Sunday, September 30, 2007

*The Christmas Schooner* cast list

Spokane Civic Theatre, Nov. 16-Dec. 16
directed by Maria Caprile
musical direction by Gary Laing
written by John Reeger
music and Lyrics by Julie Shannon

Captain Stossel is determined to bring Christmas to Chicago and he's willing to risk his life doing it. Can he ferry Christmas trees across a wintry Lake Michigan from the Upper Peninsula all the way down to the waiting German community? a musical based on actual events

Karl Stossel, age 9 Hannah Lee
Gustav Stossel Dennis Craig
Alma Stossel Heidi Gnos Kuban
Peter Stossel Tony Caprile
Rudy Dan Griffith
Oskar Gary Pierce
Steve Peter Gardner
Hans Mark Sims
Karl Stossel age 1 .Jared Mola
Martha Amy Schoedel
Kate Tami Knoell
Enid Alexis Main
Olive Charlotte Orrino
Mary Claire Danielle Martin
Chorus: Keyonna Knight, Christy Finley

Friday, September 28, 2007

*South Pacific* review later this weekend

Bobo has late-night writer's block.

Holocaust drama at SCC, Oct. 9

(one woman's experience of the Holocaust)
SCC Lair, Bldg.6, Mission Ave. and Greene St.
Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 11:30 am
call 533-7081
Based on the true story of Janka Festinger, who lost her entire family in the World War II concentration camp Auschwitz, the play draws on a series of notes Festinger wrote in a composition book for an uncle in America following the war. Her stories frankly and poignantly describe her family’s deportation, separation and suffering at Auschwitz. Festinger later married a U.S. soldier and emigrated to the United States.
Written in Hungarian, the composition book was found by her son, “Janka” director Oscar Speace, following Festinger’s death in 1994. A neighbor helped translate Festinger’s notes, which Speace crafted into the one-woman play, “Janka.” Festinger’s daughter-in-law, actress Janice Noga, portrays Janka.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

two photos of *South Pacific*

now at
Sept. 28-Oct. 27 on the Civic's Main Stage
1) Chloe, Jaylan and Marianne; 2) Briane and Michael

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lynn Nottage, genius

The Yale-affiliated playwright (*Crumbs From the Table of Joy,* *Intimate Apparel*) just won a MacArthur "genius grant."

"Shakespeare Sundays," Oct. 14-May 18 in Moscow

Shakespeare readings, open to all, on eleven Sunday afternoons
at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Parish Hall, First and Jefferson in Moscow
1:30-3:30 pm; sign up at 1:15 pm; age, gender, race don't matter
R&J Oct. 14 and 28
Merchant Dec. 2 and 16
1H4 Jan. 13 and 27
Hamlet Feb 10 and 24 and March 16
Tempest May 4 and 18
$2, so everyone can literally be on the same page (with the same script)
organized by Ron Hufham, the artistic director of the newly formed nonprofit Mirror Theater
acting classes and seminars on Shakespeare's history plays are also in the works

Sunday, September 23, 2007

opening-night review of *Long Day’s Journey Into Night*

at Actors Repertory Theatre through Oct. 9

In director Michael Weaver’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s *Long Day’s Journey Into Night* (at Actors Rep through Oct. 9), a mostly lackluster first two acts are redeemed by a powerful finale and buoyed by the performance of Karen Nelsen as Mary Tyrone, the drug addict who couldn’t handle the truth even before she started shooting up. With Wes Deitrick offering a weak performance as the patriarch, however, a lot of O’Neill’s emotional impact is dulled. As the two sons — drunken, self-hating Jamie and the sickly poet Edmund — Carter J. Davis and Damon C. Mentzer are good throughout but have their most searing scenes at the end, meaning that the ARt *Journey* delays its deepest impact until its third and final hour.

*Long Day’s Journey,* set nearly a century ago, offers dated phrases like “you’re a fine lunkhead” as insults actually meant to sting. But if you substitute your own particular form of addiction for the Tyrones’ whiskey and morphine, Journey morphs into a contemporary play. The play hammers away at our denials, our unwillingness to face the truth, our eagerness to blame circumstances and other people and the past — anything but ourselves.
It’s three hours of denial junkies raging at one another, lashing each other with the very things they least want to hear about themselves. The gloom and tension is evident even in the happy-family-over-breakfast façade of the opening scene, and it worsens into crescendo of self-hatred in the third hour.
Long before then, though, we have Nelsen’s carefully wrought performance to contemplate. With fingers fluttering upwards for continual adjustments to her hair, she conveys the paranoia of a guilt-ridden woman. She plays the nervous coquette out of dimly-remembered habit; her chin dips when she apologizes, but then she quickly squints to see how her apology is playing with the three men who know her best and know her secrets. Small lies catch in her throat; bigger lies lead to outright denials, with Nelsen capturing how the lady is protesting far too much.
She blames her husband and son for leaving her alone and then, with no sense of self-contradiction, for not leaving her alone. Nelsen makes it appear that Mary holds two contradictory ideas in her mind at once — they caused her to sink into drugs, she’s brought the misery of drug addiction upon herself — showing us the mark of F. Scott Fitzgerald called a first-rate intelligence (and first-rate acting) all at once.

In the role of James Tyrone — a portrait of the whiskey-swilling, penny-pinching, washed-up-but-proud Irish actor who was Eugene O’Neill’s father — Wes Deitrick is no David Ogden Stiers. It’s not fair, of course, to criticize the production that might have been, only the one that’s being presented. What Deitrick presents us with, however, is a weak vocal delivery and a hesitant physical presence. There’s none of the stentorian actor who’s made his living for years by swashing and buckling in a hackneyed stage romance (as the elder O’Neill really did in *The Count of Monte Cristo*). There’s none of the charisma and blarney that make Tyrone capable of being ingratiating. Instead, there’s the snarling insecurity of the man who fought his way out of poverty only to see his wife and sons turn out to be even greater disappointments than he was to himself. In that, Deitrick’s performance is good as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. Deitrick’s not up to a towering role like Tyrone; few actors are.

Each of *Journey*'s characters is in denial about some important part of their family life, yet each of them acts as a truth-teller, exposing whatever the others least want to hear. They love one another even as they lash out with hateful accusations. They’re filled with rage at the gap between how their lives could have been and how much cheaper they turned out. And they turn to forgetfulness in whatever form’s at hand: sleep, an idealized past, blame directed outward (but almost never the reverse), alcohol, drugs, denial.
While the Actors Rep production is flawed, the cumulative effect of three hours spent with such self-deluded, fallible, yearning human beings is of having been told a corrective tale. We all have our little addictions — the ones that help us forget the lies we tell about ourselves, to ourselves.


For a revised and extended version of this review, please pick up a copy of the Thursday, Sept. 27, *Pacific Northwest Inlander* for comments on the performances of Mentzer and Davis; on further aspects of Deitrick’s performance as James Tyrone, both bad and good; on how being in denial is embedded in the fabric of O’Neill’s play; and on the designs of John Hofland (set), Justin Schmidt (lighting) and Patrick Treadway (sound).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

*The Laramie Project* in Cheney, Oct. 12-21

StageWest Community Theatre
*The Laramie Project* by Moisés Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theatre Project
drawn from Wyoming residents in the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder
Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 19 at 7 pm; Oct. 14 and Oct. 20-21 at 3 pm
Cheney City Hall Auditorium, 609 Second St., Cheney
Tickets: $10
Call 235-4575

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

three photos of *Long Day's Journey Into Night*


CdA Summer Theatre 2008 season

*All Shook Up* June 7-21, 2008
Northwest premiere
book by Joe DiPietro; music and lyrics by The King
When Elvis swivels his hips, country girls follow.

*La Cage aux Folles* June 27-July 12
Jerry Herman/Harvey Fierstein
Two men run a drag club; their son wants to get married.

*Once Upon a Mattress* July 19-Aug. 2
Mary Rodgers/Marshall Barer
"The Princess and the Pea" in musical form

*Les Miserables* Aug. 9-23
Claude-Michel Schonberg / Herbert Kretzmer / Alain Boublil
Jean Valjean vs. Javert. Cosette vs. the Thenardiers. So many die on the barricades (and no, it's not set during the French Revolution, but from 1815-32)
CdA S.T. is one of just a few regional theaters nationwide to secure the rights to hear Fantine, Eponine, Marius and all the rest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

*The God of Hell* at Kenworthy

in Sam Shepard's play, the Dept. of Homeland Security is closer than you think ...
508 S. Main St., Moscow, Idaho
Sirius Idaho Theater
Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 5-7 at 7:30 pm
$12; $10, seniors; $8, students

*Oleanna* at UI

David Mamet's professor-vs.-student P.C. play
at the Kiva Theater in Moscow
Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-29 at 7:30 pm, and on Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 at 3 pm
$10; $8, seniors; $5, students
Call (208) 885-7212

Sunday, September 16, 2007

opening-weekend review of *The Rainmaker*

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble through Sept. 29 (production transfers to Lake City Playhouse, Oct. 26-Nov. 10)

In the middle of an eventually inspiring play that’s too tidy about expressing and resolving its themes — and in the midst of an uneven cast — it’s the performance of Kelly Eviston Quinnett in The Rainmaker (at Interplayers through Sept. 29) that leaves an indelible impression.
As Lizzie, the potential spinster caged in a masculine world and trapped by her own self-doubts, Quinnett projects so much raw emotion that playgoers are practically compelled to root for her dreams to come true.
Wearing a dowdy apron over a shapeless housedress, her hair tightly wound in a bun and her character’s self-esteem even more constricted, Quinnett appears without makeup and without pretension to portray a woman who’s afraid of loneliness and doesn’t know how to avoid it. She craves tenderness and doesn’t know how to get it.
In the crucial scene near the end of the play when Starbuck gets Lizzie to see herself in a new light, Quinnett is all half-turns from the waist up, unsure whether to embrace or spurn the sweet-talking con man. With her eyes averted and then darting toward his face, with her arms unsure whether to plead for affection or remain crossed in self-defense, she shows us not just a simple movement from self-distrust to self-acceptance, but instead a wavering, grudging, gradual movement toward what Starbuck is trying to convince her of.
In his first, delayed appearance as Starbuck — the fast-talking con man who promises rain for drought-parched ranches in exchange for $100 — Jonathan Rau lacks outrageousness. For someone who instantly needs to swindle an entire family, his storytelling feels too restrained. His line of meteorological malarkey needs to sound utterly sincere and doesn’t; his glowing descriptions of how beautiful life could be should glisten and don’t. On a couple of occasions, Rau actually backs away from people when he’s supposed to be defying them.
But contrast Rau’s storytelling manner later in the play, when he’s addressing an audience of one.
Todd Jasmin plays a taciturn deputy named File who’s a kind of late-breaking rival to Starbuck for Lizzie’s attention; he also directs. After Nash’s script, in its neatly accessible way, signals in the early going that Lizzie and File both are lonely souls in need of some affection, Jasmin overlaps the two characters briefly in separate pools of light, both of them sublimating their desires in make-work tasks. It’s a nice directorial touch.

William Rosevear’s set design gets maximum use out of Interplayers’ extreme thrust stage and extends the prairie exterior onto the ranch house’s interior walls, nicely underscoring the drama’s dream-big-but-keep-it-real theme.

Dream big, but don’t let your dreams intrude on others’ — most of all, don’t let your dreams die: N. Richard Nash’s *The Rainmaker* has just that kind of formulaic, neatly accessible theme. It’s a ‘50s drama, and we’ve heard it before. But if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s worth listening again to what Nash has to say.

Interplayers may be presenting an over-long version with mixed results in the acting, but even a too-neat presentation of themes is mostly salvaged by Kelly Quinnett’s remarkable performance.

Pick up a copy of the Thursday, Sept. 20 *Inlander* for the full and revised version of this review, including more on Kelly Quinnett as Lizzie; some strengths in Jonathan Rau's performance as Starbuck; the dry humor of Maynard Viller's wise performance as Lizzie's father, H.C. Curry; and more on other cast members.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

photos of *The Rainmaker* and *Tour de Farce*

at Interplayers and CenterStage, respectively ... now at

Saturday, September 08, 2007

new CdA M.D.

Grant Smith has made a horizontal (?) move (!!) — from managing director at Actors Rep to managing director of Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre. He starts Monday.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Interplayers sked shuffled

Interplayers has tweaked its season a bit, moving *On Golden Pond* back after the first of the year and moving Tom Ziegler's *Grace & Glorie" (a two-hander about hospice care in the Appalachians, produced last summer at the Idaho Rep) into the Nov. 21-Dec. 6 slot. Ellen Crawford (who starred in *Sparky & the Fitz* in May) will return, this time to direct Karen Kalensky and Brady Rubin. *A Reduced Christmas Carol* will return in December, and *Fences* will have a mid-January run as readers theater.

The full slate:
The Rainmaker Sept. 13-29
Same Time, Next Year Oct. 18-Nov. 3
Grace & Glorie Nov. 21-Dec. 8
On Golden Pond Jan. 17-Feb. 2, 2008
The Clean House Feb. 28-March 15
Rounding Third March 27-April 12
open date May 1-17

Sunday, September 02, 2007

*Hole in the Sky* on Sept. 8 at Blue Door

Reed McColm's drama, based on actual accounts of people trapped in the World Trade Center six years ago on 9/11, presented as the opening production in Ignite! Community Theatre's third season of Booklight Readers Theatre, now at the Blue Door Theatre, 815 W. Garland Ave.
Saturday, Sept. 8, at 7 pm
for those age 13 and older
directed by Jon Jordan

Lauren Bathurst, Laura Bevan, Karen Brathovde, Terry Canfield, Brian Cheney, Nancy Gasper, Will Gilman, Nina Kelly, Penny Lucas, William R. Lund, Renae Meredith, Max Nightser, Robert Pillsbury, J.P. O’Shaughnessy, Juli Wellman, Kayla White and Ipek Wooten

Call: 993-6540

*The Christmas Schooner* auditions, Sept. 10-11

auditions for *The Christmas Schooner: A Musical*
Book by John Reeger; music and Lyrics by Julie Shannon
Directed by Maria Caprile
Music direction by Gary Laing

Audition dates: Monday-Tuesday, Sept. 10-11, at 6:30 pm, with callbacks on Wednesday, Sept. 12
Roles for four women, six men, two boys (ages 9-15) and a girl (age 10-12)
at the Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre (Dean St. entrance) at Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard St.
Have a verse and chorus from a Broadway musical memorized; cold readings from the script
Performances: Nov. 16-Dec. 16