Saturday, January 27, 2007

opening-weekend review of Stephen Sondheim’s *Assassins*

at the Civic’s Firth J. Chew Studio Theater through Feb. 18
directed by Troy Nickerson

The pursuit of happiness? Hell, we’re entitled to more than just pursuing something. After all, we have the God-given right to be on *American Idol.* We have the right actually to be somebody. A free society holds out the promise that we can all be … famous, notorious, whatever. (Just as long as people have heard your name.) And if you don’t achieve your American Dream, then by God and apple pie, you have the right to twist it, pervert it, and plunge yourself into despair. And the only cure for abject failure is to take out your frustrations on something big. Something really, really big.

Something like murdering a president.

Stephen Sondheim’s musical examination of nine assassins (some of them wanna-bes) doesn’t glamorize the fruitcakes and nut jobs who’ve sought to scratch their own particular itches by exploding bullets into presidential brain matter. But it doesn’t merely aim at understanding them or extending compassion to them, either. Instead, Sondheim and John Weidman (who wrote the musical’s book) are after an indictment of the regular-Joe theatergoers in their audience. No, the vast majority of us aren’t pulling triggers. But to what extent does our countenancing social injustice breed killers? And it’s not just a matter of letting people sink into poverty, though of course that motivated several of these assassins. We all remember where we were … we all turn to CNN as infotainment … we like the boost to our own egos when the *American Idol* freak show comes on. Oh, some poor schmuck named Hinckley or Czolgosz or Oswald just shot the president. How interesting. I wonder how long it will keep my interest. I wonder how little I care about the disenfranchised and distraught among us.

People say, “Oh, how depressing. How absurd. Who wants to watch a show about murderers?” (And it’s true: More shots are fired during this show than any other in recent memory.) But people hide behind that kind of trivial objection. Because what Sondheim is doing is pointing the gun — and finger — directly at us.

Or try overcoming any reluctance you may have this way: Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen most of the shows in the Studio Theater, and *Assassins* is better than nearly all of them — it’s certainly among the three or four best over that span. If you want to see a show that will entertain and enthrall you — that will have you squirming in self-recognition while at the same time showcasing some of this area’s best musical theater talent — then you’ve got three weeks left to snatch up one of the Firth J. Chew’s reconfigured 90 (or so) seats.

The buzz among local actors months ago was: “Did you see that they’re gonna do *Assassins*?” Well, they’re doing it, and doing it up grand. The Civic has done well to select this show as its entry in the state, regional and national AACT competition among community theaters, following in the successful footsteps of its previous national champions in 1989 and ’99.

Don’t miss the musical indictment of what Americans let other Americans sink into (the illusion that violence solves social and personal problems, that it does anything other than beget more violence). Don’t miss *Assassins.*

Director and choreographer Troy Nickerson creates one thrilling moment after another. A lineup of assassins stretching 120 years across American history, stepping up right into the audience’s collective face, the footlights distorting their fiendish grins from below. (In fact, Nickerson and set designer David Baker signal longtime Studio playgoers right from the beginning that they’re going to have a different kind of experience with this show, and one that’s literally unsettling: The entire usual orientation of seats to stage down in the Studio has been uprooted, transformed.)

Again and again, Sondheim and Nickerson create surprising effects, interesting tableaux, surprising juxtapositions. A couple of well-known local actors, meanwhile — Abbey Crawford as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and David Gigler as John Hinckley — submerge themselves so well into their roles that at first they’re almost unrecognizable. I’d forgotten the poignancy of putting this unlikely (and whacked-out, violent) couple together in, of all things, a love duet called “Unworthy of Your Love” — because that’s exactly how Squeaky worshipped Charlie Manson and Hinckley worshipped Jodie Foster. The effect is heart-rending and chilling all at once, and it goes to the core of American despair: I want the Dream; I see others achieving the Dream; I’ll take a quick and violent path straight toward the Dream. Won’t that make things better?

Crawford’s scene with Marianne McLaughlin as Sara Jane Moore — the hippie and the housewife, both of whom tried to kill Gerald R. Ford in 1975 — was even funnier than it was on Broadway, for two reasons: Crawford plays Squeaky as less a freak than a human being, and McLaughlin conveys genuine surprise and befuddlement when she mishandles her gun or gets a little too high.

Nickerson decides to postpone the entrance of the presidential assassin best known to baby boomers who were alive in November 1963 (and their parents and grandparents); on Broadway two years ago, Neil Patrick Harris took a more prominent role alongside that production’s Proprietor in introducing and commenting on the other assassins. George Green plays Oswald more for insecurity and fear than as any kind of stone-cold killer. (Sondheim, of course, took heat for thoroughly accepting the Warren Commission scenario — not much room for CIA complicity when Lee Harvey is as likely to shoot himself in despair as he is to shoulder a rifle and aim it at JFK.) Like a spider toying with a fly, McHenry-Kroetch snares Green in his web: Weidman’s climactic scene imagines Booth as a Texas State Book Depository tempter. The physical difference in height plays an effective role here, with McHenry-Kroetch looming over his prey.

If compelled to pick a standout in an already outstanding cast, I’d have to go with McHenry-Kroetch as the original presidential assassin, John Wilkes Booth. (Jan Wanless’ Victorian cravat-and-cutaway looked especially good on Booth; her rust-colored bowler and carnival-barker attire for Heppler’s Proprietor and red hippie dress for Squeaky-Crawford were also quite effective.)

[ dir., SFX, Booth, 2 pc., set, nec. cuts ]

Unlike so much latter-day Sondheim music (unmemorable patter songs, melodically undistinguished — literate and witty, but all blending together), some of the *Assassins* songs stick in the memory, especially the satiric show-biz exuberance of “Everyone Has the Right” in particular. Perhaps having to suit so many different historical eras inspired the composer/lyricist to vary his musical palette more than usual.

As Nickerson and his cast move toward the state and regional Kaleidoscope competition, naturally there are weaknesses that could use improvement. (Cutting 50 minutes out of this show to edit it down to its one-long competition fighting weight, however, won’t be easy: It’s a relentless, intermission-less, in-your-face show.)

Andrew Ware-Lewis moves like a dancer among the assassins. He’s not up to the excessive demands that Sondheim places on the Balladeer, however, for rapid-fire speed-singing; few people would be. A somewhat slower tempo and real emphasis on articulation and volume would help during the accelerated expository passages. In “The Gun Song” (or at least during some of the musical numbers that call for vaudeville movements), Ware-Lewis could afford to point up the satire by smiling more. But he looms like a brooding presence throughout on the shadowy sidelines.

Thomas Heppler’s Proprietor, like Ware-Lewis at times, isn’t projecting nearly enough vocally. A couple of dramatic ring-the-carnival-bell moments don’t register because Heppler seems hesitant.

Matt Harget is simply too restrained as Samuel Byck, the Santa Claus suit-wearing oddball who intended to fly a plane into Nixon’s White House. Harget’s got some of the smoldering resentment, but he’s missing the flamboyant, partly self-aware buffoonery that Byck projects: This is a guy who knows his plan is crazy, but who can laugh at himself because he knows it, right before he starts lamenting and growing livid over the crazy state of chaos this world has wound itself into. More self-mockery would counterpoint the outrage at the world that Nixon screwed up.

But if I can’t quite deliver a rave on Nickerson’s production of *Assassins,* I want to emphasize that this is a very, very good show. Critics supposedly sit in quiet frustration, shut out of the process, unable to act themselves and relieving their wounded pride by puncturing the egos of all the little actors up onstage.

Well, I don’t want to become another black hole of on-his-sleeve insecurity like that pathetic Hinckley guy or another dick like Samuel Byck.

*Assassins* is so good, I want to publicly apologize for anything overly critical or unfair I have ever said about anyone associated with this show. I’m just a writer; these people are the ones doing it night after night up there onstage. Assassins is one of those exceptional shows that should make anyone who sees it and who’s evenly loosely involved in local theater proud to be part of such a creative and talented theatrical community.

Hats off to them. As many people as possible should buy their tickets and take in this show. Attention should indeed be paid.

a photo or two of *Assassins*

at the Civic's Firth J. Chew Studio Theater through Feb. 18
go to, search for
theater Spokane Assassins
for the pix of Sir Andrew Aguecheek
That oughta get you there ...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Opening-night review of *Driving Miss Daisy*

at Interplayers through Feb. 3

In Interplayers’ current production of Alfred Uhry’s *Driving Miss Daisy* (through Feb. 3), the script is better than the presentation — enough so that the play feels worth revisiting despite some less than ideal performance decisions.

Director Maynard Villers allows too many important moments to wither instead of resonate, and he slows the evening down with way too many between-scene blackouts. But in this friendship-of-opposites play, he gets sometimes uneven but often effective moments from Alice Kennedy in the title role and from Clarence Forech as her chauffeur Hoke.

In an initial interview scene, Forech slows the pace too much: Needing to impress both us and his potential employer (Daisy’s son Boolie, played by Tony Caprile), Forech isn’t cute or commanding enough. But his Hoke improves steadily from then on. Forech has a habit of dipping his chin for the early part of a line and then edging it slightly upward for the conclusion — a nice visual equivalent of Hoke’s tendency to act deferential while setting up appeals for what is his by right. (His repeated insistence on being treated with dignity, as a result, comes off as less strident — not as demands for racial equality but as simple facts.) Even in forgetting his lines, which he jumbled on occasion, Forech brought a genuine dimension to the chauffeur. Later in the show, when it’s clear that Hoke has better manners and greater compassion than his social superiors, Forech achieves the dignity that his character seeks.

Alice Kennedy is more successful at conveying Daisy’s aloofness than her vulnerability. Kennedy has a knack for butting into conversations with a quick wisecrack when you least expect it. She’s not forceful vocally — a fact that undercuts her ability to seem commanding and aristocratic. But more than I’d remembered, Daisy’s frugality and desire for privacy come across clearly in Kennedy’s performance. In the cemetery scene and some of the little speeches of self-revelation, however, Kennedy overdoes the stern-exterior bit. There’s a widow and a former schoolteacher inside there; she admired her husband and wanted to help her students, and we need to see more of that love and longing.

In a scene when it becomes clear that the working-class black man and the wealthy Jewish matron are both victims of ugly prejudice, Kennedy — with her eyes downcast, hands clutching her purse, a look of pain darkening her face — certainly looks the part of someone who’s just been struck with a sickening realization. But when Hoke recalls the horrific details of a lynching victim he saw when he was a child, the dialogue isn’t given its proper weight, and the moment loses its tragic potential. Forech rushes into a reassuring “Go ahead and cry now” to Miss Daisy before audience members have time to register the emotions that she must be feeling – and their own. Sitting there in the car, Kennedy looks devastated and Forech looks stoic. But the dialogue rushes by and the moment gets plowed under.

The point is worth emphasizing because the same mistake recurs so often in this production. Revelations of friendship and of personal weakness, the first paralleling of racial and religious prejudice — such matters come off like muttered small talk when they need to stand out instead as revelations of character. Villers needs to direct his actors to put more air in those moments — let some time elapse just before and after the big moments, and they’ll inflate properly. And then they’ll start to resonate with listeners.


The complete version of this review will appear in Thursday's *Inlander,* including additional comments on Tony Caprile's performance as Boolie (positive): on why the between-scene blackouts were such a drag (negative), and how they could have been avoided and were avoided in one instance, with good results; and on how the themes of Uhry's play still resonate today (positive) -- making this production worth seeing despite its weaknesses.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

accessing *Barefoot* photos

In the midst of Bobo's technological ineptitude (Blogger has changed formats), try the following if you want to see three production photos of *Barefoot in the Park* (through Feb. 3 on the Main Stage of Spokane Civic Theatre):

in the search box, type in < theater Spokane Barefoot >
Click on Sir Andrew Aguecheek to go to all of Bobo's photos, which you can then click and enlarge.
Happy viewing!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

delayed opening-night review of *Agnes of God* at Actors Rep

through Feb. 27 at SFCC's Spartan Theatre

With its intense, claustrophobic staging and generally good performances, director Michael Weaver’s production of *Agnes of God* at Actors Rep (through Jan. 27) does what the opened-up 1985 movie couldn’t: It emphasizes the immediacy of live performance while stripping away extraneous details to concentrate on emotional debates. The result is a play that’s talky but which still offers rewards. Besides, with the Mother Superior trying to obstruct the investigation, we’ve got contemporary resonance. Let’s see, an official in the Catholic hierarchy tries to control public perception of a scandal involving not only sexual abuse but danger to the abused victim. Sound familiar?

Kate Vita finds the remote professional sternness called for in the role of the psychiatrist, but not Dr. Martha Livingstone’s vulnerability or spiritual longing. In a suit and professorial glasses, her hair pulled back into a bun, Vita is all business — except for the neuroses implied by her chain-smoking. The playwright has supplied, a little too neatly, some childhood experiences that crack the shrink’s professional demeanor. Vita needs to show more of the childlike fears and the adult’s near-desperation to believe in something, anything.

From the convent’s nun in chief, we might expect rigid formality, but Jane Fellows surprises us with hints of humor, a secular weakness or two and emotional vulnerability. It’s the most fully rounded of the evening’s three performances.

Weaver keeps all three actors onstage continuously, and he makes sure that one scene flows, sometimes startlingly, into the next. During her expository monologues, however, Vita’s psychiatrist does too much simple back-and-forth pacing. The blocking, usually varied in interesting ways, could have used more variety here.

The set, by Gonzaga’s John Hofland and Sam Schroeder, consists of fragmented pews, with all the emotional confrontations played out in a confined and claustrophobic space. The actors sometimes chase one another from row to row, slipping between pews as if caught in some kind of maze. In the rear, symbolic blood-red umbilical cords tie the playing area to God — or, more literally, to an overhanging depiction of Christ the Good Shepherd tending to His sheep.

The full version of this review will appear in the Thursday, Jan. 18, issue of *The Pacific Northwest Inlander.* It will contain further comments on the themes of Pielmeier's play and on the performance of Caryn Hoaglund as Agnes.

New Works Festival at U of Idaho, Feb. 8-17

Patty Duke will appear in the satiric one-woman show, *Billion Dollar Baby,* by Julie Jensen.
Four other festival entries include: By Design, Option, The Myth of Maria the Virgin, and Santa Fe.

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 8-10, at 7:30 pm
Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 pm
Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 14-17, at 7:30 pm
at UI's Hartung Theater, near the Kibbie Dome

Tickets: $10; $8, seniors; $5, UI faculty and students and youth
Visit: or call (208) 885-7212

Sunday, January 14, 2007

*Agnes of God* review

Sorry, none forthcoming tonight. Bobo has made little progress, and now he's sleepy. He generally liked it, but it's knotty play, and difficult to discuss. This is one self-imposed deadline he won't make. Maybe tomorrow. Full review in Thursday's paper.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

opening-night review of *Barefoot in the Park*

at Spokane Civic Theatre through Feb. 3

Because of space limitations in *The Inlander,* the final print version of this review will not appear on Jan. 18 but will be delayed until the Jan. 25 issue. Also, technical issues having to do with uploading photos from to are delaying the appearance here of production photos from *Barefoot in the Park.* (We’ve got ‘em, and they look good, but it’s a mission that needs undertaking by the Geek Squad.)

Despite its best features — a spirited performance by Danae M. Lowman as the freewheeling newlywed wife, the transformation of David Baker and Peter Hardie’s set by JoAnne Emery’s ‘60s furniture and props, and the relatively small number of Neil Simon jokes that still connect — the Civic’s production of *Barefoot in the Park* presents a comedy that’s showing its age and has lost much of its capacity for surprise or delight.
Unmarried middle-aged suburban women tossing their mink coats aside and getting sloppy drunk while nibbling on exotic food — such things don’t register very high on today’s Outrageous Behavior Index. Too often, director Yvonne A.K. Johnson lets the pace drag; at two hours and a quarter (including intermission), the Bratters make us overstay our welcome in their living room.
*Barefoot* is the granddaddy of a lot of TV sit coms, and Simon’s Sid Caesar apprenticeship certainly taught him the tricks of his comedic trade. Undercutting sentiment with jokes, for example: When it comes to the young lovers’ reconciliation at the end (I’m giving anything away here?), the straight-laced attorney hubbie confesses to the unconventional but anxious wifey that he loves her and that “Even when I didn’t like you, I loved you.” Or when the wife, wanting to get her man back after a marital spat, lists all the things she’d like to do to keep their relationship strong — an affecting vision of what marriage ideally should be, delivered to an empty stage by a woman stuck inside one very small offstage bathroom.
Simon also demonstrates that he knows how to write jokes that hit their punch lines inside our imaginations — like the set-up about all the plumbing fixtures being backwards, so “remember to flush up,” or the set-up about a bedroom so cramped that the newlyweds have to sleep in unison, and (much later),”tonight we sleep left to right.”
But sit coms have passed Simon by — any number of them today know how to find the compassion inside a buffoon or the heartless underbelly of a sweet young thing. Simon pointed the way toward greater humanity in comedy while himself hailing from the Vaudeville Gags School of Yuks.
And even he miscalculates sometimes: Occasionally a joke is over-explained. A late-middle-age guy gets extremely winded from climbing all those stairs up to the central couple’s walk-up apartment. “He’s probably 25,” comments another, and that’s where the laugh came on opening night, because of the audience’s instant visualization: It takes so long to climb these stairs, a man could age 40 years before he gets to the top. OK, got it. But Simon — insistent, and not for the only time, on nailing down his gag — has the straight man deliver an explanation of a bit we had already visualized and chuckled over. Drained the air right out of the joke.
Even worse, during the inevitable newlyweds’ spat late in the show, Simon writes labeling speeches to indicate what we’re supposed to know. “I think you’re serious,” says hubbie to wife as the argument escalates — but the fatal flaw is that at that moment, we see that she’s not. She’s not serious. And she’s not serious because Simon isn’t serious. His characters have only been married for six days, and already they’re having their first blow-up, and all the playwright has written for them is playacting divorce-talk. It’s not actual divorce-talk — it’s the kind of jokey banter shared by married couples who are going through the motions.
And the result is that the play’s central question isn’t “Will the newlyweds split up?” because of course they won’t, and it isn’t “Will the older generation pair off?” because a double-your-pleasure romantic comedy is double the fun, so of course they will. Simon wants to go deeper and probe the nature of marriage, and what it really takes to keep a relationship going, but he can’t get there because his toolkit of gags and one-liners doesn’t allow for it.
And don’t even get feminists started on a play in which the mother informs her newlywed daughter that a husband needs to be made to feel important, and that it’s the wife’s duty to make him feel that way. (Forget about the woman herself feeling important — she’ll be much too busy standing behind, er, by her man.)
Claiming that *Barefoot* is still worth producing after the sit com has graduated from *The Mary Tyler Moore Show* to *MASH* to *Seinfeld* is like claiming to improve today’s transmissions by studying the innards of an Edsel.

But the Civic’s production isn’t entirely unsuccessful. As the free-spirit housewife, Corie, Lowman is perky, healthy about sex but yearning to make it even more, vivacious and full of energy. She pulls off a reasonably good drunk scene and lets her voice go all squeaky when she caroms off into wronged-wife territory. Her righteous anger (“Don’t you tell me when to cry”) was especially effective and funny.
As straight-arrow lawyer Paul Bratter, Paul Villabrille looks the buttoned-down part in the suits and overcoats of costumers Susan Berger and Jan Wanless. But Villabrille neglects to cement our impressions of him — inside the apartment, he seems to match wit-play with his quirky and unselfconscious wife, with the result that he doesn’t seem so buttoned-down after all. But Villabrille must’ve convinced us somehow of his character’s conventionality, because his finest moments arrive when husband Paul suddenly, explosively bursts into flashy behavior (“Now I’m the doer and you’re the watcher,” he taunts her at one point, or when he chases Corie around the living room during a tickling game).
Because of various plot points — Paul’s never seen this shabby new apartment, Corie needs to demonstrate her unquenchable optimism in the face of ugly wallpaper and poor bathroom fixtures, and a couple of scenes end with action on both sides of a prominent (and cracked) skylight — the set and props in this show have to work wonders. Emery has found the beanbag chair and sunburst clock and psychedelic posters and ultra-groovy Space Age furniture to evoke just the kind of trendy-then, ridiculous-looking now clutter that would pass for fashionable in Corie’s Swingin’ Sixties mind.
In the supporting roles, Jean Hardie totters onstage in a mink coat, exhausted from stair-climbing and heading full speed ahead for a collapse onto that bean bag over there. She deepens her voice hilariously for some dry witticisms about marriage, and she even takes on a girlish quality when being flirted with. Robert Wamsley, meanwhile, can bring on the eccentric/oddball mannerisms, but he seems miscast as a character described as having Douglas Fairbanks-style athleticism.
Which brings on the question of whether to update Simon (or at least to delete the stuff that makes him sound like a clueless old biddy). “Stoned” doesn’t mean “really drunk” anymore, and there was a joke with a punch line alluding to a 1956 Italian ocean liner disaster that not one in 10 playgoers got (judging from the smattering of laughs on opening night). So why are we treating Simon’s script as if it were Holy Writ? The play is 44 years old, for laughing out loud; give it a new coat of paint.
Brian Lambert brings warmth and humor to what could, in other hands, revert to just another dumb-palooka repairman role. Peter Hardie (who, along with David Baker, is credited in the program as being the show’s scene and lighting designer) wordlessly overplays another repairman, but he’s still amusing in the role — and apparently it was Simon’s intention to hit us over the head (and over and over) with the climbing-six-flights-of-stairs joke. Repeatedly. Several times.
It’s not Hardie’s fault if it wasn’t funny. It’s Simon’s, and it’s the responsibility of those who keep disinterring old warhorses like *Barefoot* when other, newer, fresher comedies are available.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Spokane Civic Theatre's 2007-08 season

The Civic has announced all of its Mainstage and half of its Studio productions for next season:

South Pacific (opens Sept. 28)
Into the Woods (concert version; Oct. 21; one night only)
The Christmas Schooner (Nov. 16; musical by John Reeger and Julie Shannon)
Laughing Stock (Jan. 11, 2008; comedy by Charles Morey)
The Last Five Years (musical by Jason Robert Brown; Studio Theatre, Jan. 25, 2008)
The Night of the Iguana (Feb. 22)
The Foreigner (March 28)
Hollywood Arms (Carol Burnett's comedy; Studio Theatre, April 25)
Man of La Mancha (May 16)

*Assassins* in competition

Troy Nickerson and Gary Laing's production of Sondheim's *Assassins* (Jan. 26-Feb. 18 at the Civic, downstairs) will be performed in a cut-down one-hour version in Walla Walla on March 9-11 as part of a state-wide community theater festival. (Remember that *Getting Out* (1989) and *Lonely Planet* (1999) went all the way in the nation in this same competition.) Regionals will be held later in Tacoma. And to all: Break a leg!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

auditions for *The Nerd*

at Lake City Playhouse
Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 6:30 pm
1320 E. Garden Ave., Coeur d'Alene
Larry Shue's comedy, directed by Tracey Vaughan
performances March 9-24
4 M, one boy, 2 W
Willum, his girlfriend Tansy, his friend Axel, his boss Mr. Waldgrave and the Waldgrave family -- and the man who once saved Willum's life, Rick Steadman
Visit or call (208) 667-1323.

auditions for *The Cover of Life*

at Spokane Civic Theatre lobby, Jan. 21-22 at 7 pm
1020 N. Howard St., directly east of the Spokane Arena
directed by Susan Hardie
6W, 1 M
performances March 9-31
one-minute contemporary monologues; cold readings from script
RT Robinson's script focuses on the three wives of three brothers sent off to war in 1943; their mother-in-law; and a reporter from Life magazine.
Visit or call 325-1413.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Agnes of God at Actors Rep

Agnes of God at Actors Rep
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

directed by Michael Weaver
Kate Vita as Dr. Livingstone, Caryn Hoaglund as Agnes, Jane Fellows as Mother Superior

Kate Vita and Caryn Hoaglund

Kate Vita and Caryn Hoaglund
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

John Pielmeier's drama
at ARt, Jan. 12-27
Kate Vita as Dr. Livingstone
Caryn Hoaglund as Agnes

Agnes of God at ARt

Agnes of God at ARt
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

Jan. 12-27, 2007 at Actors Repertory Theatre of the Inland Northwest, with performances at Spokane Falls Community College's Spartan Theater
directed by Michael Weaver

Jane Fellows as Mother Superior
Caryn Hoaglund as Agnes

cast for *Driving Miss Daisy*

at Interplayers, Jan. 18-Feb. 3

Alice Kennedy as Miss Daisy
Clarence Forech as Hoke
Tony Caprile as Boolie
directed by Maynard Villers

The 1989 Bruce Beresford-directed film starred Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Ackroyd.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


through Sunday, Jan. 7, at the INB Center
It's a fun show. The songs are catchy, particularly if you blast the soundtrack afterwards in order to relive the experience.
Some of the vaudeville jokes fell flat, but it sped right by. Jerry O'Boyle plays Edna as kinder, less campy, less raspy than Harvey Fierstein. The jail sequence is too silly, and the Penny/Seaweed interracial romance seems forced, but it's refreshing to have a musical push a political theme (admittedly, anti-racism is an easy cupcake to bake, but still). Bobo and his daughter were whistling and singing about seven different tunes afterwards -- and the less melodically memorable ones, like Run and Tell That and I Know Where I've Been still pack a powerful punch. The staging, I'm told -- remote-control rats, go-go dancers in silhouette, the opening shot of Tracy lying in bed, the flashing video board, the angled roll-on brownstones, that rat's nest of microphones at the radio station -- were all in the original Broadway staging by Jack O'Brien. Not a weak link in the cast.

I guess "Backstage to Broadway" shows on Saturday at 6 pm on channel 114 (I don't get it, either) and thereafter in a podcast at and through mid-Feb. We had Tracy and Edna Turnblad on the show (Brooklynn Pulver and Jerry O'Boyle) along with the show's wig supervisor and company manager -- and the students from SFCC were great. (Don't forget, they're doing *R&J* in early March.) There's an *Annie* preview included, too.