Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Smart Readers

From liberal blogger Atrios, on the whole flap over Barack Obama appearing at an event with an outspoken anti-gay performer and then failing to respond with any real criticisms of homophobia:

One thing you learn very quickly when you blog is that no matter how smart and knowledgeable you are (or imagine yourself to be), some of your readers are going to be smarter than you, and literally every one of your readers knows more than you do about something. It's humbling at first, but then quite liberating.

So congratulate yourselves. Whatever Bobo may say about the profanity or comedic pacing or realism or musical phrasing of a particular production, there will always be others out there (Screwtape, where have you gone?) who know more.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

*Cheaper by the Dozen* in readers theater, Nov. 10-11

Ignite! Community Theater presents two Booklight Readers Theater performances of Christopher Sergel's *Cheaper by the Dozen* at the Blue Door Theater, 815 W. Garland Ave., on
Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7 pm and
Sunday, Nov. 11, at 12:30 pm
all ages
Free; donations requested
an autobiographical look at a family of 12 and how they live, love and frustrate each other, set in the
directed by Brian Cheney
cast: Bob Gariepy, J.P. O’Shaughnessy, Selena Schopfer, Kim Gentle, Jimmy~James Pendleton, KellyAnn Cameron, Keith Hahto, Melanie Gentle, Daniel Gentle, Karen Noble, Max Nightser and Andrew Berger

Saturday, October 20, 2007

opening-night review of *The Foursome*

At the Civic (through Nov. 11), Norm Foster’s *The Foursome* offers a sanitized version of what it’s like when middle-aged men share a round of golf while discussing their careers, girlfriends, sex, worries, ex-wives, sex, feelings, children, rivalries and sex. With half the cast shooting par and with Dave Rideout and Brad Picard playing even better than that, *The Foursome* presents some pleasing entertainment. But it merely sketches male insecurity — and with its PG-rated humor, flat jokes and frequently predictable character development, Foster’s comedy of guy-talk doesn’t come close to winning any tournaments.
From tee to tee, we follow an entire round played by the small-town family guy, the divorced guy with a trophy wife, the goody-goody sales rep with money troubles, and the sleazebag womanizer who’s full of false bravado and get-rich-quick schemes.
From the outset, Foster’s unwillingness to write an R-rated play derails his dialogue. Because when a guy wonders whether his buddy schtupped that chick last night after the party, he does not politely inquire if his friend “had relations” with her.
An entire round of golf without a single F-bomb?! Gimme a fuckin’ break. I’ve heard more profanity (literally) in the faculty room at a Catholic high school. From the *priests.*
Gentlemen, I’ve known golfers like this, I’ve played with golfers like this — and gentlemen, this dialogue is nothing like golfers’.
The result is that Foster’s play offers little more than sanitized male camaraderie funneled toward a heartwarming conclusion.

Despite all that, I laughed often at *The Foursome* and enjoyed much of it.
Dave Rideout plays the con man that all the ladies just love to love. (Until, that is, they get to know this bad, empty boy.) Rideout has the smoothest swing of the foursome (just like his character) and smirk of the smooth operator who’s just a little too smooth for his own good (and for us not to feel sure that he won’t experience some second-act change of heart, which arrives, naturally, on the 18th green).
Jerry Uppinghouse returns to the Civic as an actor for the first time in 27 years. With his beaver grin and awkward golf swing, he fulfills the type of the small-town family man who’s content with his life. He’s especially good at being the blunt truth-teller (though he also shows us Donnie’s scheming side).
Brad Picard acts convincingly whether hungover, sarcastic, world-weary, or desperate for friendship. His private little victory dances after hitting a nice golf shot, his sarcastic jibes followed by a quick high-five, his morose what-do-I-do-now? exasperation over how his life has turned out — all of it was very effectively portrayed.


In next Thursday's *Inlander,* there _would_ be additional comments on Melody Deatherage's directing and the question of gender; MIke Hynes' acting as Cameron, the sales rep; some of Foster's jokes; and a comparison with *That Championship Season* (2005 in the Studio, in which half this cast also appeared) ... there _would_ be, if I had more space in the paper,since I've already written them. But in fact, the printed review next Thursday will be about half the length of what's already here. And I'm not sure I want to go public just yet with what I've written, and my judgment is impaired at 1:37 in the morning. So that's all for now, folks. It was funny, but it wasn't real.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Actors Circle of Spokane

Nina Kelly, Will Lund and other cast members from the readers theater production of Reed McColm's *Hole in the Sky* (recently at the Blue Door Theater) have started a group to support fellow actors who are serious about pursuing acting as a profession.
Tuesdays at 7 pm
Holy Names Music Center, 3910 W. Custer Dr. (near SFCC)
Call or write for directions and room number: (206) 293-9706 or will2act4u@yahoo.com
Workshops on monologue and audition techniques, voice, improv, etc.
"We are NOT a social club, so only those who are very serious about acting need attend."

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Mostly for the cast of *South Pacific* at the Civic, who couldn't attend ...
She sang two songs from your show. Male chorus: "... masculine and cute for" got changed to "We got somethin' you got no substitute for" — and let me tell ya, Peters put so much sexual innuendo into the three syllables of "substitute" that all three of those syllables would be arrested in most states.
"Some Enchanted Evening" was done straight, clutching the microphone in a spotlight, just the piano accompaniment — not soaring, just a somewhat restrained torch song.
She opened with "Let Me Entertain You," swirling onstage in a clingy silver gown, that mass of red curls flopping into her face repeatedly.
In the first bit of patter, though, she seemed disoriented -- wasn't quite sure which Pops series she was opening or which orchestra was playing behind her, which she then compounded by making a really lame Spo-Kain slip-up, which she expanded on and repeated. A shaky start.
She sang Carrie's "Mister Snow" from *Carousel.* She opened with a half-dozen songs from musicals she'd been in (but hadn't sung that particular song). "Fever" was done lying down on the piano, singing up into the mike. A simple, heartfelt, lonesome version of "Shenandoah."
She encored with "Being Alive" (very good, but voice weakening a bit, and just not as brilliant as Raul Esparza was during the Tonys) and with a medley of three Mama Rose songs -- a nice "substitute" for not having seen her in *Gypsy* on Broadway. And of course "Children Will Listen" came near the end too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

*In the Mood* at CenterStage, Oct. 23-25

a 1940s swing musical, three nights in a row at 7:30 pm
part of a national tour that's been going on for 14 years
featuring the In the Mood Singers and Dancers and the String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra with authentic arrangements, costumes and choreography
Tickets: $30-$50
Visit www.inthemoodlive.com and and www.SpokaneCenterStage.com and www.ticketswest.com
Call 74-STAGE or 325-SEAT

*The Last Five Years*: auditions, Nov. 5-6

Spokane Civic Theatre
*The Last Five Years*
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson
Musical Direction by Carolyn Jess
Auditions: Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 5-6, at 6:30 pm in the Studio Theater
Prepare a verse and a chorus from a contemporary Broadway musical and be ready for cold readings from the script.
1M, 1W (both to appear ages 28-32)

Rehearsals begin (music only) Nov. 12-15, then off Nov. 16-26; also off Dec. 18-Jan. 1
Performances: Jan. 25-Feb. 17

*This Is Our Youth* at Empyrean, Nov. 1-11

Kenneth Lonergan’s 1996 drama about disaffected youth foundering in a life of drugs and social alienation moves downtown to the Empyrean Coffeehouse for two weekends: Nov. 1-4, Nov. 8-9, and Nov. 11 (at 8 pm, Thursdays-Saturdays, but at 4 pm on the two Sundays).
The play premiered in Gonzaga’s Russell Theatre in August for a one-weekend run. “The move downtown is meant to reach out to a young audience with a contemporary play about growing up without role models, searching for relationships, and bearing the scars of dysfunctional families,” says director Brian Russo, who is alos associate professor of communications and theater arts at Gonzaga.
Tickets: $7. Call 323-6551.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Brecht’s *Antigone* at Whitworth, Oct. 12-20

Sophocles wrote the original in about 442 BCE. Bertolt Brecht wrote his version 2,389 years later, in 1947; it was first produced the following year in Switzerland.
Brecht lived in L.A. (1941-47); he was called before HUAC in ‘47, which leads to one telling detail in his version of *Antigone*: Kreon calls on the audience to condemn Antigone as unpatriotic (a term that was thrown around a lot back in March 2003 — thrown at people who thought maybe we were fighting the wrong war in the wrong place by invading Iraq.)

Brecht wanted to avoid repeating the horrors of fascism and World War II by urging viewers to take seriously the moral imperative of citizens to defy their own governments if and when they turn tyrannical. (If more Germans — and their sympathizers outside Germany — had actively fought Hitler, the Nazis might never have achieved dominance.)

Brecht makes two important changes in Sophocles’ original. In Brecht, Kreon orders Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, to fight together against another city-state in an unjust war; one dies in battle, the other dies while deserting. (In Sophocles, Polynices can’t be buried because he had taken arms against his own city, Thebes.) In the words of a 1957 *Tulane Drama Review* article, “Thus, in Sophocles the treason is armed rebellion, but in Brecht is is rebellion from arms.”
Additionally, Brecht places his action not after the war’s end, but as its end is approaching: Antigone is condemned even as others are celebrating victory.

There's hopefulness in Sophocles' version: the chorus, stepping over a pile of corpses, speaks of what can be learned from such events. But for Brecht, if tyrants are still in power, there can be no learning. In Brecht's version, says one arts blogger, "individuals, whatever their claims to the law, are seduced into vulnerability and smashed into subjection or suicide." Seduced into vulnerability, smashed into subjection — there's a comment on America's citizens today.

Director Brooke Kiener has opted for anachronistic costuming (soldiers in camo pants and breastplate armor, for example) to suggest the timeless, universal appeal of the unending quarrel between the individual and the state. But she’s also restoring multiple Greek chorus members (as opposed to an individual commentator on the action).
There are a lot of extended pro- and anti-war statements made by characters in Brecht’s version of Antigone; playgoers today will filter their reactions through their own opinions of America’s current war in Iraq.

translated by Judith Malina in 2000; directed by Brooke Kiener
Oct.12-13 and 19-20 at 8 pm; on Oct. 14 at 2 pm
Tickets: $7; $5, students and seniors
Whitworth’s Cowles Auditorium, Main Stage
Call 777-3707

*Laughing Stock* auditions, Nov. 12-13

Spokane Civic Theatre
Charles Morey's farce about amateur actors doing summer stock theater
directed by Troy Nickerson
auditions: Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 12-13, at 6:30 pm
Studio Theatre (Dean St. entrance)
Cold readings
9 men and 5 women, all ages
Performances (on the Main Stage): Jan. 11-Feb. 2, 2008
Rehearsals: Nov. 18-Jan. 10, but not on holiday weekends
Call: 325-2507 or 325-1413

Friday, October 05, 2007

*The Clean House* in Moscow

Sarah Ruhl's comedy, a 2005 Pulitzer finalist, about two clean-freak sisters and a Brazilian cleaning lady whose lives become emotionally very messy
also to be produced in Spokane at Interplayers in January

Oct. 18-20 and and Oct. 25-27 at 7:30 pm; also on Oct. 21 at 2 pm
at the Univ. of Idaho's Hartung Theater in Moscow, Idaho
Tickets: $10; $8, seniors, students, faculty
Call: (208) 885-7212 or 885-2979
Visit: www.uitheatre.com

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Long Night's Journey Into Post-Performance Discussion

On impulse, and because his work schedule coincided with the 10:30 pm final curtain for *Long Day's Journey* out at SFCC, Bobo ventured to his first Wednesday-night post-performance discussion at Actors Rep.
And was nervous about it.
The review, while largely positive, had criticized Wes Deitrick's acting (and John Hofland's set). Would Wes refuse to talk to me? Had I lost a friend?
For three days after I saw this show about people in denial, I was hyper-sensitive to all the ways I'm in denial myself: I'm too impatient, too angry all the time, neglectful of family and friends, work and life out of balance, messy, snobbish, slobbish, too in love with the sound of my own words, irresponsible, full of procrastination. LDJIN really affected how I look at and appraise myself. It struck a chord; it must have been a good production.
"You worry too much." "You think too much." My mother's mantras. Well, Ma, due respect, but I like how much I think about things.
Maybe I _do_ worry too much, though. I worry about that.

(A similar period of self-doubt -- call it Reviewer's Remorse -- set in after after I'd criticized some of the actors in the Civic's *South Pacific.*)
So, I guess, I wanted to reconnect with LDJIN.
The point is, Wes was a class act all the way. I (probably) hurt him, and yet he shook my hand and smiled. It's not personal.

Perhaps best of all was the demonstrated level of interest in theater:
After a three-hour show, about three dozen people stayed for 45 minutes afterwards, asking plenty of interesting questions about the biographical angle, production history, the rehearsal process and how the textual edits were made, and so on.

After the discussion group had dispersed, Michael Weaver made a point of calling me up onto the stage, so I could be close to the set "since you hated it so much."
He was laughing, but half-serious. It was a healthful consider-your-impact-on-real-people moment. But whatever the merits or demerits of John Hofland's set or my opinion of it, it's healthy for all of us to remember that we're on the same side, all wanting theater to be better, that real human beings expend a great deal of time and energy on an art form that they love.
Conversations -- way too brief -- with the likes of Carter Davis and Karen Nelsen reminded me of just how much I enjoy speaking to actors and directors.
Some people have church; I used to; now I have theater.

non-anonymous comments coming

For more than two years, this blog has been chugging along with the promise of someday being merged into a new, revamped *Inlander* Website (which at present, to put it kindly, is lousy). Now, at last, sometime in the foreseeable but still months-off future, the *Inlander* is going to get itself a brand-new Website with many bells and whistles.
Which will require posters to this blog to register on the Website with a real name and a (fictitious?) screen name.
But we will know who you are.
You'll be able to pop off as, say, Disgruntled Bobo-Despiser, but at least what you say will be tied to an e-mail address which we could look up. (And you could change, and we could look up again. You get the idea: a modicum of accountability.)
Cheers. Bobo hopes this will lead to more — and even more responsible — postings.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Valley of the Brawls

Actors Repertory Theatre has reconstituted its board of directors with a couple of local theater luminaries, Nike Imoru and John Hofland, along with several others, including Michael Pearce, whose wife you may have heard of: Patty Duke. But don’t let the board meetings get too contentious, folks. We want ARt to thrive.

if you could interview Bernadette Peters ...

... and Bobo, apparently, will (via phone). But he wants your suggestions.
By Friday, Oct. 5, please write in to propose questions for Ms. Peters. Thanks.

Just got word that it may have to be via e-mail. If so, I need your questions by Friday at 11 am, latest.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

*South Pacific* review

*South Pacific* -- at Spokane Civic Theatre through Oct. 27

Naughty Bobo -- he promised a review "later this weekend" and didn't even finish it until 11 am Tuesday. He's gonna plead having to edit and re-edit the Visual Arts Tour coverage and a scrambled Screen section in this week's paper.
Anyway, here's some of it.
For further comments (on Jerry Sciarrio as Luther Billis, on Briane Green as Nellie Forbush, and on Peter Hardie's sets and lights), sorry, you'll have to wait for Thursday's *Inlander.*

“Racism is bad.” Not exactly the newsflash today that it was a half-century ago (even if we still haven’t fully learned the lesson). Rodgers and Hammerstein’s *South Pacific* seems appreciable today more for its pleasant melodies than its social criticism.
In the Civic’s current production (through Oct. 27), most of the leads and most of the songs are performed quite well, so they’re batting better than average. After director Yvonne A.K. Johnson treats us to a series of vintage World War II photos, Ken Burns-style, throughout the overture, it soon becomes evident that the stars of this show will be Michael J. Muzatko as the French plantation owner and Marianne McLaughlin as the Polynesian dealer in used goods.
It’s refreshing to hear Emile deBecque sung other than operatically. Muzatko takes “Some Enchanted Evening” slowly and elegantly, bringing it closer to genuine feeling than histrionic display. He kneels to hug his kids; he rages when he needs to in the military commander’s office; he’s dignified in his wooing of Nellie. Even if his accent sometimes wanders out of France into Germany, Muzatko still bestrides the stage in his ice cream suits. It’s a performance full of restraint and dignity, unlike other roles Muzatko has played. He’s acting, folks, and he makes deBecque into a hero in wartime.
McLaughlin wrestles a role that could descend into racist stereotype and pins it. Bloody Mary’s particular brand of hootchy-kootchy is meant to accumulate profit and swindle others, even her own daughter. But McLaughlin comes on with such infectious glee that we overlook Mary’s manipulativeness. “Bali Ha’i” is a show-stopper: With Bloody Mary always angling for her next buck, the interlude feels like a tribute to an ideal, a better world. “Bali Ha’i” plants that world firmly in Polynesia, not in the war-ravaged mess that the show’s white folks are mired in.

There are weaknesses, however. The introduction of Liat to Lieutenant Joe Cable is cringe-worthy, and not just because Bloody Mary is pimping out her own daughter for maximum cash. Cable and Liat are thrown together in a you-makee-whoopee-now plot convenience, and Jaylan Renz and Chloe Maier do nothing to rise above contrivance. Renz’s voice thins and cracks on the crescendo of “Younger Than Springtime” (“heaven and earth are you to me”), though he recovers with righteous anger in the brief, pointedly anti-racist song “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” which made Hammerstein’s lyrics so controversial in 1949.
During “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” the women’s chorus managed to take most of that number’s energy and let it circle right down the drain: conventional movements and self-conscious laughter don’t help Nellie paint a picture of independence.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hardie and Nickerson to receive awards

Two of the seven City of Spokane Arts Awards to be presented tonight (Monday, Oct. 1, at 6 pm in the City Council Chambers, near the intersection of Spokane Falls Blvd. and Lincoln St.) go to men with local theater connections: Peter Hardie as Individual Artist and Troy Nickerson for Arts Community Leadership. Congratulations to both. These are well-deserved awards, and we hope you can show up to demonstrate your appreciation for everything Troy and Peter have done for years around here.