Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Spokane Interplayers Ensemble
June 1-24, 2006
directed by Wes Deitrick
Troy Nickerson as Lenny (left) and George Green as George

cast list for *Of Mice and Men*

at Interplayers, Wednesdays-Saturdays, June 1-24
directed by Wes Deitrick

Troy Nickerson (Lenny), George Green (George), Clarence Forech (Crooks), Gary Pierce (Candy), Patrick McHenry-Kroetch (Slim), Dan Anderson (Carlson), Luke Barats (Whit), J.J. Renz (Curley), Chasity Kohlman (Curley’s wife), Ron Ford (Boss)

Tickets: $10-$20. Visit or call 455-PLAY.

a peek at PFF

A peek at the beginning of tomorrow's *Inlander* article on the 23rd annual Playwrights Festival Forum at the Civic, including one paragraph that had to be cut for space and some random notes that never made it into the published story:

Revising Playwrights

The Civic’s Studio Theatre offers a festival of brand-new works: four one-acts and a full-length play

The four-one acts at this year’s Playwrights Festival Forum, as always, offer a grab-bag of premises: A playwright yells at a critic who ridiculed her play. A man ponders the meaning of a spiritual dream. The Tooth Fairy reluctantly comforts a troubled little boy. Four creatures in the Garden of Eden wonder why they’re getting blamed for what Adam and Eve did.
Instead of (as in the past) eight one-act plays (on alternating evenings of four playlets each), this year’s Playwrights Festival Forum at the Civic offers a total of four one-acts (all presented on three successive evenings, June 8-10) followed by three performances of a single full-length play (June 15-17).
The playwrights may be amateurs, but their works have earned their recognition. A committee selected the four winning one-acts from more than 70 blind submissions; and while 25 other dramatists vied for a single spot in the juried full-length-play competition, it was Spokane’s own Will Gilman who won the opportunity to see his play, Sonnet 23, produced.
At least four of the dramatists will be in attendance. The fifth — Carl Williams, a frequent Playwrights finalist in recent years — has to travel all the way from Houston, after all. (The one-acts competition is nationwide, with the other three finalists representing California, Oregon and Washington. Full-length play submissions were accepted only from writers living within a 500-mile radius.)


more from Festival Director Bryan Harnetiaux:

on the new format of PFF:
"This the first time we're doing it this way, as an experiment. hoping that it's worthwhile.
We really wanted an opportunity to see if there would be sufficient entries [for the full-length-play competition] that would justify limiting it [to the region].

on changes to PFF:
"We're in the process of reimagining this festival. We're going to look very closely at it and then tinker a bit. We've got two more years before the 25th anniversary. We have made the conscious choice not to publicize the festival in the national publications. I mean, we’re doing this out of the trunk of our car -- it’s largely volunteer." If PFF were "to go national," says Harnetiaux, "then you need a staff. But Sandy Hosking has done us a great service by spreading the word on the Internet."

on Maynard Villers, longtime PFF Director:
"We miss Maynard. I gather he had a conflict with "Lion in Winter" over at Ignite! Maynard participated in early committee work, but for the first time in many years, he won't be director this year. We miss him. It was certainly amicable, and I, for one, hope he returns. There's a lot of front-end work in this festival, coordinating it all -- with two separate committees reading plays ... there's a lot of administative work."

on the Festival's producer:
"Janice Abramson is our producer, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what she does. I would be lost without Janice."

on *York*:
"David Casteal will be doing four shows of *York* at the 78th Street Theater (in New York City) July 6-9."

Keep those comments coming

Thanks to all who have e-mailed or tried to post (moderated) comments on this blog concerning suggestions for best show, best actor, best costumes, etc. for Spokane's 2005-06 theater season.
Bobo has decided to keep those under wraps for now, but will condense and present those in some form around the time (June 29?) that *The Inlander* runs a theater awards article.
Summer Guide mania is upon him, but Bobo will try to remind everyone of all the eligible productions -- basically, everything done since June 2005 at the Civic, Interplayers, CenterStage, Best of Broadway at the Opera House but don't call it the Opera House anymore, CdA Summer Theater, Actors Rep, Ignite!, Spokane Children's Theater, Christian Youth Theater and oh, goodness, apologies to those I've inadvertently overlooked, really sorry, don't shoot me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

auditions for *Bus Stop* at Interplayers

Thursday-Friday, June 1-2, from 1-5:30 pm at Interplayers, 174 S. Howard St.
Call Joe Rietcheck for an audition appointment: 953-8868

Roles available:
Will Masters, 40-65, the no-nonsense, Gary Cooper-esque town sheriff
Elma Duckworth, 18-28 (but must appear 16-18): innocent and romantic high school girl
Carl, 55-65, the jovial but lonely bus driver
Virgil Blessing, 35-45, cowboy Bo Decker's companion and confidant; ability to play guitar a plus

Scenes available at Interplayers, Wed.-Sat., May 24-27, from noon-5 pm. Call 455-PLAY.

Performance dates for William Inge's 1955 drama: Sept. 14-Oct. 1, with Scott Allan directing, Ellen Travolta as Grace, and Jack Bannon as Dr. Gerald Lyman

Kevin Connell named principal at G-Prep

That's _Father_ Kevin Connell, who recently starred at the Civic as Elyot Chase in *Private Lives.*
He's a Jesuit with teaching experience at Jesuit High in Portland, Marist High in Eugene and, of course, at Gonzaga Prep.

Story goes that some G-Prep hoopsters came into Connell's office one day wondering if it would be all right for them to stay late in the gym and squeeze in some extra basketball practice.
Naturally, his response was: "Don't quibble, dribble."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

partial review of *The Music Man*

at Spokane Civic Theatre's Main Stage, through June 18

Conned Into Harmony

*The Music Man* recalls the values of arts education and community involvement — even if it takes a con man to do it

People who say they hate musicals are usually thinking of shows like *The Music Man.* All that mid-century Golden Age stuff, they scoff, with its flimsy conflicts and complacent view of the good old days, its warm fuzzies and break-out-into-song moments.

Unlike all those chirpy, peppy shows that hammer you with their false feel-good optimism, however, *The Music Man* doesn’t shy away from darker concerns. Several characters are grieving a death; parents don’t care to know their own children; deceptions, small-minded rumors and censoriousness abound; con men demonstrate that the public is an ass.
The Civic’s *Music Man* (through June 18) makes a solid if not stellar attempt to refute that kind of “pick-a-little, talk-a-little, cheep-cheep-cheep" cynicism.

With Danae Lowman’s beautifully sung Marian the Librarian, Michael Rhodes’ skillfully danced Harold Hill, Melody Deatherage’s inventive direction and — especially — Meredith Willson’s classically honed book, lyrics and music, this *Music Man* makes a case for the union of entertainment and actual thought. Because Willson himself spent most of the 1910s living among stubborn Iowans and brass bands — and because he spent most of the 1950s writing and rewriting this show — *The Music Man* has some genuine claims to make amid all its tuneful nostalgia.

Far from validating fundamentalists’ family values, *The Music Man* makes fun of them, opting instead for a kind of moral relativism. Sometimes, people employ questionable methods to arrive at worthwhile goals. Harold Hill may dupe people, but he also scoots them along the path to self-realization.

There are miscues, of course. Gary Laing’s six-piece orchestra was off-key in the overture and entr’acte, compounding the errors by overloading “Till There Was You” with a swelling, then swollen crescendo. Pauses between jokes slowed the pace unnecessarily in early numbers like “Rock Island” and “Trouble.” Some of the chorus dancers spend too much time looking at the feet of the next person in line.

On the other hand, Susan Berger and Jan Wanless contribute their usual flotilla of colorful costumes; Marian’s gowns and the primary-color bloomers of the dancing housewives were particularly catchy.

And for a play with 17 scenes in half a dozen distinct locales, set designer Peter Hardie creates a versatile and colorful look. The footbridge under a starry sky created a romantic, even moving look for “Till There Was You” — and the effect was enhanced by Lorna Hamilton’s balletic choreography, with dancing couples promenading to make way for the main couple.

As the traveling salesguy and con man, Harold Hill’s repeated tactic is to appeal to people’s vanity: Oh, Mrs. Shinn, you have a foot made for dancing. Olin, your voice could anchor some four-part harmony. And so on. He’s deluding them, but in a nice way. In somewhat the same way, community-theater productions of classic musicals, thrown together with the equivalent of tinsel and chewing gum, shine distracting lights in our eyes. But by bringing us together, the illusion is actually constructive. Attending my umpteenth production of *The Music Man,* you see, was like going to church: I groused and grumbled all the way — but once I arrived, I got that good old-time religion once more.

Oskar Eustis’ production at Providence’s Trinity Rep introduced entire, actual high school bands into the finale’s reprise of “Seventy-Six Trombones,” as if to underscore how *The Music Man* makes the case for arts education in America. Even if the Civic can’t muster those kind of resources, Deatherage’s production still reminds us of the formative influence of music — of performance in general. Bowling alone — watching DVDs at home alone — won’t help us bridge our differences. But showing up for a musical like Willson’s brings us together, and America still needs shows like *The Music Man.*

*** For the rest of this review, see the Thursday, May 25, issue of *The Inlander* ... comments on Michael Rhodes as Professor Harold Hill, Danae Lowman as Marian Paroo, Doug Dawson as Marcellus Washburn, Maria Caprile as Eulalie MacKecknie Shinn, and Melody Deatherage's direction ...

The Music Man -- Spokane Civic Theater

Don't get caught alone in the stacks with this woman.
'Cause her name starts with D, and that rhymes with T, and that stands for Trouble.

Danae Lowman as Marian Paroo and Michael Rhodes as Professor Harold Hill in the Spokane Civic Theatre production of *The Music Man*

Danae Lowman and Michael Rhodes

as Marian the Librarian and Harold Hill the traveling salesman
Spokane Civic Theatre
May-June 2006
directed by Melody Deatherage

The Music Man

The Music Man
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Winthrop, Amaryllis, Harold Hill and Marian Paroo
Spokane Civic Theatre

the quartet, Harold and Marian

set by Peter Hardie
costumes by Jan Wanless and Susan Berger
directed by Melody Deatherage

Thursday, May 11, 2006

call for evaluators: 2005-06 Spokane theater awards

Sometime in late June (probably in the June 29 issue), Bobo -- writing under his nom de plume in The Inlander — will be recognizing the best of Spokane theater in 2005-06: Best Play, Best Local Musical, Best Touring Musical, actors and actresses in the local productions (both musical and non- ), and probably a few extra categories like directing, sets, costumes, etc.

The Spokesman won't go for joint awards anymore; they do their own, separately.

Two years ago, Bobo just devised his own awards; last year, he assembled a panel of six other voters and incorporated their comments into the awards article. Those approaches were fine, but then Bobo likes to reinvent theatrical wheels.

The problems, of course, have to do with bias and lack of time: Some folks are closely associated with a single theater; few have seen anything like all the productions.

So this year, Bobo would like to solicit comments from those identified and NON-ANONYMOUS theater scenesters who are willing to go ON THE RECORD with comments about the best shows and performers of 2005-06. Bobo will need your name, e-mail and phone numbers; he'll need info on which shows you've seen and haven't seen.

One catch: You don't get a vote. Bobo's the judge. But you do get to write persuasively about how actor X was brilliant in show Y (and, heh, why) — and Bobo promises to consider such comments very carefully. (If he agrees, fine. If he disagrees, he's going to work hard to articulate why and on what grounds.) AND your on-the-record comments may well be quoted in the June 29 Inlander.

One possible alternative: Bobo makes his own selections, selects a panel of three to five knowledgable local theater folks, reveals to them AHEAD of time what those selections are, and then, on pain of DEATH not to reveal the winners ahead of time, solicits their comments on the winning productions and actors, some of which would be revealed in the newspaper. Either way -- if you'd like to write persuasively before Bobo makes his picks, or write supportively after the selections are made — write in.

This has gotten long, so a list of all eligible shows and a list of categories will follow soon in another post.

Suggestions? Comment here, or more privately at, or call 325-0634 ext. 228. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Lake City Playhouse 2006-07 season

Forever Plaid, Sept. 8-23 and Sept. 28-30, 2006 as dinner theater
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oct. 6-21 (children's)
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Nov. 3-18
Babes in Toyland, Dec. 1-23, 2006

Biloxi Blues, Jan. 12-27, 2007
Anne of Green Gables, Feb. 9-24 (children's)
The Nerd, March 9-24
Steel Magnolias, April 6-21
The Lion in Winter, May 4-19
Alice in Wonderland, June 1-16 (children's)
Cinderella, July 13-29, 2007 (children's)

1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d'Alene
(208) 667-1323

CYT 2006-07 season

Christian Youth Theater-Spokane (CYT)

Disney’s Aladdin and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Pirates of Penzance and Anne of Avonlea

Spring 2007:
Once Upon a Mattress and Holes

CYT, now eight years old in Spokane, has performed 37 shows here. Visit or call 487-6540.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

unplanned *Mice* preview

Wednesday, May 3: a cast member in the production of *Laughter on the 23rd Floor* is running late — well, actually, forgot altogether that there was a show that night. What to do?

*Of Mice and Men,* the next Interplayers show, is there that night rehearsing. Why not set up a couple of music stands and have George and Lenny (George Green and Troy Nickerson) give the already assembled, waiting crowd a little foretaste of what the Steinbeck show (opening June 1) would be like, with just the two principals delivering a kind of impromptu readers' theater performance of the play's first scene?

Which brings up an interesting point: Maybe theaters should do this more often. Instead of hyped-up curtain speeches — come see our thrilling/hilarious/mesmerizing production of yadda-yadda — theaters could showcase a 10-minute scene of their upcoming show at, say, 7:40 pm; then let the crowd in from the lobby (those who arrive late or don't care for such fare); then the curtain at 8 pm. Just a thought.