

Send Donations to: 1020 North Howard St., Spokane WA 99201

Questions: (509) 325-1413.

When the new management at Spokane Civic Theatre was hired, they made a commitment to raise the quality of the productions, create and maintain a balanced budget, and upgrade and make improvements to the building structure.

This fall, the heating/cooling unit was upgraded with electronic control systems and other improvements. At the time, the boiler unit was in working order and considered a viable piece of machinery. Keeping the existing boiler was detrimental to the upgrades because the theatre could not afford to replace the entire unit.

During the cold temperatures, the system was put to the test and running flawlessly. Many patrons said this was the most comfortable they had ever been at the theatre when attending productions. 

On the morning of Friday, December 16, an alarm in the new controls system went off and the staff was alerted to a problem. Upon further review, it was found that the boiler unit had cracked after 40 years of existence. A cracked boiler cannot be fixed; it must be replaced.

Spokane Civic Theatre has made many improvements during the season, but the cost of a new boiler unit is far beyond the current funds of the theatre. The theatre is now asking the community of Spokane for help in its time of need.

This comes at a difficult and challenging time for theatre. Spokane Civic Theatre has been successful on keeping a balanced budget and working through the challenges presented in previous years. We cannot afford to cancel any productions until it is fixed.  We have been playing to sold-out audiences, and securing that income is detrimental to our success in the 2005 – 2006 season.

Please help us notify the community of Spokane that we need their help in order to continue presenting national award-winning productions and offering our mammoth youth program entitled the Spokane Civic Theatre Academy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

response to the responders

Sincere thanks to all who have commented on my review of The Fantasticks (yes, including all those who have been highly critical of the review and me).

A slightly revised version of it will appear in tomorrow's Inlander newspaper.

I've posted a response at the end of the (41, and growing) comments to that review (below, Dec. 4).
I'm afraid it rambles on and on for 3,000 words. (No, I'm not drunk, just over-caffeinated.)
And it's not even finished.

That Bobo does know how to go on and on. That poor dear; I'm afraid he's lost it.

But seriously, folks -- the comments have been insightful and appreciated. Everyone has behaved -- just what a blog should do. So have a cup of tea and read all the comments -- if you want. Nobody's saying this is required reading.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mozart and Salieri both got poisoned?

Presumably because of Nike Imoru's departure -- she and Spokane Symphony Musical Director Eckart Preu were to have collaborated on the show -- the April 27-May 20 slot in Interplayers' schedule previously slated for the world premiere of a musical play about the Mozart-Salieri relationship is now listed simply as a TBA.

At least SIE will present To Kill a Mockingbird (Jan. 12-16), Love Letters (Feb. 13-18) and The Miss Firecracker Contest (March 9-April 1, no fooling) before then.

opening-night review of The Fantasticks

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble through Dec. 17

I hate The Fantasticks the way people hate street mimes.

Mimes intrude on whatever we're doing, then say – if they could talk; isn't it so cute how they don't talk? – "Look at me! I have remarkable talent! You will be having fun now! Did I mention you should look at me?!"

Similarly, The Fantasticks wants desperately for us to nod our agreement that it is wise and lyrical and oh so mellow. It sticks its skimpy set, hackneyed costumes, doggerel rhymes and forgettable songs right in the audience's face and shouts, "You will experience nostalgia! You will chuckle over clever symbolism! And you will become misty-eyed! Right this second!"

Director Roger Welch's production conveys about the right message – that storybooks misrepresent love, which grows deeper only if redeemed through experience and sadness. And it presents that simple lesson in a competent and at times even charming package. But the way that Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt go about presenting the simplistic themes of their musical is all wrong. The themes may be worth presenting onstage, but this show isn't.

The best thing about the Interplayers production is Jack Bannon's Old Actor, Henry, stuttering about past performances and spouting snatches of old Shakespearean speeches, disconnectedly. His character is brought in help stage – more artifice! more commentary! – the incident that separates our two young lovers. Other than that, it's not really clear what Henry is doing in this show. At least Bannon endows the grizzled fellow with a kind of towering yet befuddled dignity: He spouts snippets from Shakespeare so we can congratulate ourselves on how literary we are, then disappears down a trapdoor. Maybe because Bannon actually is one of the best-known acting vets associated with this area, his performance takes on some affecting realism.

Which is more than you can say for the rest of Jones and Schmidt's characters.

That's not a knock on Welch's cast. They do what they can with frayed and hackneyed stuff.

At a couple of junctures ("Never Say No" and "Plant a Radish"), Troy Nickerson and Patrick Treadway (as the young lovers' fathers) are reduced to performing cutesy vaudeville two-steps. It's the kind of goofy song-and-dance at which Nickerson in particular excels. But both numbers feature the kind of we-need-something-upbeat-along-about-now material that's beneath both these veteran Spokane stage performers. They're reduced to reciting comic-book dialogue with really bad rhymes ("It depends on what you pay" with "Ole!").

This is a show that tries to depict genuine behavior by stringing together flowery allusions. The Young Man first greets the Young Woman by frothing over with comparisons of her to Juliet and Guinevere. But then all that's phony and the writers know it, so they try the tactic of undressing the entire show, reducing it to essentials: If we acknowledge how artificial our show is, maybe customers will think it's more real. Problem is, self-conscious artifice – the frank acknowledgment that stage events aren't real, the trumpeting of what's theatrical so that we'll start meditating about how all of life is staged and contrived – may have seemed revolutionary for a musical back when Eisenhower was president. But since The Fantasticks opened, sorry, postmodernism happened, got it already. Running for 42 years may not make a show great, but it sure does put it behind the times.

The Mute scurries about handing people flowers and plums and stick-swords because, well, Jones and Schmidt thought that'd be kind of cute. Christopher Bange, so adept at all kinds of comedy in The Mystery of Irma Vep (Interplayers' last show) is wasted here as the Mute – the kind of part best done by a 16-year-old girl in harlequin makeup and a black leotard. (Which, come to think of it, is an approach to the role that Bange could adopt and have a lot of fun with.)

John Frazier looks and sounds the part of El Gallo, the narrator guy with a Zorro fixation. Frazier cartwheels onstage, engages in some truly impressive swordplay, and sings "Try To Remember" in just the kind of mellow tones you'd expect.

As Matt, Louis Olsen sometimes overplays the fresh-faced innocence; his voice has a nasal quality and sometimes weakens in the lower register. As Luisa (and in her professional debut), Theresa Kelly is good at acting coy and bashful. Her voice sometimes thins out, and she could have injected more pizzazz into her character's longing for adventure in "Much More" – but she and Olsen sing a lovely duet of reconciliation together late in the show ("They Were You").

One of director Welch's best moments arrives with "I Can See It," a simple-minded face-off between Matt's innocence and El Gallo's cynicism; by swirling and circling the two antagonists, Welch gets about as much as he can out of a simplistic exchange.

Musical director Carol Miyamoto and her fellow pianist, Beverly Rhodes, added flourishes that commented on the action. To my untrained ears, it sounded as if they presented polished versions of deceptively simple music.

This musical took up 42 years of off-Broadway history and will, unfortunately, continue to infest stages everywhere because it's so easy to do -- at least by the standards of musical theater: no set to speak of, costumes and props out of a trunk, just three musicians and eight actors. (One of whom, by the way, is a mime.) But ease of production shouldn't be standard for revivals, not when The Fantasticks keeps hammering us with its supposed profundities about reverse psychology, about innocence and experience.

It's the wet-nosed puppy of American musicals, sniffing us insistently in all the embarrassing places. Well, I love puppies, but get this one out of my crotch; it's just not that amusing.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Carol review

Ann Colford's 11/24/05 review of A Christmas Carol on the Main Stage at Spokane Civic Theatre (through Dec. 18) now appears as a comment (below) to the first of the two photos of that production in the Nov. 16 installment of this blog.

Whence Nike?

It's been reported that while Nike Imoru has resigned as artistic director at Interplayers, she would still be staying in the area.

But at a farewell party for her at Catacombs on Wednesday evening, Nike told Bobo that she has "a lot of options" and is "not sure" now whether she'll remain in Spokane. A search committee is forming at Gonzaga to hire a new theater professor -- a replacement position is open there in the fall -- but of course their decision is months away.