Tuesday, September 30, 2008

cast for *A Christmas Carol: The Musical* at the Civic

Nov. 21-Dec. 20, 2008

A Christmas Carol, The Musical
Book by Lynn Ahrens & Mike Ockrent
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Alan Menken
Based on the story by Charles Dickens

Direction and choreography by Troy NIckerson and Cameron Lewis
Musical direction by Trudy Harris

Scrooge .....Patrick McHenry-Krotech
Bob Cratchit .......Cody Garner
Mrs. Cratchit ........Danae Ervin
Martha Cratchit ......Kate Cubberly
Tiny Tim......Benjamin Worden
Peter Cratchit ....Quinn Klaue
Belinda Cratchit ........Danille Martin
Tom Cratchit/Ebenezer (age 8) ...................................Marshall Rochon
Christmas Present/Sandwichboard ...............................David Gigler
Christmas Past/Lamplighter.......................................Heidi Gnos Kuban
Christmas Future/Old Hag ........................................Ryan Patterson
Mrs. Mops ......................................................... Evelyn Renshaw
Scrooge ' s Father ................................................(from Chorus)
Scrooge ' s Mother ............................................... (from Chorus)
Marley ............................................................. Gavin Smith
Mr. Fezziwig ...................................................... Gary Pierce
Mrs. Fezziwig ..................................................... Melody Deatherage
Young Ebenezer (18) ............................................. Jarod Mola
Young Ebenezer (12) ............................................. Cade Martin
Fred ............................................................... Mark Charyk
Emily ............................................................. .Jillian Wylie
Fan ............................................................... Bailey Heppler
Jonathan..........................................................................Peyton Cooley

Busman's holiday

Bobo's out of here for a few days: two plays at Artists Rep in Portland (Blackbird, Eurydice) and four or five in Ashland (The Clay Cart, Coriolanus, Our Town, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, and maybe A View From the Bridge). Chow.
(That's Paul Newman as the Stage Manager, at right.)

review of *Oklahoma* at the Civic

I was humming the melodies three days before I saw the show. The Civic’s production of Oklahoma! (through Oct. 26) hadn’t even premiered, and yet the coffee at breakfast already had me singing “Oh, what a beautiful mornin’.” The tunes of Richard Rodgers and the words of Oscar Hammerstein can have that kind of effect on musical theater freaks. (And sometimes, even on abnormal people.)
Director Kathie Doyle-Lipe’s production doesn’t deliver any new insights, but it has enough energy and prettiness to maintain the show’s longstanding theatrical tradition — visually, vocally and emotionally.
For a scenic equivalent to Ronald Reagan’s 40-years-later “morning in America,” you can’t beat the opening tableau: Aunt Eller (Jean Hardie) taking the time to savor her morning chores, accompanied by set and lighting designer Peter Hardie’s clever simulation of sunrise, with that little orb twinkling on the horizon at first and then gaining in height and brilliance.
Then, of course, comes Curly’s famous offstage voice, filled with optimism. Adam Peterson exemplifies “all-American” in the role: barrel-chested and assertive, friendly and full of imagination. He’s not the most demonstrative cowhand you’ve ever seen — his acting out of the fantasy’s details in “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” seemed restrained — but Peterson has endearing mannerisms and a yearning voice.
As Laurey, Alyssa Day is especially good at conveying love-longing and disappointment in romance. The show’s simplistic psychology has couples setting obvious traps of jealousy for one another, but at least Day can flit from dependence to defiance in a twinkling.
The ensemble’s acting is effective, with Jean Hardie bellowing her false outrage over pictures of a “hussy!” and running the second-act auction like a queen bee. Thomas Heppler’s Persian peddler does delightful slow burns and comic double-takes. Emily Cleveland doesn’t overplay Ado Annie, turning her into a caricature of unbridled desire; instead, Cleveland shows us Annie’s life-force and simple curiosity. Shawn Hudson may not present the creepiest or darkest Jud you’ve ever seen, but his powerful singing in the show’s least memorable song, “Lonely Room” — along with his athletic ability — present a complete characterization. As Will Parker, Cameron Lewis pulls off tap routines even while wearing cowboy boots; his courtship of Annie veers toward the cartoonish, but his dancing skills energize the show. And Peter Hardie appears in front of his own set with a raspy-voiced Andrew Carnes who regards his daughter Annie as a possession no goll-durned suitor is gonna trifle with.
Doyle-Lipe obtains high-voltage energy from the company in the big crowd scenes and adds some nice comic flourishes, like the gang of cowpokes lowering themselves in unison just to catch a glimpse of a naughty French postcard. But her real strength — choreography — comes to the fore in Laurey’s nightmare dream sequence, with its lurid lighting caressing the oddly angled limbs of the saloon girls as cowboys sit astride chairs and leer. All the asymmetrical movements reinforce Laurey’s imbalance: The wrong, brutal guy shows up at the altar with her, and the victims of all this psychic carnage are dragged off on chairs like wounded soldiers in a battle.

For the conclusion to this review, two photos and more, check out Thursday's Inlander.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

WaMu and our Mutual concerns

The Seattle P-I muses about the effects of the financial meltdown on arts philanthropy in Washington state. J.P. Morgan bought WaMu; Liberty Mutual bought Safeco. In the short term, no one's predicting a zeroing-out of arts giving; in the long term, however, institutions that aren't Northwest-based are less likely to give to Northwest arts organizations. The article suggests that, in 2006, WaMu gave $8 million to organizations of all kinds in Washington state, and $42 million additionally around the nation. Will J.P. Morgan follow suit? And of course the eastern side of the state goes unmentioned.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barack around the clock

Obama/Biden actually have an arts plank in their platform pledging an increase in the NEA budget, support for an "Artists Corps" (on the model of the Peace Corps) and tax breaks for practicing artists, among other things.
The arts are not mentioned on the McCain/Palin Website.

Christopher Knight of the L.A. Times has an interesting essay on the debates and arts policy. Highlights: NEA budget now amounts to just 50 cents per American, annually -- about what five _hours_ of the Iraq war costs. And look at the closer: No major world civilization has ever failed to subsidize the arts significantly. Knight is too eager to regard TV and the Internet as instruments of ignorance, but he makes good points about the presidential debates as scripted theater -- or as NASCAR races that we watch just to see other people crash and burn.

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Oklahoma! at Spokane Civic Theatre

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Will Parker (Cameron Lewis) tussles with Ali Hakim (Thomas Heppler) for the affections of Ado Annie Carnes (Emily Cleveland)
by Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1943

Sept. 26-Oct. 26, 2008
Directed and choreographed by Kathie Doyle-Lipe
Music direction by Carolyn Jess
Sets and lights by Peter Hardie
Costumes by Jan Wanless and Susan Berger

Alyssa Day and Adam Peterson

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek
as Laurey and Curly in Oklahoma!
Spokane Civic Theatre
Sept.-Oct. 2008
directed by Kathie Doyle-Lipe

Curley and Jud

Originally uploaded by Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Spokane Civic Theatre
Sept.-Oct. 2008
Adam Peterson and Shawn Hudson

an earlier version of the Dark Knight

Wendy Rosenfield, who writes on theater for the Philadelphia Inquirer and who was along for the theater critics' boot camp in L.A. back in February that Bobo also enjoyed and endured, has posted about the musical version of Bret Easton Ellis' *American Psycho* venturing onto Broadway in 2010. Sounds like love it/hate it, triumph/disaster to Bobo, with no middle ground possible. Even *Spring Awakening* and *Passing Strange* have elements of hope -- will Ellis' nihilism work within a burst-into-song medium, even if it does recall indie music circa 1991 (when the novel was published; the movie arrived in 2000)? Christian Bale lives on in pop culture.

See also the New York Post's comment, complete with beefcake.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

*Annie* auditions in CdA, Sept. 29-30

seeking 10W, 5M, 10 children
Mon-Tues, Sept. 29-30, at 6:30 pm at Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave. in CdA
Call 208.667.1323
Please come prepared to sing a 16 bar song, along with your resume and a photo and a list of conflicts
Director: Brian Doig

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Attracting the youth audience

A British blog explains an effort by the U.K. government to attract more teens and young adults to theaters.

If they're complaining about the paucity of government support for the arts in general (and theater in particular) -- and about the woeful state of arts education in the schools -- even over in Merrie Olde Englande, then whatever are we to do here in the red half of a blue state?

NEW, Sept. 30:
Charles McNulty of the L.A. Times — Bobo's writing instructor in February — suggests that a) if anyone deserves free theater tickets, it's "the AARP crowd" who have loyally attended theater all their lives, and that b) a better goal would be to strive for government art subsidies that seek to establish an audience of _all_ ages for theater. You can't _force_ a video-on-demand generation to take the time to go out and attend a hand-crafted, time-intensive art form like theater. But you _can_ attract more of them with lower ticket prices and more accessible content.
Maybe folks just need more life experience (disappointment in love, several relationships, marriage and kids and mortgages, a pissy boss or two) to be able to relate to the concerns of adult drama. (As the heavy-set high school student in *The History Boys* complains, "Most of what happens in poetry hasn't happened yet to us yet.")

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

opening-night review of *The Dining Room*

at Spokane Interplayers Ensemble through Oct. 4

In a production that acknowledges both the value and the absurdity of ritual in human relationships — along with the need for simple human kindness — Interplayers has presented Spokane with another A.R. Gurney Jr. play that somehow, despite seeming simplicity, explores common longings, common disappointments. Over the course of 20 scenes scattered from the 1930s to the ‘70s, six actors play nearly five dozen characters. Thereís no real plot in *The Dining Room*; what there is, in director Karen Kalensky’s production, is a sense of how we all want love and affection and a sense of home. And don’t always know how to acquire it.
While some of the five-dozen characterizations lack subtlety, the six actors at Interplayers (through Oct. 4) generally deliver real people onstage. In live performance, some of the scenes feel ghostly: Characters from different decades wander past one another, oblivious to the people who will inhabit the same space years from now or years ago,
It’s voyeuristic theater: We witness five-minute scenes between people whose circumstances, despite Gurney’s ability to characterize quickly, we don’t fully know. (Sort of as in real life.)
The action swirls around a turn-of-the-century dining room table, showing how society has neglected, to its cost, the elegant ritual of taking the time to prepare meals and actually converse with one another. (Not all the characters want to take the time — but the room and the table fight back, as if they were themselves characters in the drama.)
Among an ensemble that usually makes good choices, Reed McColm stands out. As a demanding and proper patriarch of the 1930s, he draws out his vowels and pauses to let his commands sink in; soon after, he’s all knock-kneed and peeking about with sidelong glances as an Irish boy who’s infatuated with the family maid. Perhaps best of all — and in an example of how a rounded characterization can be achieved even amid the rapid-fire turnover of Gurney’s short scenes — McColm chooses to play a cranky grandfather as more than just cranky. Approached for money by a grandson he barely knows, McColm doesn’t laugh at his old codger and turn the scene into ridicule of graybeards; instead, he carves out a loving interrogation of the boy, questioning and guiding him, aware of life’s cyclical nature but trying to stave off its disasters for another generation yet.
Thomas Stewart shines as an angry son who just wants to sell off his family’s possessions and as an architect who has reasons of his own for wanting to re-purpose the dining room as offices. Another newcomer to the Interplayers stage, Bethany Hart, makes her mark as a rebellious teen, resentful sibling, needy daughter and bratty kid.

Some of the acting, however, takes shortcuts. Now, if you’re one actor in a cast of six — each of whom is tasked with playing nine or 10 distinct characters in the course of a dozen scenes ranging over five decades, and with limited stage time to establish the distinctiveness of each character you’re portraying — naturally you’re going to concentrate in rehearsal on making each figure different. And the shorthand way to do that is caricature. A scene between a society matron and her unrefined, immature daughter was ruined by director Kalensky’s decision to portray the daughter as a version of Gilda Radner's Lisa Loopner. There could have been an interesting debate between a mother who values tradition and a daughter who values self-determination; instead, it became a one-dimensional comic skit that swirled down the drain of caricature.
Similarly, one of Gurney’s most startling inversions — the grad student in anthropology studying his grandmother as "one of the WASPs of the northeastern United States" — gets undermined by Kalensky’s allowing Thomas Stewart (otherwise very effective throughout the evening) to camp up the student as a nerdy klutz who keeps dropping his notebook. And dropping his notebook.
Then he drops his notebook again and adjusts his nerdy glasses. Not only is it annoying, it steals from the scene’s proper focus: the elderly woman’s realization that the rituals she cherishes are, for others, just fodder for academic study.
A scene between Kalensky and Michael Maher that should have sizzled with sexual tension fizzled instead. And watching adults act like little children can be cringe-worthy sometimes, though most of the excesses are avoided here.

There’s a wonderful kind of time-defying, universalizing quality to having a single actor play a whole roomful of characters: Matriarchs turn into housemaids turn into spoiled children, and the mind is tugged away from our differences and toward the shared goals that unite us. It’s inspiring: Here within these same walls have lived (will live) people whose ups and downs are significantly higher or lower than my own. Just folks — folks who figured out the same problems, even if the customs of our grandparents’ generation did seem so awfully peculiar at the time.
Gurney’s play itself has already aged 27 years, already become a familiar part the American theatrical landscape. This Interplayers production finds enough the laughs and heartbreak in Gurney’s script to keep the tradition alive. It’s a funny/serious stolen glimpse at how some people lived their upper-middle-class lives.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Decision deferred

The Actors Rep board has postponed until Oct. 2 their meeting at which it may be decided whether to resuscitate ARt in some form next season or else terminate the nonprofit organization.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

*Laramie Project* to get an epilogue

The 10-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death is coming up; Moises Kauffman et al. are returning to Wyoming. Read about it here.


Cheyenne Jackson: unemployed?

On Oct. 12, *Xanadu* is closing.

But a nice summary of Cheyenne's career (Newport, Spokane) up to the time of *All Shook Up* compares his rise to what happens to Peggy Sawyer in *42nd Street.*

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

*The Dating Game* as improv theater

Chloe Veltman blogs about a San Francisco troupe making theater interactive by doing unscripted spoofs of the ol' "Bachelor No. 3" routine, with audience members hooting and hollering. All Bobo is saying, somebody ought to do this around here. And we're looking at you, Blue Door Theater.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

upcoming in Spokane-area theater

opening in SEPTEMBER
The Dining Room, Interplayers, Sept. 18-Oct. 4
3:1, Way Off-Broadway Theater Group -- Sept. 18 at G-Prep, Sept. 19-20 at Empyrean
Nunsense, Lake City Playhouse, Sept. 19-Oct. 11
Nunsense, Kenworthy, Moscow, Sept. 19-21
The Rant, Sept. 19 and 26 and Oct. 3, Blue Door Theater
Cage Match, Blue Door Theatre, Sept. 20 and 27
Capitol Steps, INB Center, Sept. 20; Sept. 23 in Pullman
Love's Labor's Lost (readers theater), Mirror Theater, Moscow, Sept. 21
One Flea Spare, U of Idaho, Sept. 25-Oct. 5
Oklahoma! -- Spokane Civic Theatre Main Stage, Sept. 26-Oct. 26

Phantom of the Opera, INB Center, Oct. 8-25
The Cradle Will Rock (1937 Mark Blitzstein musical), Whitworth, Oct. 10-18
To Kill a Mockingbird, Oct. 10-18, Pullman Civic Theatre
Dressed To Kill (murder-mystery dinner theater), Cutter Theater, Metaline Falls, Oct. 10-11 and 24-25
Alice: The Musical, SCT, Oct. 11-26
Frozen, U of Idaho, Oct. 15-19
Exits and Entrances, Interplayers, Oct. 16-Nov. 1
The Uninvited, Stage West Community Theater, Cheney, Oct. 17-Nov. 2
Moira's Crossing (sequel to Tim Rarick's This Child), NIC, Oct. 23-Nov. 1
Hedda Gabler, WSU, Oct. 23-Nov. 1
Curse of the Starving Class, Gonzaga, Oct. 24-Nov. 2
War of the Worlds: The Radio Play, Pullman Civic Theater, Oct. 29-Nov. 1
Tartuffe, U of Idaho, Oct. 30-Nov. 9
A Few Good Men, Lake City Playhouse, Oct. 31-Nov. 14
Graceland and Never Swim Alone, Civic Studio, Oct. 31- Nov. 23
Sweeney Todd, in concert, Civic, Oct. 31-Nov. 1

The Government Inspector, SFCC, Nov. 6-16
No Sex, Please, We're British, Ignite! Community Theater, Nov. 7-9
Peter Pan, Christian Youth Theater at the Bing, Nov. 7-16
The Foreigner, EWU, Nov. 19-23
Together Again for the First Time, Interplayers, Nov. 20-Dec. 7
A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Civic, Nov. 21-Dec. 20
Madeline's Christmas, Spokane Children's Theatre, Nov. 28-Dec. 13
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, INB Center, Nov. 29-30

Annie, Lake City Playhouse, Dec. 4-21
I Remember Mama, Regional Theatre of the Palouse, Dec. 4-13
A Christmas Story, CYT at Bing, Dec. 5-14
The Nutcracker, INB Center, Dec. 5-7
Miracle on 34th Street, Pullman Civic Theater, Dec. 12-21
The Color Purple, INB Center, Dec. 10-14
A Reduced Christmas Carol, Interplayers, Dec. 17-21
White Christmas, in concert, NIC, Dec. 19-21

12 Angry Jurors, Ignite! Community Theater, Jan. 9-11
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Civic, Jan. 9-21
Fences (readers theater), Interplayers, Jan. 15-19
Little Shop of Horrors, Lake City Playhouse, Jan. 16-31
The Winter's Tale, Gonzaga, Jan. 23-Feb. 1
Cowgirls, Interplayers, Jan. 29-Feb. 14
Raised in Captivity, WSU, Jan. 29-Feb. 7
The Women of Lockerbie, Civic Studio, Jan. 30-Feb. 22
Annie, INB Center, Jan. 31
Alexander, Who's Not ... Not Going To Move! -- SCT, Jan. 31-Feb. 15

*The Dining Room* at Interplayers

opens Sept. 19, 2008
with Karen Kalensky, Reed McColm, Anne Selcoe, Michael Maher, Bethany Hart and Thomas Stewart
directed by Karen Kalensky

A.R. Gurney's *The Dining Room*

Spokane, Wash.
Sept.-Oct. '08
directed by Karen Kalensky

Youth acting classes in CdA begin Oct. 11

Lake City Playhouse Performance Classes for Youth
Oct. 11-Nov. 15
Dance Wise Studios, 195 E. Hazel, CdA
Saturdays at 1 pm (group voice), 2 pm (beginning and advanced acting), and 3 pm (intro to musical theater)
Cost: $75 per student per class
Call: (208) 667-1323

Kushner hits jackpot

Tony Kushner has been awarded a $200,000 playwriting prize. (That's worth 20 of them Pulitzers.)
Read all about it here in the *New York Times*, which explains all about the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, which is to be given biennially, with a pair of $50K grants going out to early-career playwrights in the alternating years.

Neither half of *Angels in America* is performed as often as they should be, in Bobo's HO ... though even taking *Homebody/Kabul* and "Caroline, or Change* into account -- good as they are -- Kushner has not had the _extended_ impact on _mainstream_ theater-production habits as, for example and at various times, Pete Gurney, Terry McNally and Neil LaBute have had. (Cite your own examples. And making the list of most-produced scripts in *American Theatre* every year is no guarantee of long-term respect. Bobo certainly doesn't have a better or more articulate candidate in mind.Ironically, Kushner (with Spielberg's *Munich* and upcoming Abe Lincoln project) has been working more in movies than in the theater. Let's look forward to when he starts writing playscripts again.)


Terry Teachout of the WSJ weighs in as well.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

*Madeline's Christmas* auditions, Oct. 5-6

Spokane Children's Theatre
*Madeline's Christmas*
Director: Danielle Read
Seeking: Two women, one man and 12 little girls in two straight lines (age 7 and older)

Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 pm and Monday, Oct. 6, at 6 pm; callbacks on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 6 pm
St. Aloysius School, 601 E. Mission Ave.
Bring sheet music for a one-minute song
Performances: Nov. 28-Dec. 13
Visit: www.spokanechildrenstheatre.org
Call: 328-4886

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Friday, September 12, 2008

*Doubt* trailer hits the Net

Since ARt won't be bringing it to us, find a sneak peak

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Box-n-Hat to do school edition of *Rent* in May 2009

Auditions are Thursday, Sept. 18, at 4 pm at the Civic
for ages 12-18
Cost: $225

Andrew Ware Lewis will direct the school edition of *Rent* with the Box-n-Hat Players at the Civic on May 30-31, 2009
In the meantime, he and musical director Carolyn Jess need interested teens to audition next week.
Prepare a verse and chorus from a Broadway musical

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Acting classes for adults at the Civic

Saturdays, 10 am-noon from Sept. 22-Nov. 15
Cost: $80

The instructor will be the new director of education at Spokane Civic Theatre, Stefan Dreisbach-Williams — who has a masters in theater education from Boston's Emerson College and who has ties to the theater communities Boston, New York and Oxford, England.

For more information, contact Stefan at stefan@spokanecivictheatre.com or 325-2507 x406.

*Hole in the Sky* Sept. 11, 13-14

Ignite! Community Theatre presents a Booklight Reader’s Theatre production of *Hole in the Sky* by Reed McColm
about people trapped in the North Tower on 9/11.
directed by Jon Jordan
with Laura Bevan, Barry Brathovde, Karen Brathovde, John Brooks, Fred Dugenet, Kathleen Gantt, Andrew Gantt, Nancy Gasper, Michael Huffington, Marina Kalani, Nina Kelly, Kathleen Malcolm, Bob McAdams, Maxwell Nightser, Brandon O’Neill and Samuel Starbuck

Thursday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and Sept. 13, at 7 pm at Gonzaga's Foley Center
Sunday, Sept. 14, at 2 pm at the Blue Door Theatre, 815 W. Garland Ave.

Free; donations requested.

Visit: www.ignitetheatre.org or septemberproject.wordpress.org

E-mail: info@ignitetheatre.org

Call: Rebecca Cook at 993-6540

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Upcoming B'way season is male-dominated

The Broadway season preview in the New York Times cites shows such as A Man for All Seasons, Equus, Pal Joey, Speed-the-Plow, Billy Elliott and All My Sons as evidence of a male focus this season.

Ben Brantley has a follow-up commentary on movie actors (Katie Holmes, Daniel Radcliffe) acting on the Nooh Yawhk stage.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

The outlook at ARt

Attributing the season-cancelling financial woes at Actors Rep to "carelessness" on the part of the board and managing director prior to June 2007, ARt board president Jim Barthelmess nonetheless has hopes for the theater's future.

ARt's next board meeting is on Sept. 18; soon after that, says Barthelmess, the press and subscribers will receive a letter outlining the theater's plans.

"My suspicion is that some of this board will want to resurrect ARt pretty soon, but not as ARt," Barthelmess says. "I'm suggesting 'The Phoenix Theater,'" he adds with a smile.

Since early this year, he says, "What became clear to us is that there was no business plan. We didn't get the books -- we got boxes full of receipts and check stubs. It was almost impossible to create a financial past, which put us in a bad, bad place in applying for grants. We were blindsided by what we had to contend with. We would apply for royalties, only to be told, 'Well, you still haven't paid the royalties from back in 2004.' It added up to thousands of dollars, but we have paid up -- back taxes and royalties and back printing bills."

As for what artistic director Michael Weaver and former managing director Grant Smith (who was associated with ARt until August 2007) should have realized, Barthelmess says that "We're just looking at carelessness." Major problems started to become evident, Barthelmess says, by February -- "but we're not going to go back and do recriminations." Instead, he's looking to the future.

"If ARt comes alive again -- as ARt or as some other theater -- and I have anything to do with it, we will have a business plan and a budget, credibility and transparency," he says.

"I have theater friends in Cleveland [where Barthelmess, a retired college professor, taught for many years]. And I know how it is -- a lot of it is crisis management, with people saying, 'Oh, we don't have any props, but we've got to get the play up.' I understand that. But if you send out a flyer announcing one of your plays, you'd better have enough money to pay for the postage."

Barthelmess says that ARt still has "staff to pay off, one last payroll, bills to pay, minutes and files to be stored." It's a sad prospect: "I wish with all my heart this hadn't been the outcome," he says, adding that he's felt "physically sick" for much of the past month over the decision.

He says the ARt board considered closing immediately, or at least trying to stick it out through December. "Initially, our impulse was to try to do the season," he says. But it wasn't possible, even though the cast for ARt's intended next show, *Doubt,* was already in town rehearsing.

But that big bill from the state of Washington for workman's compensation payments had come due, with interest and penalties. Financially, "there was just a wall we ran into -- that's a good image for it," he says.

A year from now, Barthelmess speculates, "ARt will not exist, probably. But we're not trying to get rid of it. We're just mothballing it."

Michael Weaver, Barthelmess adds, "was not fired. He was part of this decision."

Barthelmess says that after he announced the season's cancellation at the performance of *The Importance of Being Earnest* on Aug. 29, "people came up to us, Michael and me, and some of them were weeping, and they shook my hand and said how much they had enjoyed Michael's shows. They understood. There's a great deal of goodwill among our subscribers."

The board had to be reactive and not proactive, he says. "We were always putting out fires. But I'm pretty confident that we did the right thing," he says, while adding that "I don't know that I'd like to preside over a train wreck. But please know that we tried to do our best in difficult circumstances."

Former ARt business manager Reed McColm and former ARt managing director Grant Smith have not yet been contacted in connection with this story. More details will emerge, especially after the Sept. 18 ARt board meeting.

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Trailers for plays

A recent Washington Post article suggests that furtive cell-phone videos of *Wicked* and other musicals aren't impinging on Broadway business. If anything, they serve as pleasant shaky-cam reminders for those who have seen the show -- and as teases for those who haven't.

But did you know that they're starting to make trailers for plays? Search on YouTube for "National Theatre / Women of Troy" and "... / Revenger's Tragedy"

Stage to screen

Two films are in the works: *August: Osage County* and David Harrower's *Blackbird* (about a victim of sexual abuse and her abuser, meeting years later).
Jeff Daniels garnered raves as the not-creepy-as-you-might-think sex offender.

All courtesy of Britain's The Guardian

*Blackbird* is currently playing at Artists Rep in Portland.

And check out this article at Broadway.com

Review of March-June 2007 Manhattan Theatre Club production is here

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*Rent* at NorthTown, Sept. 24-28

*Rent* closes on Broadway tomorrow
But you'll be able to see it in Spokane late this month.

In long-anticipated move parallel to the last two years' live broadcasts of Met Opera productions, the final performance of *Rent* will be "cinecast" at locations all over the nation.
During the performance, Sony's limited-engagement hi-def broadcast will wander backstage and into the wings.
No information yet on ticket prices.

Regal NorthTown Mall 12, Division and Wellesley
Wed.-Thurs., Sept. 24-25, at 7 pm and
Sat.-Sun., Sept. 27-28, at noon

Some stats on *Rent*: seventh-longest-running show in history; 5,140 performances; earned $625 million (including tours and 200 worldwide productions); unanimous vote of the Pulitzer committee; four Tonys.

Check out

And check out

And also check out

And also, additionally check out

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Monday, September 01, 2008

The Civic steps in

The Civic's director of development, George Green, reports that Actors Rep season-ticket holders will be given an opportunity to attend shows at the Civic this season.
"All ARt members -- regardless of whether they are Civic members or not -- will have their memberships honored to some degree, probably in the form of play coupons in exchange for their memberships," Green says.
If ARt has more than a thousand subscribers and if the Civic decides to offer, say, four play coupons to each, that's 4,000 seats the Civic is giving away, with no guarantee that those subscribers will renew at the Civic.

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