Thursday, May 20, 2010

Local stars mean box-office bonanza?

As part of its Tony coverage, the New York Times included a sidebar on how much big-name stars mean to Broadway's weekly grosses.
Basically, if you have Denzel Washington/Hugh Jackson/Catherine Zeta-Jones/ScarJo in your production and the other guy doesn't, then you will rake in two to four times as much per week.

Which leads to a local application. Kathie Doyle-Lipe has her local following, and for good reason. Some people will go see anything directed by Troy Nickerson — again, for good reason. Perhaps Patrick Treadway, Reed McColm, Ellen Travolta, Jack Bannon, Patrick McHenry-Kroetch and others have similar fan bases? (I don't know, and apologies to anyone I've failed to mention here. You fill in the names.)

Now, Bobo doesn't have access to box-office records hereabouts, and he tends to go to shows on opening night (which has its own buzz, but cannot yet have acquired the shine and increased ticket sales that result from good word-of-mouth). In other words, what does he know?

But here is your chance to praise your fellow artists. Who around here has the marquee name to "open" a show? What examples can you recall of a) poor scripts that sold well because so-in-so was the star, or b) good productions that grossed even better because of a recognizable lead actor?

[ photo: Patrick McHenry-Kroetch as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Spokane Civic Theatre, May-June 2008 ]

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One-on-one theater

If we really mean it when we preach the impact of live, up-close-and-personal performance, then why not follow the example of what they're doing in Times Square?

Obviously, with their air conditioning and gasoline generator and glassed-in performance area, they've got a bigger budget than we, the 91st-biggest radio market in the nation, might be able to manage.
But what if somebody scored a) a confessional from a Catholic church about to be dismantled, b) a new Dumpster, c) one of those double Porta-Potties, d) a two-sided enclosure that some hardy local actor with carpentry skills devised?

Just dream with me a second: the Civic and/or Interplayers gets the permits to set up on a sidewalk somewhere near Post and Riverside, or else in Riverfront Park. It has the aroma of something slightly risque, like a peep show, only it's perfectly legit. Think of the curiosity it would arouse: Me, too! Me, too! And it plays right into the current fashion for reality-TV, you-are-there, no-bullshit, WYSIWYG entertainment.

The payoff? Somebody told me once that an event needs to enter a prospective playgoer's consciousness six times before he or she will actually make the decision to attend. This could count for a couple of those pings. A Lake City actor in an enclosure? Makes passers-by just a bit more likely to attend, the next time they hear of a Lake City show....

Sandy Hosking and Bryan Harnetiaux could start churning out one-person scripts. Local actors would be able to add a line to their play program bios.
And the critics? Sorry, fella -- there's no room. We're sold out.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

*Pocahontas* at the Bing

The Legend of Pocahontas presented by Christian Youth Theatre-Spokane, with a cast of 81 (!)

Fridays-Saturdays, May 21-22 and May 28-29, at 7 pm, 
Saturdays, May 22 and May 29, at 3 pm, and
Sunday, May 30, at 3 pm
at the Bing
Tickets: $10; $9, seniors and youth.

"When people hear 'Pocahontas,' many associate it with the Disney production. What is different about CYT's Pocahontas production is that it is a historically accurate portrayal with original songs and dances," says Lydia Kinne, CYT's box office manager and registrar.

[ photo: Pocahontas, 1595-1617; from ]

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*Psychopathia Sexualis* review

(first half of the review; full review available on newsstands Thursdays, and online at; also on KPBX on Thursday at 7:35 am)

Psychopathia Sexualis (at Interplayers through May 29) is a thinking person’s sex farce. The premise has to do with a guy who can’t perform in bed unless he’s in visual contact with a pair of his father’s argyle socks. But, hey — lots of us struggle with that same neurosis. (I know I sure do.)

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: Guy has a strange sex fetish, confesses it to his pal; word leaks to the guy’s fiancée; complications ensue; your typical door-slamming bedroom farce.

Wrong. Playwright John Patrick Shanley takes the locker-room jokes in unexpected directions having to do with power struggles, gender politics and the profession of psychiatry. It’s not the kind of silliness that makes you feel as if you just lost brain cells. It’s the kind of silliness you have to earn by ruminating on what fools these mortals be, then recognizing yourself among the fools.

While director Reed McColm’s production elicits plenty of laughs, this particular Psychopathia isn’t as funny as it should be — partly due to the script, partly because of the execution. On the one hand, Shanley’s script appeals simultaneously to both brain and funny bone — asking us, in effect, to reflect and react at the same time. McColm’s cast, on the other hand, both over- and under-plays their characters’ eccentricities.

But make no mistake: With all the Freudian stuff going on here — transference, projection, slips — there’s plenty to laugh at here as Arthur confides in Howard, only to have Lucille and Ellie learn all about it. All the secrets and analysis explode into a game of trying to outsmart the shrink with the symbolic name, Dr. Block.

Two performances are standouts. As Arthur, the guy with the socks hang-up, Anderson embodies comic exasperation: He stomps the floor, does deep knee-dips, lunges crazily across the floor, shakes his fists and then his limp wrists. Then he whines, “I just need the socks!”

As Arthur’s fiancée, Caryn Hoaglund-Trevett plays a Daddy’s girl who regards wedding preparations as a good excuse for going on a rampage....

Psychopathia Sexualis delivers smart sex jokes at Interplayers, 174 S. Howard St., through May 29 on Wednesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, and Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm. Tickets: $15-$21; $10, student rush. Visit or call 455-PLAY.

Tammy Marshall photo for The Inlander: As Herr Freud looks on, Lucille and Ellie (Caryn Hoaglund-Trevett and Bethany Hart, right) are scandalized by the sexual hang-ups of Arthur (Dan Anderson)

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*Annie Get Your Gun* photos

Spokane Civic Theatre main stage, May 21-June 20
directed by Yvonne A.K. Johnson
with Tami Knoell at Annie Oakley, Patrick McHenry-Kroetch as Frank Butler, Doug Dawson as Buffalo Bill, Gary Pierce as Charlie Davenport, Ryan Patterson as Dolly Tate and a cast of more than 40

See the April 19 post here and visit the Blog at

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Unusual socks fetish

Psychopathia Sexualis, by John Patrick Shanley
May 13-29 at Interplayers
directed by Reed McColm

with Dan Anderson as Arthur, Caryn Hoaglund-Trevett as Lucille, John Hart as Dr. Block, Damon Abdallah as Howard, Bethany Hart as Ellie

[ photos by Tammy Marshall for The Pacific Northwest Inlander ]

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Summer casting

CdA Summer Theater runs June 12-Aug. 21 this year.
The 29th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 12-26) will feature Matt Wade as Leaf Coneybear (the hippie speller) and Reed McColm as Douglas Panch (the vice principal). This production will also venture to Idaho Rep in Moscow (June 28-July 3).

Cinderella (July 3-17) will feature three Travolta sisters (Ellen, Annie and Margaret), along with Ellen's husband, Jack Bannon, as King Maximillian — joined by Tamara Schupman as Queen Constantina, Andrew Ware Lewis as Christopher and Jessica Skerrit in the title role.

Skerrit returns in Pump Boys and Dinettes (July 22-Aug. 1) as Prudie Cupp, joined by Dane Stokinger as Jackson and musical director Steven Dahlke as LM.

The buzzworthy casting choices for Hairspray (Aug. 7-21) are, in the roles played by John Travolta and Christopher Walken in the movie, CdA artistic director Roger Welch as Edna Turnblat and Patrick Treadway as her husband, Wilbur. Schupman and McColm return as the Authority Figures; Matt Wade is Corny Collins; and Lindsey Hedburg plays Tracy Turnblad.


Hilarious Socks Farce

Psychopathia Sexualis
by John Patrick Shanley
May 13-29 at Interplayers
directed by Reed McColm

Arthur (Dan Anderson) is getting married to Lucille (Caryn Hoaglund-Trevett). Problem is, he can't perform sexually unless a pair of his father's argyle socks are in view.
Having counseled Arthur about his problem, Dr. Block (John Hart) decides to try some shock therapy: He just steals the damn socks.
Arthur enlists his friend Howard (Damon Abdallah) for help; Arthur has a gossip-monger wife, Ellie (Bethany Hart); high jinks ensue.

Ben Brantley's Feb. 1997 review in the New York Times concentrates on the centrality of the Dr. Block role (played then by Edward Hermann) and compares the comedy's witticisms to those of S.N. Behrman, Nichols and May, and early-'60s Woody Allen.

[ image: from — from a production a year ago in San Diego ]

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Patty in June

Patty Duke will appear at Interplayers on Thursday-Friday, June 3-4, at 7:30 pm and on Saturday, June 5, at 2 pm for conversations about the obstacles she has faced onstage and in life. Subscribers can purchase tickets (prices unannounced) through May 17, when general-public tickets go on sale. Visit or call 455-PLAY.
[image: from ]

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

*Enron* fizzled

Lucy Prebble's inventively (gaudily?) staged play about an American financial crisis (no, not last year's -- the one from a decade ago) is closing quickly on Broadway, despite being a success in London.

('Muricans don't much like having snooty Brits poke fun at our red, white and blue shortcomings, evidently, along with our other moral failings.)

Some take-aways from Michael Billington's analysis:
1. Musicals can be expressionistic, but plays should be realistic. This is not only false, but it endangers theater's future. Serious, or serio-comic non-musical plays that use dream-like, imagination-prodding theatrical effects are the future. Let movies do spectacle and novels grab individual readers — but you-are-there, psychological immediacy ... that's what theater can deliver like nothing else.

2. And two points from near the end of Billington's article:
"If Enron's melancholy saga proves anything, it is Broadway's irrelevance to serious theatre. ... at heart, Broadway is a big, gaudy commercial shop-window, where fortunes are won and lost."
What's commercial isn't cutting-edge. What isn't cutting-edge will be lost — in a generation, possibly two — to oblivion.

3. Chicago is generating more exciting theater than N.Y. (In general, a tip of the cap to America's regional theaters.)

[ photo: Lucy Prebble, from ]

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*Almost, Maine* at EWU, May 7-15

John Cariani's nine vignettes about love and friendship in a remote town, way up there in "The County" will be performed at EWU's University Theater in Cheney on
Friday-Saturday, May 7-8, at 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 9, at 2 pm
Thursday, May 13, at 5 pm
and Friday-Saturday, May 14-15, at 7:30 pm

Directed by Sara Goff

[ photo: Chailee Friant and Joel Chiswell as Rhonda and Dave ]

Elyse Sommer's review of a 2006 NYC production is here.

A Rochester, N.Y.. production of four months ago is reviewed here.

Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d'Alene will also produce this play next February and March.

Visit the Blog at

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Daniels on downers

Bobo was already up at 5:30 am this morning, so he tuned into the Webcast of the Tony nominations announcement.
Jeff Daniels acted even sleepier than I was.
I mean, show some enthusiasm, man.

But there is much fun to be had watching the current show clips, which help explain why the big nom-nabbers — Fences with 10, Fela! with 11, La Cage with 11, Memphis with eight, Red and Ragtime with seven each, and so on — did as well as they did.

The O'Neill won the regional Tony, but they weren't that high on my ballot. Marian Seldes and Alan Ayckbourn will receive honorary Tonys on the June 13 show, and long overdue, says I.

That Spokane show only got one nom, for Walken.

In the New York Times, Patrick Healy is heartened somewhat by the fact that money-makers didn't grab as many nominations as the more artistically fulfilling shows. But the Tony noms are voted on by a select group of about 30 theater people; the voters tend to skew toward the money people, for whom commercial success means it must be pretty good artistically too, right?
[ photo: Fela!, a show that will never play Spokane ]

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*Jekyll & Hyde* continues through May 23; *The Crucible* on May 7

at Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d'Alene
(Check out their new Website.)

In Jared Helm's production, Mike Hynes plays both halves of the title role.
The Frank Wildhorn (music) and Leslie Bricusse (lyrics) musical ran on Broadway from April 1997 to January 2001.


Lake City also has a fund-raiser this Friday night, May 7, at 7:30 pm at the Harding Family Center in CdA: Arthur Miller's The Crucible, in a staged reading directed by Rebecca McNeill
Tickets: $7
Call (208) 667-1323

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Gonzaga grad to be on *Friday Night Lights*

Jeff Rosick, Gonzaga '08 and a theater arts major, has just started filming the upcoming fifth season of NBC's show about high school football culture in a dusty Texas town. Rosick (John Proctor in The Crucible, the lonely kid in This Is Our Youth here at Gonzaga) will play Buddy, who has returned to Dillon and wishes he hadn't.
Best of all, it's a seven-episode gig.
And that's a pretty good line in the ol' IMDB entry for an actor who's just two years out of college.

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