Carpenter Square Theatre has outdone itself with its current production of “Something Intangible” by Bruce Graham. Director Linda MacDonald has given us a tightly constructed and delicately interwoven story that draws us in and carries us along on a funny and often evocative emotional roller-coaster.
Loosely based on the lives of brothers Walt and Roy Disney, “Something Intangible” traces the progress of animation genius Tony Wiston (played by Joe DiBello) as a gifted artist with seriously limiting personality quirks. His brother Dale (Craig Pruitt) seeks psychological counseling to deal with the twists and turns of managing the Wiston empire—which for Dale, means trying to rein in the outrageous spending of his brother. The excellent script, as performed by this cast, is rendered by turns touching, informative, thoughtful, and hilarious.
Pruitt and DiBello are very convincing brothers; they give us a nuanced and detailed relationship that includes the kinds of denial and reinvention where damaged people often take refuge. Dale, struggling with his own personal troubles, makes every effort to avoid the self-deceit about family history, even as he recognizes that Tony can’t or won’t.
John Q. Wilson is very deft as the dentist/financier Doc Bartelli who often invests in Tony’s visions, but who wants more of the commercially successful cartoons for kids and less of the risky artistic work that Tony longs to produce. Ginger Gilmartin-Smith as Dr. Sonia Feldman personifies the woman psychoanalyst of the 1930s and 40s—a competent and intelligent person forced to struggle with both sexism and chronic misconceptions of her profession. Brilliant and barely closeted young artist Leo Baxter, beautifully played by C.W. Bardsher, shows us how the homophobic bigotry and anti-Semitism of Hollywood affected so many young artists and performers. Famous conductor Gustav Von Meyerhoff is flamboyantly portrayed by Terry Veal, in one of his most effective recent roles. Veal’s shifting accent (Italian? Austrian?) underscores the manipulative nature of the character.
In the confined space that CST currently calls home, designers and directors face a serious challenge in building a world for the audience. MacDonald, working with designer James Polk Wilson and CST artistic director Rhonda Clark, has created a detailed and coherent world that moves seamlessly from past to present, from Tony’s Hollywood office to Dr. Feldman’s consulting room, from press events to private screenings. The very fine performances, the thoughtful direction, the clear and painterly design all combine to bring us inside the strange and crazy world of animated motion pictures just before and during WWII. We come to respect, appreciate, despise and laugh at these two men and their world. While not claiming to be a true “biography,” this play and this delightful production of it give us a direct insight into the world of Walter E. and Roy O. Disney and the creation of such masterpieces as “Fantasia.”
“Something Intangible” plays through June 8 at Carpenter Square Theatre, 800 W. Main, Oklahoma City. Shows are at 8:00 Friday and Saturday, 7:30 on Thursday evenings, and one Sunday matinee at 2:00 on June 2. Visit the website at www.carpentersquare.com or call 405-232-6500 for tickets.
This world premiere of a new play based on Henry Fielding’s immense tome, “The History of Tom Jones—a founding” gives us a well constructed story beautifully produced and performed by a talented and energetic cast, creatively directed by Tyler Woods, Reduxion’s Artistic Director. The script is by Erin Woods, who also serves as Managing Director, and this marks the first time that the couple have collaborated in this particular way.
This is not stodgy classical theatre, and if you are offended by sex or nudity, this show is probably not for you. The racy and racing story, reduced from Fielding’s 1749 novel, follows the ingenuous title character through a series of sexual escapades in his quest to find his heritage and his true love Sophia—who, as an embodiment of perfection and virtue, never has sex with anybody.
Fielding’s novel contains over 340,000 words with many pages of social commentary. Erin Wood’s adaptation of the novel for the stage has kept the essential elements of the story, with perhaps a few extra bits as well. Given how much of Fielding’s material Erin Woods was forced to cut, it is understandable that the result is long. Every episode is spritely, amusing, titillating, and informative, although not all of them are truly needed to advance the main story line.
Tyler Woods has given us a modernist version of 18th century England. The rich costumes (by designer Hanna Matter) have occasional fluorescent accents, the incidental music is derived from the Welsh singer Tom Jones (who took his stage name from the novel), and the actors are occasionally literally in the laps of the audience. The production quite successfully re-creates, in its own style, the rambunctious atmosphere of a period public house on the road from Somerset to London.
Rodney Brazil, in wonderful period form, sets the tone and literally shapes the evening as Fielding himself, narrating the story and commenting on life, the universe, and everything. Rett Terrell as Tom carries the show very ably, giving the lusty young man a certain naiveté that allows us to like him even as he demonstrates that, while charming and devoted, he is certainly not faithful in any physical sense.
Kris Schinske is a delightfully petulant and wicked Lady Bellaston, and Paul James is the very soul of good-hearted respectability in Squire Allworthy. Todd Clark is the energetic Squire Western, fiercely loving father of the virtuous Sophia (Suzanne Stanley) who is also willful and playfully charming. Jennifer Wells is splendid as the impertinent maid Honour, who accompanies Sophia when she runs away from an arranged marriage. David Fletcher-Hall is leeringly amusing as Partridge, who is initially suspected of being Tom’s father and later helps Tom find his real father and birthright. Each of these talented performers also plays other roles in the show; Stanley doubles as a housekeeper and as music director, James is a charming highwayman, and Schinske also plays the sister of Squire Allworthy. Clark and Fletcher-Hall are both extremely talented musicians, and they provide or accompany most of the incidental music throughout the show and during the intermission, occasionally with Stanley on keyboard. Stanley, also a fine singer, is joined by Jenna Connor, Holly McNatt, and Wells in some very effectively placed songs from the work of 1960s pop singer Tom Jones.
Ian Clinton plays two of the pettier villains of the show and does them both effectively and with distinctly different kinds of vice. Holly McNatt gives us both a lusty, good-hearted woman and a matronly innkeeper; Brayden Richardson a pastor and a city fop; Jenna Connor a gamekeeper’s daughter, an innkeeper’s daughter and a less-than-faithful merchant’s wife; Scotty Taylor as a corrupt but eventually penitent philosopher and the cuckolded merchant. Perhaps the most fun is had with Brett Young, who plays Sophia’s aunt and a female innkeeper with an eye to the ogling Mr. Partridge.
The show is a three-hour romp, and if it keeps its opening night pace, the length is no hardship. There are slower moments, and the story occasionally takes a detour which, though great fun, may distract from the arc of the tale, but it always come back to its main line.
The environments in the show are created almost entirely with minimal props and furnishings, designed by Catherine Pitt, which are placed on a wooden floor painted as the British flag. Ciera Terry’s lighting design is beautifully atmospheric. Fletcher-Hall was credited in the curtain speech as diction coach, and he had his work cut out for him. The earnest efforts of the cast to keep the Somerset and London accents—both educated and working class—distinct from one another does not quite come off, although the effort was worth making.
This is a long, rowdy and fun evening of theatre and it’s definitely worth the time. Warning: Breasts and buttocks are occasionally visible, and explicitly sexual behavior may be seen and heard throughout the evening. It is not recommended for children.
“History of Tom Jones: a foundling” runs at Reduxion’s The Broadway Theatre, 1613 N. Broadway in Oklahoma City, through May 25, with performances at 8:00 on Thursday through Saturday nights and two Sunday Matinees at 2:00 on May 12 and 19. For tickets, call 405-651-3191 or visit the Reduxion website at www.reduxiontheatre.com.
by guest blogger Joshua McGowen
When you were a child you learned your values every morning by visiting Sesame Street. Where is that kind of instruction for adults? Now there is a new street in town that will do just that. AVENUE Q is the international smash-hit musical about growing up, as told by a cast of people and puppets in a hilariously irreverent musical that combines Sesame Street with South Park. The Tony Award winning musical comes to The Pollard Theatre April 26th – May 18th and is the final production of the company’s 26th Season, “Choices.”
Winner of the 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book, AVENUE Q remains one of New York’s hottest tickets and most original shows in recent memory. Using risque humor, and maintaining human/puppet interaction in an homage to its inspiration, AVENUE Q is a musical treat filled with equal parts jaw dropping adult humor and good old fashioned heart.
Director Stevenson promises Pollard audiences a rare treat but warns that AVENUE Q is not for everyone. “This show has been on our wish list since it debuted on Broadway and has been so popular because at its core it’s rooted in the Sesame Street model: the idea of using puppets as a teaching tool. To be sure, the lessons in AVENUE Q are best suited for adults. Don’t let the puppets fool you—this is not a show for children. If a show can offend you this one probably will, but when it ends many people will relate to it because they’ve been there, and it feels like you’ve gone back with these familiar characters from your youth. It manages to be wildly hysterical and warm-hearted at the same time,” explains Stevenson.
The Pollard Theatre Company has assembled a powerhouse cast which includes Lane Fields as PRINCETON and ROD, Jared Blount as NICKY and TREKKIE MONSTER, Gwendolyn Evans as KATE MONSTER and LUCY THE SLUT, Crystal Ecker as MRS. T., Cristela Carrizales as CHRISTMAS EVE, Doug Ford as BRIAN and JaLeesa Beavers as GARY COLEMAN. The cast also includes Timothy Stewart and Joshua McGowen. The Pollard’s Artistic Director, W. Jerome Stevenson, directs this highly anticipated production which will feature musical direction by Todd Malicoate, scenic design by James A. Hughes, costume design by Michael James and property design by Timothy Stewart. Based on puppets originally conceived and designed by Rick Lyon, The Pollard production features puppets created by Dallas Costume Shop. AVENUE Q has music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty, based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx.
Tickets for AVENUE Q are $25, with senior, military and student discounts available. Student rush tickets are available one hour before the show for $10 cash, with student ID. Performances are April 26 through May 18, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Thursdays (May 9 and 16) at 8:00 pm and Sundays (May 5 and 12) at 2:00 pm. Tickets are available online at www.thepollard.org, by phone at (405) 282-2800, or at the Pollard Theatre box office at 120 W. Harrison Ave., Guthrie, Oklahoma.
If AVENUE Q can teach anything, it’s to remember that everything in life is only for now.
Gloriously overdone!’ … ‘as it should be’… ‘Oscar Wilde isn’t dated at all’ … ‘it’s just as funny now’ … ‘too funny, excuse me! Woops’ ‘he’s so delightfully homely’ … ‘that little girl certainly has a look that brooks no argument’ … etc. It is said that eavesdroppers never hear well of themselves but they certainly hear a lot of great comments at the intermission for “The Importance of Being Earnest” at Oklahoma City University. This play is a favorite for OKCU and is the fifth production over the 90 years that the drama school has brought great entertainment to Central Oklahoma. “The Importance of Being Earnest” also celebrates the new ‘Wall of Honor’ gracing the Burg Theatre lobby with photos of exceptionally talented and successful graduates.
Directed by Lance Marsh, veteran OKCU professor, “The Importance of Being Earnest” is also a collaboration between OKCU, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and City-Rep. The collaboration brings in the professional guidance and experience from the Oklahoma theatre community that provides students with excellent examples of fortitude, concentration and talent. The plan works well for all three entities. Many of the cast members are young students. Many of them are far more experienced. Some of them are successful actors able to make a career in the arts. The result is a professional quality show at all levels that serves to entertain and delight.
Marsh brings the best of the best to the forefront in working with this excellent cast and crew. The first thing that jumps out is the incredibly beautiful set by Scenic Designer Jack Yates. Costume Designer Robert Pittenridge understands the human body perfectly and each costume is a work of art that moves with the actor like a second skin and gives the actors the necessary comfort to concentrate solely on their performance. Sound Designer Jeffrey R, Sherwood and Lighting Designer Kathryn Eader create the exactly perfect mood for “The Importance of Being Earnest” as well. Stage Manager, Steve Emerson synchronizes beautifully with Student Stage Manager Jessica McCoy to enhance the mood of the show and ensure smooth technical expertise.
With all of the elements of a perfect show in place, all of the actors stepped up to their marks to meet the time-honored commitment of entertainers—perfection. Michael Jones is Lady Bracknell. He incorporates just the right amount of femininity into his characterization with celebration, and he uses his facial expressions with the most delightful coloration. His performance brings the exact amount of realism to make the ridiculousness of the character believable and therefore hilarious. Jones, a member of Actors Equity Association, comes to the show from CityRep where he is Artistic Associate.
Andi Dema is John (Jack) Worthing. Dema is a BFA graduate of Oklahoma City University and his talent is revealed in spades as he brings the importance of being earnestly involved into his characterization. Hunter Paul is Algernon Moncrieff. Paul is a Junior BFAA from Owasso, Oklahoma and has a clearly bright future in the craft. The two of them complement each other perfectly with just the right amount of man about town and fop that ranges from very funny to delectably amusing.
Kathryn McGill is the perfect Miss Prism. She comes to the production from Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park where she is Artistic Director. Her expertise in making the moment count comes from her long history in theatre where she never ceases to astound her audience. Renee Lawrence plays Gwendolyn Fairfax. She is a candidate member in Actor’s Equity and comes to the production from OKCU where she is a BFA Acting Junior. Her level of skill and grasp of humor is outstanding as she milks each laugh to the rim and never overflows the cup. Lauren Thompson is Cecily Cardew. Thompson is a BFA Acting Sophomore at OKCU and her performance is inspired and while she is very pretty, she makes prettiness itself amusing.
Dwight Sandell is Reverend Chasuble. Sandell comes to the production via CityRep, but is better known to Dallas audiences. Sandell, a member of Actor’s Equity, should visit Oklahoma City more often as his demeanor and talent are exceptional. Brett Garrett is Lane. He comes to us from OKCU where he is a BFA Acting Senior. He takes advantage of every moment on stage and knows exactly what to do with a cucumber sandwich. James Tyler Kirk is Merriman. Kirk is an Acting Performance junior at OKCU. His face is quite elastic and is an excellent choice for this cast.
Alexis Graves and Taylor Weinhold play the two maids. These parts may be small but the two actresses make them memorable. In an incredible show with an wonderful cast it is difficult to stand out with excellence in a small role, but they do so with grace and a great deal of fun. Graves and Weinhold are both Freshman BFA Acting majors. These are debut performances for the actresses and they will continue to impress us in their Oklahoma City University performances and in the community as well.
Oscar Wilde will always be the wittiest playwright ever to put pen to paper. This production not only does justice to Wilde, it embraces him. Oklahoma City University holds a special place in the hearts of community members and alumnae who appreciate the quality of cultural experiences they bring to us. “The Importance of Being Earnest” is exactly the experience that makes us proud to be Oklahomans. “The Importance of Being Earnest” plays through April 14, so there is not much time to catch it. Catch it. Call 405-208-5227 or visit www.okcu.edu/tickets.
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams plays at the Lyric Theatre at the Plaza through April 13th. Set in the 1930s, the production begins with Tom (Alex J Enterine) giving us a rundown of each of the characters we’ll meet. His mother Amanda (Helen Hedman), his sister Laura (Lindsay Pittman), Jim (Dallas Lish), and the ghost of his absentee father, are all established by Tom’s opening monologue. Two other constructs inform the direction of the play: the Depression and its effects on those without means. Amanda struggles to secure a place for herself and her children in a world that has little sympathy for a woman abandoned by her husband. Tom is obliged to take his father’s place as the sole breadwinner in the family, but resents the burdens that keep him from his poetry and adventure. Laura is constantly badgered by her mother about business school, gentleman callers and the like, but is paralyzed by social anxiety and retreats to the safety of her glass menagerie at every opportunity. While the play is set in 1937, its themes are especially relevant today, and it’s to the Lyric’s credit that they choose to produce it now.
Michael Baron directs the production masterfully, and I cannot say enough about the cast. Hedman is the epitome of Amanda, her love for her children twisted by poverty into screeching rants and delusional remembrances of good times gone by. Enterine is fantastic as Tom, making clear his struggle between love for his family and the desire to get as far away from them as possible. Pittman shines as Laura, where her fewer speaking lines are more than made up by her presence on stage. Lish embodies the boisterous Jim, The Gentleman Caller, confident that he has all the answers despite not being as far along in life as so many expect of him.
This is such a great show! Set Designer Dawn Drake, with Lighting Designer John Fowler and Properties Designer Courtney Strong do a fantastic job, and evoke what can be both comforting and uncomfortable about such a small shared space. Costume Designer Jeffrey Meek furthers the characters’ social standings and personalities with their dress. Bleak realities are quietly emphasized by Sound Designer Michael Mosteller. Baron and Production Stage Manager Kerry Epstein have put together a great show. This is a retelling of a much lauded classic that is superbly directed, produced and acted, and will resonate with audiences without modernization. Go see The Glass Menagerie!
The Glass Menagerie is running at the Lyric Theatre at the Plaza, located at 1725 NW 16th St. The Glass Menagerie is playing now through April 13th, with shows Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM and a Saturday matinee at 2:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased online here, or by calling 405.524.9312. Enjoy the show!
Looking back on the good old days is a favorite pastime of every generation at critical points in life and the good old days always reflect a time of learning and discovery. The youthful period of discovery is not always carried throughout a lifetime, unless, of course, one indulges in theatre. Theatre students continue to grow in life as well as theatre and enhance many careers. Those who excel within the craft are blessed with talent and no fear of sweat. Oklahoma City University has been a hotbed of talent in this excellent discipline for the past 90 years. In that near century many from those hallowed halls have walked the paths of success within the craft and now The Oklahoma City University School of Theatre chooses to honor those students. They do so by bringing to life for the fifth time in these 90 years Oscar Wilde’s delightful “The Importance of Being Earnest” recalling cherished memories. Further, “The Importance of Being Earnest” is three-prong collaboration with City-Rep Theatre of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. All three theatrical entities are packed with OKCU graduates.
The event will take place at Oklahoma City University in the Burg Theatre and opening night is the evening of April 5, 2013. The initial five inductees for The Wall of Honor including legends and friends will take place at a banquet preceding the show. Inductees include the delightful Lakshmi Manchu, a native of India, and OCU graduate who has made a big impression in such programs as Las Vegas and Desperate Housewives and Chip Ulrich a technical expert in lighting whose position with Schuler-Shook is renowned. Cathy O’Donnell, whose contributions in movies is profound (remember the beautiful Barbara Waggoman who captured Jimmy Stewart’s heart in “The Man from Laramie”) is unfortunately a posthumous award. Jonathan Beck Reed whose nationwide theatrical triumphs are legendary will be inducted as well as Donald Jordan, Artistic Director for City-Rep Theatre here in Oklahoma City. Jordan and Reed have worked together on numerous productions over the years and their contribution to OKC Theatre is a credit to our city.
Now, on to the show! “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a great pooling of talent with OKCU Artistic Director, D. Lance Marsh directing an incomparable cast. Donald Jordan, Artistic Director of City-Rep is functioning as Artistic Director for the production and Kathryn McGill, Artistic Director for Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park portrays Miss Prism. However, the decisions all fall on Marsh and he begins with a superb cast list: Andi Dema portrays John Worthing, Hunter Paul plays Algernon Moncrief and the incredible Michael Jones is Lady Bracknell. Other cast members include Dwight Sandell, James Tyler Kirk, Brett Garrett, Renee Lawrence and Lauren Thompson. Also Kathryn McGill, Alexis Graves and Taylor Weinhold grace the list of exceptional actors Marsh has chosen. This cast includes Equity actors as well as sweat equity performers and a few future honorees for the Wall of Honor to come.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a favorite OCU Theatre production, and a favorite of Oscar Wilde fans, and who isn’t? The show reflects a time period in the past, but the humor is relevant and contemporary and is put together by a group of talented folks who are unable to miss the mark. For ticket information contact the Oklahoma City University Box Office at 405-208-5227 and the Burg Theatre is at the OKCU campus on Blackwelder just north of Pennsylvania Avenue. This is not one to miss! Earnestly!
A Preview Article
By special guest blogger Alexandra Bonifield
“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
Balance and harmony by design: consider the integrity of a three-legged stool. Each independent element shares equal weight-bearing support with the other two, creating one of the most secure platforms upon which to sit. Transpose understanding of that conceptual elegance to the much anticipated stage production of Oscar Wilde’s comedy ”The Importance of Being Earnest”, opening Saturday April 6 in the Burg Theatre at Oklahoma City University under the three-pronged guidance of City Rep Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and Oklahoma City University. Three artistic companies join forces — sharing talents, resources, personnel and a wealth of creative ideas in order to create a landmark, exceptional production of the best of Oscar Wilde. The result? Balance, harmony and first class entertainment.
How does it feel to not run the whole show? Donald Jordan, Founding Artistic Director of professional Oklahoma City Repertory Company or City Rep (recipient of this year’s American Theatre Wing National Theatre Award) explains his response to an early “Earnest” rehearsal, “It’s reassuring to look around the rehearsal space and realize you can’t swing a cat without hitting an Artistic Director or someone who is a “go-to” experienced theatrical leader. We’ve got more than 70 years of Artistic Director experience between us here.” His partners in the creative triumvirate are D. Lance Marsh, Director of “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Artistic Director/Head of Performance at Theatre OCU, an Affiliated Artist with CITY REP as well as Associate Artistic Director for Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and Kathryn McGill, Artistic Director of Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, now in its 29th season. Jordan reflects on the challenges presented by this diversity of co-production. “The integration of three unique theatrical entities, each with its own divergent needs, requires ingenuity, production planning, good communication, a strong sense of teamwork and trust. We all work with differing budgets, requirements (from academic considerations to the various Equity regulations of our professional template) and different standard production schedules. Solving the challenges in new and creative ways is actually part of the process’ fun.”
D. Lance Marsh concurs. “Communication is always a biggie in a co-production, and with three partners it gets more complicated. There are always three bosses (Artistic Directors) in the room when we meet that could potentially cause huge tension, but in this case it has been blissfully tranquil.” Marsh describes the production’s genesis, “ At Theatre OCU, we mix contemporary and classical plays in our seasons. Theatre OCU regularly co-produces with both City Rep and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, and Kathryn, Don and I have been daydreaming up a project to do together. This play came up in discussions. I had just returned from New York, (two years ago now) where I had seen Brian Bedford’s Broadway revival. City Rep’s Artistic Associate
(a top regional actor and Emmy Award winning director) Michael Jones was mentioned very early in that conversation to play Lady Bracknell; we are so fortunate he took on the challenge.”
Equity actor Jones has nothing but praise for the co-production and its director Lance Marsh. “Lady Bracknell is a once in a lifetime role, the largest acting challenge I’ve ever taken on. I feel like Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie”, I just want her to be believable and pretty! Three organizations cooperating means we have the financial resources to produce this play at a scale that no one of our organizations could afford. I hope the overlap of audiences will inspire greater attendance for all. The presence of our Equity company, City Rep, from stage manager to actors, will help drive a level of professionalism throughout the production that audiences will remember and come to expect. Our director Lance understands “Earnest’s” potential and brings it fully to life – with his extensive knowledge of and appreciation for the wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde. He makes it so visceral, so full of life. It’s a socially relevant play for any era and very, very funny.”
OSP’s Artistic Director Kathryn McGill expands on Jones’ remarks. She plays the female enigma with a “dark past” in the play, Miss Prism. “Lance is always saying ‘One foot in reality, one foot in whimsy’. The play is essentially realistic on the one hand and an over the top send-up of the social mores of the times, too. With Lance directing, a fine balance gets maintained because he’s in his natural element!” A University of Oklahoma graduate with an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, McGill came home to visit three decades ago and saw a need and the chance to create something special in her native Oklahoma. She has now directed 40 productions for the company she founded, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. “Lance is precise, technically focused and visionary. He inspires trust because he knows his subject so well and understands Oscar Wilde’s superb use of language. I just let the words carry me.”
So who coordinates the publicity and outreach for this worthy production? University of Central Oklahoma graduate Jon Haque, Managing Director of OSP, brings his unique skill set to the table. “We’re experiencing a creative Renaissance in the region, spearheaded by Don and Lance and Kathryn. Our cultural offerings are flourishing right along with our growing communities in OKC. Society at all strata interacts on a digital level; arts organizations need to utilize those resources to engage and demystify “classical” works, so I’m adding social media to the mix. Lady Bracknell has her own Facebook “fan” page we encourage audiences to engage with.” A fine regional actor in his own right, Haque also sings the praises of Lance Marsh as director. ”He’s the most giving director, with an incredible, intimate knowledge of Oscar Wilde and “Earnest”. His full understanding of how to perform this comedy of style encourages actors to really go all out and make their performances fun to watch and accessible.”
So what do these intrepid arts leaders hope their audience will take away from this co-production?
Kathryn McGill: “I hope audiences have a great time! I hope they gain an appreciation for how exceptionally well Wilde wrote his characters and the relevance of great language and literature for communication today.”
Donald Jordan: “I hope it gives our audiences a charming look into the humor of a specific time and place as well as the universality of youth, love and the eternal joy in poking fun at ‘proper’ convention.”
Director Lance Marsh gets the last word, summing it up. “ “The Importance of Being Earnest” is arguably the most perfect comedy written in the English language and one of my favorite plays of all time. Audience take-away? Fun. Style. Romance. A sense of “topsy-turvy.” Wilde is a master of creating a kind of upside-down world, where “the truth is not the sort of thing you tell a nice, sweet, refined girl”, where high stakes things are tossed off as trivialities, while a person’s name, or background, or a cucumber sandwich (or lack thereof) all become earth-shattering events….”
“The Importance of Being Earnest” runs from Friday, April 5 @ 8 PM (preview) through Sunday, April 14 @ 2 PM.
All performances are in the Burg Theatre in the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center, located at NW 25th and Blackwelder on the campus of Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma City, OK
Tickets: $20 adults, $8 students, teachers and military personnel with ID
CITY REP ticket hotline at 405.848.3761
Lady Bracknell’s fan page on Facebook:
A NY Times profile of Tony nominated Brian Bedford in the 2011 New York revival:
Freelance Journalist, NEA theatre critic and arts advocate Alexandra Bonifield writes from a liberal enclave in Dallas TX where she resides with four cats, a wealth of books and a hefty supply of Earl Grey Tea.
NOTE: This production contains nudity, violent language and actions, and potential triggers for survivors of domestic violence.
OKC Theatre Company and Ghostlight Theatre Club have teamed up for a truly creepy production of Tracy Letts’ play “BUG” directed by Lance Garrett. Even given minor limitations imposed by safety concerns, this production is disturbingly real. The technical skills of the director, the designers, and the actors combine to bring us into a sad and ugly world and meet some people who live there—and who live in our world as well.
Staged in the intimate Cityspace Theatre at the Civic Center Music Hall, the show brings the audience inside the interlocking spirals of a crack addict and a schizophrenic as they deal with an infestation in a seedy motel room. Agnes, played with quirky detail by Paula Dawson, is a divorced waitress living in a motel to avoid her abusive ex. Her friend RC (Christine Lanning) introduces her to Peter, a mild-mannered guy with his own quirks, played with meticulous insanity by Jeff Burleson. The two become interconnected as they deal with the unexpected appearance of Tyler Waits as Jerry the ex, who is now out of prison, and with the upsetting visit of Dr. Sweet (Jeni White).
Dawson and Burleson carry the show, and both show us believably damaged people. In the first act Burleson takes Peter into progressively problematic views of existence while Dawson’s Agnes becomes increasingly uncertain. In the second act, both become invested in a version of reality that may (or may not) be accurate. The accumulating tics and behavioral twitches travel that precarious line between convincing and distracting. This is a combination of good acting and careful direction, and it is not limited to the main characters.
Waits presents a truly frightening Jerry; his unexpected spurts of violence, his menacing physicality, and his intensely manipulative focus on Agnes are all too accurate aspects of domestic violence. Lanning and White also provide clearly defined and fully realized characters, brief though their appearances might be.
The play needs a believable environment, and the intricate and detailed set, crafted by designer and assistant director Scott Hynes, meets a high standard—one that is maintained throughout by the entire production team. Costumes, which contribute significantly to character, are coordinated by Jami Bustamante, soundscape is by Jason McKelvy, and the quiet and effective stage crew is competently run by stage manager Kory M. Kight.
The play itself is an exploration of madness, reality, and modern social paranoia. This production is a fine example of almost voyeuristic naturalism in theatre, and the play has no lessons to teach. Rather, it shows us an ugly side of life for many people today. The ending of the script offers an opportunity to see the characters making a self-aware choice; director Garrett does not takes us down this path. As the second act progresses, rapidly falling psychological and emotional dominos drive toward the ending without coming up for air, giving us little time for empathy or sympathy. By the end of the play, we are watching a beautifully crafted human train wreck.
“BUG” is at the Civic Center’s Cityspace Theatre through March 24. Shows are at 8:00 Thursday-Saturday with a 2:00 matinee on Sunday, March 24. Contact the OKC Theatre Company box office at 405-297-2264 or online at www.okctheatrecompany.org or at www.ghostlighttheatre.com.
Carpenter Square is presenting “Mrs. Mannerly” through March 16, 2013 directed by Kenneth Benton. There is no doubt that Benton cast this play with the ‘best of the best’ among Oklahoma City’s talented pool of actors. Cast members are Linda McDonald as Helen Anderson Kirk, known to students and former students as ‘Mrs. Mannerly’ with affection. Playing her student, Jeffrey, as well as cameo appearances as all the other students and some parents is Kaleb Bruza.
Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher is clearly using his own life as the basis for this cute comedy and manages to objectively recall those humorous qualities that allow one to grow from an awkward young boy to a successful playwright. “Mrs. Mannerly” is the story of a woman, returning to her home town having spent about 30 years teaching etiquette to those needing extracurricular instructions. She is now teaching children and grandchildren of her original students. This story tells of a special relationship that develops between Mrs. Mannerly and one of her most important and unusual students, Jeffrey. Jeffrey is a bright young man, unable to compete with other students in academic and athletic areas and determined to succeed in this class.
The script is consistently amusing with moments of hilarity. McDonald and Bruza do not miss a single opportunity to capture each of the author’s moments. Thanks to Director Benton the reactions are just as pronounced and amusing as the delivery and that makes “Mrs. Mannerly” work beautifully.
When times are tough and spring seems such a long way off a light-hearted look at life is necessary. “Mrs. Mannerly” does this with great sensitivity, as the audience learns that good manners are still important, and the basic of rules in etiquette may seem arbitrary and silly but they form a foundation for people to understand what they should do in any given situation. The overall flow of “Mrs. Mannerly” leaves the audience with the understanding that this instructor’s mission is important, even as we are amused by some of the more ridiculous strictures in etiquette. Comedy is stronger the closer to the reality reflected.
Benton, along with James Polk Wilson has designed a perfect yet minimalist set. The set creates an excellent venue for Benton to ‘block’ in characters that are invisible. Bruza’s fluid body movement enables him to step into each different character as he steps into their allotted space with ease and great creativity. McDonald, certainly one of Oklahoma’s most talented actresses and multi-talented artists has developed the perfect mix of public propriety and private impropriety. McDonald is delightful and alongside Bruza they make a great pair with great timing.
This is a good play for families, specifically multi-generational, as we are reminded of the special relationships that can develop between those at the beginning of their lives and choices and those who are facing the end of their choices with dignity and poise.
This production is also graced with lobby art by Marilyn Artus. Her collage style of art is fascinating as well as beautiful and combines the mix of media with soft but profound statements. Artus, a co-founder of The Girlie Show, a 2-day all female art/craft show known here in Oklahoma City, uses her vast artistic experience to sew and create silhouette pieces that capture the imagination.
800 W. Main, Oklahoma City is the place to be at 8:00PM Saturday and Sunday nights through March 16, 2013. That is the newest address for Carpenter Square Theatre. Their space is developing rapidly and is becoming a very delightful theatre. To contact them online visit www.carpentersquare.com or call 405-232-6500.
Tipsy is a state of mind as much as a state of inebriation. Getting together in fellowship to share an experience over a drink allows any participant freedom of expression. Even a club soda with a twist or coffee, still the camaraderie plays out because one is among understanding new acquaintances supporting an endeavor and encouraging creative new efforts. And that is the glorious result that every patron of The Tipsy Artist claims as they bring home a canvas that represents a new truth for an old art – the art of courage in the glory of personal revelation.
But it is just a gathering of people painting along with Tiffany Bora, an intrepid leader in discovery as she sets up a simple subject for non-artists to experience painting. People lose some inhibitions through the wine they have brought to the ‘bring your own bottle’ event, but they lose all inhibitions through the sharing that comes with the experience. Additionally, since fun is the main objective of this exercise, fun is the evening that patrons always experience.
Tiffany Bora is married to Joe Bohrer, known as Utopia Joe among his followers and fans. She uses the name Bora because it is so much easier to spell, when one is a little bit tipsy. A class with The Tipsy Artist consists of meeting in a space set up either at Gallery Grazioso in Guthrie or, on occasion, elsewhere such as a metropolitan restaurant. Classes are around $25.00 per person including all the supplies needed to produce a work of art (outside of those supplies the artist imbibes).
The classes are a great deal of fun and many discover talent they didn’t know they had. In addition to a piece of art, guests come home with peace of mind from the experience. In an utterly relaxed atmosphere, the comfort level could only be enhanced by stripping down and wearing only the most comfortable of clothes if any. Aha! Naked painting? The Tipsy Artist is developing a plan for that as well with an online class shortly to be announced. Just make sure your camera isn’t on both ways, and follow the class experience on line—that should be lots of fun! Look for those classes to be announced shortly on her website which is www.TipsyArtist.com. For further information Tiffany can be contacted through email at Tiffany@TheTipsyArtist.com . There is nothing more fun in making new friends than joining such a party from the Tipsy Artist Wine and Paint Parties.
Members of a recent class had a great time and many of them are repeat ‘attenders’ as well as first timers. Newbies resolve to return again to share with other friends. People usually come in twos, couples have a great ‘date night’ and friends have a relaxing escape but larger private parties are easily arranged as well. Contact The Tipsy Artist online at the above address or call 405-822-0481. The Tipsy Art is on Facebook www.facebook.com/TipsyArtist as well so check out her page and don’t resist the ‘like’ button.