Thursday, July 31, 2008

*Doubt: A Parable* cast

Sept. 19-Oct. 4 at ARt (SFCC's Spartan Theatre)
by John Patrick Shanley
directed by TBA
with Jane Fellows (who also played a Mother Superior in *Agnes of God*) as Sister Aloysius, Aaron Murphy (who has Berkeley Rep credits) as Father Flynn, Jane May (*Humble Boy*) as Sister James, Rebecca Davis (*Anton in Show Business* at Interplayers) as Mrs. Muller

touring version of John Doyle's *Sweeney Todd*

... will be at the Fox on Dec. 14-15. This is the production that earned raves for having the actors (including Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris) play their own musical instruments (as in Doyle's *Company*). The first national tour ended this month, so evidently this will be the second, re-cast national tour. Fortunately for the Civic's concert version (Oct. 31-Nov. 1), this tour will hit town six weeks later.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

one-acts at Civic in Nov.: cast lists

Oct. 31-Nov. 23 in the Civic's Studio Theater

"Graceland" by Ellen Byron
directed by George Green
Bev Davies: Kathie Doyle-Lipe
Rootie Mallert: Ashley Cooper

"Never Swim Alone" by Daniel MacIvor
directed by Doug Dawson
Referee: Lauren Waterbury
A. Francis Delorenzo: Luke Barats
William (Bill) Wade: George Green

Davis, Bannon, French

Minstrel, King Sextimus and Jester
costumes by Judith McGiveney
CdA Summer Theatre
Once Upon a Mattress; directed by Roger Welch; third show of 2008 season

Amy Ross and Mark Cotter

Once Upon a Mattress
closes 8/2/08
as Queen Aggravain and the Wizard

Kat Ramsburg as Princess Fred

Once Upon a Mattress
July 19-Aug. 2, 2008
on the campus of North Idaho College
music by Mary Rodgers
book by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer and Dean Fuller
musical direction by Steven Dahlke
directed by Roger Welch

Once Upon a Mattress

Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre
closes 8/2/08

Monday, July 28, 2008

too much on the Fringe?

Minnesota Fringe Festival, July 31-Aug. 10
156 theater productions at 18 venues

But judging from the comments following the story

... the quality is not high. Still, it's a lot closer than Edinburgh ...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Interplayers 2008-09 season

A.R. Gurney, The Dining Room, Sept. 17-Oct. 4, 2008
Athol Fugard, Exits and Entrances, Oct. 16-Nov. 1
Reed McColm, Together Again for the First Time, Nov. 20-Dec. 7
Ann Whiteman (adapted from Charles Dickens), A Reduced Christmas Carol, early December
August Wilson, Fences (readers theater-style), January 2009
Betsy Howie and Mary Murfitt, Cowgirls, Jan. 29-Feb. 14
William Gibson, The Belle of Amherst, Feb. 26-March 14
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, March 27-April 4
Terry Johnson, The Graduate (adapted from Charles Webb's 1963 novel and Mike Nichols' 1967 movie), April 22-May 19, 2009

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Graceland" and "Never Swim Alone" auditions

two one-acts, to be performed Oct. 31-Nov. 23 at the Civic's Studio Theater

Mon-Tues, July 28-29, at 7 pm
directors: George Green and Doug Dawson
for "Graceland": two women
for "Never Swim Alone": 2M, 1 W
cold readings

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

National High School Musical Theater Awards

-- to be first awarded on 6/1/09 in New York
-- to be named the Jimmy, in honor of James M. Nederlander, producer or coproducer of Annie, Peter Pan and La Cage aux Folles
-- more than 50 actors and actresses from around the country - culled from local competitions - will advance to a national competition in New York. They'll learn an opening and closing number, and perform them at the Palace Theatre before judges and industry professionals.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

*Once Upon a Mattress* review

at Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre through Aug. 2

Roger Welch’s production of *Once Upon a Mattress* is silly enough for the kids and smart enough for the grownups. But that’s such cliché: “suitable for all ages.” How does a middle-aged guy really know if this “Princess and the Pea” musical holds any appeal for children? By consulting someone who’s an expert on the matter. Someone who’s 11.
A critic’s daughter, it turns out, has learned over the years to deliver critical pronouncements of her own. Kylie’s “third favorite character” in *Mattress* — we’ll get to the first two later — was “the king, because he doesn’t say anything.” (Jack Bannon’s King Sextimus the Silent has been put under a spell of muteness. Little girls feel strongly that their parents should be seen but not heard.)
As for her favorite tune from the show, she can only ask, “What were the songs again?” Exactly. Despite composer Mary Rodgers being the daughter of that fellow who wrote a couple of shows with Hammerstein, none of the songs in *Mattress* are especially memorable. (Steven Dahlke’s 16-piece orchestra, however, provides pleasant accompaniment.)
“Shy” held particular appeal, mostly because it’s belted out by Kat Ramsburg as Winnifred, the unlucky 13th candidate to become the prince’s wife. She’s just stumbled into the castle, drenched from taking a most unprincesslike route into the royal presence — “You swam the moat?” the incredulous queen keeps asking — and it soon becomes clear that Ramsburg’s Winnifred is anything but shy.
Instead, she’s full of aggressive self-assertion, and my little girl got the message: A princess, says Kylie, “should have some sensitivity. But I don’t just wanna be this sensitive little delicate twit.”
Princess Winnifred was her favorite character: “I would like to be like her, but any princess wouldn’t want to be proper all the time.” Responding, then, to Ramsburg’s mix of delicacy and self-reliance: That’s my girl.
As the love interest, Craig Heider’s Prince Dauntless came in at No. 2 — “just because he likes her.” Not to press too hard on the feminist angle of Mattress — you’d only find fluff, anyway — but I was liking my daughter’s men-on-the-periphery attitude. She was alert to androgyny, too, asking, “Why are all the guys wearing dresses?” And a male chorus in pastel medieval tunics does take some getting used to. (Credit Judith and Michael McGiveney for conjuring a fairy tale atmosphere with their costumes, backdrops and set pieces.) With its swaggering Princess Fred and flouncing, misnamed Prince Dauntless, *Once Upon a Mattress* wants to explore the edges of gender roles.

Maybe I should take my daughter to more musicals like *Mattress,* in which choruses sing and dance and cooperate, and scheming people get their comeuppance, and a woman can be self-assertive, and a man can get in touch with his sensitive side. Corny? Maybe. But going to musicals, when I was a kid, was part of a lot of people’s education.
At one point, Prince Dauntless — whose Mommy has kept him from marriage all these years — stamps his feet upon being told to go to bed and declares, “I’m 36 years old, and I can stay up late if I want.” *Once Upon a Mattress* is about making the right decisions — always a good reminder for adults — but it’s also about growing up. And that’s good for our kids.

This is a partial version. For the complete review (with two photos), please pick up a copy of *The Inlander* on Thursday, July 24.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

regional theater sampler: upcoming

Portland Center Stage
Guys and Dolls, Sept 23-Oct 26, 2008
R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe, Oct 14-Dec 12, 2008
A Christmas Carol, Dec. 2-28
Apollo, Jan 13-Feb 8, 2009 -- multimedia; space program, Nazi scientists and the civil rights movement
How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, Jan. 27-March 22, 2009 (about changing identities; the title says it all)
The Importance of Being Earnest, Feb. 24-March 22, 2009
Frost/Nixon, April 14-May 10, 2009 (the movie comes out in Dec. '08)
Grey Gardens, May 26-June 21, 2009 (musical about two Kennedy-clan eccentrics in the East Hamptons)

Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland --
Blackbird, Sept. 3-Oct. 12, 2008 (child molester and his victim meet decades later)
Eurydice, Sept. 16-Oct. 26 (Sarah Ruhl twists the Orpheus-Eurydice myth)
Holidazed, Nov. 18-Dec. 28, 2008 (couple adopts a Goth teen girl who hates all holidays except Halloween)
Speech & Debate, Oct. 15-Nov. 23, 2008 (three misfit teens in Salem, Oregon, and a sex scandal)
The Seafarer, Jan. 6-Feb. 15, 2009 (Conor McPherson on drinking, gambling, the Faust myth and more drinking)
String of Pearls, Jan. 27-March 8, 2009 (four actresses, 20 roles, family dysfunction)
Distracted, by Lisa Loomer (April 14-May 24, 2009) -- Jesse, 8, has ADHD
Three Sisters, by Chekhov, May 5-June 14, 2009 (adapted by Tracy Letts; maybe they'll GET to Moscow this time)

Seattle Rep
Charlayne Woodard, The Night Watcher (one-woman show), Sept. 25-Oct. 26, 2008
Ken Ludwig, The Three Musketeers, Oct. 2-Nov. 15
Boom, Nov. 13-Dec. 14, 2008 (checking out online personals when you're sure that the apocalypse is nigh)
Hart and Kauffman, You Can't Take It With You, Nov. 28-Jan. 3, 2009
Waiting for Godot, Jan. 15-Feb. 14, 2009
Rollick, Feb. 5-March 8, 2009 (the Ottoman Bigwigs merge '90s Seattle rock with sea shanties and theater)
The Seafarer, Feb. 26-March 28, 2009
Harold Pinter, Betrayal, March 26-April 26, 2009 (adultery in reverse; dir. Braden Abraham)
Chay Yew, A Winter People (Chinese adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard), April 9-May 9, 2009

Intiman Theatre,
A Streetcar Named Desire, through Aug. 2
Douglas Carter Beane, The Little Dog Laughed, Aug. 15-Sept. 13 (closeted gay actor and his agent)
All the King's Men, Sept. 26-Nov. 8, 2008
Black Nativity: A Gospel Song Play by Langston Hughes, Nov. 29-Dec. 27, 2008

Taproot Theater Company, Seattle:
Wing-It Productions, Seattle:

Seattle Shakespeare Company,
Romeo + Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, in the parks through Aug. 3
Henry IV (adapted by Dakin Matthews into a single play): Oct. 23-Nov. 16
Carlo Goldoni, Servant of Two Masters: Jan. 8-Feb. 1, 2009
Jeffrey Hatcher/Henry James, The Turn of the Screw: Jan. 13-28, 2009
The Merchant of Venice: March 13-April 5, 2009
The Tempest: June 4-28, 2009

Company of Fools, Hailey, Idaho:
Violet (civil rights movment in South in '64), Collected Stories and Noises Off all run through Aug. 3
Jack and the Beanstalk, Oct. 8-26
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Dec. 17-Jan. 4, 2009
The House of Blue Leaves, Feb. 18-March 8, 2009

Montana Repertory Theatre, Missoula:

Othello, Our Town, and The Comedy of Errors all run through Oct. 10-12
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coriolanus, The Clay Cart, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler; A View from the Bridge; and Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner all run through Nov. 1-2

Friday, July 18, 2008

Kalensky classes

Friday-Sunday, Aug. 22-24
Interplayers' consulting artistic director, Karen Kalensky, is returning to offer a three-day acting class (resumes, nervousness, auditioning)
Also classes for ages 12-16 on Aug. 23 and 25
Call: (818) 481-2244

practice vs. theory in acting

a British perspective on the dilemma of getting an MFA in theater or getting practical experience in a working theater -- and with surprisingly strong arguments both ways:,,2290970,00.html

Monday, July 14, 2008

movie musicals boomlet

Since *Chicago* won Best PIc in 2002, there has been a slew of big-grossing movie musicals: Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Sweeney Todd ... and now, Mamma Mia!
So what's next?
The most likely crossovers include Jersey Boys, Spring Awakening, and In the Heights.
But *Nine* starts shooting this fall, with Rob Marshall directing and names like Cotillard, Cruz, Day-Lewis, Dench and Kidman attached.
Could the title refer to the number of Oscars they expect to win?

Ian McKellen naked

PBS will air McKellen's *King Lear* sometime in 2009. But will they show him full-frontal, as he was onstage in NY?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

mere amateurs?

Why even Lord Webber himself actually cares more about amateur productions of his shows than he does about the professional stagings:

Monday, July 07, 2008

*Sweeney Todd* cast list

*Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street: a Musical Thriller* (1979) - In Concert
music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
book by Hugh Wheeler
based on the 1973 play by Christopher Bond
performances: Friday-Saturday, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, at 7:30 pm
Spokane Civic Theatre

Directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson
Musical Direction by Carolyn Jess
Conducted by Michael J. Muzatko

Tickets: $30

On Halloween weekend, spend a little time with your friendly neighborhood barber.

Sweeney Todd: Max Mendez
Mrs. Lovett: Darnelle Preston
Judge: Randel Wagner
Anthony: Russell Seaton
Johanna: Andrea Dawson
Beggar Woman: Marianne McLaughlin
Tobias: Robby French
Signor Pirelli: Scott Miller
Beadle: Nick Fichter
Jonas Fogg: Gavin Smith

... and a chorus of nearly two dozen singers.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

attracting a younger audience

"My mother recently went to see *Man of La Mancha.*"
That's the setup for another interesting article from the current issue of American Theatre.
And local marketing and managing directors ought to listen up.

A theater in Maryland worked out a deal with three local colleges: Schools get vouchers for tickets. Students use them to see plays for free. The theater "keeps track of the used vouchers and bills back the colleges at a group rate--the money comes out of student-life funding."
The program has grown ten-fold: from 20 students per production to 200.
Key players: getting the community college's VP of learning and director of student life on board.
Problems: students who don't know how to behave during a show (texting, leaving in mid-performance, and worse).

The program attracted diverse audiences -- math departments sent their faculty and students to see *Proof.*
What if ARt were to invite both Catholic parishioners and SNAP activists to *Doubt* in September?

Fraternizing with vampires

re Misha Berson's "Communing with the Enemy," American Theatre, July-August '08, p. 58:
Misha says -- she's the theater critic at the Seattle Times -- that critics need to steer a middle course between hanging out all the time with / absolutely avoiding actors and directors. Passages to which Bobo says 'Amen':

"But contact with artists I've admired, or whose work I'm very curious about, has often enriched me. And though it happens rarely, when somebody has boldly taken the time to question or answer a negative review of mine ,in the spirit of honest discourse, it cand lead to an interesting, even enlightening conversation."

"I believe that communication between artist and critic, when it's unforced and organic, may actually strike a blow for civility."

An out-of-town director at Interplayers once e-mailed Bobo about a line in his review criticizing the lighting design of a show he/she had directed. And that led to a useful, interesting, still-agreeing-to-disagree exchange. We ought to have more of that, instead of anonymous snipes -- which are, let's face it, pretty juvenile.

So take a critic to lunch. (It's not true that we only come out at night.) And have a _real_ conversation about what has been done well (and poorly) and what could be done better in this isolated, small-city theater community of ours.

I am a Netflix doofus

Call Bobo a slow adopter (or just slow), or a Luddite or whatever (or worse), but he just rejoined at Netflix and discovered that for just $9 a month, I can call up to my PC (and be watching within, say, three minutes at most) shows like the Blythe Danner/Frank Langella *Seagull* by Chekhov (out of print and unavailable the last time I tried to order it) and Raul Esparza in Sondheim's *Company.* The video quality is not great, but the audio seems up to Internet standards. And it's pretty much watch on demand. And, like, the BBC Shakespeare plays from 1978-84, and biographies of writers like Dickens, and the entire BBC *Bleak House,* and, well, you get the picture.

*Earnest* casting

at ARt, Aug. 22-Sept. 6
*The Importance of Being Earnest* (1895) by Oscar Wilde
directed by Michael Weaver
Jack and Algy: Damon Mentzer and Jon Lutyens
Lady Bracknell: Karen Nelsen
Gwendolyn and Cecily: Caryn Hoaglund-Trivett and Kari McClure
Miss Prism and Rev. Chasuble: Carolyn Crabtree and Patrick Treadway
Lane and Merriman, the servants: SFCC students Jeremiah Hatch and Brandon Montang

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

partial review of *La Cage aux Folles*

at CdA Summer Theatre through July 12

*La Cage aux Folles,* the Harvey Fierstein-Jerry Herman musical, just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Conceived in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, now its revivals are situated inside our national debate about gay marriage.

(I don’t know about you, but if two gay men moved in next door, my 20-year marriage would simply crumble. Think of the wall sconces, the window treatments, the humiliation. What relationship could withstand that?)

Yet what can a glitzy musical about a drag queen’s right to a committed relationship and a chance at parenting possibly hope to do? Entertain, mainly. The awareness that generosity, commitment and parental love don’t depend on the structure of one’s crotch can always slip in by the side door, unnoticed.

As Albin — the drag queen who wants his son to marry happily, even if his fiancée is the daughter of right-wing prudes — Jerry Christakos doesn’t spend a lot of time going unnoticed. As Zaza, the star of a gender-blending nightclub revue, he’s very much in the spotlight. It’s true that Christakos seems relatively subdued, even by the end of “A Little More Mascara,” his self-pep-talk about fighting depression by once again strapping on the high heels and fake boobs. Early on, the flamboyance of Nathan Lane (who played the equivalent part in the 1996 non-musical movie, The Birdcage) is missing. But that’s just a setup for later on, with Christakos flouncing through nightclub gyrations, ad-libbing wisecracks with front-row audience members, and displaying his step-by-step assembly of a macho swagger (shoulders slumped, legs splayed out) that’s hilarious.

As Albin’s husband, the more straitlaced Georges, Chris Thompson conveys restraint — somebody has to keep this nightclub running on time — as a setup for his own character development. Thompson’s royal, operatic tenor dignifies the ballads describing Georges’ love for Albin (“Song on the Sand”) and Albin’s love for their son Jean-Michel (“Look Over There”). The final curtain call has show “girls” clapping enthusiastically for a leading couple that for once is played by two men. — Thompson and Christakos, resplendent in matching suits. They are what they are, and what they are looks great.

Director Tralen Doler scores a direct hit with his choreography, never more so than in the build-up to the first-act finale: Transvestite can-can dancers form kick lines, spin in triple pirouettes, dangle their feet from upraised knees and then detonate the splits over and over in explosions of risqué glee that skitter across the stage.

Michael McGiveney contributes some versatile set pieces: a seaside Mediterranean café, a ritzy apartment (in versions both outlandish and conventional), the flashing lights of the nightclub.


For the complete, revised review — including comments on several of the actors' performances and more of the choreography — please pick up a copy of *The Pacific Northwest Inlander* on Thursday, July 3.

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