Friday, June 25, 2010

*The Screwtape Letters* in CdA, June 25-27

at Lake City Playhouse, 1320 E. Garden Ave. in Coeur d'Alene, but presented by
Ain't It Good Productions

David Clemons stars in his own adaptation of the C.S. Lewis satire about the reverse psychology used by demons to tempt humans.
Rated PG-13; not for little kids

Tonight at 8 pm; Saturday, June 26, at 2 pm and 8 pm; Sunday, June 27, at 2 pm
Tickets: $8; $5, children 12 and younger.

Call: (208) 769-4262

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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Spokies: nominations for 2009-10

The 2010 SPOKIES
Covering what Bobo managed to see in the June 2009-May 2010 season.
Winners announced in the June 24 Inlander and at
Admiration, kudos and applause to all.
Please write in with corrections and comments.

Tralen Doler for The Producers, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre
Troy Nickerson and Jillian Wylie for The Pirates of Penzance, Spokane Civic Theatre
Troy Nickerson and Jillian Wylie for Curtains, Civic
Michael Wasileski for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, CdA Summer

Bryan Durbin for Amadeus, Lake City Playhouse
John Gallegos for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, CdA Summer
Peter Hardie for Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Joel Williamson for Miss Saigon, CdA Summer Theatre

David Baker for The Pirates of Penzance, Civic
David Baker for The Spitfire Grill, Civic Studio
Peter Hardie for Annie Get Your Gun, Civic
Peter Hardie for Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Don McLaughlin for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, EWU

Judith McGiveney for Miss Saigon, CdA Summer Theatre
Jan Wanless for Annie Get Your Gun, Civic
Jan Wanless for The Pirates of Penzance, Civic

Andrew Garcia as Mason Marzac in Take Me Out (staged reading), Gonzaga
David Gigler as Remnar Soady in Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Todd Kehne as Jimmer Negamanee in Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Patrick Treadway as Yvan in Art, Interplayers

Lance Edwin Babbitt as Christopher Belling in Curtains, Civic
Patrick Treadway as Franz Liebkind in The Producers, CdA Summer Theatre
Steven Dahlke as Carmen Ghia in The Producers, CdA
Jerry Christakos as Hennesy/The Captain in Dames at Sea, CdA Summer Theatre
Doug Dawson as the Major-General in The Pirates of Penzance, Civic
Brian Gunn as Sheriff Joe Sutter in The Spitfire Grill, Civic Studio
Patrick McHenry-Kroetch as Aaron Fox in Curtains, Civic
Henry McNulty as Molokov in Chess (concert version), Civic
Gary Pierce as Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun, Civic

Liberty Harris as Shelby in The Spitfire Grill, Civic Studio
Maureen Kumakura as Georgia Hendricks in Curtains, Civic
Yvonne Same as Gigi in Miss Saigon, CdA Summer Theatre
Ellen Travolta as Mona Kent in Dames at Sea, CdA Summer Theatre

Wendy Carroll as Clairee in Steel Magnolias, Civic
Sarah Denison in multiple roles, String of Pearls, Civic
Kathie Doyle-Lipe as Ouiser in Steel Magnolias, Civic
Tami Rotchford in multiple roles, String of Pearls, Civic
Kate Vita in multiple roles, String of Pearls, Civic

Krystle Armstrong as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, CdA Summer Theatre
Andrea Dawson as Florence in Chess (concert version), Civic
Tami Knoell as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Civic
Manuela Peters as Percy in The Spitfire Grill, Civic Studio
Mia Yoshida as Kim in Miss Saigon, CdA Summer Theatre
Darcy Wright as Ruby in Dames at Sea, CdA Summer Theatre

Damon Abdallah as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, Lake City Playhouse
Dan Anderson as Arthur in Psychopathia Sexualis, Interplayers
Jack Bannon as Marc in Art, Interplayers
Wes Deitrick as Albert Soady in Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Jamie Flanery as Ray in Blackbird, West Central Community Center
Bill Forant as Greg in Sylvia, Civic Studio
Reed McColm as the Librarian in Underneath the Lintel, Interplayers
Damon C. Mentzer in multiple roles, A Tuna Christmas, Civic
Aaron Murphy as Father Flynn in Doubt, Interplayers
Dave Rideout as John Haddock in Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Civic Studio
Roger Welch as Serge in Art, Interplayers

Steven Booth as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, CdA Summer Theatre
Jerry Christakos as Roger De Bris in The Producers, CdA Summer Theatre
Patrick McHenry-Kroetch as Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun, Civic
Russell Seaton as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Civic
Matthew Wade as Leopold Bloom in The Producers, CdA Summer Theatre
Andrew Ware Lewis as Lt. Frank Cioffi in Curtains, Civic
[ Bobo regrets that he did not see Mike Hynes in both halves of the title role in Jekyll & Hyde at Lake City Playhouse ]

Beth Carey in the title role in Sylvia, Civic Studio
Nancy Gasper as Artie in Eleemosynary, Interplayers
Bethany Hart as Shelby in Steel Magnolias, Civic
Emily Hiller as Una in Blackbird, West Central Community Center
Caryn Hoaglund-Trevett as Lucille in Psychopathia Sexualis, Interplayers
Ann Russell Whiteman as Sister Aloysius in Doubt, Interplayers

Maria A. Caprile, Eleemosynary, Interplayers
Kevin Connell, Take Me Out (staged reading), Gonzaga
Troy Nickerson, Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Roger Welch, Doubt, Interplayers

Tralen Doler for The Producers, CdA Summer
Yvonne A.K. Johnson for The Pirates of Penzance, Civic
Kirk Mouser for Miss Saigon, CdA Summer
Troy Nickerson for Curtains, Civic
Roger Welch for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, CdA Summer Theatre

Art, Interplayers
Doubt, Interplayers
Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
String of Pearls, Civic Studio
Sylvia, Civic Studio

Avenue Q
The Lion King
Little House on the Prairie: The Musical

Curtains, Civic
The Pirates of Penzance, Civic
Miss Saigon, CdA Summer Theatre

Art, Interplayers
Blackbird, West Central Community Center
Doubt, Interplayers
String of Pearls, Civic Studio

Escanaba in da Moonlight, Civic
Psychopathia Sexualis, Interplayers
Sylvia, Civic Studio


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Partial review of *Putnam County Spelling Bee*

at Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater through June 26

(basically, the middle third of the review that will appear in The Pacific Northwest Inlander on Thursday, June 17)

... With the exception of the title song, composer/lyricist William Finn’s melodies aren’t particularly memorable. And this isn’t a glitz- or dance-heavy show. (It’s kids standing at microphones — not exactly a spectacle — though director Roger Welch maintains the flow with hyper-speed and slo-mo spelling sequences.) But in her book of the musical, Rachel Sheinkin is good at creating a sense of community, then building the tension before each speller performs.
The little mock-introductions that each speller receives — and the definitions they request when they’re up at the mic — are among Spelling Bee’s funniest lines. But there’s plenty of fun in the scripted parts of the show, too, as we follow the tribulations of our six contestants: the nerd, the Boy Scout, the unloved child, the multi-talented genius, the prodigy, the mystic hippie.
Playing the pressured-by-her-parents overachiever in “I Speak Six Languages,” for example, Yvonne Same demonstrates an impressive range of talents. She demonstrates a lot more than just fluency — martial arts, musicianship and other feats of physical prowess all made rapid-fire appearances.
The nose-picking nerd with his shirttail hanging out (Andrew Hartley, disgusting but vulnerable too) performs his “magic foot” spelling routine: He’s an oddball, but he’s going to stick to his oddball guns.
With nine actors playing twice that many characters, there’s a danger of repetition. But the show avoids predictable, one-after-another character revelations, and there are unexpected second-act sequences involving Jesus and the Taj Majal that propel the narrative unexpectedly toward satire and even compassion. With all the tonal shifts, cast members could afford to improve their diction: The CdA sound system can be harsh and blarey, and some of the rapid-fire details of characterization got muddled.
For all its displays of nerditude, Spelling Bee is a show with a heart. It’s effective whether or not you know or care about spelling bees, and it brings back all the fears and joys of youth.

[ photos by Young Kwak for The Inlander ]

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee continues at NIC’s Boswell Hall, 1000 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene, on Thursdays-Saturdays, June 17-19 and June 24-26, at 7:30 pm, along with a matinee on Sunday, June 20, at 2 pm. Tickets: $41; $37, seniors; $27, children. Visit or call (208) 769-7780.

The same production transfers to the Idaho Rep at UI's Hartung Theater, Sixth St. and Stadium Way, Moscow, Idaho, on Monday-Friday, June 29-July 2, at 7:30 pm. Visit 

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Designing women (and men)

Interplayers is advertising on craigslist for designers and received 15 calls in the first two hours, according to board member Jeff Moreland.
If nothing else, this is a positive sign for the theater's future. Maybe now, Moreland says, we can put a stop to the trend of every media story bemoaning the imminent demise of the House the Welches Built.

[ photo: from ]


Monday, June 14, 2010

No, you're not too small

The Kennedy Center's Michael Kaiser is still spreading the word about how small arts organizations needn't despair, despite the Great Recession. 

His Huffington Post article makes several assertions: 
The importance of long-range planning, and of committing your organization to large-scale events
The importance of getting yourself mentioned in local media at least once every three months
The importance of appealing to movers and shakers
The example of world-class art in a small town, like Glimmerglass.

[ photo: Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, New York ]

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

*Holding On — Letting Go* staged reading, June 11-12

In this play by Bryan Harnetiaux, who has been playwright in residence at the Civic for the past 28 years, Bobby is dying of liver cancer and has been referred to hospice care — but his wife Lee doesn't want to give up the fight.
Harnetiaux has revised and re-revised the script since it was staged (with the late Bryan Jackson as Bobby) at the Civic in June 2009.

Friday-Saturday, June 11-12, at 7:30 pm
at the Civic's Studio Theater, Howard St. and Dean Ave.

See the 6/6/09 post on this blog.

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*Spelling Bee* photos

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music and lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
ran for 1,100 performances on Broadway from April 2005 to Jan. 2008
nominated for six Tonys in 2006, winning for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor (Dan Fogler as William Barfee)

June 12-26 at Shuler Performing Arts Center, inside NIC's Boswell Hall, in Coeur d'Alene
Visit or call ((208) 769-7780

Continues June 28-July 2 at UI's Hartung Theater, Stadium Dr. and Sixth St., Moscow, Idaho
Visit or call (208) 885-7212

Three adults (each with their personal problems and anxieties) conduct a middle-school spelling bee with six contestants (the overachiever, the hippie, the Boy Scout, the nerd, the neglected child, the one's who's politically intense) and everyone, in the midst of singing all those songs and spelling all those words like "hemidemisemiquaver," turns out to be very, very neurotic.

Directed and choreographed by Roger Welch
Musical direction by Chris Thompson
Sets by Michael McGiveney
Lights by Dean Panttaja
Costumes by Tessa DeMoy
PSM: Kim Crawley

with (most actors double in other roles as well)
Andrew Hartley as William Barfee
Laura Sable as Rona Lisa Peretti
Jay Paranada as Chip Tolentino
Mallory Cooney King as Olive Ostrovsky
Matthew Wade as Leaf Coneybear
Reed McColm as Douglas Panch
J. Reese as Mitch Mahoney
Kara Jones as Logainne Schartzandgrubenierre

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We need a bigger pie

Theater is a marginalized art form.
How can this be? We love it so much. We devote our lives to it.
Yeah, all 17 of us in Spokane.

Scot Covey of Minnesota Playlist has started a blog on how to market for theaters and how to increase its grassroots support.
Worth reading in the upcoming weeks, Bobo thinks.

My guess about his final line? Tweets, Facebook, viral marketing, much more audience interaction. 

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Green room productivity

Patrick Healy has a piece in the New York Times about the unusual ways in which some actors spend their downtime during a performance: Jan Maxwell (doubly Tony-nominated next Sunday) helps her son with his homework; during August: Osage County, John Cullum actually went and did another play, then returned for the curtain call.

Since a recent post on local actors who can improve box-office receipts scared up a lot of comments, Bobo thought this topic might do the same, providing some modest entertainment value. So ... local actors, how do you spend your time backstage?
Any amusing stories about people completing their master's theses, brushing their teeth, changing their cousin's baby's diapers in the minutes before rushing onstage as the fourth chorus girl from the left?
[ image: from ]

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Theatrical reading

Ben Brantley in the New York Times has again suggested a reading list for theater ho's.

In addition to his suggestions — Hart, Rich, Quintero, Gielgud, Coward — peruse the many good suggestions down in the comments, including books by Antony Sher, Peter Hall, Michael Blakemore, Tyrone Guthrie, James Kirkwood, Simon Callow and more. (Helen Epstein's biography of Joe Papp is about the only book by a woman listed here.)
[ photo: Antony Sher as Richard III in 1985; see Frank Rich's review here ]

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review of *Annie Get Your Gun*

Pretty Much Shot

In the Civic’s Gun, cardboard characters shoot off pleasant songs. Shouldn’t musicals aim higher?

Like a Lawrence Welk Show episode attempting to update itself (more tolerance! more gender equity!), the modernized version of the 64-year-old codger-musical Annie Get Your Gun tries hard to avoid being unhip.
Despite Peter Stone’s 1999 revision, most of the material in between the famous Irving Berlin songs amounts to patter, filler, and a poor excuse for a plot filled with adults acting like emotionally stunted children. It’s all about as authentic as the white guys in ponytails of this production, passing themselves off as Indians.

Nearly all the good material that shoots out of this particular Gun (at the Civic through June 20) derives from the work of singing actors, working hard within the confines of a given song to provide something approaching genuine emotion. Quite often, they succeed.
A fine opening sequence has Patrick McHenry-Kroetch, as sharpshooter Frank Butler, entering from the audience and singing a cappella, waxing nostalgic about this Business called Show, which really is unlike any other. We’re a long way from Ethel Merman here, folks, and McHenry-Kroetch’s rich baritone projects genuine devotion to the art of keeping other people entertained.
As Annie Oakley, curly-haired Tami Knoell also has exceptional solo moments. Separated from Frank late in the show, she has a lovely recollection of how “I got lost in his arms/ And I had to stay,” soon followed by Annie’s praise of simple living, “I Got the Sun in the Morning.”

Director Yvonne A.K. Johnson’s production is at its best when it isolates its two stars in duets. It’s a nice touch, for example, to have McHenry-Kroetch’s speculations about “The Girl That I Marry” to be answered, in the song’s second half, by Knoell’s love-longing. And both singers shine in their duet about other people falling in love, “They Say It’s Wonderful.” And Johnson engineers a lovely reunion for the once-estranged lovers, followed by their counter-singing dispute over what properly constitutes “An Old-Fashioned Wedding.”
Best of all was the variety and inventiveness of “Anything You Can Do,” with chorus after chorus topping the previous one. By then, Annie and Frank had started to approximate actual human beings. Too bad it’s at the end of the show.

Technical elements are strong, with Peter Hardie’s sets ranging from circus tents to fancy ballrooms to the deck of a low-rent steamer floating in New York Harbor on a starry night. And a team led by Jan Wanless provides consistently stunning costumes. As Dolly Tate, Frank’s desperate-snooty assistant, Ryan Patterson practically gets to engage in a one-woman fashion show — at nearly every entrance, she has on some new, just-fancy-enough-to-feel-exaggerated gown. As Buffalo Bill, Doug Dawson almost gets lost behind his leather fringes and giant mustachios.

But this Annie, both in plan and execution, has numerous weaknesses. Frank’s vain, for example, and Annie’s a hick. And as far as characterization goes, that’s it. The idea that other people have points of view dawns slowly on this cornpone couple.
The choreography, credited to a three-person team, relied too much on thumbs hooked in pockets and the heel-tap shuffle. (The surprising Annie-flips at the end of “I Got the Sun,” though, were a welcome departure.)
The first reprise of “No Business Like Show Business” — meant to demonstrate onstage energy — lacked it. Berlin’s lyrics tend to make already-established assertions about characters — and then repeat them (even if they are set to memorable melodies). But then Annie is not the place to go for insights about the battle of the sexes. Herbert and Dorothy Fields’ book may have raised eyebrows back in the day, but the revelation that sexism is wrong-headed leads mostly to yawns today. Which would be OK, if the show didn’t also dumb-down its main couple to the level of middle-school puppy lovers.
The path of their love is not a smooth one. For no good reason, a scene in a Pullman car jerks from topic to topic: Annie’s in love, Buffalo Bill’s show has a problem, and the kids want to hear a lullaby. An expendable subplot throws in tap routines for the secondary couple — vaudeville displays with zero character interest and just meant to fill time, apparently. Meanwhile, Frank is still full of himself, Annie’s still from the backwoods, and the fact that their romance goes awry at the end of Act One registers … not much at all, really.
To top it off, this production’s filled with fake rifle-firing, balloon-popping and wise-cracking that just don’t work, mostly because they called attention to stage logistics instead of seamlessly creating an effect.

A lot of musicals have one or two memorable songs; Annie Get Your Gun has a half-dozen at least. But they’re in the service of a hokey story centered on cardboard characters struggling to learn the simplest lessons.
The Civic’s production succeeds in stringing together several entertaining music-and-dance numbers. But as with Mr. Welk’s show, there’s no through-line. Just wunnerful, wunnerful, smiling, vacant faces.

Annie Get Your Gun celebrates show business at the Civic, 1020 N. Howard St., through June 20 on Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. (No show on May 30.) Tickets: $27; $25, seniors; $18, students; $9, student rush. Visit or call 325-2507.

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Gleeful Phantom

High schools can now apply for the rights to Phantom of the Opera — even if the technical demands are steep.

Bobo can scarcely credit the rumors that the high school version of Lord Webber's musical has been re-set, not underneath the Paris Opera, but underneath the gym floor at William McKinley High School — or that the Phantom herself now bears a strong resemblance to Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester.