The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The Divas – Pam Perlman, Joy Davis and Ellen Jenkins – talk about Studio Players’ production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical and what it means to be “trashtastic.”
Studio Players has announced its 2012-13 season, which will kick off in September with The King — Elvis, baby.
Sept. 13-30: Elvis Has Left the Building by Duke Ernsberger and Virginia Cate. Colonel Parker has booked an important date for Elvis to play, but he can’t be found. Can anyone stand in for The King? Directed by Eric Seale, artistic director of Actors Guild of Lexington.
Nov. 8-25: My Three Angels by Samuel Spewack and Bella Spewack. In French Guiana, three escaped convicts show up at a shop intending to rob it but end up helping the financially distressed shop owners. The 1953-54 Broadway play was the basis for the 1955 Humphrey Bogart movie We’re No Angels, one of his rare comedies. Directed by Ross Carter, director of last season’s opener, The 39 Steps.
Jan. 10-27: Southern Comforts by Kathleen Clark. A New Jersey widower and Southern widow meet and fall in love during a rainstorm, though they have to overcome some pronounced differences. Directed by David Senatore, director of last season’s production of Bad Seed.
March 7-24: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Tim Kelly. Sherlock Holmes returns to the Studio stage in this production directed by longtime Studio artist Gary McCormick.
May 9-26: Funny Money by Ray Cooney. A comedy about a briefcase containing a fortune in unmarked bills. Bob Singleton, director of this year’s The Graduate, directs.
Before all that, Studio presents its annual summer musical, The Great American Trailer Park Musical with music and Lyrics by David Nehis and a book by Betsy Kelso. It opens July 12 for a four-week run.
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.
Studio Players’ annual summer musical will be Betsy Kelso and David Nehls’ The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Hailed by the New York Sun as Desperate Housewives meets South Park, the show’s website says it is about “agoraphobia, adultery, ’80s nostalgia, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, kleptomania, strippers, flan and disco,” all of which take place in a North Florida mobile home park. The show is set to run July 12 to Aug. 5 at the Carriage House Theatre on West Bell Court.
Auditions are 6:30 p.m. April 2 and 3 and 2 p.m. April 7. They will consist of cold readings from the script. Auditioners can bring a prepared song or musical selection, or one will be taught at the auditions. Auditions are open to men and women ages 18 and older. For more information, call director Tonda Fields at (859) 230-9605 or visit Studioplayers.org.
Image from theatreguildvaldosta.com.
If you have ever wanted to perform some of the immortal lines from The Graduate like, “Do you want me to seduce you?” and “Plastics,” Studio Players is holding auditions at 6 p.m. March 18 and 6:30 p.m. March 19 for its production of the stage version of the iconic movie, which runs May 17 to June 3.
Director Bob Singleton will be casting for four to five men in their 20s to 50s for Benjamin Braddock, Mr. Braddock, Mr. Robinson, Hotel Clerk (“Are you here for an affair?”) and the priest and four to five women in their 20s to 40s for Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Braddock, Elaine, a stripper and a psychiatrist (there’s extra material in the stage version). Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.
I have to admit, the prospect of this show has generated a little in-office chatter about who would be good in what roles, so we’re really interested in seeing who Singleton ends up casting.
Hey, hey, hey …
Studio Players is soliciting proposals from directors for the 2012-13 season.
Prospects may submit proposals for up to three titles they would like to direct, including the title, author, publisher, number and genders of characters, and a brief synopsis of each play. A synopsis of how the director plans to approach the play is not necessary at this time. The play committee asks directors to keep the theater’s space at the Carriage House Theatre in mind: “Our small house (119 seats) and proscenium stage with a 10-foot ceiling and limited wing space is more conducive to shows with smaller casts (less than 10) and minimal set changes,” the request for proposals says.
Proposals should be submitted by Jan. 3 to David Bratcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5040 Magnolia Gardens Place, Lexington, Ky. 40515.
The 39 Steps opens with our hero, Richard Hannay, bemoaning his idle status and concluding he wants to do something “mindless and trivial, utterly pointless.”
Then he exclaims, “I’ll go to the theater,” to knowing laughs from the audience.
You couldn’t back up his characterization of theater with other offerings on Lexington stages this month. The 2011-12 theater season opened with a pair of plays, Project SEE Theatre’s boom and Balagula Theatre’s One Flea Spare that had laughs but presented weighty themes that stayed with us long after the final bows.
But there is nothing wrong with the escapist fare Hannay seeks, and Studio Players offers us some pure comic relief with this delightful confection of a play.
The conceit of Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation of The 39 Steps is that Alfred Hitchcock’s sprawling 1935 movie is recreated onstage with only four actors. Tim Hull delivers matinee-idol charm playing Richard, Sharon Sikorski is his three flames, and Randy Hall and Graeme Hart are billed as “Everyone Else” — seriously, everyone else: spies, police, underwear salespeople, hotel proprietors, schlocky theater acts, train conductors, maniacal criminal masterminds and scores of other characters, sometimes in the same scene.
The scenes move fast, with actors constantly changing props and set pieces and costumes with the help of the show’s hard-working running crew, Katee Holznagel, Rob Maddox and Tonya Spears.
Unlike most theatrical endeavors, there is no effort here to make this look easy. A big part of the fun of the play is watching the actors exhaust themselves to keep the show going.
This is especially true with Hart and Hall, who bring their own distinct talents to their roles. Hall is a master of voices, distinguishing his characters with a wide array of inflections, including a hilarious barely audible speaker at a campaign rally. Hart nails his numerous opportunities to play more than one character at a time, clearly putting tremendous effort into flipping back and forth, but also making it work.
What makes the production succeed is that director Ross Carter does not let this show devolve into only a theatrical stunt. There is a story here about a man falsely accused of a crime who is on the run trying to clear his name, save his country and get the girl.
Richard is a chance for Hull to show yet another side of his theatrical persona, adding dashing leading man to his long list of character credits. Sikorski is an engaging leading lady(ies?) whether she’s the German spy Annabella Schmidt, the farmer’s wife who longs to be part of Richard’s world of intrigue, or Pamela, who is unwittingly drawn into the chase and eventually falls in love with Richard. Hull and Sikorski keep us involved and rooting for them.
The 39 Steps is essentially brain candy, but the other major element in making it work is that Carter, stage manager Reinee Dunn and the rest of the crew hardly took a mindless and pointless approach to presenting the show. There is clearly an elaborate game plan at work to make the show go on. Thursday’s opening-night performance revealed a few holes and slips, but you sense that as the four-week run goes on, the production will get tighter, quicker and even more fun.
Studio Players has announced the titles and directors for its 2011-12 season. It is a lineup that includes a world premier: the musical Looking for Mrs. Claus by Lexington playwright Margaret C. Price, whose Belle Brezing will play at Actors Guild of Lexington in June. The show will be directed by Alberta Labrillazo and run Nov. 17-Dec. 11.
The other plays on the season are:
The 39 Steps, adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan, based on an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. Directed by Ross Carter, Sept. 15-Oct. 9.
Our Leading Lady by Charles Busch. Directed by Scott Turner, Jan. 19-Feb. 5.
Bad Seed by Maxwell Anderson. Directed by David Senatore, March 15-April 1.
The Graduate by Terry Johnson, based on the novel by Charles Webb and the motion picture screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Directed by Bob Singleton, May 17-June 3.
The 39 Steps and Looking for Mrs. Claus are scheduled for four weekend runs, which should help accommodate crowds at the theater that has routinely sold out shows in recent years.
Mar30Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Musicals, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Broken, chool for Creative and Performing Arts, Exile, Garden District, Hairspray, Lexington Philharmonic, Studio Players, Tennessee Williams, The Rocky Horror Show, University of Connecticut Huskies, University of Kentucky men's basketball, Walter May
It used to be that area performing arts groups would go to great lengths to avoid presenting shows that would conflict with a University of Kentucky men’s basketball game.
But Saturday night, despite the fact that they will overlap with a portion of the Wildcats’ first Final Four appearance in 13 years, area theaters say they will go on with their shows as planned. The game against the University of Connecticut Huskies is scheduled to tip off at 8:49 p.m. (8:47 was too early?)
Among the shows that will be going on are:
~ The School for Creative and Performing Arts’ production of the musical Hairspray at the Lexington Opera House, curtain time is 8 p.m.
~ Actors Guild of Lexington and Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, 7:30 p.m.
~ Exile’s concert to benefit the National Drug Endangered Children Training and Advocacy Center at the Singletary Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m.
While it might seem to make sense to move out of the way of a major event for the community, Actors Guild Artistic director Eric Seale says moving a performance can often create as many problems as it solves.
“The real problem isn’t people who already have tickets, because you can call them up and tell them you’re making a change,” says Seale, who is overseeing two shows that conflict with the Cats – Broken and Rocky Horror. “But the people who are just planning to walk up and buy tickets, you have no way of contacting them.”
He recalled a production when Actors Guild was at the Downtown Arts Center that had to be cancelled due to a problem in the building. He said all patrons were called and understanding, but one couple that walked up planning to buy tickets at the door was really upset about the change.
He also notes that while some people may welcome a change that lets them see the show and the game, others who aren’t as fixated on basketball may not like it.
Last weekend, of course, there were also shows that went up against the Cats games Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Seale says the Friday night performance of Broken did have a light turnout, but the second nights of shows often do, and most area residents could have seen both the play and the Ohio State-UK game in their entireties.
The Lexington Philharmonic also reportedly had most of its audience in their seats for its entire performance last Friday night, which overlapped with the first half of that game.
Studio Players has announced it will present Forever Plaid as its annual summer musical, July 7-31 at the Carriage House Theatre.
The last time Studio mounted a production of the show about a 1950s doo-wop quartet was 1997, and it was so popular the theater did it again in ‘98.
Auditions will be at 1 p.m. April 20 and 21. The production is seeking four men in their 20s, and they need to come with one prepared song to sing and prepared to do a cold reading from the script. For audition information, contact director Scott Turner at email@example.com.
If you want to go ahead and get your tickets, they are on sale through the LexArts ticket office.
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