The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Studio Players production of The Graduate gave us a chance to talk to Lexington actress Allie Darden both about her own stage career and playing the iconic cougar. Click here to read the story, and check out the video, above.
- More to read: In God of Carnage, real couples play couples at war
- Photo gallery: God of Carnage
Veronica and Michael Novak have asked Annette and Alan Raleigh over to their house for a polite discussion about the playground squabble that ended with the Raleigh’s son knocking two teeth out of the Novak’s son’s mouth.
Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
As Veronica is reading a statement of the incident in faux legalize, it’s obvious slouching Alan, lightly chewing on his knuckle, is barely tolerating this high-minded handling of boys being boys.
But will he be the one to take the first swing, hurl the first bare-knuckle insult? Is Veronica’s sophisticated veneer thinner than fine stationery and are her condescending words as blunt an instrument as the bamboo chute that was used on her son?
Those are questions Yasmina Reza explores over 90-minutes in God of Carnage, which opened on Friday (Nov. 11, 2011) for a two-weekend run in a production by On The Verge at the Downtown Arts Center. The production is a first for the itinerant troupe that has specialized in presenting site-specific works such as Lillian Hellman’s Little Foxes plays in historic homes and Jeffrey Hatcher’s Three Viewings in a funeral home.
This time around, there is a set, a fairly convincing pristine New York City apartment where Michael and Veronica take refuge from the barbaric world.
The twists in this production are that each role except Alan is double cast with several real life couples involved. So people with the time, money and interest to see more than one performance will see different takes on these distinct characters. Of course, you have to see the show more than once to really cash in on the gimmick. Otherwise, you will get the cast you get, which, in the case of Friday night’s cast was really good. We should note the three performers we did not see, Allie Darden, Bob Singleton and Kim Dixon, are all distinguished Lexington stage actors in their own rights.
But no one could have faulted director Ave Lawyer if she had just booked seven performances with Friday night’s cast either. Adam Luckey as Alan and Lisa Thomas both perfectly filled their roles as polar opposites in the play, and Paul Thomas as Michael and Tiffiney Baker as Annette also delivered strong performances.
Paul Thomas’ Michael is a critical character in conveying Reza’s concept that underneath our masks of civility lurk selfish, barbaric louts who are only interested in ourselves. He starts the play agreeing with everyone in an effort to get along, but we get the odd story of how the night before this meeting he took a hamster out of the house because it was bothering him and abandoned the cold frightened critter on a Brooklyn sidewalk. We soon find this incident was probably the most honest representation of Michael’s character, and everyone else’s true colors come out too in spates of violence that are surprising in the play’s environment, but never quite of the bare-knuckle variety.
The cast is uniformly skilled at giving us hints of their true natures at the outset and then letting them shine as revealed by incidents of onstage illness, the maddening constant interruption of Alan’s cell phone and a quickly disappearing bottle of rum – Paul Thomas and Baker were particularly adept at portraying the journey from toasty to trashed. There was one moment late in Friday’s performance where an awareness of the the ridiculousness of the situation did come over some members of the cast.
Resa’s well-honored script doesn’t quite have the same intensity or dept of, say, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf. But it is a quick, entertaining night at the theater that will send you out thinking about the illusions we create and the monsters that lurk beneath.
Here are the casts for the remaining performances:
■ 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12: Lisa Thomas, Bob Singleton, Kim Dixon and Luckey.
■ 2 p.m. Nov. 13:: Lisa and Paul Thomas, Tiffiney Baker and Adam Luckey.
■ 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17: Lisa and Paul Thomas, Dixon and Luckey.
■ 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18: Allie Darden, Singleton, Baker and Luckey.
■ 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19: Darden, Singleton, Dixon and Luckey.
■ 2 p.m. Nov. 20: Darden, Paul Thomas, Baker and Luckey.
Studio Players closes its 2009-10 regular season with the Ray Cooney’s comedy Run for Your Wife. The show is about a London cab driver who is married to two women. An accident one morning threatens to expose his bigamy and possibly land him in jail. It runs through June 6 at the Carriage House Theatre.
Feb24Filed under: Bluegrass Community and Technical College, comedy, Downtown Arts Center, slide shows, Theater; Tagged as: Allie Darden, Beth Kander, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Downtown Arts Center, Kathy Swango, Katie Jo Cox, Leah Dick, Philip Sharkey, See Jane Quit, Tim X. Davis, Zach Dearing
Beth Kander takes fellow playwright William Shakespeare’s quote that “all the world’s a stage” one step further.
“In the world of the stage, it’s a really small world,” Kander says.
And that helps explain why her play See Jane Quit, which won the 2008 Mississippi Theatre Association Playwriting Award, is having its world premiere in Central Kentucky.
Kander’s boyfriend is old pals with Tim X Davis, director of the theater program at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Recently they were visiting, renewing an old acquaintance that started when they met directing theater in Biloxi, and Kander mentioned that she wrote plays.
Davis says, “Almost as an afterthought, I said, ‘Well I’m always looking for new scripts. Why don’t you send me something?’”
Kander sent two scripts, and one of them, See Jane Quit, immediately clicked with Davis.
BCTC’s production opens Feb. 25 and will continue through March 6.
It is the second world premiere for the young BCTC theater program, which presented the world premiere of Davis’ Dancing With Dani in 2008. It’s also the second world premiere by a Lexington college theater troupe in less than a month; University of Kentucky Theatre just presented the initial production of Aleks Merilo’s Blur in the Rear View.
BCTC student Leah Dick, who plays the title role in See Jane Quit, says, “I’m really excited being able to set a precedent for other people to follow.”
Veteran Lexington actor Allie Darden, who plays Jane’s best friend, says, “So many times, you go out to audition for that great play like Steel Magnolias, and then you get a role that was made famous by some great actress and you think, ‘I couldn’t possibly do as well as they did it.’
“In a world premiere, you birth it. It’s your part.”
Adding to the excitement of presenting a world premiere is that next weekend’s performances are during the Southeastern Theatre Conference, which will bring more than 4,000 theater professionals and serious amateurs to Lexington from Thursday to Saturday.
May13Filed under: slide shows, Theater; Tagged as: Allie Darden, Another Part of the Forest, Ashley Smith, Ave Lawyer, Bob Singleton, Bodley-Bullock House, Brenda Crutcher, Christopher Rose, Hunt-Morgan House, Lillian Hellman, Little Foxes, On the Verge, Roger Leasor, Samantha Doane-Bates, Tara Adkins, Tim Hull
Here’s our slide show of On the Verge’s production of Another Part of the Forest. Mouse over the bottom of the slide show to get controls. Click on the little comment cloud to the left to activate captions (if you want captions on this show, it’s probably best to go to the large version of the show). If you click on a photo, it will take you to a larger version of it at Picasa, and you can click the link at the bottom left of the slide show window for a larger version of the whole show.
On the Verge opens its second site-specific production this weekend: Lillian Hellman’s Another Part of the Forest at the Hunt-Morgan House on Gratz Park. The play is the prequel to Hellman’s The Little Foxes, which was On the Verge’s debut last fall, across the park at the Bodley-Bullock House. Like that original show, the audience is extremely limited for each performance of this play, which will be acted out in various rooms of the house.
Read more about the show, directed by Ave Lawyer, later this week as we catch up with Roger Leasor, who plays Marcus Hubbard, the father of Ben Hubbard, the character he played in Foxes.
Lexington actor Allie Darden will get to make her New York debut after all.
Darden will be heading to the Big Apple this summer to participate in a production of Brian Hampton’s Checking In at the Midtown International Theatre Festival July 15-Aug. 1. She will be reprising the role of Brooke, the part she originated in the world premier production of Checking In at Actors Guild of Lexington in 2005. Actors Guild artistic director Richard St. Peter will be directing the production. It will be St. Peter’s New York directing debut.
Darden traveled to New York earlier this year for a reading of the play, which is about a group of high school friends who gather years after graduation at a hotel room in Atlantic City. She was invited to join the production when the Midtown Theatre Festival picked it up, but had to wait for permission from her employer to take the time off to go participate in rehearsals and the performances.
Darden’s most recent role in Lexington was Ouisa in Studio Players’ production of Six Degrees of Separation. She is currently working in On the Verge’s production of Lillian Hellman’s Another Part of the Forest, which opens Sunday at the Hunt-Morgan House.
Brian Hampton’s Checking In, which had its world premier production at Actors Guild of Lexington in 2005, will be presented at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City this summer. Actors Guild artistic director Richard St. Peter will direct the production, which will be performed five times between July 13 and Aug. 3 at the 99-seat June Havoc Theatre in the Abington Theatre Arts Complex.
Checking In, which centers on the reunion of a group of Virginia high school friends at an Atlantic City hotel, had a reading in New York in January featuring Hampton in the role of Ben and Lexington actor Allie Darden as Brooke, the roles they originated in Lexington. Brian will play Ben in the New York production, and Darden has been offered her role but has not announced whether she’ll be able to take it.
Mar16Filed under: slide shows, Studio Players, Theater; Tagged as: Allie Darden, Anna Predmore, Eric Ryan Seale, Greg Jones, Jesse Hugerford, John Guare, Kevin Greer, Kody Kiser, Lief Erickson Rigney, Lillie Ruschell Hoskins, Marcus A. Roland, Natalie Cummins, Six Degrees of Separation, slide show, Spencer McGuire, Studio Players
Here’s our slide show from Studio Players’ production of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, which runs March 19-April 5 at the Carriage House Theatre, 154 W. Bell Court. Mouse over the bottom to get controls. Click on the little comment cloud to the left to activate captions. If you click on a photo, it will take you to a larger version of it at Picasa, and you can click the link at the bottom left for a larger version of the whole show.
Two Actors Guild of Lexington productions from past seasons are getting some road work.
AGL artistic director Richard St. Peter and actor Adam Luckey have been in Sanford, N.C., recently to bring St. Peter’s high-tech production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the stage of the Temple Theatre. The production, with Luckey reprising his performance in the title role, opened Jan. 7 and runs through Jan. 25. The Temple’s producing director is Peggy Taphorn, who directed Actors Guild’s productions of My Way in 2004 and Quilters in 2005.
To the north, Brian Hampton’s Checking In, which received its world premier production at Actors Guild in the Spring of 2005, will be read Monday night at the Blackbird Studio Theatre in New York. Heading to Gotham for the reading is Lexington actor Allie Darden, who will be reprising her role as Brooke and Hampton, as Ben. The play is about a group of old high school friends from Virginia who reunite for a weekend at an Atlantic City hotel. One of the friends has been harboring a secret that threatens the group’s friendship. Filling out the reading’s cast will be several Broadway and television actors.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich