Real drama in Wisconsin

Citizens opposing proposed changes to collective bargaining options in Wisconsin have been protesting at the State Capitol in Madison since mid-February. For folks unfamiliar with American theater history, it might feel like the first time high drama has come to Wisconsin.

But those who know the story of acting duo Alfred Lunt & Lynn Fontanne, who graced American stages from the 1920s through the 1950s, know that plenty of drama took place at their summer home — an estate called “Ten Chimneys” that’s now a historical landmark.

This weekend is your last chance to see Arizona Theatre Company perform "Ten Chimneys" (Photo by Ed Flores)

It’s high on my list of places to tour if I ever find myself in that neck of the woods — a small town called Genessee Depot that’s just 60 miles from Madison. In the meantime, I can get my Lunt & Fontanne fix from Arizona Theatre Company’s production of “Ten Chimneys.”

This world-premiere by playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, with direction by David Ira Goldstein, is being performed through Sun, March 6 at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. The uber-eager can go online for a play guide covering all things Lunt & Fontanne, which I read with rapt attention from front to back.

The play “Ten Chimeys” imagines Lunt & Fontanne working at their summer home to prepare for roles in Chekhov’s “The Sea Gull.” I’m especially grateful now that I attended a production of this Chekhov classic during my last trip to Pepperdine University in Malibu.

Next time you’re glued to the television watching something mediocre that passes for real drama, remember the tale of “Ten Chimneys.” Then make your way to the Herberger Theater Center for a magic blend of classic and contemporary theater.

Because that, my friends, is real drama.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about a new PBS “American Experience” titled “Triangle Fire” which examines historical events and issues related to labor unions. (Students from Arizona School for the Arts perform the play “Triangle” next month). Another episode titled “Hoover Dam” also examines these issues. Click here to enjoy a taste of the “Odd Wisconsin” exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Coming up: A plethora of puppets, Theater tales from Scottsdale Community College

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One response to “Real drama in Wisconsin

  1. Lynn,

    A lovely post.

    I’m glad you liked the play (I did too), and I look forward to welcoming you to the “real” Ten Chimneys whenever you’re able to come. You’re going to love it.

    Sean Malone
    President, Ten Chimneys Foundation

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