Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Civic announces 2010-11 season

on the Main Stage:

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Sept. 24-Oct. 24, 2010)
Written by Alan Janes and Rob Bettinson
Directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson

West Side Story, in concert (Oct. 29-30)
Based on a Conception of Jerome Robbins
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson
Conducted by Max Mendez

White Christmas (Nov. 19-Dec. 19)
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed by Troy Nickerson

Don't Dress for Dinner (Jan. 14-30, 2011)
by Marc Camoletti
Directed by Thomas Heppler

Nunsense (Feb. 18-March 6, 2011)
by Dan Goggin
Directed by Troy Nickerson

Kaleidoscope 2011 State Theatre Festival Competition (March 11-13, 2011)

The Sisters Rosensweig (April 8-23, 2011)
by Wendy Wasserstein
Directed by Marianne McLaughlin

The Full Monty (May 20-June 19, 2011)
Music and lyrics by David Yazbek
Book by Terrence McNally
Directed by Troy Nickerson

in the Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre:

The Cemetery Club (Oct. 22-Nov. 14, 2010)
by Ivan Menchell
Directed by Heather McHenry-Kroetch

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Jan. 28-Feb. 20, 2011)
Music and lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman
Directed by George Green

Metamorphoses (March 25-April 17, 2011)
("The Gods vs. Mortals with a full-size swimming pool and rain in the Studio Theatre")
by Mary Zimmerman
Directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson

Frost/Nixon (May 6-28, 2011)
by Peter Morgan
Directed by TBA
All titles subject to acquisition of performance rights.

{logo from a 2004 production of the Camoletti farce at Carpenter Square Theater in Oklahoma City}


Your special-memory plays

In the New York Times, Patrick Healy reviews The Play That Changed My Life (ed. Ben Hodges, Applause, $19), with playwrights recalling ... well, the title kinda says it.

So what are your special-memory plays? Do write in with your witty reminiscences.

OK, I'll go. The Music Man and Damn Yankees, because I saw them in Anaheim when I was 10 and couldn't believe that real live actors could strut across a (circular) stage so colorfully — and lie and flirt and be naughty, all while I was seated right next to my parents.

Romeo and Juliet, because I took a lot of crap from other jocks for liking it when I was 14, and because I had a crush on my English teacher (so I imagined her sort of being like Juliet when she's all standoffish at the Capulets' ball), and because I had no idea what they were talking about, but I could tell it had to do with a teenage girl really, really liking a boy, and I wanted some girl (frankly, any girl -- I was hormonal and rather desperate) to really, really like me.

[See also this brilliant idea for a play, in which the Nature Theater of Oklahoma asks people for their (partial, completely wrong) memories of R&J and then turned them into a play.
We could totally imitate them: Everybody's forced to read Julius Caesar, or Hamlet, or A Midsummer Night's Dream. Anybody want to join my interview squad? We pick a play or musical, then tape the responses, then put on a show. C'mon, kids, get out your tape recorders...]

The plays of Christopher Durang, especially Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You and The Marriage of Bette and Boo, because clearly he and I shared the guilty Catholic schoolboy thing, and because he blended touching sentiment with rage against these mediocrities that we settle for.

And Tom Stoppard, because in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and The Real Inspector Hound, he took literary monuments and twisted them inside-out in ways that taught me more about them while still making me giggle with surprise.

OK, so again: Your memories of stand-out plays?

[ photo: Paula Vogel, who teaches playwriting at Yale, wrote the introduction for this book, mentors young playwrights, and has written a few plays herself; from broadwayworld.com ]

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Hugh Grant hates going to the theatre

An article in The Guardian about why Hugh Grant dislikes theater contains a wake-up call for those of us who love it:

(a snippet from blogger Nosheen Iqbal's commentary:)
The level of engagement – and fiscal investment – needed for a night at the theatre is often much greater than that demanded by listening to an album, watching a film or reading a book. The frustration caused by having to disengage with it once you've realised it's not your cup of tea – walking out at the interval instead of turning it off or flinging it across the room – is greater still.
I love theatre with a passion that hinges on the nerdy, but even I'd say that the ratio of hits to misses put on in an average year is way lower than it should be.

In other words, we all have the obligation to give theater our all. Because every bad night out just turns off yet another potential long-term playgoer.

[ image: from realself.com ]

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Popular plays not yet done in Spokane

Every year, American Theatre magazine publishes the most frequently produced plays at its professional member theaters (always excluding Shakespeare and Christmas Carol-derived shows, which would otherwise be at or near the top).
Bobo has compiled a list here of the nationally popular shows that nonetheless have never been produced in the Spokane-CdA-Moscow region.

Apologies in advance for the mistakes I’ve made: If I’ve listed a show that you’ve done here as never having been produced hereabouts, please write in and tell me what an idiot I am.
(The Civic had done Nuncrackers 10 years before CdA Summer Theater, for example.)

I don’t know all these scripts. (I’ve never even heard of Heather Raffo or her play.) Naturally, the closer we get to the present, the less opportunity there has been to mount productions, and so the lists for recent years are longer.
They’re listed in reverse chronology, so when I note that a particular show is listed “again,” that’s in moving UP the list from the bottom.

Conclusions? Primarily, why hasn’t anyone done The SantaLand Diaries? (It’s listed every year from 2001-09 except 2008 — some people must see value in it. And especially with Sedaris appearing here again in May.)
The list, it seems to me, presents oodles of opportunities.

Bobo isn’t saying, however, that all these shows ought to be done locally. For example, The Cryptogram, Yellowman and Bad Dates — I’ve read Yellowman and seen the other two (in Wash., D.C. and Portland), and can’t say I’d recommend them.

Not saying these are my favorites, just pointing out cast sizes:
Later Life, 4; Arms and the Man, about 7; Gross Indecencies, 9; Bat Boy, about 9, plus chorus (but it's hard to tell -- there's lots of doubling); The Pillowman, 7; Opus, four middle-aged guys and one 25-ish woman; Shipwrecked!, 3; Speech & Debate, 3 teens and one middle-aged actor; Dead Man's Cell Phone, 6; Topdog/Underdog, 2

2010 (that is, the 2009-10 theater season)
(previously relayed in this blog on Oct. 9 )
boom, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
The Seafarer, again
Speech & Debate, by Stephen Karam
Dead Man’s Cell Phone, by Sarah Ruhl
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, by Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn (but with productions scheduled in Moscow in July 2010 and at the Civic in Jan. 2011)
Around the World in 80 Days, adapt. Mark Brown from Jules Verne
Opus, by Michael Hollinger
Shipwrecked! an Entertainment, by Donald Margulies
Yankee Tavern, by Steven Dietz
Black Pearl Sings! by Frank Higgins
Boeing-Boeing, trans. Beverly Cross from Marc Camoletti
(The inspiration for *Speech & Debate* came from here in Spokane. So why hasn't it been done here? Karam only moved it to Salem, Oregon, because of a bunch of witches.)

The SantaLand Diaries
, again
The Seafarer, by Conor McPherson
Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl
To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted by Christopher Sergel
Mauritius, by Teresa Rebeck
Radio Golf, by August Wilson
(The Seafarer just struck me as the Faust legend rehashed. I’m not a McPherson fan.

9 Parts of Desire, by Heather Raffo
A Year with Frog and Toad, again
The Little Dog Laughed, by Douglas Carter Beane
The Piano Lesson, again
Gem of the Ocean, again

I Am My Own Wife, again
The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh
Santaland Diaries, again
Gem of the Ocean, by August Wilson
Intimate Apparel, again
Tuesdays with Morrie, again

Intimate Apparel, by Lynn Nottage
Crowns, by Regina Taylor (again)
I Am My Own Wife, by Doug Wright
Frozen, by Bryony Lavery
A Number, by Caryl Churchill
Bad Dates, by Teresa Rebeck
Bug, by Tracy Letts
The Santaland Diaries, again
A Year with Frog and Toad, again

Anna in the Tropics, by Nilo Cruz
Crowns, by Regina Taylor
The Goat, again
Santaland Diaries, again
Tuesdays with Morrie
A Year with Frog and Toad, by Willie and Robert Reale
(sorry if I’m mistaken on this one, and it has been done locally)

Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks
The Santaland Diaries, again
The Goat, or, Who Is Sylvia? by Edward Albee
Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith
Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall
Nickel and Dimed, from Barbara Ehrenreich
(The Bill Pullman/Mercedes Ruehl production of The Goat premiered in early 2002. Lots of broken crockery, some incest, bestiality and a goat carcass in this one.
Blue-Orange is a British health system play when we need a good one on our American health care problems. The 2001 London production had Bill Nighy as the careerist psychologist and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the patient who thinks he’s related to Idi Amin. 3m, often done in the round.
The plays by Wilson, Parks, Nottage and Taylor, by and large require a pool of talented black actors, which Spokane is not diverse enough to offer. Topdog, though: only two men needed.)

Copenhagen, by Michael Frayn
The Santaland Diaries
Bat Boy: The Musical, by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming and Laurence O’Keefe
(another head-scratcher. But didn’t UI do it in Moscow? Bobo saw part of a rehearsal at Salt Lake Acting Co. -- hilarious, outrageous, toe-tapping fun)
My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra
(was the cabaret show in the Peacock Room based on this?)
The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson

Santaland Diaries and Fuddy Meers, again
the musical version (?) of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Closer by Patrick Marber
Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire
The Santaland Diaries, adapt. Joe Mantello from David Sedaris
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
(Fuddy Meers premiered at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1999. It proved to be too wacky for the Brits, who never warmed to the play. 4m, 3f. Claire has amnesia; the plot’s too convoluted by half; but the the way in which the gradual resolution of plot details parallels Claire’s awakening awareness is kind of cool.)

Gross Indecency and The Old Settler, again

Gross Indecency by Moises Kaufman
The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood
(Gross Indecency has a cast of 9m, but it’s done virtually in readers theater style. A gripping courtroom drama with, of course, the anti-discrimination-against-gays angle.
The Old Settler is set in Harlem, 1943 -- two spinster sisters deal with the new man in their midst.)

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
Valley Song by Athol Fugard
Skylight by David Hare
Old Wicked Songs by John Marans
(Skylight starred Michael Dumbledore Gambon in London in 1995-96; he argues politics with his former lover, who’s teaching poor kids now; 2 m, 1f, simple set.
Old Wicked Songs was a Pulitzer nominee. 2m. In Vienna, a 50ish music teacher tries to instruct a 25 yr old pianist, with complications having to do with anti-Semitism.
Valley Song is Fugard’s post-apartheid “tone poem” for his stand-in, an old white man, and two “coloreds.”)

The Cryptogram, by David Mamet
Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally

'96 (that is, the 1995-96 theater season)
Later Life by A.R. Gurney
Angels in America by Tony Kushner (Part One)
Arms and the Man, by GBS
Three Tall Women by Edward Albee

From the Mississippi Delta by Endesha Ida Mae Holland
(Did Onyx produce?)

95-98: Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird
(four years in a row; and again in 2008-09, but presumably to be produced here this Feb. during The Big Read)
For a quick look at all the wonderful plays synopsized in the Best Plays Theater Yearbooks for circa 2001-08, go here.

Terry Teachout in the WSJ ruminates on these same lists' national implications.

[ image: Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, at Boise Contemporary Theatre, 2008; set design by Jeremy Winchester; visit jwinchesterdesign.com ]

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Upcoming theater in early 2010

Spokane Civic Theatre
Curtains (Jan 15-Feb 6)
Sylvia (Jan 29-Feb 21)
Steel Magnolias (Feb 26-March 21)
The Spitfire Grill (March 19-April 11)
Escanaba in da Moonlight (April 9-25)
Lips Together, Teeth Apart (April 30-May 20)
Annie, Get Your Gun (May 21-June 20)

Interplayers Professional Theatre
Love Letters (Jan. 29-30)
Honky Tonk Angels (Feb 4-20)
Art (March 11-27)
Eleemosynary (April 15-May 1)
Psychopathia Sexualis (May 13-29)

Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre
The 29th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
Pump Boys and Dinettes

Lake City Playhouse
Leader of the Pack (Jan 14-31)
High School Musical (Feb 18-March 4)
Amadeus (March 25-April 3)

Jekyll & Hyde (April 29-May 23)
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (June 3-20)

Art as Theatre, Panida Theater, Sandpoint, Idaho
Red Tape (Jan 15-23)

Pullman Civic Theatre
(dates TBA)
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged
Alice in Wonderland
Marvin's Room
Inspecting Carol

Regional Theatre of the Palouse, Pullman
Enchanted April (Feb. 11-20)
Guys and Dolls (April 15-24)

Best of Broadway Spokane
Smothers Brothers (Jan. 30)
Avenue Q (Feb. 11-14)
Little House on the Prairie (April 8-11)

Idaho Rep, Moscow
uidaho.edu/class/theatre; (208) 885-6465
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 28-July 2)
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (July 7-18)
The Dining Room (July 14-31)
As You Like It (July 22-Aug. 1)

Ignite! Community Theatre
Our Leading Lady, Jan. 22, 24
Love, Sex and the IRS (March 12, 14)
Macbeth (May 14, 16)

Spokane Children's Theatre
Charlotte's Web (Feb. 14-28 at SCC Lair)
The Nightingale (March 20-28 at SFCC)
The Boxcar Children (May 22-June 6 at SFCC)

Christian Youth Theater Spokane
Jan. 8, auditions for The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz (Feb. 26-March 7 at the Bing)
Pocahontas (May 21-30 at the Bing)

Theater Arts for Children, Spokane Valley
Beauty and the Beast (auditions, Jan. 3-4; performances, Feb. 26-March 14)
The Last Gladiator (auditions, March 21-22; performances, May 7-23)

Intiman Theater, Seattle
Paradise Lost (March 19-April 25)
The Thin Place, by Sonya Schneider (May 14-June 13)
Ruined (July 2-Aug. 8)
A Doctor in Spite of Himself, adapted by Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp (Sept. 3-Oct. 10)
The Scarlet Letter, adapted by Naomi Iizuka (Oct. 22-Dec. 5)
Seattle Rep
Speech & Debate (Jan 15-Feb 21)
Glengarry Glen Ross (Feb 5-28)
Fences (March 26-April 18)
An Iliad (April 9-May 16)

Portland Center Stage
Snow Falling on Cedars (Jan. 12-Feb. 7)
The Receptionist (Jan. 26-March 21)
The 39 Steps (Feb. 23-March 21)
The Chosen (April 6-May 22)
Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure (April 20-June 13)
The 29th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee (May 25-June 27)

Artists Rep, Portland
Design for Living (Jan. 5-Feb. 7)
Othello (April 13-May 16)
Gracie and the Atom (April 27-May 30)

Lord Leebrick Theatre Company, Eugene
Speed-the-Plow (Jan. 15-Feb 6)
The Four of Us (March 5-27)
Eurydice (May 14-June 5)
Gonzaga University
Weaving Our Sisters' Voices, Jan 29-Feb 7
Lysistrata (March 25-29)

Whitworth University
Is He Dead? (March 5-13)

EWU, Cheney
Romeo and Juliet (March 3-15)
Almost, Maine, by John Cariani (May 7-15)

The Comedy of Errors (March 5-15)
The Insanity of Mary Girard, by Jamie Robertson (May 28-June 7)

Sixth Street Melodrama, Wallace, Idaho
I Do! I Do! (Jan. 8-24)
Dearly Beloved (auditions, Jan. 5-6; performances, March 5-24)

West Central Community Center
Blackbird (Feb. 27 and March 6)

Capitol Theater, Yakima
The Wedding Singer, Jan 1-2, 2010
Annie, Feb 9-11, 2010
Avenue Q, Feb 17-18, 2010
Camelot, March 5-6, 2010
Dixie's Tupperware Party, March 9-14, 2010
Cabaret, April 13-14, 2010

Merc Playhouse, Twisp

Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise
A Midsummer Night's Dream (June 4-July 30)
Bat Boy: The Musical (June 11-July 24)
An Ideal Husband (July 16-Aug. 27)
Othello (Aug. 6-29)
The Woman in Black (Sept. 3-26)

Boise Contemporary Theater
At Home at the Zoo, by Edward Albee (Jan 27-Feb 20)
Namaste Man, written and perf. by Andrew Weems (April 7-May 1)

Opera House Theater Company, Phillipsburg, Montana
(60 miles SE of Missoula)
June 25-Sept. 6:
Having a Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Here
Vaudeville Variety Extravaganza

Bigfork Summer Playhouse, Bigfork, MT
(15 miles SE of Kalispell; on the NE shore of Flathead Lake)

Keller Auditorium, Portland
Xanadu, Jan 12-17
Legally Blonde, Feb 16-21
Cats, March 23-28
Dreamgirls, April 13-18
Cirque Dreams Illumination: May 25-30
The Lion King: June 16-July 11

The Paramount Theater, Seattle
Jesus Christ Superstar (with Ted Neely), Jan. 12
Annie, Feb. 12-14
Chicago, March 3-7
A Prairie Home Companion (with Garrison Keillor), March 27 and April 3
Dreamgirls, April 6-11
Fiddler on the Roof, May 25-30
Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, June 3

Montana Rep, Missoula
Leading Ladies (national tour), Jan. 26-Feb. 6
Glengarry Glen Ross, Feb. 23-March 6
Three one-acts, April 6-17

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland
Well, Feb 25-June 18
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Feb 20-July 4
Twelfth Night, June 1-Oct 8
Henry IV, Part One, June 2-Oct 9
The Merchant of Venice, June 3-Oct 10
Hamlet, Feb 19-Oct 30
She Loves Me, April 21-Oct 30
Pride and Prejudice, Feb 21-Oct 31
Throne of Blood, July 21-Oct 31
Ruined, March 24-Oct 31
American Night, June 29-Oct 31

Company of Fools, Hailey, Idaho
The Glass Menagerie, Feb 24-March 14

Missoula Children's Theater, Montana

Harlequin Productions, Olympia
End Days, Jan 28-Feb 20
Rabbit Hole, March 11-April 3
Six Hotels, world premiere by Israel Horovitz, May 6-29
Sixties Kicks, June 17-July 18
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Aug 26-Sept. 18
The Taming of the Shrew, Oct 7-30

Taproot Theatre, Seattle
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis, Jan 27-Feb 27
Brooklyn Boy, March 17-April 17

Book-It Repertory Theater, Seattle
The River Why, Feb 9-March 7
The Cider House Rules, Part One: Here in St. Cloud, June 9-July 12

Seattle Shakespeare Company
Electra, Jan 7-31
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, March 18-April 11
Henry V, April 15-May 9

Wing-It Productions, Seattle
Clues, Jan 7-Feb 12 (murder mystery, based on the board game)
Go, Tigers! March 4-April 23 (soccer game)
Lost Folio, May 6-21 (improvised Shakespearean tragedy)
Inferno, June 3-July 23 (improv in Hell)
Men of Action, Aug 5-Sept. 18 (Extraordinary Gentlemen raid the Lost Ark)
Unspeakable Horrors, Sept. 30-Nov. 19 (based on H.P. Lovecraft)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Actors and techies: Buck up

Charles McNulty delivers a pep talk to theater-lovers in the L.A. Times — bloated musicals, yes, but also innovative ones; more than half a dozen promising young playwrights; and a warning that times only seem to be bad because, you know, so did the Panic of 1893 at the time.

It's time for an end-of-year shout-out to all those Spokane-area theater artists who labor on and on for less and less and nothing. When has it ever NOT been a time of crisis in the theater world? Your contributions keep a 2,000-year-old international venture going. Keep putting on the eye liner and God bless you.

[ photo: playwright Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo); from secondstagetheatre.com in New York City ]

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Best of Seattle theater in 2009

Misha Berson finds a category for just about everything that was good this year.
King + Pierce counties = about 4.5 times as many people as Spokane + Kootenai counties.
Feels as if they have more than 4.5 times as much theater.
(Not whining, just pointing out theater's vibrancy even in hard times.)

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rock concerts at Interplayers

Tim_Robbins has some ideas about how to reinvigorate theaters and their bottom lines:

** pay-what-you-can nights
** host pop-music nights with marquee (or at least locally famous) names (to make up for the lost revenue from the cheap-tickets nights)

People avoid going to places they're not familiar with. (To repeat myself: Years ago, when I required my students at Whitworth and NIC to attend plays at Interplayers, it wasn't theater-aversion or even cost that was the sticking point -- it was logistics: Where do I park? How must I behave? What do I wear? You have to walk up the stairs to get to the auditorium?)

You get people into your space once, and they're much more likely to return.
And why are Catarina and the new Empyrean and the Knit and Irv's hosting all the music shows? Why couldn't the buy-a-book-to-see-Sherman-and-Jess reading at Auntie's have been held at the Civic, or at Interplayers? Why not host Tuesday night or Sunday night concerts at Interplayers?
Imagine a dual-concert-with-booze party at Interplayers: a poppy group in the Welch Auditorium, a grittier act down in the scene shop, a liquored-up party buzzing in the Gellhorn Gallery, maybe some visual art on display to divert people as they go up and down stairs. (And especially on Visual Arts Tour nights -- what I'm describing is exactly the vibe that the last Terrain show had.) And so maybe the next time a 20- or 30-something hears about some play about a dude who bought at all-white painting at Interplayers, at least they're familiar with how to get there. And if it's only $9 (the cost of a movie) on a Friday night -- bingo, you've got a first-time theater-goer, along with all the attendant word-of-mouth.

Robbins also makes the point about our first experiences of theater tending to be amateurish (which is not the case with movies, TV, music, books, or visual art).
I'd add the "school-plays-and-Phantom phenomenon": Many people go to theater primarily to see a) people they know or b) huge spectaculars. Theaters can compete on a) by making their actors visible and accessible: videos, post-performance chats (and why are there never PRE-performance chats? the Symphony does 'em), public appearances.
And huge-special-effects movies, along with the mega-musicals, have created an expectation among many that theater is primarily about delivering the "wow!" factor. But theater has lost that battle to the 3D Avatars of this world. Concentrate instead on the verbal, the metaphorical, the dreamy. We can win on this issue, folks -- it's like the familiar situation of parents buying the fancy, expensive toy for Junior ... except Junior is more interested in the box the toy came in than in the toy itself. Why? Because playing with the box appeals to Junior's imagination.
There are a lot of adults out there (and not just in their 50s and 60s) who want to use their imaginations still.

For more on the WTF Festival, go here. A snip:
Tim Robbins: "So in the spirit of rebellion and our history of survival, we are going to produce 3 plays, host great artists and authors, screen free documentaries, have open forums for Veterans, have live music nights with great songwriters, present poetry and dance, screen ridiculously funny movies, host talkbacks with directors and try to raise enough money to survive this crap economy."

When Bobo saw a show at the Actors Gang in Feb. '08, both Robbins and Susan Sarandon were there. They were both wearing Converse low-tops. Both of them averted their eyes, trying to act all cool, as if they didn't know I was there.
People in L.A. are like that when it comes to Spokane celebrities.

[photo: Tim Robbins on a non-Converse night; from igossip.com]

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

*Nuncrackers* photos

Dec. 18-19 at 7:30 pm and Dec. 20 at 2 pm
at NIC's Boswell Hall in CdA
by Dan Goggin
directed and choreographed by Roger Welch
CdA Summer Theater's second-ever midwinter production (after last year's White Christmas)

with Kathie Doyle-Lipe as Sister Mary Regina, the Reverend Mother
Julie Powell as Sister Mary Hubert
Krista Kubicek as Sister Robert Anne
Tamara Schupman as Sister Mary Paul
Andrew Ware Lewis as Father Virgil
Jack Bannon as the Narrator
and four roles for kids, played by Bridget Erb, Aaron Baldwin, Evan Schultz and Kelly Condon
[photos for The Inlander by Young Kwak]

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Teasing Cheyenne

The Inlander has a cover story on Cheyenne Jackson, printed now and on stands tomorrow. The story was written by Daniel Walters, who presents a concise approach to how long and hard Jackson worked to get where he is today: from Newport to Spokane and CdA-area theaters -- and then, after 9/11, on to New York, success on Broadway and now on 30 Rock.
Bobo has to own up to professional envy: I wish I'd written this story. But Daniel, as always, does thorough reporting and then artfully presents his findings, starting out with a Cheyenne fanatic, backing up for the rural-boy-in-conservative-small-town backstory, the difficulty of his coming out, then ruminating on questions like how great a part good looks, luck and sheer hard work have played in Cheyenne's success. We streamlined the draft from 3,800 to 2,800 words, and I think it reads better now.
And yes, a couple of local theater luminaries are quoted.

I'm glad Daniel jumped on this story, because this is only (by my reckoning) the ninth time (in 16 years) that The Inlander has featured theater on its cover: July '95 on Bent at the Civic's Studio; early '99 with Patty Duke in the Civic's Glass Menagerie; Dec. '02 for Rent; both times Lion King has visited; both times Phantom has visited; Les Miz in Aug. '08; and then this story.

Some factoids and quotes about Cheyenne Jackson:
For both Xanadu and All Shook Up, the intended leads dropped out (because of injury, and other reasons), and so Cheyenne, who'd been understudying or preparing the role got in. Daniel's story has a section on how Cheyenne has enjoyed some good luck — but also endured a lot of hard work.
Cheyenne was sometimes referred to as "the Xanadude."
Cheyenne got a little racy in his patter at Feinstein's last March, even dropped an F-bomb. Barbara Cook (who won a Tony for Music Man 52 years ago, and who's a great cabaret singer) is sitting in the front row. She F-bombed right back at him.
Cheyenne took a chance and moved to New York when he was 28 — a little older than all those Juilliard kids, as he says, but also with more life experience. Less than six weeks later, he was actually going on as an understudy in a featured role on Broadway (in Thoroughly Modern Millie).
Millie, All Shook Up, Xanadu, Finian's Rainbow — Jackson's career has been marked by exceptional work in not-on-the-A-list Broadway musicals. Here's hoping he gets star turns in classics, darker shows, Sondheim, Carousel.
He was Out Magazine's "Entertainer of the Year" in 2008.
He played the heroic rugby player in Paul Greenglass's film United 93.

Visit Cheyenne Jackson's Website here
He's been brought in as a new cast member of the show within a show on 30 Rock
He worked on creating Xanadu with Jane Krakowski, who then left to do 30 Rock — which led to Cheyenne originating the role, Tina Fey seeing him in it, and Fey deciding that she wanted Jackson on her show.
Charles Isherwood's 3/28/09 review of Finian's is here
"and Cheyenne Jackson (“Xanadu”) as Woody, the local boy she falls in love with under the spell of “Old Devil Moon.”
Snippets from 10 reviews of Finian's Rainbow are here.

Daniel Walters' cover story originally carried the (much better, in my opinion) headline: "How To Succeed in Show Business By Really Trying." Some snippets that were cut:

Cheyenne’s performances, whether as the dumb street artist in Xanadu, the smooth slickster in Finian’s or the TGS cast member in 30 Rock, contain consistent pockets of aw-shucks folksy decency — a core of small town Newport wholesomeness  —bubbling beneath the surface.

"You can get cast in one show as a fluke, but if you don't have the talent, if you don't have the personality and the skills to back it up, you're going to be in one show only."

So how much of Cheyenne’s booming success is due to his jaw line? 

“Well, you realize there’s no right way to answer this question. Nobody one wants to hear Charlize Theron or Halle Berry say, you know, ‘I can’t get cast in the good parts because I’m too beautiful.’ You’ll hear a resounding ‘F— you’,’ from everybody else,” Cheyenne says, “Of course being attractive helps you get noticed. It’s just the way society works …”

But Cheyenne’s not satisfied with mere swoons. 


“It’s hard to even be seen as the sidekick or the funnier character because there’s a whole world of character actors that will kill you if you audition for their roles,” Cheyenne says.  


[ image from BroadwayWorld.com ]

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

cast list for *Sylvia*

Jan. 29-Feb. 21 at the Civic's Studio Theater
by Albert Ramsdell ("Pete") Gurney
directed by Brooke Kiener

starring Beth Carey as Sylvia, the dog
Bill Forant as Greg, the dog-loving husband
Anne Mitchell as Kate, the dog-hating wife
and Jerry Sciarrio as Tom, Phyllis and Leslie
(two of which are drag roles, so after *South Pacific* and that Egyptian thing at the Masonic Temple and goodness knows what else ... I'm just saying that Mr. Sciarrio's sexual orientation is clearly muddled and that perhaps therapy might ... oh, Leslie IS a therapist, you say? Well, then. Let the sexually confused physician counsel himself.)

*Sylvia* is a play for dog-lovers. Bobo saw productions at Interplayers in '97 and at NIC (in 2001?) and has read it a couple of times, and gotta say, the final scene makes me cry every time.
There are people who let dogs lick their faces and people who are grossed out by the very thought of dogs licking their faces.
Me, I wanna roll around on the ground in the "dead bug" position (on my back, legs and arms wiggling in the air) and have about three dogs licking my face, sniffing my ...
You get the picture.
That's a slice of canine heaven right there.
Looking forward to it, panting.

*Sylvia* premiered at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1995 in a production featuring Sarah Jessica Parker, Charles Kimbrough (*Murphy Brown*) and Blythe Danner (among many other accomplishments, mother of Gwyneth Paltrow).

[ photo: Cathy Rigby (yes, the gymnast) as Sylvia in an date-unknown production at southern California's La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts; from StageSceneLA.com ]

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

January auditions at the Civic

Audition for Steel Magnolias
director: George Green
Monday-Tuesday, Jan. 4-5, at 6:30 pm
show runs Feb. 26-March 21

Audition for The Spitfire Grill
director: Marianne McLaughlin
Monday-Tuesday, Jan. 18-19, at 6:30 pm
show runs March 19-April 11

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Dec. 11-20: *Babes in Toyland,* *Humbug* and *Nuncrackers*

Here are three shows running over the next two weekends:

Babes in Toyland
Saturday, Dec. 12, at 10 am and 1 pm
Sunday, Dec. 13, at 1 pm
$10; $8, children
SCC Lair
Mission Ave. and Greene St.
Call: 328-4886

modernized, so it's about an ambitious Wall Street executive named Eleanor Scrooge
Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 pm at Gonzaga's Foley Center (library)
Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2 pm at the Blue Door Theater (on Garland Ave., 2 blocks east of Monroe St.)

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 18-19, at 7:30 pm; Sunday, Dec. 20, at 2 pm
NIC, Shuler Aud. inside Boswell Hall, in CdA
(208) 769-7780
with Kathie Doyle-Lipe, Tamara Schupman, Krista Kubicek, Julie Powell, Andrew Ware Lewis and Jack Bannon

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review of *The Best Christmas Pageant Ever*

Theater adjudicators have visited the Civic’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. On the report card, the kids got SCROOGEd.

Ah, the Heartwarming Christmas Comedy. But how to evaluate a children’s-theater version of the HCC that’s filled with first-time-ever-onstage performers?
Is the Heartless Reviewer supposed to call out defenseless little kids by name and rake them over the Coals of Critical Insult? (Actually, that sounds kind of.... Oh, OK. Maybe next time.)
Fortunately, for appraisals of an HCC like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (at Spokane Civic Theatre through Dec. 20), the Society for the Cultivation of Recreational Originality and Outstanding Gleeful Entertainment has provided a series of 10-point rating scales.
Here are some evaluations in SCROOGE’s categories.
For example, in the category of “Cute Kids,” the Civic’s Best Christmas Pageant Ever scores... 8 out of 10.
An HCC requires oodles of cute kids, especially for a tale about merging the outcast Herdman family’s little brats into the community (basically, by tricking them into taking part in the annual Nativity show). Little boys tugging on Teacher’s dress, tiny girls in adorable frocks, the freckle-faced child praising church because there are “no Herdmans there” ... you just wanna pinch their little cheeks.

Harried Parents (6 of 10)
The iconic image of The Best Christmas is of Mom, in heels and ’50s-housewife dress, surrounded by dozens of scampering, cavorting, out-of-control kidlets. But the Civic’s gang could afford to let loose and be even wilder. Let’s see more screaming and eye-gouging, boys and girls!

Gossipy Housewives (7)
Director Andrew Ware Lewis provides a couple of telephone-tree sequences, with the rolling-pin-and-hair-curlers crowd chattering about the Herdmans’ high jinks. My word, what a scandal!

Idealized View of Juvenile Delinquency (9)
What are those darn kids up to these days? Well, according to this show, smoking in the bathroom and using words like “pregnant.” When told of the Herdmans’ antics, the Good Kids’ Dad furrows his brow, sticks his pipe in his mouth and sucks on it. (Just like Ward Cleaver.)

Sense of Entitlement (7)
The Herdman brats intimidate the Nice Young Lady who usually plays Mary, Mother of God, into taking a sideline role. She strikes back by making snooty comments about the Herdmans’ lack of acting skill. Somebody isn’t learning the True Meaning of Christmas.

Improvisational Surprise (7)
In live performance, kids do the darnedest things. During an everybody-in-the-background-freeze sequence, one young fellow kept fiddling with his belt. And I’m pretty sure I saw an angel yawn.

But then BCPE is attuned to little ones’ attention spans: The whole thing’s over in less than an hour. The Herdmans learn their Bible lesson quickly, and we get to go home with our cardiac pumps all toasty.
Because you know what? That’s what HCCs are for.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever continues at Spokane Civic Theater, 1020 N. Howard St., through Dec. 20 on Thursdays at 7:30 pm, on Saturdays at 1 pm and 4 pm, and on Sunday, Dec. 20, at 2 pm. Tickets: $16; $14, seniors; $10, students. Visit spokanecivictheatre.com or call 325-2507.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Audition for *High School Musical 2*

Wednesday-Thursday, Dec. 9-10, from 6:30-9 pm
at the Harding Family Center, 411 N. 15th St. in Coeur d'Alene

Bring a resume and list of conflicts; be ready to sing a 16-bar song (no a cappella).
Director Cameron Anderson needs 30 performers, most of them able to appear high school age, along with two adults. 

Troy, Gabriella and the rest of the Wildcats take summer jobs at the Lava Springs Country Club, where Sharpay reigns supreme.

Performances: Feb. 18-March 7

Write LCPlayhouse@gmail.com, visit lakecityplayhouse.org, or call (208) 667-1323 or (509) 294-1479.

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