Monday, April 28, 2008

Gonzaga theater season, 2008-09

Bobo has it on good authority that the Russell Theater shows will be Sam Shepard's *Curse of the Starving Class* (sorry, no nudity), Shakespeare's *The Winter's Tale* and *Urinetown,* by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nunn's GWTW will be, hopefully

Sir Trevor Nunn's musical version of *Gone With the Wind* has been blown away by critics:
The London Times' Benedict Nightingale: “too faithful to Margaret Mitchell’s novel” and “too long."
Reuters reviewer Ray Bennett: “a long-winded show with rushed scenes, dull music and lyrics so banal that Rhett Butler is unlikely to be the only one who doesn't give a damn.”
The Guardian's Michael Billington: “a hectic, strip-cartoon account of a dated pop classic.”

what doesn't stay in Vegas

*Spamalot* will close there on July 13 (after an 18-month run). At least the touring version is coming to Spokane -- more than a year from now.

bring back the reps, really

The repertory system in American theater has lost its way, according to Mike Daisey's one-man show, *How Theater Failed America.*
Daisey points to how major regional theaters have bigger and bigger buildings, and are increasing their marketing staffs with employees who have nice salaries and benefits. Meanwhile, actors have to hop from theater to theater. Why not instead endow positions for particular actors, allowing them to perform varied roles at a single theater, and with some career stability? Daisey dismisses "the usual scapegoats: dried-up government financing, philistine audiences, television." Jason Zinoman's NYT Theater section article (4/20/08)quotes a couple of artistic directors who say that Daisey's ideas are unworkable.
Bobo wants to investigate levels of government subsidies of the arts in other developed countries. But then there's also the argument: Why should the arts be subsidized at all? Why shouldn't artists simply give people what's popular?

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

post your *Zoo Story* review

opens tonight at Empyrean; opening-night reviews are due at midnight

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interplayers fundraiser

Saturday, April 26, from 5:30-8 pm
174 S. Howard St.
live and silent auctions; appetizers and no-host bar
Karen Kalensky and John Henry Whitaker will provide a very special humorous dramatic piece at 6:15 pm. Tristen Canfield will perform the pieces from her successful audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Greg Plummer and Ralph DeCristoforo, assisted by Interplayers board member Milt Rowland, return as Interplayers' auctioneers.
Call 456-7131 or 455-PLAY.

They come not single spies ...

… but in battalions. (Claudius says that in *Hamlet.* Bobo's not sure what he means, either.) Meanwhile, the state of Denmark will be shaken, not stirred, on Friday night at 7:30 pm at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater, when six actors from the Idaho Shakespeare Festival will present a one-hour, James Bond-style production of the Danish play. (Is *it* cursed, too?) Tickets: $9; $6, students. Visit or call (208) 263-9191.

The Zoo Story

The Zoo Story
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek
by Edward Albee
with Brian Russo (left) as Jerry and Michael Bowen as Peter

Peter and Jerry

Peter and Jerry
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek
The Zoo Story
by Edward Albee
April 24-27 at Empyrean
directed by Brian C. Russo of Gonzaga University's Theater Dept.
with Russo as Jerry and Michael Bowen as Peter

Hollywood Arms

Hollywood Arms
Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek
with Kate Cubberley as Young Helen and Jackie Davis as Nanny
at the Civic's Studio Theatre, April 25-May 18
directed by Thomas Heppler
by Carol Burnett and her daughter Carrie Hamilton
based on Burnett's memoir, *One More Time*
also featuring Paige M. Wamsley as Older Helen, Kate Vita as Louise, Dave Rideout as Jody, Mark Hodgson as Bill, Logan McHenry-Kroetch as Alice, Antoinette Imholt as Dixie, Quentin Klaue as Malcolm, and David Denton and Andrew Raugust as the cops

Hollywood Arms at Spokane Civic Theatre

Jackie Davis, Kate Vita

Hollywood Arms, by Carol Burnett

directed by Thomas Heppler

*Oleanna* at Interplayers, May 1-18

Ten days before opening, Interplayers has announced its final production of the season: David Mamet's professor vs. student two-hander on political correctness, *Oleanna,* with Karen Kalensky (*Grace & Glorie,* *The Clean House*) directing.
The student will be played by an actress from L.A. and San Diego, Piper Gunnarson; the professor, by Kalensky's husband, John Henry Whitaker, who has a long list of film, TV and stage credits.
Tickets: $10-$21. Call 455-PLAY.

Friday, April 18, 2008

*Pinocchio* on Saturday

Spokane Opera presents a children's opera at the Spokane Club on Saturday, April 19, at 11 am
Call 459-4239 or 533-1150

*Hit & Run* at Auntie's, April 26

second annual presentation of staged readings of short comedies
by Spokane's Debut Promotions
Saturday 26 April from 2:30-3:30 pm in the Liberty Cafe at Auntie's Bookstore
Free (but plan on arriving early)
Call 953-9928

with three directors and a dozen actors

The plays:
"Con Science," by Sandra Hosking, of Newman Lake, Wash.
"For Your Convenience," by Nicki Dyer, of Spokane
"Teddy Knows Too Much," by Matt Hanf, of Elk Grove, Calif.
"The Date," by Robert White, of West Hollywood, Calif.
"Who’s Herbert," by Alan Woods, of Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shuffling the theatrical deck

Andy Field in The Guardian, 4/14/08

Nobody listens to entire albums anymore; we all just hit 'Shuffle' on our iPods. Shouldn't theater do the same?

Cites examples of theater troupes in which everyone memorized EVERY part (in *R&J,* in the Scottish play) and then pulled roles out of a hat. Aside from logistical problems, this seems like overkill to Bobo. It's an indirect way of playing to one of theater's strengths: audience interaction. Can't do that at home with your DVD; audiences love it. Why plod on with the dreary Ibsen model of fly-on-the-wall, no-4th-wall-broken-down remoteness? Hey, we're all in this room together -- let's have both actors and audience frankly acknowledge that fact. But can anyone volunteer a successful way of doing that with drama, as opposed to the clown pulling stunts out in the third row? (i.e., it's easier to do with comedy)

Read the comments, especially from insomniac506: Shuffling may work better with comedy than with drama. There is something still to be said for scripted, polished, refined performance.

You Gotta Pay To Pee

You're a playwright bumming around France for the summer, and you're down to your last few *centimes* when you realize that there are a lot of pay toilets in Paris — and that you can't afford even the most basic of human functions.
That's what happened to Greg Kotis, who turned his experience into a musical called *Urinetown.* After a long drought, you see, the government has banned all private toilets. Problem is, a mega-corporation called Urine Good Company now controls all the public toilets.
But that's not something that Hope and Bobby are going to put up with, no sir.
What they're gonna do is put on a show — oh, and start a revolution too. Along the way, songs like "It's a Privilege To Pee," "I See a River" and "Don't Be the Bunny” parody several Golden Age musicals.
In addition, says director Diane Johnston, the show’s choreography recalls *Stomp*: “Actors will be dancing on roofs, spiraling down fire poles, climbing up fencing, and sneaking through the audience.” With all the audience interaction, she says, this production of *Urinetown* “never asks you to pretend you’re not in a theater.” Though you might check beforehand to make sure the restrooms are open.

*Urinetown* • Thursdays-Saturdays, April 17-19 and April 24-26, at 7:30 pm, and on Sundays, April 20 and April 27, at 2 pm • Tickets: $10.50; $9, seniors; $6, students • UI, Hartung Theater, Stadium and Sixth St., Moscow, Idaho • Visit: • Call: 325-SEAT

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

*HMS Pinafore* in Sandpoint, April 23

Some Gilbert and Sullivan on Shakespeare's birthday (a Wed. night), at the Panida
$30; $12, youth
Call: (208) 263-6139

*One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest* at StageWest

April 18-May 4 at Cheney City Hall
Call 235-4575, 235-4509, 991-5117 or visit

CdA Summer Theatre auditions on May 3

Try out for *All Shook Up,* *La Cage aux Folles,* *Once Upon a Mattress* and *Les Miz* on Saturday, May 3, from 10 am-5 pm at North Idaho College's Boswell Hall, room 102.
Prepare 16 bars of a song and a one-minute monologue; come prepared to dance. Children’s roles available.

Roger Welch, producing artistic director
(208) 769-7780

Monday, April 14, 2008

Booth and Jackson

As Jim Kershner reported yesterday in the *Spokesman,* CdA Summer Theater's Cheyenne Jackson has been playing Sonny the roller-disco musical *Xanadu* for the past nine months. And Steven Booth, a CdA native, is one of the four leads in *Glory Days,* which is coming up at Circle in the Square. It'a about four guys reuniting a year after their high school graduation, and Booth was also in the original production in Virginia.

Sometimes actors actually get paid

A new survey of Off Off Broadway theaters (with 99 seats or less; there are around 350 of them in the five boroughs, doing about 1,700 productions a year) reports that about 60% of them actually pay their actors -- on average, a mere $2,100 for the entire cast for the entire run, but hey ... it sure helps supplement the tips they get from waiting tables. (NYT, 4/13/08)

Friday, April 11, 2008

WATE at EWU this weekend

Washington Alliance for Theater Education
all day Friday (today), 9-5 on Sat. at EWU Theater
high school theater students presenting scenes and full plays (A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Little Foxes, The Bald Soprano, etc.), practicing their auditions, doing stage combat and stage managing workshops. etc.
Bobo's responding to Ferris's *The First Time Club* (by K.T. Curran; four girls make a blood-vow to meet the first midnight of every month and share their new experience; sex, drugs and AIDS come into the equation)
and Colville High School's *The Wish Peddler* (by Tom McCoy; cast of 13; he'll let trees talk and witches cackle, etc. -- for a price, of course)
WATE is overseen by LCHS's Bryan Jackson.

rehearsals are a Zoo

Bad experience at *Zoo Story* rehearsals a couple of nights ago. Supposed to be off-book, wasn't, struggled badly. Better now. Great to have a stage manager (Katie Haster, a freshman theater major at Gonzaga). Working with props, always needing to pick up my cues. We open in two weeks. The play has a shape now, but most of the important work is left to be done.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lake City Playhouse 2008-09 season

by Dan Googin
Sept. 19-Oct. 11

*A Few Good Men*
by Aaron Sorkin
Oct. 31-Nov. 15

Book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin
Dec. 4-21

*Little Shop of Horrors*
Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken
Jan. 16-31, 2009

*The Sunshine Boys*
by Neil Simon
Feb. 20-March 7, 2009

*James and the Giant Peach*
by Richard R. George, based on Roald Dahl's book
March 26-April 5, 2009

*Big River*
Book by William Hauptman, music and lyrics by Roger Miller
May 8-23, 2009
(featuring Terrance Kelly as Jim)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O Theatre merge

A sign of faltering resources? No, a sign of growth. That's the spin on the new organization, which will produce more Shakespeare than Ashland does.
Wooden O has produced Shakespeare in Mercer Island parks for 15 years; SSC, two years older, performs both in Kirkland and at the Seattle Center.
Wooden O's annual budget is just $80,000; SSC's is more than 11 times that big.
(from Misha Berson's April 8 *Seattle Times* article)

Monday, April 07, 2008

*August: Osage County* wins Pulitzer

Tracy Letts' play about a dysfunctional family in Oklahoma. (Catch the national tour — or the rumored movie — because a drama with 13 roles isn't going to be widely produced by professional theaters.)
Other finalists were “Yellow Face” by David Henry Hwang and “Dying City” by Christopher Shinn.
Hwang's play is reprinted in this month's *American Theatre* magazine. It has a rounded shape, with the Chinese "big song" allusions. After the Jonathan Pryce in *Miss Saigon* casting fiasco, Hwang "accidentally" (?) cast a Caucasian actor in an Asian role in one of his own plays.
He's willing to make fun of himself. Great scene near the end with a hostile N.Y. Times reporter; the vengeance of the creative artist.
I was two years ahead of Hwang at Stanford, but I'm pretty sure that he has caught up and passed me now. Ya think?
I'd like to see *Dying City* in performance — a virtuoso piece for the actor who gets to play twin brothers — I didn't think it read very well.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

opening-night review of *Pete 'n' Keely*

at Actors Rep through April 19

They're Swingers!

How do you make audiences today connect with a musical (set 40 years ago) that depicts a singing duo (whose popularity was already fading even then)? Even for older baby boomers, the finger-snappin' hep-cat vocal cool of a couple of characters like Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme will be a fading (or non-existent) memory. Then there are those who aren't yet qualified to join AARP....
But the self-important smarminess of a gleaming-toothed Robert Goulet-type -- or a cheesy-grinned Steve Lawrence type -- is the sort of bogus behavior that even young people today readily identify. They know fakery when they see it, and they know it's good for a laugh.
The way you get audiences (of whatever age) to connect with a past-its-prime musical style is to display some marital tension, fast-paced banter, vocal assurance, knowing self-mockery and jaw-dropping harmonies.
The way to transcend boundaries of age and musical taste is to deliver a funny, polished, sentimental, appealing, accomplished musical like *Pete 'n' Keely* (at ARt through April 19).

Director Michael Weaver's rendition of this off-Broadway hit is forever teetering on the edge of campiness and forever just pulling back from the precipice. Musically, the show's greatest instance of variety is the Act One curtain number, a musical travelogue that hits about 14 key changes en route to mentioning all 50 states. But emotionally as well, this show is filled with sudden tonal changes and plenty of variety.
Consider, for example, Abbey Crawford's transition from the campiness of her half of "Besame Mucho" (sporting a fake mustache and butting in on Pete's singing-waiter gig) to her sincere feeling in the signature love duet "This Could Be the Start of
Something Big" and then back to overdoing the hot-and-heavy routine toward the end of that same song. *Pete 'n' Keely* succeeds (both in James Hindman's book of the musical and in this production) because of a willingness to the idealized and cynical extremes: Yes, these are beautiful love songs, full of feeling. And yes, these two characters onstage are full of anger and resentment -- directed squarely at one another.
The fictional setup is that a couple of once-married swingin' Sixties singers have reunited for a single night, for yet another last-gasp TV special meant to resuscitate their careers -- five years after their divorce.
We get a little bit of their fictional biographies and 22 musical numbers -- all of them fine and half a dozen of them truly exceptional. For all his wholesome play-acting as Pete, Curt Olds isn't above a little playing to the audience or sexual innuendo. (Neither is Crawford's Keely.) In "(You Give Me) Fever" (associated with Peggy Lee), Olds lasers in on an embarrassed front-row female playgoer -- he's all thrusting hips and sashaying butt, his floral-print shirt unbuttoned down to here, his lips pursed with put-on desire. And he ends the torch song by lighting his own fire by doing gymnastics with a barstool, making love to it as if there's no tomorrow.
There are other highlights as well: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," rather incredibly, gets jazzed up with harmonizing that clicks over into upstaging and marital squabbling -- resentment amid the patriotism.
"Secret Love," associated with Doris Day, paints a portrait of rapturous love between Pete and Keely -- though somehow during this duet, your eyes always end up going toward Crawford.
For her solo shot after Olds's sultry "Fever," Crawford has "Black Coffee" -- less showy and more bluesy. But she
"That's All"

Of the pair, Olds is slightly the better comic actor, Crawford slightly the better singer. (They're still a well-matched pair.) Olds -- perky with a head tilt -- lets his wrists droop while executing his hep-cat hip-swivels. He sinks to his knees in rage, lets his grimace-grins show resentment while harmonizing, and, when Keely exasperates him most, flops all four limbs simulataneously in comic consternation.

Jessica Ray's costumes don't match the garishness of Bob Mackie's originals, of course -- but they characterize Pete and (especially) Keely quite well. From frilly rose gown to pistachio-green chiffon, from baby-doll flounce to low-cut black lace, Keely's got the look of a woman clinging to personal elegance gone by. Pete's tuxes, meanwhile, similarly reflect the potential and stumbling of the man inside them, ranging as they do from tasteful to lounge lizard.
The show has its drawbacks, naturally. The "Tony 'n' Cleo" spoof of poor taste in musicals descended mostly into mere silliness. In the opening number, today's cordless mics clashed with looping microphone cords of the Sixties. A joke about strings and trumpets, meant to ask indulgence for the show's limitations of musical scale, came out as confusing and flat. Olds' voice can be distracting in Pete's most sarcastic passages, taking on a snarling, nasal quality. Both performers displayed some sporadic problems with breathing and projection (though allowances need to be made -- it's a very active, hip-swayin' show). The final reconciliation feels like a crowd-pleaser, even if it's manipulated out of nowhere.
But these are small blemishes on an accomplished and even moving musical. By appealing to young and old, idealistic and jaded, *Pete 'n' Keely* exemplifies what they used to call real entertainment: based on polish, refinement and demonstrable talent. *American Idol* and YouTube have us over-committed to delusions of our own talent. *Pete 'n' Keely,* especially in the performances of Crawford and Olds, remind us that the Sixties decade wasn't just a series of cheesy TV commercials. We don't have a monopoly on irony any more than the swingin' sweethearts were the only ones who could appreciate a pretty love song. Weaver's production of *Pete 'n' Keely* will make you smile, whatever your musical tastes or capacity for sentimental love-displays.

Friday, April 04, 2008

coming up in area theater

opened in MARCH
Rounding Third, through April 12, Interplayers
On Golden Pond, through April 12, Lake City Playhouse
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, through April 12, Northwoods Performing Arts
Pvt. Wars, through April 20, CenterStage
The Foreigner, Civic Main, through April 20

opening in APRIL
Showstoppers, through April 12, Northern Quest Casino
Pete 'n' Keely, through April 19, Actors Rep (at SFCC)
Sylvia, WSU, April 9-13
The Syringa Tree, April 15, Whitworth
The Friendly Enemy (musical), SCC Players, April 15-20 (533-8853)
Urinetown, April 17-27, UI Hartung Theater, Moscow
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, April 18-May 4, Stage West Community Theater (at Cheney City Hall)
HMS Pinafore, April 23, Panida
Relatively Speaking, April 24-26, NIC
The Zoo Story, April 24-27, Empyrean
Hollywood Arms, April 25-May 18, Civic Studio
Hamlet, April 25, Idaho Shakespeare Festival tour at Panida
Hit and Run (staged readings of five comedies in one hour), April 26, Auntie's Bookstore
Katsura Kaishi performs Rakugo (Japanese “sit-down comedy,” in English), April 27, Gonzaga
High School Musical, April 29-May 4, INB Center

Talking With, May 1-24, CenterStage
TBA, May 1-18, Interplayers (as of April 3, still undecided)
Into the Woods, May 2-24, Lake City Playhouse
The Tempest (reading), May 4 and 18, St. Mark's Episcopal, Moscow
Broadway Bound, May 9-10, Lake City Playhouse
Proof, May 14-18, EWU
Man of La Mancha, May 16-June 15, Civic Main
Annie, May 16-June 8, SCT at SCC
Antigone, May 29-June 8, SFCC Spartan Theatre

Playwrights Festival Forum, June 5-8, Civic Studio
All Shook Up, June 7-21, CdA Summer Theater
Pot Luck, June 12-15, CenterStage
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, June 19-Aug. 15, CenterStage
Forever Plaid, June 26-July 27, Idaho Repertory Theatre
La Cage aux Folles, June 27-July 12, CdA Summer Theater
The Nerd, June 28-July 29, Idaho Rep

Alexander and the Horrible ... Day, July 3-24, Idaho Rep
Twelfth Night, July 10-Aug. 1, Idaho Rep
Once Upon a Mattress, July 19-Aug. 2, CdA Summer Theater
Love Letters, July 31, Idaho Rep

Hate Mail, Aug. 1, Idaho Rep
Les Miserables, Aug. 9-23, CdA Summer Theater
The Importance of Being Earnest, Actors Rep, Aug. 22-Sept. 6

Thursday, April 03, 2008

lagniappe photo: *Pete 'n' Keely*

Abbey Crawford and Curt Olds do their swingin' Steve 'n' Eydie thing in *Pete 'n' Keely.*
Runs April 4-19 at SFCC's Spartan Theatre, with Michael Weaver directing the Actors Rep production.

*Gypsy* vs. *South Pacific*

Those are the two front-runners in the Tony race for Best Revival of a Musical, according to

The article makes other points (a squabble among producers, a debate over whether Arthur Laurents should be eligible for the director's Tony, the fact that the orchestra for *Sunday in the Park With George* "sounds as if it's made up of a kazoo and a couple of combs wrapped in wax paper").

But my favorite line from the article -- Warning: Bitchiness Alert! -- is the following:

"'Grease,' the fourth revival of the season, is the worst show in the history of theater and represents an unparalleled assault on Western civilization and its values."
So, Mr. Michael Riedel, we'll put you down, then, as considering 'Grease' to be a turkey?
Gobble, gobble.

Lake City to host AACT regionals

Brian Doig of Lake City Playhouse reports that "four or five" Idaho community theaters will compete in the AACT Idaho state competition at CdA's Lake City High School auditorium on April 15-16, 2009, with the Region IX competition (AK, ID, OR, WA) following on the next two days, April 17-18.
That means that Lake City's entry and the Civic's production of *One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest* (directed by Yvonne Johnson and intended for competition) will have relatively short distances to travel, what with the regionals in CdA and the nationals in Tacoma. Visit

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Big Shake is 444

April 23rd marks William Shakespeare's 444th birthday.
To celebrate, youth theater groups around the world will be performing his plays from Russia to Serbia to New Zealand.

Actors Repertory Theatre 2008-09 season

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Aug. 22-Sept. 6

John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
Sept. 19-Oct. 4

Alan Ayckbourn, Relatively Speaking
Dec. 5-20

Patrick Page, Swansong
Jan. 9-24, 2009

Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias
April 3-19, 2009

Five more acting roles in next year's season (26 parts in all) than this year; lots of opportunity for actresses in particular. Michael Weaver plans to hold auditions for ARt locally and in Seattle; perhaps in Portland as well.
Ticket price to be simplified for next season (with shows again at SFCC's Spartan Theatre): all seats $20 ($18 for seniors); $75-$85 for season tickets.
*Swansong* is basically a two-man show with Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare, with Jonson reflecting back on his career and Will's; there's a third, small part of the "editor" of the First Folio.
In a fortuitous turn, the playwright -- strongly recommended by the A.D. at Seattle Shakespeare Co., where *Swansong* has played, along with three Wash., D.C., theaters; this will only be the fifth or sixth production anywhere -- turns out to have been born in Spokane -- and is a Whitman graduate. Page has a long list of credits: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Theater at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, the San Diego production of "Dancing in the Dark," etc.

ARt also plans to hold five "Inside the Actors Studio"-style conversations at the Bing or Fox, with tix in the $30 range and well-known actors being interviewed by Weaver or Patty Duke.

June 7 will bring an ARt fund-raiser at the Fox, with a bachelor auction (!) and silent auction.

Managing Director Raymond Ochs announced that ARt will soon have a downtown office with somebody to answer the phones more promptly -- and even announced a kind of three-year plan for the organization:
1st year: Build up the administration, put org. on a solid financial footing and improve customer service.
(Ochs says that ARt cannot remain static, at the level it's at now; it has to grow, or the org. may not be able to survive.)
2nd year: Grow the artistic side: production asst. for every show, perhaps an associate artistic director, and possible co-productions (to share costs and extend runs) with regional theaters, perhaps including one in Seattle or in Montana
3rd year: Ochs says that by that point, Actors Rep "must be poised for whatever opportunities may come our way," encouraging Bobo to "read between the lines" and making no secret of the fact that ARt wants a downtown theater -- to expand its own offerings and to remove a burden from SFCC. (As gracious as Bill Marlowe has been, everyone knows that ARt cannot squeeze the SFCC theater program forever; there are constraints on both sides.)

Weaver had an interesting response to my "graying of the theater audience" question: It's been that way for the past 50 years, he says. Theater in America isn't the same as in Europe. There, people grow up going to the theater -- sort of like going to the movies here. But in the States, people sort of tend to discover the theater in their 40s. So, yes, theater audiences can seem elderly, but they're also getting replenished at the middle-aged end of the spectrum. The challenge, says Weaver, is for theater to build on top of that by finding ways to attract people in their 20s and 30s.

Idaho Repertory Theatre: summer 2008 season

Forever Plaid June 26-July 27, 2008
The Nerd June 28-July 29
Love Letters July 31
Hate Mail Aug. 1
Twelfth Night July 10-Aug. 1
Alexander and the Horrible ... Day July 3-24

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

(partial) opening-weekend review of *Rounding Third*

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble through April 12

You don’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy *Rounding Third.* After all, one of its two characters isn’t.
Michael (Reed McColm) has a demanding white-collar job and no baseball skills whatever. And he’s Canadian. That’s three strikes right there.
Richard Dresser’s play follows Michael over the course of a season in his adventures as the assistant coach of a Little League team. His biggest problem? The head coach. Don (Tony Caprile) is an arrogant, passive-aggressive control freak who’s living in the past because he can’t face up to his failures in the present.

McColm plays Michael with boyish charm and gawkiness. The wimp may not be a jock, but he’s quite capable of firing back at Don and defending himself. And Don seems like every over-intense, insecure Little League coach you've seen in the movies — until he displays the odd bit of psychological acumen or evidence of compassion for his players. After all, they’re only little boys. Repeatedly, Caprile makes the right choice in not sentimentalizing such moments: He’s got a soft side but doesn’t particularly want to dwell on it.
Caprile has deepened his voice and exaggerated his swagger for this role, but sometimes it doesn’t go far enough. Don has some intolerant rants (against artsy people, against anybody who doesn’t live and die for baseball, basically), and they need to be uglier. So do Don’s many slurs and personal attacks. On the other hand, two violent outbursts — one startling, one amusing — were executed masterfully. And Caprile also shows us how tightly wound Don is — how perceptive and articulate, despite all the steely intolerance. It’s a rounded characterization.
In fact, there were several moments of quiet tension between Caprile and McColm, with the crowd hushed and menace lurking just beneath the joshing and the banter. That’s because Maynard Villers has directed with admirable restraint. Sometimes the tense exchanges are nose-to-nose, but often they’re played in the stretched-out, no-eye-contact way of men who are having an important conversation but don’t want to acknowledge the fact. The set, designed by Villers, is a stylized, miniature baseball field; the scoreboard remains blank, beckoning us to evaluate what we think of Dresser and Don and Michael.

(For the rest of this review, pick up a copy of the 4/3/08 *Inlander.*) And thanks for reading.