Tuesday, August 29, 2006

partial review of "The Tuna Project" at Actors Rep/SFCC

*Greater Tuna* and *A Tuna Christmas,* directed by Patrick Treadway; through Sept. 9

Beefy guys in drag, high-pitched silly voices, audiences taking child-like delight in the actors’ rapid costume changes: the *Tuna* plays, seen locally before, offer predictable joys. But can the current productions at Actors Rep of both *Greater Tuna* and *A Tuna Christmas* (alternating dates through Sept. 9) pull off more than just high jinks and farce?

These small-town laugh-fests concocted by a trio of Texas playwrights — Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard — are crowd-pleasers. But in his program note, Artistic Director Michael Weaver says that “The Tuna Project” will be going after matters both “hilarious and socially significant.” William Marlowe and Weaver have performed these shows before, both separately and together, so they know the material. How deep could they go into these characters? And is there much depth there to begin with?

Despite a few flaws, there are sequences in these two plays that are so good, they’ll make your jaw drop. For example, when visitors drop by the white-trash Bumillers’ trailer, they have to confront a pack of hyper-excited little dogs nurtured by son Jody. Marlowe and Weaver themselves provide the whooping doggie yips. Somehow they manage to give several of the dogs distinct personalities. Weaver looks for all the world like he’s doing frustrated pirouettes amid a pack of little yapping Chihuahuas. And yet the pooches are invisible.

Marlowe immerses himself in some of the characters so thoroughly that you blink to make sure it’s still the same guy under that new dress, that wig, those pearls. His most endearing portrait may be of poor old Petey Fisk of the Humane Society, kind-hearted but inept. With his eyes darting to the ceiling with insecurity and buttoned down tight in his Minnesota earflaps, Petey makes periodic appeals on radio station OKKK on behalf of the dogs, cats, coyotes and crocodiles that other people just don’t want. Petey is a pathetic, laughable loner — but he has a good heart, and his compassion’s genuine, which is more than you can say for most of the folks in this dusty little town. By getting past nerdiness in his characterization, Marlowe makes Petey both ridiculous and admirable.

In fact, it’s tempting to say that Marlowe excels at the physical humor and Weaver at the pathos — until you recall the number of times that Marlowe achieves tender sentiment and Weaver gets all frantic and hilarious. Together, they play the final scene of *A Tuna Christmas* with involving warmth: Marlowe’s young juvenile delinquent (his red Mohawk striped with green for Christmas) and Weaver’s Aunt Pearl suddenly become more than just circus freaks. For all their dysfunction, people out on the Texas plains have the same needs and ideals that we do.


For further comments on Bill Marlowe as Vera Carp, on Patrick Treadway's direction, on the plays' stereotypes, and on Michael Weaver as Bertha Bumiller, pick up a copy of Thursday's *Inlander.*

Friday, August 25, 2006

"The Tuna Project"

"The Tuna Project"
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Greater Tuna
by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard
Michael Weaver (left) as Thurston Wheelis
William Marlowe as Arles Struvie
directedy by Patrick Treadway
ARt at SFCC, opening Aug. 24, 2006
Spokane, Wash.
in repertory with *A Tuna Christmas*

"The Tuna Project"

"The Tuna Project"
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Greater Tuna
Aug.-Sept. '06
Actors Repertory Theater of the Inland Northwest
at Spokane Falls Community College
directed by Patrick Treadway (also sound design and props and furnishings)
Michael Weaver as Bertha Bumiller
William C. Marlowe as Harold Dean Lattimer
set design by Jamie Flanery
costumes by Dee Finan and Jan Wanless
lights by Justin Schmidt
stage manager: Caryn Hoaglund

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

*Shakespeare in Love* at the MAC

Wednesday, Aug. 23, from 7:30-9:30 pm in the MAC's outdoor amphitheater
Directed by Nike Imoru

a kind of expanded encore of their July 29 performance in the Lilac Meadow at Riverfront Park as part Allegro's annual Baroque Festival: This time, six actors will do scenes from TN, Shrew, H5, R&J, Ado and some sonnets (the *Twelfth Night* and *Much Ado* scenes will be new).

Director Niké Imoru presents her newest work, Shakespeare in Love, on Wednesday, August 23rd from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. This FREE performance features six traveling Shakespearean Players in the MAC’s outdoor Amphitheater. Each scene will be performed in choreographed fencing; then by 1M and 1W; then by 2M.

Free; bring blankets and a picnic.

*Love's Labour's Lost* at Whitefish next Tuesday

Aug. 22 at 6 pm
Big Mountain Ski Resort (8 miles north of Whitefish, Mont.)
(from I-90 west of Missoula, go 125 miles north on Hwy. 93)
Free; food for sale; bring blankets and lawn chairs
performed by 11 actors based at Montana State in Bozeman as part of the annual Montana Shakespeare in the Parks tour (in its 34th year)
Visit www.bigmtn.com or call (406) 862-2900

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

cast for *The Shape of Things*

Actors Rep has of course cast Michael Weaver and William Marlowe in the multiple role-playing double bill it's calling *The Tuna Project*: *Greater Tuna* and *A Tuna Christmas,* running in repertory from Aug. 24-Sept. 9.

For its second show, Neil LaBute's *The Shape of Things* (about the relationship between an assertive woman and a nebbishy guy; Sept. 22-Oct. 7), Weaver has chosen the following cast:
as Evelyn, New York actress Julie Zimmer, who played Milly in *The Dazzle* last season
as Adam, Seattle's Evan Hernandez, in his ARt debut
as Phillip, Ken Urso, a New York actor making his West Coast debut
and as Jenny, Spokane's Caryn Hoaglund (previously in *How the Other Half Loves* and *Mrs. Warren's Profession* at ARt)

second-weekend (partial) review of *The King and I*

at Shuler Auditorium, North Idaho College, through Aug. 19

In *The King and I,* two headstrong creatures from very different cultures collide. The face-off between English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens and King Mongkut of Siam, full of stubbornness and mutual incomprehension, represents how people begin to fall in love — by stifling their vanity and developing compassion for the other person’s point of view.
Which is why a golden-age musical set halfway around the world and encumbered by all those Victorian hoop skirts is still worth watching. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic continues at Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre through Saturday, Aug. 19; a matinee has been added that day at 2 pm.
As the central couple, Kelly Eviston Quinnett and Ben Gonio move gracefully and sing well; even better, they climb inside their characters and enact their puzzlements persuasively. Quinnett conveys Anna’s intelligence, humor and self-confidence; Gonio demonstrates how a monarch’s bossiness can be grounded in insecurity.
Oscar Hammerstein’s book strains to include a separated-lovers subplot and strives too hard for tragedy at the end — and Roger Welch’s direction in the “Getting To Know You” scene is too cutesy — but the overall effect of this production, nevertheless, is of romantic love improbably surviving.

For “Hello, Young Lovers,” Quinnett takes it slow at first, then really sells the mixed emotions of sadness over her husband’s death and gratitude for at least having found him. Welch has his Anna deliver much of the song to Tuptim (Grace Eunhye Lee), who certainly qualifies as an unrequited young lover herself. (She was given as a present to the king, but her heart is with another man.) Both Tuptim and Mrs. Leonowens are women and therefore unknown quantities to King Mongkut; Welch’s staging emphasizes how mystifying obstacles to love can be. Because she plays both the lyrics’ sadness and hope, Quinnett enacts Anna’s emotional plight, creating the most romantic sequence in this version of Hammerstein’s musical romance.


See Thursday's *Inlander* for an extended version of this review: music, set, costumes, the tragic ending, and Ben Gonio's performance as King Mongkut.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Aug. 17 auditions at Interplayers for Moscow's Sirius Idaho Theater

for Gregory Fletcher's "Cow-Tipping and Other Signs of Stress" (world premiere)
auditions in Moscow tonight, Aug. 14
auditions for Spokane/CdA-area actors at Interplayers on Thursday, Aug. 17, from 5-7 pm

Call Pam Palmer, Managing Artistic Director, Sirius Idaho Theatre, Moscow: (208) 596-2270 or e-mail siriusidahotheatre@gmail.com

Winner of the 2005 Mark Twain Award for Comic Playwriting
Directed by Stan Brown

One contemporary piece for auditions
Four characters: two men (age 25-45), two women (age 35-50)

Non-equity stipend for actors; housing provided; four-week rehearsals (in Moscow, Idaho) start Aug. 20 (3 – 6 pm and 7:30 – 10 pm)
Six performances, 7:30 pm on Sept. 21-23 and Sept. 28–30
At the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, Moscow

After years of perseverance and rejection letters, undiscovered playwright Christopher Post asks for a sign from the universe confirming that he’s on the right path. The signs flood in, each contradicting the next. When Christopher runs into an old college buddy who works for role model and star playwright Ward Edington, Christopher begins sneaking, stealing, hiding, conniving, teasing, fighting, and his life continues to snowball from there. Saving his marriage and career will be the hardest rewrite of his life. A romantic dramedy laced with farce and cows. (Adult themes)

sorry, on vacation

Bobo's gettin' back in the saddle once more now ...

Friday, August 04, 2006

changes at Lake City Playhouse

San Diego native Brian Doig has been named LCP's new executive director. Doig has been active with Lake City for the past nearly three years — as actor, director, board member and more.
Todd Jasmin has changed titles from technical director to Lake City's artistic/technical director.
Tracy Vaughn will continue as one of the Playhouse's directors.

*The King and I*

The King and I
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Kelly Eviston Quinnett as Anna Leonowens, getting to know several princes and princesses of Siam
Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, Aug. 5-19, 2006
directed by Roger Welch
based on *Anna and the King* by Margaret Landon
book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
music by Richard Rodgers
musical director and conductor: Steven Dahlke
choreographed by Lorna Hamilton
set and lights by Michael McGiveney
costumes by Judith McGiveney
sound by John Gallegos

The King and I

The King and I
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Kelly Eviston Quinnett as Anna and Ben Gonio as King Mongkut of Siam

The King and I

The King and I
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Jason Yau as Lun Tha and Grace Eunhye Lee as Tuptim
"I Have Dreamed"