Thursday, July 26, 2007

no *Kate* photos yet

Bobo's got some nice shots of Jennifer Dudley as Lilli Vanessi/Katherine bending over backwards for Chris Thompson as Fred Graham/Petruchio; of Petruchio threatening Katherine with a whip as two gangsters (Bill Rhodes and Jack Bannon) look on; and of the two big goombahs making sure that an anxious Fred stays put in his chair.
But, alas, continuing Flickr/Yahoo problems make it unlikely that Bobo will be able to post a link to those photos anytime soon.
*Kiss Me, Kate* runs Aug. 4-19 at CdA Summer Theater, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter; directed by Nike Imoru; musical direction by Max Mendez; and choreography by Michael Wasileski.
Dudley has sung leading roles with a dozen major opera companies across the United States — from Spoleto to the Met, from Lyric Opera of Chicago to Glimmerglass.
Thompson teaches voice at the U. of Idaho and has performed in half a dozen Idaho Rep productions in Moscow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Costume Shop sale

at the Civic, Howard St. and Dean Ave.
Sat 28 July from 9 am-3 pm
cash only; everything under $20

Thursday, July 19, 2007

review of *Putting It Together*

at CdA Summer Theater through July 29

In *Putting It Together,* the Stephen Sondheim playing Coeur d'Alene through July 29, director Roger Welch has devised a clever bit of opening patter for Christian Duhamel as the Observer, explaining among other things why Duhamel's filling in on the role and making a not-so-coy reference to the popularity of CdA's *Full Monty* (with Duhamel pulling a red thong out of his cummerbund). It was Duhamel's best moment of the entire show, right off the bat.
After Duhamel warms up — and warns — the audience with the "Invocation" from *The Frogs,* the entire five-member cast emerges in formal wear for the title tune, which is taken from *Sunday in the Park With George* (though it's never entirely clear how the difficulties of creating an art work correspond to the difficulties involved in maintaining a marriage). The choreography at this point seemed uninspired, even sloppy.
Michael McGiveney's asymmetrical, starlit set provides surfaces to project lighting designer Joel Williamson's designs, nicely changing the mood from number to number.
As the Husband, Mark Cotter often sounded breathy, as if (understandably) laboring under the requirements of Sondheim's rapid-fire lyrics.
The first of the evening's several highlights arrives with Krystle Armstrong's rendition of "Lovely" from *Forum.* She was batting her eyelashes so much, I could feel a breeze in the eighth row. Armstrong used her ballet skills to demonstrate just how "winsome" she was feeling.
Cotter wasn't especially wolfish during his "Hello, Little Girl" pursuit of the Cute Young Thing from *Into the Woods,* but at least that comic number set up a nice contrast to the evening's second highlight, the duet of Judy Ann Moulton as the Wife and Armstrong's Young Woman in "My Husband the Pig / Every Day a Little Death" from *A Little Night Music.* Isolated in spotlights, both women lamented the sacrifices they'd made to endure relationships with men.
With its hip thrusts and faces pulled toward bosoms, with its pats on the bum and peeks underneath aprons, the "Everybody Ought To Have a Maid" duet between Moulton and Duhamel turned up the sexy-comic barometer. As the Wife made clear that she wouldn't at all have a cabana boy around the kitchen, several subtle (and not-very-subtle-at-all) sexual innuendoes probably bestowed enough cleverness on this exchange to obscure the distance it had traveled from how it's originally put to use in *A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.*
Cotter and Dane Stokinger (as the Young Man) achieve good two-part harmony on the dual tributes to feminine pulchritude, "Have I Got a Girl for You" and "Pretty Women." Stokinger's puppy-dog eyes over beautiful women were effective precursors to the romantic passion he'd show in later numbers.
Armstrong practically out-vamped Madonna in a couple of numbers from *Dick Tracy.* In the first, "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," her high kicks and rhythmic leaning toward Stokinger created some nice erotic tension. Later, in Act Two, Armstrong got nearly orgasmic as she out-lusted the Material Girl in a paean to greed called "More."
Choreography took precedence over music in "Bang!" — a number cut from *A Little Night Music,* sung here by Duhamel, and meant to embody sex as a kind of military siege. Armstrong was spending so much time bending over backwards and running her hands over herself that her tango of lust with Stokinger stole focus (properly) from Duhamel's singing.
Stokinger and Armstrong performed the love duet "Unworthy of Your Love" so powerfully and romantically that it was startling to recall that in *Assassins,* this same song is sung by a couple of deluded idolators and twisted lovers, Squeaky Fromme and John Hinckley.
Moulton and Cotter are at their best in "Country House" from *Follies,* in which a longtime married couple grasp at ways to save their crumbling relationship: Do they need a trip abroad, a shrink, a dog? Finally the lyrics circle back to the suggestion of a material possession with which they started: Maybe they just need a second house. The oscillating exasperation and affection was made evident here.

There appeared to be an unusually high number of walk-outs after intermission. And it's true that, even in just a two-hour show with a 20-minute interval, after awhile many of the Sondheim songs blend together into indistinguishability. Yet there had been several high points in the first half of CdA's *Putting It Together,* and there were still a couple left in what was admittedly a less compelling second act.
The cocktail-party action and focus on the jaded, often-skirmishing older couple and the less experienced younger couple that we see in Act One fades from view later on.
A couple of comedic sequences seem gratuitous — "Buddy's Blues" in particular. As delightful as Duhamel is in playing both halves of a bickering couple (and letting his voice get all screechy for the shrewish wife), this is a number that's clear inserted just to lighten the mood. And Moulton's "Getting Married Today," despite the dialogue inserted to justify it, simply works better with a younger, more harried, more frantic prospective wife, as in the original of *Company.*
In "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Moulton transitions nicely from outer-directed sarcasm (at all those fashionable matrons who try to keep up appearances) to inner-directed self-disgust. After selling an unsettling song, she stomped off the stage to applause.
The last seven songs are all from either *Company* (1970) or from *Merrily We Roll Along* (1981). In "Marry Me a Little," Stokinger begins quietly, seated on the floor, almost without affect. By the time he's kneeling before Armstrong, we sense the push me/pull me vacillation his character feels toward the whole idea of commitment. And then the entire ensemble delivers a beautiful five-part rendition of *Company*'s concluding anthem, "Being Alive.*
Sondheim's revue brings us not happily-ever-after, all-troubles-forgotten. Instead, it suggests the deep worth of moments of romance and connection, grasped out of the morass of mistakes and self-defeats that we have inflicted on ourselves in the past — and will continue to do, with musicals like this as one of our few consolations.
Sondheim's assemblages don't always solve the problem of sameness, and there are bland patches in this show. Similarly, the CdA quintet of singers aren't up to the vocal and dramatic demands of each and every number.
But the CdA *Putting It Together* still presents several sequences that will enrich your capacity for introspection.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bali Hai is calling ...

Audition for *South Pacific* at the Civic
Monday-Tuesday, July 30-31, at 6:30 pm; callbacks on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 6:30 pm
Prepare a verse and chorus not from *South Pacific* but from another Rodgers and Hammerstein score
(Why not wow 'em with something obscure — something from, say, *Me and Juliet* or *Pipe Dream*?)
Performances: Sept. 29-Oct. 28
directed, according to the Civic's Website, by "Yvonne A.K. Joon"
Call 325-2507

Sunday, July 15, 2007

two photos of *Putting It Together*

for pix of the July 19-29 Sondheim revue, directed by Roger Welch, at NIC's Shuler Auditorium.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

George Green named as Civic's director of development

Green has already accepted a lunch invitation from Bobo — no, this is for real — and Bobo hereby pledges not to make any comments whatsoever regarding Green's physical appearance or his resemblance to any figures living or dead, fictional or nonfictional.
All joking aside, this is a great match of the person and the job.

direct readers theater for Ignite!

Resume and cover letter by July 27 to
or snail-mail to
Ignite! Community Theatre
PO Box 6675
Spokane WA 99217

The 2007-08 Booklight Readers Theater season:
• September – Hole in the Sky by Reed McColm
• November – Cheaper by the Dozen by Christopher Sergel
• January – The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
• March – The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare
• May – Rope by Patrick Hamilton

Ignite! also welcomes volunteers for directing, set, costume, hair,
makeup, lighting, sound and prop design.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

marketing the Civic

Look for an announcement as soon as tomorrow (Monday, July 9) concerning who's going to succeed Donovan Stohlberg as the director of marketing and development at Spokane Civic Theatre.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

audition for *Into the Woods* in concert at the Civic

*Into the Woods* performed in concert
book by James Lapine
music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson
musical direction by Carolyn Jess

Auditions: Sunday, Aug. 12 at 6:30 pm at Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard St.
Roles for adults only. Prepare a verse and chorus from *Into the Woods* and be ready for cold readings; total of five rehearsals.
Call 325-2507.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

review of *The Full Monty*

at Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater through July 14

Would you lay yourself (and all your imperfections) bare for neighbors and co-workers to see? Maybe not. But if you thought you were going to make money doing it — and if you were out of a job, your bank account was empty, and you were in danger of losing the people you love most — then would you go the Full Monty?
You would if you knew it would get the kind of reception it's getting at Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater (through July 14).
... Right at the outset, we get a taste of what we came for. A party girl does an emcee intro, and suddenly onstage there's a guy in a suit doing eye-popping things with an umbrella. And with his belt. And with the pants he just ripped off and tossed aside. It's Jonathan Rau (nephew of John Travolta and one of the stars of last season’s *Bus Stop* at Interplayers) doing a dance routine that delivers the goods so well, it'll make jaws drop and other parts not drop. By the time Rau was on all fours, crawling toward the audience, wearing nothing but a G-string, a couple of gray-haired ladies near me were shrieking.
... In a dance-heavy show, director and choreographer Roger Welch provides a pattern of accomplished dancers pulling off the difficult trick of making it appear that they don't know how to dance when they really do.

... In the basketball number, Dane Stokinger — lanky, athletic, pulsing with energy — takes center court. Playing Jerry, the out-of-work divorced dad who’s late with the child support — and who first devises the idea of Stripping for Dollars — Stokinger has the frenetic energy of a desperate guy who’ll play every angle. His voice may falter on the high notes, but in encouraging his son and his mates even as he’s trying to buck up himself, his acting’s solid.

... The CdA *Full Monty* is a crowd-pleasing show with some weaknesses: There’s a lame joke about running into walls that instead of being endlessly repeated should have been cut altogether; three sentimental numbers work too hard at arousing sympathy for the characters; the CdA sound system features its usual feedback explosions and can't-hear-what-they're-saying fades; and Welch should have trimmed about 15 minutes out of this two-and-three-quarter-hour-long show.
The momentum slows after intermission, mostly because nearly every one of Yazbek's second-act songs repeats something we already know about these characters: the trooper playing the piano (Ellen Travolta) sure is one tough old broad who's been around the show-business block; Jerry really loves his son; the men are really nervous (and under-rehearsed) before their big pseudo-Chippendales night; and the wives are going to stand by their men, even if their guys insist on showing off their shortcomings. The musical’s book, by Terrence McNally (who wrote *Love! Valour! Compassion!*), predictably adds some male-male attraction in this testosterone-heavy show — those heterosexuals are everywhere these days! — but the added romance seems forced, perfunctory. As a result, too much of Act Two feels like holding pattern deliberately lengthened to increase the will they/won't they suspense of the concluding strip-o-rama.
But then delay is all in the nature of a Big Tease. *The Full Monty* has its fleshly appeals, but McNally squeezes in some of the heavier stuff while we’re waiting for the finale: Are we truly ready to humble ourselves for the sake of the ones we love? Are we willing to go all-out to make our marriages and parenting work? There’s more than one way to “go all the way.”

For the rest of this review — with comments on the show's finale; the dancing of Mark Fitzgerald Weekes and Christian Duhamel; the choreography of Andrew Start; the acting of Danny Stiles and Laura Sable; and the playing of Steven Dahlke's 11-piece band — please pick up a copy of *The Pacific Northwest Inlander* on Thursday.
Like at that coffee shop over there. Right now.
Or else listen to KPBX, the NPR affiliate at 91.1 FM in Spokane, at 8:35 am on Thursday, July 5.