Tag Archives: farce

I really stepped in it this time…

Sarah Agnew, Robert O. Berdahl and Luverne Seifert in "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps" by Arizona Theatre Company (Photo: Tim Fuller/ATC)

I’m not sure what “it” was — but it did a little number on my right ankle that’s had me rocking a lovely black boot secured by icky Velcro straps for weeks.  Might have been that last trip to Mesa Arts Center, when something possessed me to haul out the high heels, and I came home feeling a bit like the wobbly-legged wonders pictured above.

I slowed my pace for a spell until graduating this week to a fabric brace and sneakers. Best I missed opening night in Phoenix for Arizona Theatre Company’s production of “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps,” because their openings tend to attract a rather elegant bunch.

Sarah Agnew, Jim Lichtscheidl and Luverne Seifert in Arizona Theatre Company's "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps" (Photo: Tim Fuller/ATC)

Instead I hobbled over just last night for my third encounter with the show. I first saw “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” performed at ASU Gammage by a national touring company. Next I enjoyed a production at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where I sometimes take short getaways with my youngest daughter Lizabeth.

I’d be up to 117 steps now if the show had anything to do with actual steps – and probably in a full body cast. But thankfully, “39 Steps” actually refers to a clandestine organization of spies. Not something I’m likely to join since I’m sticking out like a sore foot these days.

Jim Lichtscheidl, Robert O. Berdahl and Liverne Seifert in Arizona Theatre Company's "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps" (Photo: Tim Fuller/ATC)

Hitchcock directed a 1935 film titled “The 39 Steps,” which was loosely based on a 1915 John Buchan novel called “Thirty-Nine Steps.” After nearly 1oo years, the story is still going strong, though everyone who crafts a new film or stage version adds their own spin.

Staged adaptations typically included homages to assorted Hitchcock works. The Arizona Theatre Company production, an adaptation by Patrick Barlow, opens with the clacking sound of an old-time film projector after someone sounding like Hitchcock runs through the usual bit of theater etiquette.

Barlow’s adaptation, being performed at the Herberger Theater Center through Feb. 26, is a pastishe – an artistic work that cobbles together several earlier incarnations of a piece. It’s got elements of the novel, Hitchcock film and Broadway production — and it’s enormously clever (though a tad too cheesy at times).

The production features four actors performing more than 150 roles. Robert O. Berdahl plays Richard Hannay and Sarah Agnew plays the major female roles (Annabella, Pamela and Margaret). Actors Jim Lichtscheidl and Luverne Seifert, dubbed “the Clowns,” play every other role.

All excel in physical comedy and dialects, delivering the detail that’s key to farce feeling truly funny. It’s directed by Joel Sass, who stretches most scenes beyond the typical level of absurdity expected with such fare.

Sarah Agnew, Jim Lichtscheidl and Robert O. Berdahl in Arizona Theatre Company's "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps" (Photo: Tim Fuller/ATC)

“Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” begins as a mild mannered-man trying to enjoy an evening of theater meets a mysterious woman. Her tale is taller than most, and deadlier too. Soon Mr. Hannay finds himself ensnared in a web of intrigue spiraling out of control. You might say that he’s the one who really stepped in it.

The show is a perfect introduction to farce for folks who’ve yet to experience this particular genre of comedy. You don’t have to follow every little plot twist to enjoy it. But if that’s your vibe, you’ll be pleased to know that both Arizona Theatre Company and the Utah Shakespeare Festival offer online play guides for “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.”

Robert O. Berdahl in Arizona Theatre Company's "The 39 Steps" (Photo: Tim Fuller)

Those of use who’ve seen it several times find something new in each viewing. We catch more of the Hitchcock references. Appreciate differences in the ways best-loved scenes are handled. And relish each actor’s fresh take on the frolicking misadventures.

The friend I took along Sunday night loved the way various set pieces rolled in and out, including Highland pole dancers (not that sort of pole) and a bevy of sheep. Set design for this production is by Richard Hoover, who earned a 1999 Tony Award for scenic design — for his work on a production of Tennessee Williams’ “Not About Nightingales.”

Thoughtul music choices and sound design anchor this production in nostalgia, and the generous use of shadows adds a lovely element of surprise. Lighting design is by Barry Browning, sound design is by Reid Rejsa and shadow puppetry is by Michael Sommers.

There’s more sexual inuendo in this production than others I’ve seen — and more peaks and valleys in terms of pacing. Still, it’s a delightful romp.

Teens who love spy novels and thrillers may be intrigued to see a work based on earlier incarnations of the genre. Adults who adore “take me away” comedy will find plenty of on-stage foibles to distract from their own. No need to wear high heels when you go. Just enjoy the onstage danger from a distance, and let someone else step in it this time.

– Lynn

Note: The New York run of “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps” ended on Jan. 16, but you can still click here to read their study guide.

Coming up: Local high school performs “Beauty & the Beast”

Toga time?

Don’t be alarmed if you see students parading around in their togas near Theatre Outback, a performing arts venue at Mesa Community College, this weekend — or next.

They’re likely cast members from a mature-theme piece of musical theater called “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which combines situations depicted in 2,000 year-old-plays by Plautus with vaudevillian comedy of more modern times.

Mesa Community College opens their production of "Forum" tonight

It’s being performed by MCC’s music department Oct. 20-29. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was originally produced on Broadway by Harold S. Prince. The classic piece of musical theater meets farce features book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, plus music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Seems a slave has been promised freedom in exchange for winning a young woman’s hand for his master — but nothing goes quite as planned. Along the way, audience members enjoy songs like “Comedy Tonight,” “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid,” and “That Dirty Old Man.” You can take the teens, but leave younger ones at home.

The MCC production includes a cast of 18, many of whom have a long list of credits. The program lists Sue Anne Lucius as producer, Jere Van Patten as director and Cathy Hauan as music director/conductor. Also two choreographers — Frank Cava and Jennifer Cava.

The cast of MCC's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

The original Broadway production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” — which opened in 1962 – earned several Tony Awards, including best musical and best book. Broadway revivals were staged in 1972 and 1976. There’s also a 1962 musical film version featuring the original Broadway star, Zero Mostel, know to many as Tevye in the original “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is performed infrequently in the Valley, so Sondheim fans and students of musical theater should seize this opportunity to experience the work. Sondheim served as lyricist for both “West Side Story” and “Gypsy.” He’s earned an Academy Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Also several Grammy Awards and Tony Awards.

Sondheim was both composer and lyricist for the musicals “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Into the Woods” and more. Even those who fail to fawn over all things Sondheim should appreciate his contributions to the great American art form we call musical theater.

The cast of "Forum" presented by the music department at Mesa Community College

If you’ve never seen “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” attending the MCC production sounds like a fun way to up your musical theater I.Q. Just promise me you’ll leave toga time to the professionals.

– Lynn

Note: The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards solicit nominations each year from the general public and notable public figures, providing the opportunity to submit stories about teachers and professors who made a significant difference in their lives. Click here for details.

Coming up: Tevye tales, Fun finds at the Arizona Humanities Festival

Beyond the Bard

The Utah Shakespeare Festival includes both works by Shakespeare and works by other playwrights in each season’s selections. While in Cedar City for the festival’s summer 2011 season we saw matinee performances of three non-Shakespeare works at the Randall L. Jones Theatre, built in 1989.

The Randall L. Jones Theatre (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

The first was “The Glass Menagerie” by playwright Tennessee Williams, the tale of a mother and two grown children still living at home. It’s set in 1937 St. Louis, which might feel world’s apart were it not for the opening monologue delivered by Ben Jacoby, who performs the role of Tom Wingfield. He makes clear the parallels between then and now, including tough economic times.

Ben Jacoby as Tom Wingfield in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of The Glass Menagerie (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakepeare Festival.)

The second was “Noises Off!” by playwright Michael Frayn, who breaks the tale of actors performing in a British adult farce into three acts — showing a different perspective of how the farce “Nothing On” unfolds in each act. We see the actors, each with a host of personal and professional shortcomings, stumble through a final rehearsal and two jumbled performances (witnessing one as it unfolds backstage).

Melinda Parrett (left) as Belinda Blair, Betsy Mugavero as Poppy Norton-Taylor, Ben Livingston as Lloyd Dallas, Ally Carey as Brooke Ashton, and Jeanne Paulsen as Dotty Otley in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of Noises Off!. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011.)

The third was “The Music Man,” based on a story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey. The musical features book, music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson. It recounts the tale of a traveling con man who makes a living selling musical instruments to parents who fear their children might otherwise discover darker pursuits like playing pool.

A scene from the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of The Music Man (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

In each case, the comedy was simply exquisite. It helps to start with great material, I suppose. Quinn Mattfeld, who performs the role of Garry Lejeune in “Noises Off!,” delivered one of the best comedic performances I’ve ever seen. I ran into Mattfeld before Friday evening’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (another comedy honed to perfection by festival actors and artistic staff) and asked about how such a fabulous bit of funny comes to be.

Quinn Mattfeld (L) as Garry Lejeune and Ally Carey as Brooke Ashton in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of Noises Off! (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

Mattfeld gives playwrights at least half the credit, noting that directors and actors make up the balance of the mix. True magic happens on stage when the best writing meets the best direction and acting. Other artistic elements contribute too — choreography, costumes, props, lighting, sound and such.

Laura Griffith (L) as Marian Paroo and Brian Vaughn as Harold Hill in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of The Music Man (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

Each of the six productions we saw at this year’s Utah Shakespeare Festival appeared both flawless and effortless. Attention to detail is evident at every level, as is thinking beyond the boundaries of what you might imagine for any given scene or production. It’s these qualities that make each work fresh, even for those of us who have seen them performed time and time again.

– Lynn

Coming up: More Shakespeare on Valley stages, Who let the “CATS” out?, National Youth Arts Awards, Bugged out!

Pinky’s picks

Update: Pinky has asked me to share this link to a raffle benefiting an organization called “Save the Cats Arizona” — which we learned of from our friends at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The raffle runs through July 31, 2011.

Several community theaters recently rolled out their 2011-2012 season announcements. But I imagine my cat “Pinky” fancies the new season for Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert more than most.

Hale opens their 2011-2012 season on Sept 2 with an Agatha Christie mystery titled “The Mousetrap” — a work that now holds the distinction of being “the longest running play in the world.”

Pinky isn’t terribly concerned that a murderer may be loose in London’s Monkswell Manor. But she’d love to be on the guest list if there’s any real prospect of finding mice trapped at mealtime.

It’s a Wonderful Life,” which opens at Hale on Oct 14, might seem to hold less cat-appeal, until you recall that the work — featuring one man’s struggle with doubt and disappointment — is set in a small town readying to celebrate Christmas.

We could treat Pinky to piles of pet store treats and toys come Christmas time, but she’d still find her bliss jumping into piles of crinkled up and discarded wrapping paper — and rubbing her wet little nose up against the corners of shiny packages under a tree sporting ornaments she’s sure were placed for her swatting pleasure.

Hale follows “It’s a Wonderful Life” with “A Christmas Carol,” which opens at the Gilbert theater on Dec 1. Even Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, who takes such delight in denying comfort to the poor and downtrodden, couldn’t ignore the pitiful pleas of Pinky when she’s ready for dinner.

I imagine Pinky would eagerly curl up beside the fire with Tiny Tim, offering a gentle purr as warming as the fire’s glow — and have great fun sitting with Tiny Tim in a chair by a window overlooking bustling holiday season streets.

Hale opens “See How They Run” Dec 31, giving Valley theater-goers a chance to welcome the New Year with comedic farce and fast-paced frivolity. Pinky might not know what to make of this one — with its cockney maid, men dressed as clergymen and a whole lot of misadventures spawned by mistaken identity.

Pinky might favor a different “See How They Run” plot — perhaps something featuring plump quails bobbing their tiny heads as they cross the road, or quivering dogs terrified by cats with an inflated sense of self.

Hale notes that folks who attend their production of “42nd Street” — which opens Feb 16, 2012 — will “love seeing the underdog succeed.” But Pinky”s never pleased when the word “dog” and “success” appear in the same sentence, so this will be a harder sell.

Perhaps she’d be more receptive if we decked her out in a slick tux with tails, then gave her a tophat and cane, so she could try a little soft-shoe during songs like “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” or “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”

I’m afraid to tell Pinky about “Barefoot in the Park” — a Neil Simon comedy featuring the adventures of two newlyweds and a matchmaking mother-in-law — which opens at Hale on Feb 21, 2012. She’s perfectly fine with living the barefoot life, but might resent the “park” mention given her indoor-cat status.

Rabbits hold plenty of interest for cats, so Pinky might be thrilled to learn that a rabbit named “Harvey” is coming to Hale on April 5, 2012. But only until she learns that Harvey, the imaginary companion of Elwood P. Dowd, is more than six feet tall — and invisible.

Pinky spends plenty of time watching our own bunny, named “Rugby” — as well as a pair of lovebirds named “Taffy” and “Trixy” — who occupy pet pads near a staircase perfect for panoramic viewing of all things potentially edible.

I’ll need to have a little talk with Pinky about this next one — “To Kill a Mockingbird,” opening May 25, 2012. It might be a lot like a conversation I had with my husband recently that ended with the quip “you’re so literal.”

The classic work, based on the novel by Harper Lee, is set in the Deep South of the 1930s. It has nothing to do with killing birds — or leaving them as trophies on a “Welcome” mat outside the front door. Instead, it’s a tale of friendship and love amidst of world filled with prejudice and hate.

Hale closes its 2011-2012 season with “Bye Bye Birdie,” opening July 13, 2012 — which follows a teen singing sensation drafted into the military during the 1960s. Having used more than my fair share of “cat eats bird” fodder already, I suppose I’ll have to find a different link to all things feline.

Happily, the musical’s songs include not only “Put on a Happy Face” but also “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” — no doubt a reference to the “nine lives” of cats.

I know pets aren’t typically allowed at community theater productions, so I suppose Pinky will have to settle for nibbling on programs we bring home from Hale Centre Theatre productions.

But you can’t really blame me for conjuring images of my cat with every mention of birds, mice or bunnies. I can only imagine how the dogs living next door might react to seeing the musical “Cats.”

– Lynn

Coming up: Dance and identity

Photo: Christopher Trimble

Performing arts at PVCC

A refrigerator that makes espresso?

While other real estate values are wavering, most families find that a single piece of indoor real estate never loses its value. It’s the kitchen refrigerator — common home to school notices, crayon art and lists galore.

I’m giving my fridge a bit of a makeover today — starting with the 2010-2011 season brochure for the Paradise Valley Community College Center for the Performing Arts.

Like my refrigerator, PVCC is one busy place.

The college offers student art exhibits plus student dance, music, theater and other performance art. They’ve got film festivals, guest artists and more — sometimes at no cost, but always at least at low cost.

PVCC presents "Compleat Female Stage Beauty" Oct 7-10

Several of this month’s offerings include teen to adult fare. There’s “Compleat Female Stage Beauty” Oct 7-10, “Teenage Devil Dolls” (a 1955 film presented with narrator and live orchestra) Oct 9, and Lisa Starry’s “A Vampire Tale” presented by Scorpius Dance Theatre Oct 26.

Film buffs will find plenty of film fare at PVCC this season — including their ongoing film festival with works from Norway, Spain, France, Germany and other countries.

Student film festivals, for which admission is free, will be held both Dec 10 this year and May 9, 2011. The “Desperado Gay and Lesbian Film Festival” takes place Jan 28-30, 2011.

PVCC presents "Teenage Devil Dolls" Oct 9

For Broadway lovers, there are several diverse choices — from “Urinetown: The Musical” (one of our favorites) Nov 12-21 to Neil Simon’s farcical play “Rumors” April 8-17, 2011.

PVCC presents “Paradise on Broadway: A Musical Revue” on Dec 11 — as well as May 7, 2011.

The list of PVCC music, dance and visual art offerings is equally impressive.

Come to think of it, if I could get PVCC to give me a room with a fridge just large enough to post their season brochure — and maybe hold a couple of iced espressos — I could be perfectly content just living at their performing arts center.

I get the feeling there’s always something wonderful happening there.

–Lynn

Note: Tomorrow’s post will feature Valley schools (K-12 or some portion thereof) performing fall musicals — including “Fiddler on the Roof” presented by Xavier/Brophy Theatre. If your school is doing a musical production during 2010 that’s open to the public, please let me know today and you might be featured along with Xavier/Brophy.

Coming up: Time for tributes, Supermoms on Superman, Lynn and Liz hit the East Valley

Fun with farce

I’m a relative rookie when it comes to the “farce” genre in theater — only recently enjoying my first live experience with the art thanks to Phoenix Theatre’s “Noises Off.” I hadn’t expected to enjoy the form, but now find myself becoming a bit of a farce fanatic.

Whether you’re a farce fan or merely farce-curious, this weekend presents a rare opportunity to enjoy farce at its finest — the Flaherty and Ahrens musical called “Lucky Stiff.” It’s a murder mystery based on the novel “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.”

“Lucky Stiff” is being performed this weekend at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale by students from Arizona School for the Arts (ASA).

It’s a real high school musical, directed by Toby Yatso, an artist in residence with Phoenix Theatre who leads the ASA theatre arts team.

I’ll be there all weekend in true stage mom mode — hoofing tickets and hocking candy. My daughter Lizabeth has been hush hush about the show, so I’ve had to do a bit of my own research. Here’s what I know…

It’s the work of the award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose other collaborations include “Seussical” and “Ragtime.” It’s got a dog, a dead body and hidden diamonds — plus a wheelchair and a heart-shaped box with surprising contents.

There’s stiff competition in Valley theater this weekend as the Herberger Theater Center reopens to reveal remarkable renovations, The Black Theatre Troupe presents the Tony Award winning August Wilson play titled “Fences” and the Broadway touring production of “Young Frankenstein” plays at ASU Gammage.

“Lucky Stiff” is recommended for ages 12 and up, so that’ll make theater-going decisions easier for parents of preschoolers to preteens. Your choices are equally appealing as Childsplay presents “A Year With Frog and Toad” at Tempe Center for the Arts and Valley Youth Theater opens their production of “Pinkalicious” (both based on children’s literature).

I narrowly missed the opportunity to see “The Ice Pirates” presented by the Dobson Drama Club at Dobson High School in Mesa this weekend. I only learned of the show when I stumbled on a flyer while Jennifer and I were looking for a “STAND Up 4 Africa” event held there on Saturday.

It looks like I’ll have other opportunities — since Dobson High School has upcoming productions that include “Friday Night Live” (Dec 17) and “The Breakfast Club” (Jan, 2011). And I do hope other schools will drop me a line to let me know their offerings.

Attending school and community theater events featuring the Valley’s many talented youth is a truly enjoyable and economical way to experience theater productions you might not encounter at other venues — and to support youth in our community who engage in positive, creative activities in the face (and farce) of so many competing and crass alternatives.

– Lynn

Note: Click here or go to Brown Paper Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com to purchase tickets to “Lucky Stiff.” For a comprehensive listing of family-friendly theater and other activities, visit the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Next up at Greasepaint Youtheatre is their production of “The Wiz” directed by D. Scott Withers.

Coming up: A marathon of movie reviews, Monsters among us, Getting to know you: Gammage goers

Update: Soon after posting, I learned of another comedic piece coming to a Valley stage (this one is for mature audiences). It’s a “comedic vaudeville” work titled “Romantic Fools” being presented by Chandler-Gilbert Community College Oct 14-17. For tickets call 480-732-7343 or go online. Theater Works opens “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” also a comedy, on Oct 1 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets call 623-815-7930 or go online.

The fine art of farce

A Valley reviewer recently dubbed Phoenix Theatre’s “Noises Off” the “best comedy you are likely ever to see.” I’d be inclined to agree had I not seen so much fabulously funny fare from this professional theater company through the years.

There’s plenty more to come from Phoenix Theatre – including the first production of the racy Broadway musical “Avenue Q” by an Arizona theater company. Who’s to say they won’t outdo themselves yet again?

Their casting is simply superb — and this show is no exception. Add a complex and creative set, maddeningly funny material and music to knock your socks (or boxer shorts) off — and you have a farce that’s nothing short of fine art.

"Noises Off" elevates farce to a fine art (Photo by Laura Durant)

Direction by Matthew Wiener, producing artistic director for Actors Theatre of Phoenix, only fuels the flames — for both the fantastically talented cast and the audience members who mistakenly presume they are out for a night of modest theater.

Picture yourself in a British theater waiting for the curtain to rise on “Nothing On” presented by “A Noise Within” productions. You’re leafing through the program only to discover actor/creative team credits that include playing Britain’s most famous lollypop lady, winning a coveted medal for violence, and loving anything small and furry.

It’s easy to imagine because every “Noises Off” playbill includes a fictitious “Nothing On” program replete with cast/creative team bios as well as a lovely bit of dramaturgy borrowed from an expert ‘in the semantics of Bedroom Farce.’

Members of the "Noises Off" cast in all their slapstick glory (Photo by Laura Durant)

If you carefully read the pseudo-program before the curtain opens, you’ll get your fix of fascinating facts about various elements of the production — the slamming doors, the falling trousers, mistaken identities and more.

You’ll discover that uproarious laughter, for some, “is a metaphysical representation of the sexual act.” If that’s the case, you’re in for one heck of an orgy when you see this show.

Good news for parents: Other than a black negligee and boxer shorts (not worn together, thankfully), there’s little that’s explicitly rude or crude in this show. It’s rife with inuendo, but I can’t imagine that many kids would catch the subtleties. They will, however, appreciate the many triumphs in physical comedy.

You never know where that baggage might end up (Photo by Laura Durant)

“Noises Off” by Michael Frayn consists of three acts featuring the folly of a ficticious “Nothing On” production. Act I depicts the final rehearsal for “Nothing On” — setting up characters and situations that won’t be fully appreciated until later in the work. It’s funny, but you won’t yet find yourself wishing you’d made that last minute potty stop.

Act II reveals a bevy of backstage bungling as we witness a performance of “Nothing On” from behind the scenes. It’s funnier and more outrageous than the first, but the farce really hits the fan during Act III, when we finally see the onstage mayhem as it appears to unwitting audience members.

Plenty of pratfalls involve persnickety props — a disappearing and reappearing plate of sardines, a rotary dial phone with a tendency-to-tangle cord, flowers that never cease to find their way into the wrong suitors’ hands. The rotating set-piece — the two-story home where “Nothing On” is set — is equally delightful.

I do have to wonder, though, whether younger audiences would be more appreciative if the work was updated a bit with Starbucks in lieu of sardines or computer wires in lieu of telephone cords. Of course, there’d be no stopping there since the world may soon be wireless — and the modern day quest for efficiency robbed of sensual pleasures like reading a paperback book over a cup of coffee might just as easily bring caffeine injections via some sort of biochip.

Steer clear of slippery sardines, among other things (Photo by Laura Durant)

It’s been several days since I saw the play, being performed at Phoenix Theatre through Sept 19 (extended from Sept 12 due to ‘popular demand and critical acclaim’). But I still find myself leafing through the actual program — where I’m learning all sorts of things about our local talent.

Leann Dearing (Brooke) and her husband Matthew are acting instructors with Dearing Acting Studio. Mike Lawler (Selsdon) is a member of Phoenix Theatre’s “Partners That Heal” program. Maren Maclean (Belinda) has extensive Shakespeare experience (including several seasons as education outreach director for Southwest Shakespeare Company) — which I’m convinced is the best training ground for the craft of comedy.

Gail Wolfenden-Steib (costume designer) operates Rukshana Raks!, a custom dancewear business specializing in belly dance costumes for both cabaret and tribal dance styles. Katie McNamara (properties designer) has worked as a prop artisan for the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and others.

Matthew Wiener (director) holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Michael J. Eddy (production manager/lighting designer) sits on the board of Scorpius Dance Theatre (which presents “A Vampire Tale” to sold out crowds each Halloween season). Pasha W. Yamotahari (assistant director and more) holds a journalism degree from the Cronkite School at ASU and has earned dramaturge and critic awards from the presitigious Kennedy Center.

Beware of doors that fly open or slam shut (Photo by Laura Durant)

Despite the farcical nature of the fare, I came away from it asking myself a rather serious question. Might I want to be a dramatuge when I grow up? Thankfully, I still have time to decide.

In the meantime, being an avid supporter of the Valley’s arts scene is a mighty fine gig.

–Lynn

Note: Mention the word “sardines” when ordering your tickets to enjoy a $5 savings while the offer lasts.

Coming up: Lynn and Liz encounter a frog and a toad a la Childsplay in Tempe; “Music Man” (with Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre) meets the Musical Instrument Museum; Making magic happen

Photos (from the top): Joseph Kremer;  Mike Lawler, Joseph Kremer, Christopher Williams, Maren Maclean, Cathy Dresbach; Christopher Williams, Leeann Dearing; Christopher Williams, Cathy Dresbach; Joseph Kremer, Cathy Dresbach, Robert Kolby Harper, Leeann Dearing (counter-clockwise from top left). All photos by Laura Durant of Durant Communications.