Thursday, April 30, 2009

*Big River,* May 8-23 at Lake City Playhouse

*Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn*
based on the 1885 novel by Mark Twain
Music by Roger Miller
Book by William Hauptmann

May 8-23 at 1320 E. Garden Ave. in Coeur d'Alene
Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm
Tickets: $10-$16
Call (208) 667-1323

The tale of Huck and Jim floating down the Mississippi won seven Tony awards in 1985
Musical numbers include "Do You Wanna Go To Heaven?," "Waiting for the Light to Shine," "Muddy Water," and "Worlds Apart."

[ photo: Roger Miller, ]

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gonzaga theater events this weekend

Thursday, April 30, from 2:30-3:30 pm, Theatre Dance Studios, 1108 N. Pearl St., two blocks east of Division
Scenes and monologues from Ibsen, Pirandello, Ionesco, and original works performed by Gonzaga's advanced acting students.

Thursday, April 30, from 7:30-9:15 pm, Magnuson Theatre (east end of College Hall, 502 E. Boone Ave.)
"Stab Me in the Back, Kiss Me on the Cheek": Student-directed American one-acts, and you get to rate the plays.
Also on Friday, May 1, same time

Bloomsday night, Sunday, May 3, from 7:30-9 pm, Magnuson Theater
"Solutions": four student-written one-acts about the developmentally disabled and adopted persons

Free; donations requested for Sunday night's show only or 313-6551

[ photo: Luigi Pirandello, 1867-1936; from an Italian Website, ]

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

review of *The Graduate*

at Interplayers through May 9

With cigarette smoldering and hand on hip, she saunters into a younger man’s bedroom — her high heels, her legs, her hips and all the rest of her — moving like a cat, making appraisals. Conquering a college kid would be less boring than the rest of her alcohol-soaked life. As Mrs. Robinson, Karen Kalensky is sultry and languorous, and it isn’t a pose: Benjamin’s her trophy, and the trophy’s bagged.
He’s a recent college grad who knows that he doesn’t want what his parents want but isn’t quite sure what that means. As Benjamin, the blank affect of Carter J. Davis reveals nothing, though his eyes are sneering. When his parents’ friends enter a room, he dutifully stands at attention (out of habit, out of boredom). When Mrs. Robinson saunters into a room, however, his stiffness has other connotations.
In Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation of *The Graduate* (at Interplayers through May 9), Kalensky and Davis create tension and comic release: First she’s seducing him, then it’s the other way around, and finally director Maria Caprile tees up a sequence of crash cuts, with the two lovers flailing among the sheets in theatrical snapshots much sexier than any kind of explicitness would be.
In the early going, when Johnson's script hews closest to the film, the matron-and-college-boy tryst evokes nervous laughter. By the second act, however, when Johnson begins trying to devise new scenes and explain everyone's motives, the script becomes excessively talky. And even an enjoyable first act overstays its welcome.
Caprile creates '60s fun with backlit silhouettes behind sliding doors, but Johnson has betrayed her by demanding too many scene changes. It feels like being at a furniture movers' convention, and it bloats the show into two and a half hours.

There’s a hint in the strip-club scene that Mrs. Robinson’s daughter —Benjamin’s newfound girlfriend — can rise above tawdriness and inspire him to regain a sense of purpose. But when Elaine (Emily Cleveland) tries to cheer him up, Benjamin mutters that his “love of life was unrequited." He’s jaded and doesn’t know why; Cleveland conveys how she’s disappointed in herself too. Perhaps the two of them will actually rouse themselves into a sense of purpose. Even more encouragingly, Cleveland and Kalensky get around to some truth-telling in a mother-daughter drinking scene. But then Johnson spends his second act trying to explain what the movie, properly, left unspoken.
The supporting cast, nevertheless, is strong. As Benjamin's mother, Tamara Schupman flips from chirpy to confused in an instant. As Mrs. Robinson's back-slapping but betrayed husband, John Oswald ranges from creepy (delivering the famous "plastics" line) to affecting (confronting Benjamin about the adultery). And Kalensky and Davis are masterful together.
But there was more of a “What do we do next?” mood in the final seconds of the 1967 movie than there is in Johnson’s entire last scene, with the newlyweds straining to be festive in a cheap motel room. If only they’d conform to their parents’ wishes, it’d all be much easier. But sometimes aimlessness needs to be played out more than talked out.
In taking a beloved movie out of the visual realm and theatricalizing it, Johnson only makes *The Graduate* more verbose.

Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation of *The Graduate,* directed by Maria Caprile, continues through May 9 at Interplayers, 174 S. Howard St., on Wednesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, and Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm. Tickets: $10-$21. Visit or call 455-PLAY.

[ photo by Austin Odell -- left to right, Angie Dierdorff, Emily Cleveland, David McCallum, Dave Rideout, Dan Anderson and Carter J. Davis in *The Graduate,* Spokane Interplayers Ensemble, April-May 2009 ]

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*A Funny Thing ..." at the Civic: cast list

*A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum*
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart

Directed by Diana Trotter
Musical direction by Scott Miller

with Jerry Sciarrio as Pseudolus
Gary Pierce as Hysterium
Robert Wamsley as Senex
Lauralynn "Lulu" Stafford as Domina
Jesse Ward as Hero
Callie Bley as Philia
Tom Heppler as Marcus Lycus
Shawn Hudson as Miles Gloriosus
George Morrison as Erronius
Todd Kehne, David McCarthy and Shawna Nordman as Protean
Rachel Ewing and Jessica Shirley as the Geminae
Jess Liles as Gymnasia
Leah Dach as Vibrata
Rachel Packard as Panacea
and Kim Kromholtz as Tintinabula

May 15-June 14 at the Civic
Tickets: $26; $24, seniors; $16, students; $8, student rush
Visit or or call 325-2507 or 325-SEAT.

*A Funny Thing* at is here.
The Zero Mostel production opened in 1962.

[ image: from ]

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Please silence all electronic devices ... and yourselves, you inconsiderate baboons

Actually, most baboons are more considerate than a lot of theatergoers these days.
Bobo thought he had witnessed some doozies of clueless theater behavior, but wait'll you read John Moore's *Denver Post* article.

So it may be too late to follow Moore's act, but ... hey, local Spokane theater persons, what incidents of boorish behavior have *you* witnessed? (Names disguised to protect the guilty, please.)

Endless chatter, compulsive texting -- Bobo's seen most of it, if not all. I find that turning around and simply staring (with a neutral expression, but right in the offender's face, works nicely). The worst? Actually occurred during a Symphony on the Edge concert at what's now the Knitting Factory. Naturally, it happened during a quiet musical passage. Loud cell ring. "Who's this?" in the braying tones of Elizabeth Taylor in *Virginia Woolf?* So the [uncomplimentary epithet] walks over into an open stairwell and CONTINUES TALKING LOUDLY and now with an extra added ECHO EFFECT.

We had her boiled alive and ate her liver with a nice Chianti.

[ photo: Denis Theater Foundation, Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania ]

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"The Fight for Women's Suffrage in Washington State"

at the MAC's Johnston Auditorium, 2316 W. First Ave., on Saturday, May 16, at 2 pm

An interactive play to commemorate the centennial of Washington’s giving women the vote

*That Woman & Big Noise: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage in Washington State*
Written and directed by Sandra Hosking
Starring Claire Rudolf Murphy and Penny Lucas (as Emma Smith DeVoe and May Arkwright Hutton), two women who were instrumental in the Washington suffrage movement -- and who had a stormy relationship

Free to teachers, students, and MAC members; included in the cost of regular museum admission for all others

Call 456-3931.
For bookings of this event, write or call 953-9928.

[ image: May Arkwright Hutton, from the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ]

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Pend Oreille Players present Gilbert and Sullivan's *The Sorcerer,* May 15-30 in Newport, Wash.

The Pend Oreille Players will present *The Sorcerer,* a comic operetta from 1877, at the Pend Oreille Playhouse Community Theatre and Events Center, 240 N. Union St., Newport, Wash.
Directed by Gail Cory-Betz and Millie Brumbaugh
Choreography by Susan Hollingshead

Fridays-Saturdays, May 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30, with dinner at 6 pm and show at 7 pm
$20; show only, $10
Sunday matinees on May 17 and 24 at 3 pm
Visit or call (509) 671-3389

The villagers of Ploverleigh have gathered to celebrate the betrothal of Alexis Poindexter (Jeff Hooyman), the son of Sir Marmaduke (Keli Wood), to Aline (Erin Vanderholm), the only daughter of Lady Sangazure (Tammy Pogue.) Giddy in love, Alexis decides that it would be nice if they (and indeed all the other unmarried villagers) could experience the feelings of true love that they themselves have. Alexis calls in the services of a Sorcerer, John Wellington Wells (David “DK” Kay), who produces a philtre (love potion) which, when drunk, ensures that everyone will experience the secret of pure love and happiness. Complications ensue.

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Karen Kalensky and Carter J. Davis

Mrs. Robinson shows off her gams while Benjamin stands, stiffly.
*The Graduate,* in Terry Johnson's adaptation, at Interplayers through May 9, directed by Maria Caprile

*The Graduate* at Interplayers

directed by Maria Caprile
through May 9, 2009
from left: Tony Caprile, Tamara Schupman, Carter J. Davis, John Oswald

*The Graduate* at Interplayers, through May 9

Stage adaptation by Terry Johnson
Directed by Maria Caprile

With Interplayers' Consulting Artistic Director, Karen Kalensky, in the Anne Bancroft role of Mrs. Robinson; Carter J. Davis (*Humble Boy* at Actors Rep) in the Dustin Hoffman role of Benjamin Braddock; Interplayers veteran John Oswald (*Moonlight and Magnolias* at Actors Rep) as Mr. Robinson; and Emily Cleveland in Katherine Ross's role as Elaine Robinson.
Also with Tony Caprile and Tamara Schupman as Mr. and Mrs. Braddock, and, in smaller roles, Dan Anderson, Angela Dierdorff, David Rideout, David McCallum

Tickets: $10-$21
Call: 455-PLAY

[ photo by Austin Odell: Karen Kalensky as Mrs. Robinson and Carter J. Davis as Benjamin in *The Graduate,* Interplayers, April-May 2009

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

*Love Letters* in Cheney, May 1-17

A.R. Gurney's *Love Letters* presented by StageWest Community Theater
Directed by Charles Kenfield

Fridays-Saturdays at 7 pm on May 1-2, May 8-9, and May 15-16
Sundays at 3 pm on May 10 and 17 only

Tickets: $10

Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 639 Elm St., Cheney
Call 235-4575

[ photo: A.R. "Pete" Gurney, from ]

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AACT Region IX a success in CdA

The Driftwood Players of Edmonds, Wash., will be sending their production of *Minnesota Moon* on to nationals in Tacoma in June, having won last weekend's American Association of Community Theater Region IX competition at Coeur d'Alene High School.
The runner-up was The Coaster Theater of Cannon Beach, Oregon's production of *The Cemetery Club.*

Minnesota Moon also won Best Actor and Best Director
The Cemetery Club also won Best Ensemble and two Best Actress awards
Best Supporting Actor went to Crazy Eights from Columbia Arts Stage Troupe (CAST) of Hood River, Oregon
Theaters from Bremerton, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho, also competed.

Judges included adjudicators from Portland, Wyoming, and Spokane’s own Susan Hardie

Brian Doig, artistic director of Lake City Playhouse, which hosted this regional festival, comments that "Everything went smoothly. There were no issues on load-ins or load-outs. Everything went on time or was early."

CdA won't be hosting another regional festival for another four years at the very soonest, but Doig felt that the facilities at CdA High School were "just the right size for this festival" -- even if they had to disable the school bells and intercom announcements so as not to be distractions.

Surprisingly, the winning show had a $100 budget -- and only spent $36 of it. The Driftwood Players, Doig explains, have a five-show season plus a series of Monday-Tuesday shows that are offbeat and low-budget.
*Minnesota Moon* is about two guys who have graduated from high school -- one an intellectual, one a redneck -- and how they deal with their memories of mutual friends who went off to join the Army and who got killed in a motorcycle accident. Doig says "It's about how you let go, how you say goodbye, about how men use bravado to avoid being emotional. It was funny and touching," and, in his opinion, the most polished of the five shows in Region IX.

Doig regrets that "we didn't get to represent Lake City Playhouse artistically, but we did represent it well administratively. Everyone had a good time, everyone got a fair shake." [Lake City's production of *K2* deferred to Lewiston when there was a misunderstanding about how two Idaho shows could not advance to regionals unless there was an Idaho state festival first, but Lewiston couldn't come up for four days straight for a state festival and THEN a regional, so Lake City graciously bowed out and allowed the Lewiston production of *Cat on a Hot Tin Roof* to be Idaho's representative at the regional competition.]

The 2011 AACT nationals have been announced for Rochester, New York.

Doig says that Idaho is hopeful of sending 7-9 productions to their state competiton next time, “though I’ll believe it when I see it.” Alaska's representatives have said that they should have three or four productions at the state level next time (two years from now).
[photo from Driftwood Players' *Minnesota Moon* ]

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Monday, April 20, 2009

*Ruined* wins

As predicted, Lynn Nottage's *Ruined* won the Pulitzer today.
*Becky Shaw* and "In the Heights* were the other finalists.
Chair of the jury was Dominic Papatola, with whom Bobo has had a beer or two. Also on the jury was David Henry Hwang, with whom Bobo has not had a drink of any kind, not even a PBR.
Chris Jones' interview with Lynn Nottage and *Ruined* video here.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Shanley play at Empyrean, April 23-26

The Way Off-Broadway Theatre Group continues bringing contemporary plays to Spokane's best coffeehouse on Thursday-Friday, April 23-24, at 7:30 pm; on Saturday, April 25, at 6:30 pm; and on Sunday, April 26, at 4 pm, with performances at Empyrean, 154 S. Madison St.

The show this time is John Patrick Shanley's “The Dreamer Examines His Pillow” (1985), written just a couple of years before Shanley won the Oscar for best original screenplay for *Moonstruck* but a couple of decades before his recent stage and film success with *Doubt.*
Tickets: $7; $5, students. Call 313-6551 or write

Tommy lives in a shabby apartment and imagines himself to be an artist. Donna wants to be his girlfriend, but isn't pleased that Tommy has been fooling around with Donna's 16-year-old sister. So she recruits her dad (played by Gonzaga theater professor Brian Russo) to clarify the situation. With all the philosophizing, misogyny and resentments, "Dreamer" shapes up as "an anti-romantic comedy." Performances will be just 75 minutes long.
[ photo: John Patrick Shanley at ]

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Next season's road shows in Spokane

WestCoast Entertainment has announced its 2009-10 Best of Broadway Spokane season.

Sept. 1-6
Fiddler on the Roof, with Topol

Oct. 24
The Chad Mitchell Trio

Nov. 11-Dec. 6
The Lion King

Feb. 11-14, 2010
Avenue Q

April 8-11, 2010
Little House on the Prairie: The Musical

Bobo must pronounce himself underwhelmed. Chad Mitchell and Lion King, been here before, and recently. Little House the Musical I don't know -- and rather liked the song sung on the trailer, projected on a large screen for subscribers to see on the INB stage this afternoon -- but it's another example of dredging up every known baby boomer TV show and movie and musicalizing it just to make a buck because boy, there sure are a lot of middle-aged folks with disposable income these days. Fiddler is one of my most beloved musicals - the end of the golden era, the guts to end unhappily, nearly every one of the first-act songs a classic -- and it'll be fun to see Topol in the role (though he does turn 74 in September). Avenue Q is the highlight of today's announcements. (And Lion King, if you haven't seen it -- Disney and Bobo may have stomped too hard on the publicity, but it's still a very good show. I just wish it were returning about five years from now and not already.)

Note that late Sept./early Oct., along with Jan., March and May 2010 are all open, so we're likely to hear some more announcements. There's hope.

The advertising campaign that we'll see more of ("Have you been ... amazed ... excited ... fulfilled today? [Actually, no, I haven't.] Experience Broadway. See a show!") is a textbook case of marketing to theater newbies as opposed to veteran audience members. (I'm sure I read somewhere that -- no, I heard Ben Cameron say this last year, the former head of TCG -- that if you want to draw in new audiences, you emphasize how emotionally moving a theater experience can be -- whereas, if you're chasing after theater aficionados' money, you underscore performances, actors, sets -- how these upcoming shows fit into the tradition. The idea is that rare theatergoers don't much care about all that crap, having little experience to contextualize it with.)


Five AACT performances, April 17-18 in CdA

Lake City Playhouse hosts the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) Region IX Festival
Coeur d'Alene High School, 5530 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene

Friday, April 17
11 am Bremerton Community Theatre, Bremerton, Wash., "Overtones'
12:15 pm CAST (Columbia Arts Stage Troupe), Hood River, Oregon, "Crazy Eights"
7:30 pm Driftwood Players, Edmonds, Wash., "Minnesota Moon"
9 pm The Coaster Theatre, Cannon Beach, Oregon, "The Cemetery Club"

Saturday April 18
1 pm Lewiston Civic Theatre, Lewiston, Idaho, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

$5, at the door

Call: (208) 667-1323

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

auditions in Pullman

Audition at Pullman Civic Theater for *Charlotte's Web* on April 27-29 at 6:30 pm (callbacks on April 29 at same time).
Performances on July 17-26.
Both adults and children needed.
Directed by Courtney Smith.
Writer or call (509) 332-8406.

Audition for *Greater Tuna* on May 4-6 at 6:30 pm. Performances on Sept. 18-26.
Prepare one comic and one dramatic monologue.
Director: Gary Thoren

1220 NW Nye St., Pullman, Wash.

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Frontrunners for the Tony

The Envelope at the L.A. Times lists plays by Horton Foote, Neil Labute and (especially) Yasmina Reza as likely Tony nominees for Best (straight, as opposed to gay?) Play.
Announced on May 5, awarded on June 7.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Charles Dickens to appear at EWU

Friday, April 24, at 7:30 pm, Showalter Hall, free

Giles Davies, formerly of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival (where, in Oct. '07, Davies appeared in a one-man show adapted from Mary Shelley's *Frankenstein*).
He'll perform:
"The Death of Nancy" from *Oliver Twist* (in which Davies plays four characters; covers up to the unfortunate end of Bill Sykes)
"The Uncommercial Traveler" (in which Dickens recounts visiting Boston and New York, circa 1859 -- very funny now, but considered insulting at the time

Call: 359-2459

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Cheyenne at Carnegie

How did Cusick's Cheyenne Jackson get to Carnegie Hall? He practiced.
That *Xanadu* / Nathan Lane commercial thing didn't hurt either.

Anyway, on Monday, April 27, Mr. Jackson will be singing in "Musical Journeys" at the famous concert hall (located at 57th and Seventh), along with the New York Pops and the likes of Michael Feinstein, Anika Noni Rose, Idina Menzel, Ashford & Simpson, and Brian d'Arcy James.

The big time, I believe, has been hit.

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Pulitzer short list: no Labute

In the N.Y. Post, Michael Riedel boosts Neil LaBute and bashes Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The gist: Lynn Nottage's *Ruined* (about rape victims in the Congo) and Gina Gionfriddo's *Becky Shaw* (drunken disorderliness among thirtysomethings) seem to be Pulitzer front runners, with LaBute's "reasons to be pretty" and Miranda's "In the Heights" losing ground - and Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage" ineligible.

*Playbill* presents nothin' but the facts, ma'am, here.
See the same publication's prognostications here.

[ photo: Lynn Nottage ]

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

review of *Shakespeare in Hollywood*

on the Main Stage at Spokane Civic Theater through April 19

Make the screwball even screwier, and director Wes Deitrick will have created a complete comedy in the farcical romp through A Midsummer Night's Dream that is playwright Ken Ludwig's Shakespeare in Hollywood (at the Civic through April 19).
Deitrick kicks off the show delightfully with fake vintage newsreels of the Civic's cast, shot as if they're arriving at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Ludwig's comedy, you see, imagines the what-if when Oberon and Puck — the characters ... you know, Shakespeare's real-life (!) fairies — were to time-travel to 1935 and get mixed up in Max Reinhardt's mistaken-identity Midsummer movie, with its art deco look and celebrities substituting for experienced stage actors.
Ludwig's script calls for a lot of exposition, so we'll be up on who the studio mogul, director, actors and moral crusader were. Fortunately, most of the narration falls to Jamie Flanery as Max Reinhardt, the Austrian director on the run from the Nazis and hoping to make a prestige picture. Flanery deadpans his jokes, fuming over these American philistines almost as much as he does his German oppressors.
The master Shakespearean here is Damon C. Mentzer as Oberon (low bow, distinguished British baritone), King of the Fairies. At various points, Mentzer gives us snippets of Oberon's Midsummer poetry, lending a little plausibility to an airy spirit being mistaken for a real-life actor. When he cuddles cheek to cheek with Kristin McKernan (as ingénue Olivia de Havilland, all quivering blonde ringlets), you can practically see the glints on Mentzer's teeth.
As the producer's main squeeze, Anne Lillian Mitchell brays her Bronx accent and sashays her star quality all over the office of producer Jack Warner (Ric Benson). Like Judy Holiday in Born Yesterday, she wants so much to master all this high-falutin' Shake-speah, only to let the guttersnipe show through when it's least convenient. Playing a broad with pretensions, Mitchell conveyed both stupidity and vulnerability in an effective star turn.
As Puck — Oberon's merry prankster of a sidekick — diminutive Kathie Doyle-Lipe manages at times, however, to be as bothersome as Mickey Rooney was in the ‘30s movie. (And if you've seen Rooney's pop-up gopher mannerisms and hyper-ventilating, screechy cackles, you know how annoying scene-stealing mania can be.) Even in a gender-bending screwball comedy in which big lug David Czinger spends most of the evening in drag (Rhine maiden braids, plodding steps and balloon breasts), it seems off-key to stick Doyle-Lipe in a male role and have her character trolling for “hot chicks” at Hollywood parties. Doyle-Lipe makes a cute dwarf tourist, sauntering offstage with her head and sunglasses waggling, but Puck isn't the focus of every scene he/she is in, and gofers shouldn’t giggle like maniacs.
Deitrick directs inventively, with Puck making entrances and a final exit in surprising ways. But he needs to demand a more frenetic pace from his cast; in particular, in two scenes with the four Warner Brothers, cues need to be picked up much more quickly.
David Baker's garden-party set for Act Two displayed marble-and-palm-tree elegance — along with the cutest little illuminated Hollywoodland sign on a distant hillside.
In the finale, Ludwig calls for farewells that are supposed to be full of regret but feel unearned. In a similar way, the hijinks of the Civic’s Shakespeare in Hollywood, often very funny, need to bust through their restraints.

[ photo: Jamie Flanery as Max Reinhardt and Anne Mitchell as Lydia in Ken Ludwig's *Shakespeare in Hollywood,* April 2009, Spokane Civic Theater, directed by Wes Deitrick ]

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

*Shakespeare in Hollywood* at the Civic

Ken Ludwig's screwball comedy based on the 1935 movie version of *A Midsummer Night's Dream*, commissioned by the RSC but originally produced at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in 2003

April 3-19, 2009
directed by Wes Deitrick

[ photo by Chris Bovey for The Inlander: Damon Mentzer as Oberon and Kathie Doyle-Lipe as Puck (?) ]

Visit Ken Ludwig's official Website here.

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Ken Ludwig's farce at the Civic

a 2003 screwball comedy that asks, What if Puck and Oberon (the "actual fairies") invaded the set for Max Reinhardt's 1935 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring Mickey Rooney and James Cagney?

three ass heads, or one?

Screwball comedy meets Shakespeare's *A Midsummer Night's Dream* at Spokane Civic Theatre, April 3-19, 2009
directed by Wes Deitrick