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Wednesday
Jan222014

Broadway Smash Good People Opens at Interplayers



PRESS RELEASE 


For Immediate Release 
Kill Date February 8, 2014
Contact: Pamela Brown, Executive Director 
509-455-7529

 
Interplayers Theatre is delighted to present David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 provocative and 
witty comedy-drama Good People, which was named “Best Play of the Season” by the 
New York Critics’ Circle Awards. Public performances begin January 23rd with opening 
night on January 24th. The production will be performed until February 8th, 2014. 
 
In Good People, Margie Walsh is facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break. She 
thinks an old fling might be her ticket to a fresh new start and is willing risk what little 
she has left to find out. But is this self-made man secure enough to face his humble 
beginnings? This Tony nominated Broadway hit is a smart, funny and suspenseful story 
about people who succeed and those who help them do it. 
 
Good People is a grandly entertaining verbal treat, a compelling sort of dance through the 
intricacies of class differences. Critic Jason Clark, writing in Slant magazine, called the 
script Lindsay-Abaire’s “best work to date,” admiring that “instead of holding up the 
play’s lead character Margie as a victim of hard luck, the playwright shrewdly uses her as 
an example of how choices can make or break us, and the smallest twists of fate 
determine our path.” Variety magazine reported, “If Good People isn’t a hit… there is no 
justice in the land.” 
 
David Lindsay-Abaire is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Rabbit Hole, which was 
made into a feature film. He is the author of Fuddy Meers, Wonder of the World, A Devil 
Inside and Kimberly Akimbo, as well as the book and lyrics to Shrek the Musical. He has 
written the screen plays for Rabbit Hole, Rise of the Guardians and the recent Oz:The 
Great and Powerful. Born in South Boston, he now lives in Brooklyn. 
 
Making his directing debut at Interplayers, Jack Bentz S.J. helms this exciting production, 
which features an expert cast of six, four of whom come to us from Seattle. Page Byers 
undertakes the central role of Margie, having just played Mrs. Gibbs in the Interplayers 
landmark production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Page is also well remembered for 
her roles in ARt productions of Rabbit Hole and Absurd Person Singular. Playing her 
high school flame Mike is Michael Patten, an Equity performer with a long list of credits, 
including performances at Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, Seattle Shakespeare 
Company, Seattle Opera, Intiman, Book-It, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in 
LA; Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre, Mill Mountain Theatre, Camden 
Shakespeare Festival, among others. 
 
Laurel Paxton takes on the role of Dottie. Laurel last appeared at Interplayers nearly 30 
years ago, starring in The Rainmaker, Nuts and The Important of Being Earnest. 
Interplayers newcomer Kaila Towers plays Mike’s wife, Kate. The cast is completed by 
Interplayers vets James Pendleton (Our Town, both Together Again plays) as Margie’s 
boss at the dollar store, and Tamara Schupman (Sirens, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio 
Play, The Graduate) as Margie’s friend Jean. 
 
Good People’s Stage Manager is Milton Harper. The Set Design is by Aaron 
Dyszelski, Lighting by Geoff Korf, Costumes by Jessica Rempel, Sound by David 
Marshall and Props by Samantha Zimmerman. 
 
Interplayers, now celebrating its 33rd season, is a Resident Professional Theatre located in 
downtown Spokane at 174 S. Howard (near the corner of 2nd and Howard). Ticket prices 
range from $12.00 for students to $28.00 for adults. Senior tickets are $22.00. Group 
rates are also available. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30. 
There will be 2:00 Saturday matinees on February 1st and February 8th. Sunday Matinees 
at 2:00 will be performed on January 26th and February 2nd.
Tickets can be obtained by calling the box office at 509.455-7529 or through Tickets West. Information 
is also available at www.interplayerstheatre.org. 
 
 
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Wednesday
Nov272013

Town and Universe - Interplayers has adapted Thornton Wilder's Our Town without changing a thing, and that's good

Patrick Treadway provides a powerful performance in Our Town.                                                  Stephen Schlange

The three acts of Our Town might be better described as orchestral movements. The first two focus on daily life and young love in the small New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners; they are the allegro and andante. The third, which deals with death and metaphysics, is theadagio, and the minor key that was only alluded to in the previous movements suddenly leaps to the fore.

Largely through the efforts of artistic director Reed McColm, Interplayers has taken this concerto and made it a chamber piece. A play once known for the size of its cast (around 30, making it ripe for community theater's take-all-comers inclusivity) has become a much tighter, eight-person ensemble work in which most actors play several roles. Our Town already asks so much of its viewers — props are mimed, and the fourth wall is repeatedly razed and rebuilt — that this doesn't seem too great a demand on the imagination. Beyond that, the change introduces just enough novelty to scrub away the patina of familiarity while accentuating the play's inherent modernity.

Modernity isn't an aspect of Our Town that has gone unnoticed over its 75-year existence, but it often gets mentally sidelined in favor of its apparent glorification of a hardworking, salt-of-the-earth rural community, where the political makeup is matter-of-factly "86 percent Republican" and boys and girls marry for life out of high school. The relaxed, folksy charisma of the omniscient stage manager, played here superbly by Patrick Treadway, conceals his pacifist asides and his theologically abstract thoughts on the afterlife.

In fact, the whole third act gently subverts everything up to that point, acknowledging these quaint small-towners to be more "blind" and "troubled" than they — or we — had previously suspected. Wilder, let's not forget, was a translator of Sartre and an admirer of Gertrude Stein; his approach to Grover's Corners is more Left Bank than Mayberry. If it's hard to think of Our Town in this more ambiguous light, therein lies some of its beauty.

So far this season Michael Weaver has directed Church Basement Ladies and Brighton Beach Memoirs. Neither presented any great challenge to rise to, and he met them on their own terms. This new adaptation shows that Weaver is capable of far more given a bit of meat and ambition. Scene changes are fluid, with actors almost imperceptibly shedding clothes as they exit, only to reappear as someone else a short while later. Nothing seems hurried or lacking with respect to the large-cast original. The stage feels every bit as full.

To achieve that fullness, what little cast there is has to go a long way. In at least one case, it falls to a single actor (here, Jerry Sciarrio) to animate eight different characters, and those that inhabit just one (Sarah Uptagrafft as Emily Webb) or two (James Pendleton and Page Byers) have to provide a solid dramatic core for the rest. Pendleton's bright-eyed, golly-gee George Gibbs charms, whereas Uptagrafft is unfortunately prone to the same gaspy melodrama that has typified her roles since Church Basement Ladies. Byers and Maria Caprile both bring delicate differences to their matriarchal roles, with Caprile adopting a jaded monotone that benefits the wry humor of some of her lines. Sound effects like train whistles or clinking milk bottles embellish the actors' prop-less efforts.

Thematically, Our Town is microscopic as well as macroscopic, seeing the details of mundanity and the vastness of eternity as two essential parts of the same whole. Interplayers' adaptation has remained true to this, shrinking the cast count while keeping both the subtleties and enduring appeal of Our Town unchanged. ♦

Our Town • Through Dec. 14: Wed-Sat, 7:30 pm; Sun, 2 pm • $28 ($22 senior/military, $12 student) • Interplayers Theatre • 174 S. Howard • 455-7529 • interplayerstheatre.org

Tuesday
Sep242013

THEATER — BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS 

Interplayers cast performs Neil Simon's classic.                                                                                 Chris Bovey

The Broadway set of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs was barely in storage when the play received its Northwest premiere at Interplayers in 1986. That was the professional theater’s sixth season, and Memoirs had proven such a hit that, at just shy of 1,300 performances, it had run for half of Interplayers’ existence.

Twenty-seven years on, Simon has several film adaptations (the only popular gauge of a play’s true merit, it seems) as well as Tony Awards and a Pulitzer to his name. And Interplayers, having weathered its recent sky-is-falling hardships, is clearly still around too. Its 33rd season is a conscious attempt to regroup by staging material that is tried and tested. Or staid, if you’re feeling uncharitable.

Directed by Interplayers’ go-to guy Michael Weaver, Brighton Beach Memoirs is a fair indication that the theater’s retreat into the conventional was a good move. Though meticulously tidy and about as revelatory as a fortune cookie, Simon’s play nevertheless mixes humor, drama and pathos in equally satisfying parts. In this production, Nich Witham plays oversexed 15-year-old narrator Eugene Jerome as hyperactively exuberant instead of the more common take, introspective and despondent. That makes Witham’s Gene slightly more fun to watch, but he also appears more child than adolescent at the expense of credibility.

Newcomer Phoenix Tage is excellent as older brother Stan, sober pragmatist to Gene’s affable idealism and innocence. Samantha Camp is exquisite: Her matriarch Kate is flawed in all the necessary ways to be sympathetic and human. There’s her unrelenting sternness that so rankles Gene, her seething resentment that leads to the explosion with sister Blanche (Rebecca Goldberg), her exasperated devotion to husband Jack (Christopher Zinovitch), her weariness in keeping a Depression-era household together.

It’s hard to fault Weaver’s unobtrusive direction, though one wishes he’d urged Zinovitch and Sarah Uptagrafft (who plays Gene’s cousin and impossible objet du désir, Nora) to drop their iffy Brooklyn accents. Scott Doughty’s set, on the other hand, is functional and apt. With its yellows, browns and olive drab surrounded by a low brick perimeter, there’s little doubt we’re in 1930s working-class New York.

Brighton Beach Memoirs • Through Oct. 12: Wed-Sat, 7:30 pm; Sun, 2 pm • $28 ($22 senior/military, $12 student) • Interplayers • 174 S. Howard St. • 455-7529 •interplayerstheatre.org

Monday
May132013

We're on Track

The response has been heartening. The community is responding. Through generous support we have raised a huge chunk of our Annual Spring Drive goal. However we must maintain the present level of support. We must raise another $55,000 and continue selling season subscriptions. You can help by joining us at our end of season PROGRESSIVE DINNER or dancing the night away at “Kicking Up Our Heels for Interplayers” at Chateau Rive June 28th, and donate or pledge at anytime.

We Have Reason to Celebrate

While there is work to be done, the Board believes that the show will go on. We have taken concrete steps to remove our present and future expense columns. Some excellent pro bono advice from a theatre supporter is working toward resolving the Artistic Director's immigration process. We have also sharpened our pencil which has resulted in projected savings on our basic operating overhead. We are developing a short and long term business plan. In short, we are taking the necessary steps to drastically improve our financial foundation.

The Show Will Go On

We are excited to announce that several new committed and invigorated folks have joined the Board. We are creating relationships with local and national performing arts organizations in order to bring exciting new theatre experiences as well as revenue generating opportunities to Interplayers. Several support staff posi- tions have been filled, at no additional costs to the theatre. Interplayers is going through a phenomenal renaissance and it’s an exciting time to be here. Won’t you become a part of this thrilling artistic journey?

Wednesday
Dec122012

SIGHT AND SOUND - Interplayers brings back the art of the radio play for a smashing take on It’s a Wonderful Life

Joe Konek                                                   Bethany Hart and Todd Kehne get old-timey for It’s a Wonderful Life.

The beloved holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) began its own life in 1943 as a short story titled “The Greatest Gift.” In 1986, there was a rocky attempt to transpose its tale of goodwill trumping adversity to another medium, that time as a musical. More recently, playwright Joe Landry penned a different stage adaptation.

Landry’s version is actually two adaptations in one — a dramatic rendering of It’s a Wonderful Lifeas though it were being presented as a radio play. Instead of, say, Todd Kehne playing good-natured George Bailey, here we have Kehne playing Jake Laurents, who voices Bailey. This means there are two narrative layers: the audible, which tells a story reminding us not to take life for granted, and the visible, which tells the story of the actors performing it.

This “layeredness” could easily be contrived or messy, but in practice it complements the heartwarming story it envelops. It functions in the same way as misdirection, a tool of the magician’s trade. We’re disarmed by a false sense of candor. We see the tricks behind the sound effects — the clop of heels (shoes on hands), howling wind (fabric over a rotating drum), a fork and plate replicating the clink of silverware on china — and the actors donning different hats to suit their characters, and it’s as if, by pulling back the curtain on one story, we forget we’re in the midst of another.

So as the audience listens to George Bailey grow up, fall in love with Mary Hatch (voiced by Bethany Hart), take over his father’s building and loan, contemplate suicide over the loss of $8,000 and, ultimately, be guided back to gratitude by his bumbling guardian angel, Clarence (voiced by Patrick Treadway), we begin to take the performance of that performance at face value.

Before long, we’ve lost ourselves. We’re a radio audience, it’s Christmas Eve and the year is 1946. The silhouette of Harry Heywood (Treadway) seducing Lana Sherwood (Tamara Schupman) behind the frosted glass door is happening in real time. The romance between Laurents and Sally Applewhite (Hart) is subtly igniting before us. When the “Applause” sign flashes, we’re clapping for the folks listening at home. And though the harmonized advertisements for hair tonic and soap are tongue-in-cheek, their quaint boasts are also somehow plausible.

Treadway’s Clarence, Jerry Sciarrio’s arch-villain Mr. Potter, and Schupman’s Violet Bick hit the sweet spot between individualization and impersonation. Hart doesn’t aim for Donna Reed and is all the better for it; from time to time Kehne’s George Bailey sounds only like an approximation of Jimmy Stewart. Jeffrey Sanders (previously Brother Olf in Incorruptible) directs in a way that doesn’t totally ham up the sight gags or melodramatize the romance, which would have distracted from the radio play and spoiled the illusion.

The litmus test for any retelling of It’s a Wonderful Life, regardless of medium, is whether you walk away with a tear in your eye and the renewed zeal of its protagonist in your heart. On that basis, this Interplayers production is a resounding success. 

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play • Through Dec. 30 • Wed-Sat at 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun at 2 pm • Interplayers • 174 S Howard St. • $28 ($22 senior/military, $15 student) •interplayerstheatre.org • (509) 455-7529