Monday, December 22, 2008

Jany-Rae Seda at the Basement Gallery

I liked these pictures by Jany-Rae Seda so much I sketched three of them. There's a preciseness to the lines because of how sharp the pencils are, but that's contrasted with how quick, gestural and imprecise the actual forms are, and how softly and subtly they're colored. Seda told me she draws them all in 15 minutes or less, then does a water wash over the pictures, then adds color the wash.


Seda saw me sketching some of her pictures, including this first one. "I take it as a compliment that you love the pubic hair," she said.


I wanted to color my sketches while I was in the gallery, so I used my pastels for the colors and rubbed a dirty shading tool on the gray areas. It's as close as I could get without actually using her technique; I didn't have watercolors there, and even if I did it would have been impractical to whip them out in a gallery.


"I rip pictures out of magazines and imagine the people naked," Seda told me. "You should do that."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Last Supper

Idaho Arts Collective is one of several brand new theaters to start up in the last couple years, including Daisy's Madhouse, Climbing Tree Productions and Alley Repertory Theater. It'll be interesting to see which of these groups have staying power. Hopefully, with venues like the Visual Arts Collective and Neurolux, they can afford to produce plays without having to pay to maintain their own theater, or, with IAC, that their venue is cheap enough to allow them to stay in production.

IAC's inaugural play, The Last Supper, is about a group of liberals who invite a complete stranger who holds extreme conservative views over for dinner. He pulls a knife, threatens to rape and kill them, and breaks one guy's arm. The liberals manage to save themselves by killing him with his own knife, and eventually the experience leads them to decide to invite other conservatives over for dinner so they can kill them.

I had just had dinner with my family the evening I saw this play, and my father, as usual, turned on Fox so we could all listen to it at the dinner table. Bill O'Reilly sets my teeth on edge, and I was really looking forward to a good parody of him and other conservative pundits. And while the show was fairly entertaining, it wasn't exactly what I'd hoped for. The script attempts to be a satire, but I don't think it succeeds. It tries to poke fun of far right ideologues by creating completely over-the-top, two-dimensional right-wing characters (except for the final conservative character). The problem with that is that no matter how over-the-top you try to make your right-wing sound bites, there are bound to be some wingnuts who actually believe just that. (As Exhibit A, I'd like to point out that one of the wingnuts who shows up to dinner in the show, a preacher, says he thinks all gay people should be put on an island away from everyone else. And now, here's a link to some real-life people in Idaho who believe just that and actually have the audacity to say so on the radio.)

Many of the characters, as I mentioned, are fairly two-dimensional, but the actors seem to give an extra layer of depth to them nonetheless. For instance, even when Gary Winterholler is playing a 17-year-old girl who's suing her school district for requiring sex ed, a fairly minimally developed character, he allows you to feel sympathy for her by reacting with fear and panic when Luke (played by Larry Brown) threatens her. All five of the actors playing liberals -- Brown, Chad Rinn, Jennifer Dunn, Aimee Nell Smith and Jared Hallock -- added dimensions to their characters in the scenes where they argue about the ethics of what they're doing (and, in the case of Aimee Nell Smith and Chad Rinn, the scenes where Rinn becomes less and less interested in making love because of his feelings about their scheme. All of them were downright explosive -- angry, passionate, fearful, hurt.

Idaho Actors Collective performed the show in a pretty odd physical space, but they made it work for them well. Action sometimes takes place in a walled-in room off to the side of the audience, with only an open window in the room to give the audience a view of what's going on inside. It was very effective -- it made me feel like we were really witnessing a private moment.

The Last Supper was kind of a mixed bag for the first time out for IAC, but not because of the acting or directing. It'll be interesting to see what else they decide to do.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Moving

I read the script for Moving when it was first being considered by Stage Coach Theatre's script committee, and I still think it's a wonderfully clever, poignant and heartwarming story.

Sadly, the execution of the play is a little uneven. But props should be given to some fine performances. Ted Pendleton (I'm going to go with Pendleton -- the program has different last names for him on two different pages) turned in an incredibly funny and powerful performance as Fred Sapstead, the father of Barbara Hartman. Barbara is selling her home and plans to move Fred and her son Timmy with her so she can realize her dream of opening up a restaurant in another state. Her plan becomes flawed when her two daughters show up, hoping to move back home, and her estranged husband shows up, having decided he wants to be back in her life. Further complicating the issue is the fact that Fred also has his reasons for not wanting to move. Pendleton has the best role in the play and makes perfect use of it, combining wry wit and deep vulnerability.

Genny Ulmen played housekeeper Mildred Wright the night I saw the show. She did an excellent job capturing Mildred's mannerisms and portraying her as a warm, steady, maternal figure. What's even more impressive is that she did so well even though she was an understudy and had only one rehearsal with the cast.

Darrell Boatwright plays Joey Picardo, the son of moving man Harry Picardo. Joey wants to leave his father's moving business and become a ballet dancer, but doesn't yet have the heart to stand up and tell him. Boatwright plays Joey with wonderful enthusiasm as he jetés up the stairs to help his father with the furniture and pliés in the garden during breaks. He's got great moves!

Most of the other actors did all right, or had some good moments, but overall the show didn't feel like it quite gelled.

Roundup

December
  • Dec. 12: Encore Theatre Company presents A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, a drama inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books at 7:00 at the Caldwell Center for the Arts at 603 Everett St., Caldwell.
  • Dec. 12: Works by artists Anna Marie Boles, Jan Boles, Garth Claassen, Stephen Fisher, Steve Grant, Dori Johnson and Lynn Webster are on display for the final day at Rosenthal Gallery at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Dec. 12-13: Idaho Actors Collective presents The Last Supper, a play about a group of idealistic but frustrated liberals who decide to murder right-wing pundits. The show runs at 8:00 at 2722 W. Sunset Ave., Boise.
  • Dec. 12-13: CAN-ACT presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Dec. 12 at 7:00 and Dec. 13 at 3:00 at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Dec. 12-13: Music Theater of Idaho presents a musical adaptation of the classic Dickens story of Scrooge, A Christmas Carol. The show runs Dec. 12-13 at 7:30 and Dec. 13 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Dec. 12-13: Boise Little Theater presents The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, in which, one year after finding the true meaning of Christmas, Scrooge is back to his old ways and has decided to sue Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The show runs Dec. 12-13 at 8:00 at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Dec. 12-13: Stage Coach Theatre presents Moving, a comic slice-of-life tale of a family dealing with one of the most stressful days any family undergoes: moving day. The show runs Dec. 12-13 at 8:15 at the theater at Orchard and Overland in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.
  • Dec. 12-13: Boise Contemporary Theater presents No ... You Shutup, a one-woman show by comedian Lauren Weedman about a woman who is searching for a way to feel at home with a family of her own and exploring marriage, adoption, reproduction and careers. The show runs at 8:00 Dec. 12-13 and 2:00 Dec. 13 at 854 Fulton St. in Boise.
  • Dec. 12-14: Ballet Idaho presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker. The show runs at 8:00 Dec. 12-13 and 2:00 Dec. 13-14 at the Morrison Center.
  • Dec. 17: Company of Fools presents It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, in which several radio actors recreate all the characters, as well as sound effects and songs, in the Frank Capra movie about George Bailey and the new lease on life he gets when he sees how life would be like in his hometown without him. The show runs at 7:00 on Dec. 17-18, 23 and 30-31, 8:00 on Dec. 19-20, 26-27 and Jan. 2-3, and 3:00 Dec. 21, 24, 28 and Jan. 4 at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey.
  • Dec. 18: Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance performs at 7:30 at the Morrison Center at BSU.
  • Dec. 19 and 21: Boise Master Chorale performs Handel's Messiah at 7:30 on Dec. 19 at Northwest Nazarene University's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and at 2:00 on Dec. 21 at the Cathedral of the Rockies at 717 N. Eleventh St. in Boise.
  • Now through Dec. 20: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents An Old-Fashioned Christmas, a combination of skits, readings and holiday songs. Show dates are Dec. 12-13 and 18-20. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Now through Dec. 20: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Dec. 12-13 and 19-20 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Now through Dec. 27: Prairie Dog Productions presents It's A Wonderful Christmas Carol, a mashup of the tales of George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge. The show runs Dec. 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 at 7:15 and Dec. 14 and 21 at 2:00 at 3820 Cassia in Boise.
  • Now through Feb. 8, 2009: The Boise Art Musuem presents an exhibit of ceramic sculptures, drawings and paintings by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. Some of Kaneko's ceramic pieces are up to 13 feet high and 5,000 pounds.
  • Now through March 1, 2009: Boise Art Museum presents an exhibit of photos of Idaho Special Olympics athletes called Let Me Be Brave: Portraits in Courage by Idaho photographer Susan Valiquette.
  • Now through March 1, 2009: The Boise Art Museum presents Small Wars and 29 Palms, two documentary photo series by Vietnamese photographer An-My Lê that explore the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Now through May 2009: The Boise Art Museum hosts a site-specific architectural structure called After, by Lead Pencil Studio architects and artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo.

January

  • Jan. 8-10: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a musical version of the fairy tale, at 7:30 at Capital High School in Boise.
  • Jan. 9: Stage Coach Theatre presents Any Body Home, a comedy about a real estate agent trying to sell a condo despite the fact that the owner is dead and laid out on the sofa. The show runs Jan. 9-10, 15-18, 22-25 and 29-31 at 7:30 Thursdays, 8:15 Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 Sundays at the theater at Orchard and Overland in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.
  • Jan 9-10: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels performs at the Morrison Center at 8:00 Jan. 9 and 2:00 and 8:00 Jan. 10.
  • Jan. 10: The Boise Philharmonic presents its Sounds Like Fun! percussion concert for families at 10:30 a.m. and noon at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy at Ninth and Myrtle.
  • Jan. 15-16: Chicago's Second City performs at 7:00 at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey.
  • Jan. 16: Boise Little Theater presents Open House, a comedy about two elderly women living together in the same home until one day when the son of one of the women concocts a scheme to sell the home and keep the money for himself. The show runs Jan. 16-17, 22-24 and 29-31 at 8:00, Jan. 25 at 2:00 and Jan. 28 at 7:30 at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Jan. 16-17: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Always ... Patsy Cline, a musical about the country singer and one of her biggest fans, at 7:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Jan. 23: An Dochas and Haran Irish Dancers will perform at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Jan. 23-24: The Boise Philharmonic and Boise Master Chorale present The Passion of Joan of Arc and Voices of Light, an opera composed to serve as the score for the silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. The production takes place at 8:00 Jan. 23 at Northwest Nazarene University's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and 8:15 Jan. 24 at the Morrison Center at Boise State University.
  • Jan. 23: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre opens Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare's comedy about Beatrice and Benedick -- and the circle of friends and relatives who play matchmaker between them -- and Hero and Claudio, an engaged couple whose wedding nearly breaks up because of malicious interference and deception. Show dates are Jan. 23-24 and 29-31 and Feb. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Jan. 23: Prairie Dog Productions presents Phantom!, a spoof of The Phantom of the Opera, on Jan. 23-24, Jan. 30-31, Feb. 6-7 and Feb. 13-14 at 7:15 and Jan. 25 and Feb. 8 at 2:00 at the theater at 3820 Cassia St. in Boise.
  • Jan. 28: Boise Contemporary Theater presents I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda, a play about a woman from Rwanda who wants to write a book about how her family was killed in the genocide and the creative writing teacher who helps her. The play was inspired by the real life experiences of refugees in Britain. The show runs Jan. 28-31, Feb. 4-7 and Feb. 11-14 at 8:00 and Feb. 7 and 14 at 2:00 at 854 Fulton St. in Boise.
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 1: Idaho Dance Theater presents No Hesitation at 8:00 Jan. 29-31 and 2:00 Feb. 1 at the Boise State University Special Events Center.
  • Jan. 31: The Boise Philharmonic presents its Sounds Like Fun! strings concert for families at 10:30 a.m. and noon at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy at Ninth and Myrtle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Woman of Steel 2


I went to the Woman of Steel Gallery again last week for one of my freelance assignments. I recognized a lot of the sculptures there from previous visits, but there were a few ones that were new to me, like this tree sculpture by Irene Deely I sketched. All of the leaves were quadrangular and looked kind of like chain links.
I think from now on I'll probably keep my comments on visual art fairly limited unless there's something I think needs to be explained. You can pretty much assume that if I sketched it, I thought it was cool.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Roundup

December
  • Dec. 4: Idaho Actors Collective opens The Last Supper, a play about a group of idealistic but frustrated liberals who decide to murder right-wing pundits. The show runs Dec. 4-6 and 11-13 at 8:00 at 2722 W. Sunset Ave., Boise.
  • Dec. 5: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents An Old-Fashioned Christmas, a combination of skits, readings and holiday songs. Show dates are Dec. 5-6, 11-13 and 18-20. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Dec. 5: CAN-ACT presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Dec. 5 and 12 at 7:00 and Dec. 13 at 3:00 at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Dec. 6: Opera Idaho and the Opera Idaho Children's Chorus present Opera Idaho Sings Christmas, which includes selections of The Messiah, other holiday tunes, and a sing-along, at 7:00 at the Egyptian Theater at Capitol and Main in Boise.
  • Dec. 6: The Morrison Center's Encore! youth performance company presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids, at 7:00 at the Morrison Center.
  • Dec. 6-7: The Eugene Ballet presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker, at 3:00 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Dec. 6: Music Theater of Idaho opens a musical adaptation of the classic Dickens story of Scrooge, A Christmas Carol. The show runs Dec. 6 and 10-13 at 7:30 and Dec. 6 and 13 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Dec. 6: Boise Art Museum opens an exhibit of photos of Idaho Special Olympics athletes called Let Me Be Brave: Portraits in Courage by Idaho photographer Susan Valiquette.
  • Dec. 7: The Boise Philharmonic presents Encore!, a brass chamber concert, at 2:00 at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 4601 Surprise Way in Boise.
  • Dec. 7: The Boise State University Music Department presents their holiday concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Morrison Center.
  • Now through Dec. 12: Encore Theatre Company opens A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, a drama inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books. The show runs Dec. 5-6 at 7:00 at NNU's Science Lecture Hall in Nampa and Dec. 12 at 7:00 at the Caldwell Center for the Arts at 603 Everett St., Caldwell.
  • Now through Dec. 12: Works by artists Anna Marie Boles, Jan Boles, Garth Claassen, Stephen Fisher, Steve Grant, Dori Johnson and Lynn Webster are on display at Rosenthal Gallery at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Dec. 12-14: Ballet Idaho presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker. The show runs at 8:00 Dec. 12-13 and 2:00 Dec. 13-14 at the Morrison Center.
  • Now through Dec. 13: Boise Little Theater presents The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, in which, one year after finding the true meaning of Christmas, Scrooge is back to his old ways and has decided to sue Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The show runs Dec. 4-7 and 10-13 at 2:00 Sunday, 7:30 Wednesday and 8:00 Thursday through Saturday at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Now through Dec. 13: Stage Coach Theatre presents Moving, a comic slice-of-life tale of a family dealing with one of the most stressful days any family undergoes: moving day. The show runs Dec. 4-7 and 11-13 at 7:30 Thursday, 8:15 Friday through Saturday, and 2:00 Sunday at the theater at Orchard and Overland in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.
  • Now through Dec. 13: Boise Contemporary Theater presents No ... You Shutup, a one-woman show by comedian Lauren Weedman about a woman who is searching for a way to feel at home with a family of her own and exploring marriage, adoption, reproduction and careers. The show runs at 8:00 Nov. 19-22, 26 and 28-29 and Dec. 3-6 and 10-13 and 2:00 Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 at 854 Fulton St. in Boise.
  • Dec. 17: Company of Fools presents It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, in which several radio actors recreate all the characters, as well as sound effects and songs, in the Frank Capra movie about George Bailey and the new lease on life he gets when he sees how life would be like in his hometown without him. The show runs at 7:00 on Dec. 17-18, 23 and 30-31, 8:00 on Dec. 19-20, 26-27 and Jan. 2-3, and 3:00 Dec. 21, 24, 28 and Jan. 4 at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey.
  • Dec. 18: Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance performs at 7:30 at the Morrison Center at BSU.
  • Dec. 19 and 21: Boise Master Chorale performs Handel's Messiah at 7:30 on Dec. 19 at Northwest Nazarene University's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and at 2:00 on Dec. 21 at the Cathedral of the Rockies at 717 N. Eleventh St. in Boise.
  • Now through Dec. 20: Starlight Mountain Theatre opens The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Now through Dec. 27: Prairie Dog Productions opens It's A Wonderful Christmas Carol, a mashup of the tales of George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge. The show runs Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 at 7:15 and Dec. 14 and 21 at 2:00 at 3820 Cassia in Boise.
  • Now through Feb. 8, 2009: The Boise Art Musuem opens an exhibit of ceramic sculptures, drawings and paintings by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. Some of Kaneko's ceramic pieces are up to 13 feet high and 5,000 pounds.
  • Now through March 1, 2009: The Boise Art Museum opens Small Wars and 29 Palms, two documentary photo series by Vietnamese photographer An-My Lê that explore the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Now through May 2009: The Boise Art Museum hosts a site-specific architectural structure called After, by Lead Pencil Studio architects and artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo.

January

  • Jan. 8-10: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a musical version of the fairy tale, at 7:30 at Capital High School in Boise.
  • Jan. 9: Stage Coach Theatre presents Any Body Home, a comedy about a real estate agent trying to sell a condo despite the fact that the owner is dead and laid out on the sofa. The show runs Jan. 9-10, 15-18, 22-25 and 29-31 at 7:30 Thursdays, 8:15 Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 Sundays at the theater at Orchard and Overland in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.
  • Jan 9-10: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels performs at the Morrison Center at 8:00 Jan. 9 and 2:00 and 8:00 Jan. 10.
  • Jan. 10: The Boise Philharmonic presents its Sounds Like Fun! percussion concert for families at 10:30 a.m. and noon at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy at Ninth and Myrtle.
  • Jan. 15-16: Chicago's Second City performs at 7:00 at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey.
  • Jan. 16: Boise Little Theater presents Open House, a comedy about two elderly women living together in the same home until one day when the son of one of the women concocts a scheme to sell the home and keep the money for himself. The show runs Jan. 16-17, 22-24 and 29-31 at 8:00, Jan. 25 at 2:00 and Jan. 28 at 7:30 at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Jan. 16-17: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Always ... Patsy Cline, a musical about the country singer and one of her biggest fans, at 7:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Jan. 23: An Dochas and Haran Irish Dancers will perform at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Jan. 23-24: The Boise Philharmonic and Boise Master Chorale present The Passion of Joan of Arc and Voices of Light, an opera composed to serve as the score for the silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. The production takes place at 8:00 Jan. 23 at Northwest Nazarene University's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and 8:15 Jan. 24 at the Morrison Center at Boise State University.
  • Jan. 23: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre opens Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare's comedy about Beatrice and Benedick -- and the circle of friends and relatives who play matchmaker between them -- and Hero and Claudio, an engaged couple whose wedding nearly breaks up because of malicious interference and deception. Show dates are Jan. 23-24 and 29-31 and Feb. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Jan. 23: Prairie Dog Productions presents Phantom!, a spoof of The Phantom of the Opera, on Jan. 23-24, Jan. 30-31, Feb. 6-7 and Feb. 13-14 at 7:15 and Jan. 25 and Feb. 8 at 2:00 at the theater at 3820 Cassia St. in Boise.
  • Jan. 28: Boise Contemporary Theater presents I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda, a play about a woman from Rwanda who wants to write a book about how her family was killed in the genocide and the creative writing teacher who helps her. The play was inspired by the real life experiences of refugees in Britain. The show runs Jan. 28-31, Feb. 4-7 and Feb. 11-14 at 8:00 and Feb. 7 and 14 at 2:00 at 854 Fulton St. in Boise.
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 1: Idaho Dance Theater presents No Hesitation at 8:00 Jan. 29-31 and 2:00 Feb. 1 at the Boise State University Special Events Center.
  • Jan. 31: The Boise Philharmonic presents its Sounds Like Fun! strings concert for families at 10:30 a.m. and noon at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy at Ninth and Myrtle.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No ... You Shutup

Lauren Weedman is very, very funny.

Chances are, you may have known that already. She performed her show Bust in Boise last year (I didn't get to see it), and she was a correspondent on The Daily Show in 2001 (I didn't have cable). For me, she was wonderfully new and fresh.

Her new show, No ... You Shutup, is incredibly funny. It starts off with extremely awkward banter as Lauren talks to a couple of new parents and makes uncomfortable jokes about how "your boys can swim" and anecdotes about the blood in her boyfriend's stool. In later scenes she switches between playing herself and her boyfriend, her boyfriend's son (still in protracted grief over the death of his mother), her birth mother, her adopted mother, her assistant at work, her gynecologist, an intense lesbian couple, and an adoption agency worker who sounds like a specialty retailer of rare goods when she talks about the Guatemalan babies ("You can't get these any more," she says. Lauren, for her part, continues the babies-as-commodities theme by saying she'd prefer "a gay, sparkly baby"). She throws in a few bodily fluid jokes and some silly dances for good measure.

Weedman manages to find the humor behind the fears and hopes of wanting to become a mother at 40 in a living situation where that seems simply impossible. Her humor is delightfully irreverent, mocking everything from family dinner table conversations to adoption agency marketing videos.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reckless

Christmas isn't the happiest time of year in Reckless, a dark comedy produced by Alley Repertory Theater at the Visual Arts Center (the last performance is tonight). Well, it is for Rachel, who can barely contain her excitement over her favorite holiday. Buffie Main plays Rachel with bubbly verve as a woman who, despite everything that happens to her over the course of the play, never becomes jaded about life. In the first scene, her face is alight with excitement; she positively glows with anticipation and holiday spirit. Rachel is completely unaware that her world is about to come crashing down around her because her husband Tom has taken out a contract on her life.

But Tom, played by Steve Martin, is fully aware that Christmas won't be happy this year, and he's already filled with regret. He no longer wants to go through with it, but he's powerless to call it off. And so, while Rachel eagerly goes about the last-minute tree decorating and babbles to him about Christmas memories, he sits glumly on the bed, absolutely dismal. At the last minute, he tells her what he's done and shoves her out of the house in slippers and a bathrobe to try to get her to safety.

Rachel meets Lloyd (Alex Robertson), a big-hearted man who works for a nonprofit with his girlfriend Pooty (Christen Atwood), a paraplegic who speaks to Lloyd using sign language. Lloyd and Pooty take Rachel in and allow her to stay in their home for a full year, until another Christmas tragedy strikes.

Robertson does an excellent job as Lloyd, reacting perfectly to Rachel's occasionally crazy behavior and changing abruptly from a warm, compassionate man in the first act to a man sunken into depression in the second act. Atwood plays her part with smiles and tenderness, but displays great passion when she explains to Rachel what it's like to live without a voice.

Katie Preston does a hilarious job playing six different psychiatrists, each with a wildly different personality. Kenna Marks plays a variety of parts -- notably a TV reporter and a woman who kills her husband and writes a book about it -- with great gusto. Rob Tromp is tremendously funny as the tacky host of a game show, "Your Mother or Your Wife," and his other roles. And Toni Dragotoiu and Andrea Haskett do a fine job rounding out the show in a number of characters, notably as Roy, the director of the nonprofit Lloyd and Pooty work at, and Trish, its business manager.

Larry Dennis did an excellent job directing the show, creating a delightful cast with well-developed characters and emotional moments, setting the perfect timing for laughs and keeping the show moving briskly along. If you get a chance tonight, go see it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Roundup

November
  • Nov. 21-22: The Boise State Theatre Arts Department opens A Dream Play by August Stringberg, about the daughter of the god Indra who comes to Earth and experiences human suffering. The show runs at 7:30 at the Danny Peterson Theater in the Morrison Center.
  • Nov. 21-22: CAN-ACT presents We Found Love and an Exquisite Set of Porcelain Figures Aboard the SS Farndale Avenue, a comedy about an inept theater troupe trying to perform a romantic epic. The show runs at 8:00 and at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Nov. 21: Alley Repertory Theater opens Reckless, a dark comedy about a woman who finds out on Christmas Eve that her husband has taken out a contract on her life. She escapes and goes on a journey of self-discovery. The show runs Nov. 21-23, 26, and 28-29 at 8:00 at the Visual Arts Collective behind the Woman of Steel Gallery on Chinden.
  • Nov. 23: The Treasure Valley Youth Symphony performs their fall concert at 7:00 at Timberline High School.
  • Nov. 28: Boise Little Theater presents The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, in which, one year after finding the true meaning of Christmas, Scrooge is back to his old ways and has decided to sue Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 4-7 and 10-13 at 2:00 Sunday, 7:30 Wednesday and 8:00 Thursday through Saturday at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Nov. 28: Stage Coach Theatre presents Moving, a comic slice-of-life tale of a family dealing with one of the most stressful days any family undergoes: moving day. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 4-7 and 11-13 at 7:30 Thursday, 8:15 Friday through Saturday, and 2:00 Sunday.
  • Nov. 28: Starlight Mountain Theatre opens The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Nov. 28: Encore Theatre Company opens A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, a drama inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6 at 7:00 at NNU's Science Lecture Hall in Nampa and Dec. 12 at 7:00 at the Caldwell Center for the Arts at 603 Everett St., Caldwell.
  • Nov. 28: Prairie Dog Productions opens It's A Wonderful Christmas Carol, a mashup of the tales of George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 at 7:15 and Nov. 30, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 at 2:00 at 3820 Cassia in Boise.
  • Nov. 29: The Boise Art Musuem opens an exhibit of ceramic sculptures, drawings and paintings by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. Some of Kaneko's ceramic pieces are up to 13 feet high and 5,000 pounds.
  • Nov. 29: The Boise Art Museum opens Small Wars and 29 Palms, two documentary photo series by Vietnamese photographer An-My Lê that explore the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Now through Dec. 12: Works by artists Anna Marie Boles, Jan Boles, Garth Claassen, Stephen Fisher, Steve Grant, Dori Johnson and Lynn Webster are on display at Rosenthal Gallery at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Now through Dec. 13: Boise Contemporary Theater presents No ... You Shutup, a one-woman show by comedian Lauren Weedman about a woman who is searching for a way to feel at home with a family of her own and exploring marriage, adoption, reproduction and careers. The show runs at 8:00 Nov. 19-22, 26 and 28-29 and Dec. 3-6 and 10-13 and 2:00 Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 at 854 Fulton St. in Boise.
  • Now through May 2009: The Boise Art Museum hosts a site-specific architectural structure called After, by Lead Pencil Studio architects and artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo.


December

  • Dec. 4: Idaho Actors Collective opens The Last Supper, a play about a group of idealistic but frustrated liberals who decide to murder right-wing pundits. The show runs Dec. 4-6 and 11-13 at 8:00 at 2722 W. Sunset Ave., Boise.
  • Dec. 5: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents An Old-Fashioned Christmas, a combination of skits, readings and holiday songs. Show dates are Dec. 5-6, 11-13 and 18-20. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Dec. 5: CAN-ACT presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Dec. 5 and 12 at 7:00 and Dec. 13 at 3:00 at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Dec. 6: Opera Idaho and the Opera Idaho Children's Chorus present Opera Idaho Sings Christmas, which includes selections of The Messiah, other holiday tunes, and a sing-along, at 7:00 at the Egyptian Theater at Capitol and Main in Boise.
  • Dec. 6-7: The Eugene Ballet presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker, at 3:00 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Dec. 6: Music Theater of Idaho opens a musical adaptation of the classic Dickens story of Scrooge, A Christmas Carol. The show runs Dec. 6 and 10-13 at 7:30 and Dec. 6 and 13 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Dec. 6: Boise Art Museum opens an exhibit of photos of Idaho Special Olympics athletes called Let Me Be Brave: Portraits in Courage by Idaho photographer Susan Valiquette.
  • Dec. 7: The Boise Philharmonic presents Encore!, a brass chamber concert, at 2:00 at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 4601 Surprise Way in Boise.
  • Dec. 12-14: Ballet Idaho presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker. The show runs at 8:00 Dec. 12-13 and 2:00 Dec. 13-14 at the Morrison Center.
  • Dec. 17: Company of Fools presents It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, in which several radio actors recreate all the characters, as well as sound effects and songs, in the Frank Capra movie about George Bailey and the new lease on life he gets when he sees how life would be like in his hometown without him. The show runs at 7:00 on Dec. 17-18, 23 and 30-31, 8:00 on Dec. 19-20, 26-27 and Jan. 2-3, and 3:00 Dec. 21, 24, 28 and Jan. 4 at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey.

Lucia di Lammermoor

I'm about half a month late in posting anything on Opera Idaho's production of Lucia di Lammermoor -- I guess since it was a one-night performance and I knew no one would have the opportunity to read a review and then go see the show, I wasn't motivated to write a review right away. But I wanted to review Lucia so hopefully any of my readers who ordinarily might shy away from opera might actually consider going to one of Opera Idaho's next productions.

I won tickets to Lucia from Boise State Radio during their fund drive -- yay, Boise State Radio! -- and took my mom to see it with me. This was my mom's first opera, and she is now officially a fan. I've seen several operas before -- a couple traveling opera companies at Caldwell Fine Arts, one in London, and several student productions at College of Idaho -- and this easily ranked among the best of them.

Okay, starting to sound a teeny bit like an opera snob. Time to deploy the YouTube clip of the Muppets singing the Habanera from Carmen.

Seriously, though, opera is not something you have to be afraid of. Bugs Bunny taught me that. But taking the plunge and seeing a non-Muppet, non-Looney Tunes opera production is easier than you might think. Opera production companies generally try to make opera as accessible as possible. My mom didn't know until we saw Lucia that Opera Idaho uses supertitles so you can read translations of what the actors are singing as they sing it. This is actually a pretty common practice, and a valuable one. Without the supertitles, you might be able to get the sense of what's happening by reading the synopsis in the program and by watching the actors' expressive faces and gestures, but you'd be missing out on a lot of meaning. Some of the lyrics are downright beautiful.

Rochelle Bard played Lucia, who is in love with her brother's rival, Edgardo, played by Christopher Bengochea. Lucia's brother, Enrico (Dennis Jesse), wants Lucia to marry Arturo (Joe Dewey), a potential political ally who could keep the family in power over Edgardo. Enrico tricks Lucia into believing that Edgardo has become engaged to someone else and gets her to marry Arturo. Edgardo returns too late to stop the wedding and is enraged at her supposed faithlessness. When Edgardo tears off his ring and rushes out, Lucia goes mad.

Bard has a stunning voice -- I had to catch my breath a few times during some of her solos. Bengochea's final solo had me in tears. Everyone in the production sang well, but these two had a wonderful expressiveness. Bard does an excellent job of conveying Lucia's madness not just in song, but in mannerisms -- she sits on the altar and dangles her feet girlishly, then viciously throws flowers from the altar at the man she imagines to be Arturo; she absentmindedly drops her veil on the floor, then snatches it out of the hands of her companion, who has picked it up.

I was impressed by the care that had been put into almost every aspect of the production. The sets were spectacular; the towers looked like real stone. During the "mad scene," the lights were ingeniously rigged below and in front of the bench Lucia sits on so as to cast giant shadows of her outstretched hands and crooked fingers across the back wall. It was nice to see the director and cast pay attention to the little things, like making sure the actors continued to gesture and pretend to talk between numbers as the audience applauded.

There were a few things that bothered me about the production -- there were several occasions when some of the actors were blocked with their backs to the audience, and I thought Enrico could have been more forceful and filled with rage at a few moments when he smashes things onto the table during the scene when he shows Lucia a forged letter. Minor items in a production this wonderful.

If Lucia is representative of the type of work Opera Idaho does, I'd definitely recommend checking out Cosi Fan Tutte in March.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Roundup

November

  • November: The Boise Art Museum opens a new exhibit, a site-specific architectural structure called After, by Lead Pencil Studio architects and artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo.
  • Nov. 9: Final day of Boise Art Museum's exhibits by photographer and sculptor Catherine Chalmers, American Cockroach, and by photographer Charles Lindsay, Upstream Fly Fishing in the American West.
  • Nov. 12: Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, reads selected works at 7:30 at the Egyptian Theatre at Main and Capitol in Boise.
  • Nov. 12-16: The College of Idaho Theater Department opens Lapis Blue, Blood Red, the story of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi and her struggles after she is raped and one of her paintings is stolen. The show runs Nov. 12-15 at 7:30 and Nov. 16 at 2:00 at the Langroise Studio Theater at C of I in Caldwell.
  • Nov. 13: The Boise State Theatre Arts Department opens A Dream Play by August Stringberg, about the daughter of the god Indra who comes to Earth and experiences human suffering. The show runs Nov. 13-15 and 19-22 at 7:30 and Nov. 16 and 23 at 2:00 at the Danny Peterson Theater in the Morrison Center.
  • Nov. 14-15: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Wonderful Town, a comedy about two sisters -- an actor and a playwright -- who move to New York City to make it big. The show runs at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Nov. 14-15: The Boise Philharmonic performs Vessels of Courage and Hope by contemporary Israeli composer Shulamit Ran and Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Major by Gustav Mahler at 8:00 Nov. 14 at NNU's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and 8:15 Nov. 15 at BSU's Morrison Center in Boise.
  • Nov. 14: CAN-ACT opens We Found Love and an Exquisite Set of Porcelain Figures Aboard the SS Farndale Avenue, a comedy about an inept theater troupe trying to perform a romantic epic. The show runs at Nov. 14-15 and 20-22 and 8:00 and Nov. 15 at 2:00 at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Nov. 17: Caldwell Fine Arts presents Idaho Showcase, a concert with Sandpoint flautist Rhonda Bradetich, Coeur d'Alene harpist Leslie Stratton Norris and the College of Idaho Sinfonia, at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium on the C of I campus.
  • Nov. 19: Boise Contemporary Theater presents No ... You Shutup, a one-woman show by comedian Lauren Weedman about a woman who is searching for a way to feel at home with a family of her own and exploring marriage, adoption, reproduction and careers. The show runs at 8:00 Nov. 19-22, 26 and 28-29 and Dec. 3-6 and 10-13 and 2:00 Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 at 854 Fulton St. in Boise..
  • Nov. 21: Alley Repertory Theater opens Reckless, a dark comedy about a woman who finds out on Christmas Eve that her husband has taken out a contract on her life. She escapes and goes on a journey of self-discovery. The show runs Nov. 21-23, 26, and 28-29 at 8:00 at the Visual Arts Collective behind the Woman of Steel Gallery on Chinden.
  • Nov. 23: The Treasure Valley Youth Symphony performs their fall concert at 7:00 at Timberline High School.
  • Nov. 28: Boise Little Theater presents The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, in which, one year after finding the true meaning of Christmas, Scrooge is back to his old ways and has decided to sue Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 4-7 and 10-13 at 2:00 Sunday, 7:30 Wednesday and 8:00 Thursday through Saturday at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Nov. 28: Stage Coach Theatre presents Moving, a comic slice-of-life tale of a family dealing with one of the most stressful days any family undergoes: moving day. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 4-7 and 11-13 at 7:30 Thursday, 8:15 Friday through Saturday, and 2:00 Sunday.
  • Nov. 28: Starlight Mountain Theatre opens The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Nov. 28: Encore Theatre Company opens A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, a drama inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6 at 7:00 at NNU's Science Lecture Hall in Nampa and Dec. 12 at 7:00 at the Caldwell Center for the Arts at 603 Everett St., Caldwell.
  • Nov. 28: Prairie Dog Productions opens It's A Wonderful Christmas Carol, a mashup of the tales of George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 at 7:15 and Nov. 30, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 at 2:00 at 3820 Cassia in Boise.
  • Nov. 29: The Boise Art Musuem opens an exhibit of ceramic sculptures, drawings and paintings by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. Some of Kaneko's ceramic pieces are up to 13 feet high and 5,000 pounds.
  • Nov. 29: The Boise Art Museum opens Small Wars and 29 Palms, two documentary photo series by Vietnamese photographer An-My Lê that explore the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

December

  • Dec. 4: Idaho Actors Collective opens The Last Supper, a play about a group of idealistic but frustrated liberals who decide to murder right-wing pundits. The show runs Dec. 4-6 and 11-13 at 8:00 at 2722 W. Sunset Ave., Boise.
  • Dec. 5: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents An Old-Fashioned Christmas, a combination of skits, readings and holiday songs. Show dates are Dec. 5-6, 11-13 and 18-20. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Dec. 5: CAN-ACT presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Dec. 5 and 12 at 7:00 and Dec. 13 at 3:00 at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Dec. 6: Opera Idaho and the Opera Idaho Children's Chorus present Opera Idaho Sings Christmas, which includes selections of The Messiah, other holiday tunes, and a sing-along, at 7:00 at the Egyptian Theater at Capitol and Main in Boise.
  • Dec. 6-7: The Eugene Ballet presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker, at 3:00 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Dec. 6: Music Theater of Idaho opens a musical adaptation of the classic Dickens story of Scrooge, A Christmas Carol. The show runs Dec. 6 and 10-13 at 7:30 and Dec. 6 and 13 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Dec. 6: Boise Art Museum opens an exhibit of photos of Idaho Special Olympics athletes called Let Me Be Brave: Portraits in Courage by Idaho photographer Susan Valiquette.
  • Dec. 7: The Boise Philharmonic presents Encore!, a brass chamber concert, at 2:00 at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 4601 Surprise Way in Boise.
  • Dec. 12-14: Ballet Idaho presents The Nutcracker, the classic holiday story of a girl who is rescued from the evil Mouse King by her brave toy nutcracker. The show runs at 8:00 Dec. 12-13 and 2:00 Dec. 13-14 at the Morrison Center.
  • Dec. 17: Company of Fools presents It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, in which several radio actors recreate all the characters, as well as sound effects and songs, in the Frank Capra movie about George Bailey and the new lease on life he gets when he sees how life would be like in his hometown without him. The show runs at 7:00 on Dec. 17-18, 23 and 30-31, 8:00 on Dec. 19-20, 26-27 and Jan. 2-3, and 3:00 Dec. 21, 24, 28 and Jan. 4 at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

One of the most well-known and intriguing factors of The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the fact that the audience gets to choose the identity of the killer. But it's not the only thing you should know if you're contemplating going. It's also a melodrama, something I hadn't known to expect, and a musical, which I did know about beforehand. So expect musical numbers, corny jokes, meta humor and a lot more audience-actor interaction than is required simply to get your votes for the ending.

The Boise Little Theater production's greatest flaw is that many times the actors and singers simply couldn't be heard over the recorded accompaniment. One of the most glaring examples is the duet at the beginning of Act II by Kristina Woodard, who played Edwin Drood and Dick Datchery, and Lauren Haber-Mannella, who played Princess Puffer. I could make out maybe three phrases in the entire song. These two can obviously project just fine -- I could hear them both quite distinctly in earlier and later numbers with softer accompanying music. But the music levels needed to be fixed. The song at the beginning of Act II was hardly the only instance of this, and it sometimes made me wonder if I was losing some meaning or missing some plot points.

The rest of the musical was a little hit and miss, which I find is often the case with melodrama -- but everything's supposed to be played over the top, so how do you judge it? And with musicals, it's hard enough to find a triple threat (acting, singing and dancing) without throwing British accents into the mix. Kudos to the actors for giving it their best efforts to do all four, but you could see where each person excelled and was maybe a little bit weak. Ana Boyd, who played Rosa Bud, had a gorgeous singing voice and excellent facial expressions, but didn't seem to have as much fun with her character as some of the other actors. John Myers had a very entertaining persona for his characters and great delivery on the super-fast song "Both Sides of the Coin," but he did let his accent slip. Mike Givens had a pretty good accent and a delightfully over-the-top character, and sang well enough -- but not to the point I think women would suddenly start flocking to him, as happens in his solo, "Never the Luck." I could go down the line like this, but I'd rather not. The actors all did a fine job -- they just all had their particular strengths and weaknesses, as you might expect in a musical. But Drood is one of those plays where the cast is so large it seems better to take it as a whole. Overall, it was a nice ensemble. The actors support each other well, and the sum is greater than the parts. (You think that's faint praise, because it's always the case? Think again. Compare Drood to God's Ear, one of the shows I reviewed last week. I actually think the sum was less than the parts in that show; they had so much to work with, and it was squandered.)

The set and the special effects were fantastic. John Jasper's (Cary White's) dream sequence was marvelously surreal, and the train at the beginning of Act II is just awesome.

I hope BLT can set the music levels a little better for its final weekend of Drood. As for my recommendation, I would say if you like melodrama, definitely see this one (and maybe try to pick a different murderer than Rosa Bud and write a comment about the ending you saw -- we'll compare notes!). If you're not really into melodrama, you might consider skipping it, but you may still want to go just for the sheer novelty of choosing your own ending.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Roundup

October

  • Oct. 25: Boise Contemporary Theater presents God's Ear at the theater at 854 Fulton St. in Boise. A couple struggles to find themselves and each other in the wake of a family tragedy in this show that includes appearances from the Tooth Fairy, G.I. Joe and a transvestite flight attendant. Show times are 2:00 and 8:00.
  • Oct. 25: Stage Coach Theatre presents Dark Rituals, a thriller about an anthropologist learning about the Native American legend of the windigo, a cannibalistic creature. She and her son and daughter-in-law find themselves forced to face supernatural elements, murder and ritual death. The show is 8:15 at the Hillcrest Shopping Center at Orchard and Overland in Boise.
  • Oct. 25-26: Company of Fools presents Jack and the Beanstalk, the musical, at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey. Performances are Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Oct. 26 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Oct. 29: Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah performs Time Capsule: A Century of Dance at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Oct. 31: Music Theatre of Idaho opens Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a musical thriller by Stephen Sondheim about a murderous, vengeful barber and some suspicious meat pies. Shows are Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 6-8 at 7:30 and Nov. 1 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Now through Nov. 1: Boise Little Theater presents The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style musical mystery by Rupert Holmes based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. During intermission, the audience gets to vote on who the murderer is. Show dates are Oct. 25-26 and 29-31 and Nov. 1; show times are 8:00 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2:00 on Sunday and 7:30 on Wednesday. The theater is on Fort Street just off Broadway in Boise.
  • Now through Nov. 1: Prairie Dog Productions presents Indiana Stones and the Quest for the Holy Oil at the theater at 3820 Cassia St. in Boise. The show runs at 7:15 on Oct. 25 and 31 and Nov. 1.
  • Now through Nov. 8: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents Ragtime, a musical combining Jewish folk music sounds, vaudeville and jazz to tell the story of a Latvian Jewish immigrant, an upscale white family, a Harlem musician, and historical figures such as Houdini, Booker T. Washington and Henry Ford. Show dates are Oct. 25 and 30-31 and Nov. 1 and 6-8. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Now through Nov. 9: Boise Art Museum hosts an exhibit by photographer and sculptor Catherine Chalmers called American Cockroach.
  • Now through Nov. 9: The Boise Art Museum presents Upstream Fly Fishing in the American West, an exhibit of photographs by Charles Lindsay.
  • Now through Nov. 15: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Wonderful Town, a comedy about two sisters -- an actor and a playwright -- who move to New York City to make it big. The show runs Oct. 25 and 31 and Nov. 1, 7-8 and 14-15 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.

November

  • November: The Boise Art Museum opens a new exhibit, a site-specific architectural structure called After, by Lead Pencil Studio architects and artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo.
  • Nov. 1: Opera Idaho presents Lucia di Lammermoor, an opera about a woman who goes mad when her brother forces her to marry a man she does not love, at 8:00 in the Morrison Center at BSU.
  • Nov. 6: The College of Idaho Theater Department opens Lapis Blue, Blood Red, the story of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi and her struggles after she is raped and one of her paintings is stolen. The show runs Nov. 6-8 and 12-15 at 7:30 and Nov. 16 at 2:00 at the Langroise Studio Theater at C of I in Caldwell.
  • Nov. 6-9: Idaho Dance Theater presents Risky Business, its fall dance recital, at 8:00 Nov. 6-8 and 2:00 Nov. 9 at the BSU Special Events Center.
  • Nov. 7-8: The Langroise Trio performs at Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy in Boise at 7:30 on Nov. 7 and at Langroise Recital Hall at the College of Idaho at 7:30 on Nov. 8.
  • Nov. 12: Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, reads selected works at 7:30 at the Egyptian Theatre at Main and Capitol in Boise.
  • Nov. 13: The Boise State Theatre Arts Department opens A Dream Play by August Stringberg, about the daughter of the god Indra who comes to Earth and experiences human suffering. The show runs Nov. 13-15 and 19-22 at 7:30 and Nov. 16 and 23 at 2:00 at the Danny Peterson Theater in the Morrison Center.
  • Nov. 14-15: The Boise Philharmonic performs Vessels of Courage and Hope by contemporary Israeli composer Shulamit Ran and Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Major by Gustav Mahler at 8:00 Nov. 14 at NNU's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa and 8:15 Nov. 15 at BSU's Morrison Center in Boise.
  • Nov. 14: CAN-ACT opens We Found Love and an Exquisite Set of Porcelain Figures Aboard the SS Farndale Avenue, a comedy about an inept theater troupe trying to perform a romantic epic. The show runs at Nov. 14-15 and 20-22 and 8:00 and Nov. 15 at 2:00 at 214 7th Ave., Caldwell.
  • Nov. 17: Caldwell Fine Arts presents Idaho Showcase, a concert with Sandpoint flautist Rhonda Bradetich, Coeur d'Alene harpist Leslie Stratton Norris and the College of Idaho Sinfonia, at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium on the C of I campus.
  • Nov. 19: Boise Contemporary Theater presents No ... You Shutup, a one-woman show by comedian Lauren Weedman premiering at BCT.
  • Nov. 21: Alley Repertory Theater opens Reckless, a Christmas comedy. The show runs Nov. 21-23, 26, and 28-29 at 8:00 at the Visual Arts Collective behind the Woman of Steel Gallery on Chinden.
  • Nov. 23: The Treasure Valley Youth Symphony performs their fall concert at 7:00 at Timberline High School.
  • Nov. 28: Boise Little Theater presents The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, in which, one year after finding the true meaning of Christmas, Scrooge is back to his old ways and has decided to sue Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 4-7 and 10-13 at 2:00 Sunday, 7:30 Wednesday and 8:00 Thursday through Saturday at the theater on Fort Street.
  • Nov. 28: Stage Coach Theatre presents Moving, a comic slice-of-life tale of a family dealing with one of the most stressful days any family undergoes: moving day. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 4-7 and 11-13 at 7:30 Thursday, 8:15 Friday through Saturday, and 2:00 Sunday.
  • Nov. 28: Starlight Mountain Theatre opens The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a comedy about a married couple who are trying to put on the annual church Christmas pageant even though the cast includes a family of mean and nasty kids. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Nov. 28: Encore Theatre Company opens A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, a drama inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books. The show runs Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6 at 7:00 at NNU's Science Lecture Hall in Nampa and Dec. 12 at 7:00 at the Caldwell Center for the Arts at 603 Everett St., Caldwell.
  • Nov. 29: The Boise Art Musuem opens an exhibit of ceramic sculptures, drawings and paintings by Japanese artist Jun Kaneko. Some of Kaneko's ceramic pieces are up to 13 feet high and 5,000 pounds.

Dark Rituals

I got two broad impressions from seeing Dark Rituals at Stagecoach Theatre. One was that the show's many plot twists keep it pretty entertaining and are pulled off fairly well; the other is that there isn't a single sympathetic character in the play. I'm going to focus on the characters, since to talk about the plot twists would be to ruin them, but that's not to say that the show isn't worth going to just to see what happens.

There's really no one to root for in this play. In fact, the one neutral character is Vernon (Anthony Polidori), the Native American helping the main character with her book; everyone else is profoundly negative. The ostensible protagonist is Anne McCauley (played by Regina Yegge). She expects her son (Ian Taylor) to do her plumbing, all the while lecturing him and whining that he doesn't love her. She badmouths his job and his wife (played by Karen Holcomb with just enough bitchiness to make you dislike her a bit, but not enough to justify Anne's rude remarks) to his face. And as an anthropologist, she's intellectually dishonest, writing sensationalized pop anthropology books that bastardize Native American and African rituals and take liberties with the truth. She doesn't really care about the cultures she's exploring, just about churning out another bestseller for her Dark Rituals series: Dark Rituals of the Headhunters of the Amazon, Dark Rituals of Voodoo, Dark Rituals of the North American Gangster, and now Dark Rituals of the North American Indians. Were Yegge a little more comfortable with her role, she could easily have become the person I most loved to hate in this play.

As it is, that dubious honor might go either to Ian Taylor, who played Anne's son Harrison McCauley, who we soon learn is plotting his mother's death, or to Perry Decker as Dr. David Murray, who has his own insidious side. (Although, since I'm not rooting for Anne, I'm actually not sure I can really hate Harrison for plotting her demise. Maybe I am sort of rooting for him in the way you might root for Wile E. Coyote to catch the Roadrunner. What? Don't tell me I'm the only one who did that.) Most likely it would go to Taylor, who comes across as tensely threatening at times, mocking his mother in a twisted, almost Joker-esque way. It was a nice turnaround from a family dynamic that reminded me of nothing so much as the horrible comic strip "Momma."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God's Ear

By now, regular readers will probably note by my overuse of words like "whimsical" and my tendency to be drawn to plays with names like "Psycho Beach Party" that I like offbeat productions. So I thought I was all set with God's Ear at Boise Contemporary Theater.

"Jenny Schwartz has launched her career with a breathtaking new play about loss, love and language," BCT's description reads. "At the center of the story is a couple, struggling to find themselves and each other after a sudden family tragedy.... In contrast to its heavy subject matter, God's Ear features a playful cast of characters, including the Tooth Fairy, G.I. Joe and a transvestite flight attendant."

"The Tooth Fairy, G.I. Joe and a transvestite flight attendant?" I thought. "How can you go wrong?"

Let me assure you, it's very, very possible.

The play was simply weird. I gave up trying to get it and decided there really wasn't that much to get. I was absolutely baffled by the people around me in the audience after the show who were gushing about how great it was. To me, the whole thing smacked of pretension.

Some leeway may be called for because this is a play about grief, and of course different people experience pain and grief differently. And grief isn't always about crying or tragedy. But the play seemed insular somehow -- like it wasn't letting us in, like it wasn't trying to let us understand.

It certainly wasn't the fault of the actors. Tracy Sunderland and Matthew Cameron Clark, who play Mel and Ted, a married couple who have lost a son, are clearly superb, despite the fact that I didn't like the material they had to work with or how they were delivering it (clearly choices of the author and the director). And Andrea Caban brought some much-needed humor to the play with her portrayal of Lenora, the woman Mel refers to as a call girl.

The dialogue relied on the repetition and variation of key phrases. The same question might get asked four or five times, one right after another. The character who answers might give a different answer each time, or might give a synonym of their previous answer. Occasionally this leads to some genuine laugh lines, and there are some witty one-liners. But overall it's a structure that may have been interesting to play with as a writer, but did little for me as an audience member. The dialogue was also delivered in a very stilted, unnatural, often rushed manner. It seems at times like the emphasis is on all the wrong words. Real people don't talk like that.

One of the things I did like were the songs in the play -- a capella little tunes out of the middle of nowhere. One of my favorites was sung by Beau Baxter (who played Guy), a list of things you cannot sell on eBay (a list including "human organs" and "stolen stuff.") They added a little levity to a play that felt, so much of the time, completely numb.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Open Studios Weekend

A couple weeks ago I decided to visit a few local artists in their studios for BOSCO, the Boise Open Studios Collective Organization. I went to the opening reception that Thursday in the Idaho State Historical Museum, where they had a sample of each artists' work so you could get an idea of what you might see if you went to their studio. I sketched a few of the pieces there and picked out a few places to go to on Saturday, where I did a few more sketches. I think for the most part I'll just post my drawings here and avoid too much comment:



"Winds of Warm Latitudes," one of a series of lithograph-type pictures by Sandy Marostica, many of which used old astrological symbols and the like.


This is one of the thousands of paintings in Tarmo Watia's house. Marostica recommended we go to his house, and I'm really glad we followed her recommendation. I'd recommend anyone go see his work during BOSCO next year. His house is filled to the brim with art.

Edit: Since this was first posted, I accidentally deleted a couple of the files from this when I was cleaning up my folders on Google+, so sketches I originally had here of a sculpture by Zella Bardsley and a shadow box by Marostica are gone. They weren't my best work, anyhow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paste Eater and Erin Ruiz at Visual Arts Collective


The artist behind the red cat balloon I've done my best to capture here goes by the name "Paste Eater." I kid you not. This fantastical piece was one of his two most prominent paintings at the Visual Arts Collective (I assume it's a he -- not that the act of paste-eating is gender-specific). The other, a huge square painting with two separate skinny panels at the sides continuing the picture, depicted a huge black mass of warped houses with fiery windows and doors, and little white cartoony ghost houses rising from the hellish mass -- some with halos and wings, and others reminiscent of Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde. You can see a small snippet of the painting on the right here. My boyfriend thought it was the perfect depiction of the housing crisis. I'm inclined to agree.
The other artist at VAC is Erin Ruiz, whose cartoons are primarily waist- or neck-down views of scrawny-legged people hovering in the air, or being flown by birds or an umbrella. Like Paste Eater's art, it's delightfully whimsical. The gaunt flying figures are a perfect counterpoint to some of her other works on display -- roly-poly nudes of enormous girth. One picture of a rotund naked woman had a small clam shell at the bottom of the page, in what may have been a parody of Botticelli.

Roundup

October

  • Oct. 10-11: CAN-ACT presents Something's Afoot, a musical murder-mystery spoof about 10 people stranded at an isolated English country estate and who are killed off one by one in mysterious and amusing ways, at its new location at 214 Seventh Ave., Caldwell. Show times are 8:00; tickets for the show include a wine, cheese and chocolate tasting.
  • Oct. 10-12: Boise State Department of Theatre Arts presents Tragedy: A Tragedy, an absurdist comedy about a TV news team prepared to cover a tragedy that isn't happening. Performances are Oct. 10-11 at 7:30 and Oct. 12 at 2:00 in the Morrison Center Stage II, newly rechristened the Danny Peterson Theatre. (I'm planning to see this show tonight and I'll post my review tomorrow if you're curious about seeing it Saturday or Sunday.Or not. We ran into some bad traffic and showed up too late to see the show. I don't know if we'll see it tomorrow or not.)
  • Oct. 10-12: "Waiting for the World to Change," Candace Nicol's exhibit of etchings, collapraphs and screenprints about growing up in a multicultural family and dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 is on display at the Hatch Ballroom at BSU's Student Union Building.
  • Oct. 10: Stage Coach Theatre opens Dark Rituals, a thriller about an anthropologist learning about the Native American legend of the windigo, a cannibalistic creature. She and her son and daughter-in-law find themselves forced to face supernatural elements, murder and ritual death. Show dates are Oct. 10-11, 16-19 and 23-25; show times are 7:30 Thursdays, 8:15 Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 Sunday. The theater is in the Hillcrest Shopping Center at Orchard and Overland in Boise.
  • Oct. 10: Alley Repertory Theater opens Burial at Thebes, a contemporary version of Antigone written by Seamus Haney as a metaphor for security issues under the Bush administration. Performances are Oct. 10-11, 14, and 16-18 at 8:00 at the Visual Arts Collective on Osage St. behind the Woman of Steel Gallery on Chinden.
  • Oct. 14: Big Band Swing Design of the Netherlands performs at 7:30 p.m. at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Now through Oct. 17: Robert Kantor's "The Hope Series," an exhibit of large-scale steel and mixed-media sculptures, is on display in the Visual Arts Center of the liberal arts building in Gallery 1 at BSU.
  • Oct. 17-18: The Boise Philharmonic will perform three pieces by Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Piano Concerto No. 3 and Symphony No. 6, the Pastoral Symphony, at NNU's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa on Oct. 17 at 8:00 and at BSU's Morrison Center in Boise on Oct. 18 at 8:15.
  • Oct. 17: Boise Little Theater opens The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style musical mystery by Rupert Holmes based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. During intermission, the audience gets to vote on who the murderer is. Show dates are Oct. 17-18, 23-26 and 29-31 and Nov. 1; show times are 8:00 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2:00 on Sunday and 7:30 on Wednesday. The theater is on Fort Street just off Broadway in Boise.
  • Now through Oct. 25: Boise Contemporary Theater presents God's Ear at the theater at 854 Fulton St. in Boise. A couple struggles to find themselves and each other in the wake of a family tragedy in this show that includes appearances from the Tooth Fairy, G.I. Joe and a transvestite flight attendant. Show dates are Oct. 8-11, 15-18 and 22-25 at 8:00 and 18 and 25 at 2:00.
  • Now through Oct. 26: Company of Fools presents Jack and the Beanstalk, the musical, at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey. Performances are Oct. 8-11, 15-18 and 22-25 at 7 p.m., Oct. 12, 19 and 26 at 3:00 p.m. and Oct. 18 and 25 at 11 a.m.
  • Oct. 29: Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah performs Time Capsule: A Century of Dance at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Oct. 31: Music Theatre of Idaho opens Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a musical thriller by Stephen Sondheim about a murderous, vengeful barber and some suspicious meat pies. Shows are Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 6-8 at 7:30 and Nov. 1 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Now through Nov. 1: Prairie Dog Productions presents Indiana Stones and the Quest for the Holy Oil at the theater at 3820 Cassia St. in Boise. The show runs 2:00 Oct. 12 and 19 and at 7:15 on Oct. 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 and 31; and Nov. 1.
  • Now through Nov. 8: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents Ragtime, a musical combining Jewish folk music sounds, vaudeville and jazz to tell the story of a Latvian Jewish immigrant, an upscale white family, a Harlem musician, and historical figures such as Houdini, Booker T. Washington and Henry Ford. Show dates are Oct. 10-11, 16-18, 23-25 and 30-31 and Nov. 1 and 6-8. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Now through Nov. 9: Boise Art Museum hosts an exhibit by photographer and sculptor Catherine Chalmers called American Cockroach.
  • Now through Nov. 9: The Boise Art Museum presents Upstream Fly Fishing in the American West, an exhibit of photographs by Charles Lindsay.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

It's a pretty dark version of the Peanuts gang.

Snoopy mauled Woodstock and had to be put down. Lucy was put in a mental institution for lighting the Little Red-Haired Girl's hair on fire. Linus smokes pot. Pigpen is a bully. Sally's a Wiccan, or at least she is this week. Peppermint Patty and Marcie pour booze into their milk cartons so they won't get caught drinking during school.

And what about the round-headed kid? Charlie Brown is just as messed up as the rest of them. He's somehow, despite his premature balding, managed to work his way into the popular crowd. He seems to have gone through life in a haze, accepting the high-school atrocities around him, standing idly by as kids are beaten and victimized. It's the death of Snoopy and a sudden connection with Schroeder, who was outed and has been hated by everyone in the school since then, that finally wakes him up and leads him to question the hate and chaos around him.

John Gibbons does a good job navigating his way through CB's awakening. You can tell he's struggling a bit, not entirely sure how to break from his old circle of mean, popular friends, or even if he wants to. The best part of his performance, however, is at the end, when he turns angrily on his former friends and even on his memories of Schroeder, and later yet when he finds some comfort in the words of his faraway pen pal.

(A brief word about the names, like CB, before I go on -- all the characters' names are different than in the Peanuts comic strip, whether a slight change from Marcie to Marcy or a large one from Pigpen to Matt, a misogynist, homophobe and bully who eschews his former nickname. Wikipedia suggests that this could be either to avoid copyright infringement or for artistic effect. I very much doubt it's the former, since legal protections for works of satire would apply. Generally the references to Peanuts are obvious, but oblique. But it is entertaining to see the occasional direct reference -- for instance, when Marcy accidentally calls Tricia, "sir," and Tricia responds, "You've got to stop calling me that.")

Lee Vander Boegh, who plays Van, the play's version of Linus, has the stoner philosophy dialogue delivery down, trotting out such timeworn high-as-a-kite classics as "nothing is something" and transitioning randomly into the topic of neutrons.

Brandon Bilbao does a wonderful job as Matt. He's very believable as a popular bully, particularly when he's forced to confront CB's relationship with Beethoven (Schroeder). Bilbao allows you to almost understand where Matt's coming from, but makes you hate him nonetheless.

Geneva Stevahn and Carissa Linder are simply excellent as Tricia and Marcy, who have an insult for every occasion (usually something along the lines of, "Survey says: You're fat!"). But their meanness masks other things that are going on -- Marcy is downright desperate in her quest for popularity and a prom date, and Tricia's clearly trying to hide her attraction to Frieda by calling her names.

Andrea Haskett as Sally wasn't the strongest character, but provided some great laughs during her first angsty teenage poetry dramatic reading. Her recital is in earnest (as it should be), making the performance somewhat reminiscent of the Star Wars kid.

Rob Tromp does a fine job as Beethoven, who's become an angry loner and is neither ready to completely come to terms with being gay nor to overlook his treatment at the hands of his peers.

Aimee Nell Smith, who plays Lucy, is definitely a highlight of the show. She's in just one scene, when CB comes to visit her in the psychiatric ward. Smith does a wonderful job, alternately emotional, warm, and sarcastic. She's yanking CB's chain half the time, yet the other half she's the closest thing he has to a psychiatrist.

A few of the actors seem pretty old to be playing high school kids, but it's forgivable.

Dog Sees God is worth going to if you're in the mood for a good dark comedy. But don't be surprised if you're crying a little at the end.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Greater Tuna

I'm going to keep my comments about the Idaho Shakespeare Festival's production of Greater Tuna relatively brief, because I reviewed Stagecoach Theater's production of it earlier this summer and I don't really think it's fair to invite comparison. Idaho Shakespeare Festival has a much larger budget for costumes and sets, so the production values were certainly greater. Moreover, Joe Golden and Tom Willmorth both belong to the Actors' Equity Association, the union for stage actors, so they get paid for their performances. I'll simply say that it was very funny and worthwhile going to.

But I've seen Greater Tuna three times now, and I think it's worth noting a couple of new things that ISF brought to the play -- again, not to invite comparison, but to point out some innovative strokes. One of them was a cool special effect that ISF was able to pull off -- the weatherman character, Harold Dean Latimer, is repeatedly struck by lightning. Another is the amount of miming that Golden and Willmorth do. All productions of Greater Tuna I've seen involve some amount of miming, especially when Bertha Bumiller has to shoo the dogs out of the house. Golden and Willmorth take it to an extreme, miming everything from dunking donuts to playing accordians and jugs to straddling a large dog and swatting it out the door. They pull it off with panache, using clear motions that made it obvious what they were doing and generating lots of laughs in the process.

As much as I loved seeing this show, for review purposes I wish I could have seen a different ISF production this year. I would have been more comfortable talking about the performances for another show. Plus it would have been nice to see some actual Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Festival. As good as ISF's non-Shakespeare productions are, I can't escape the feeling that seeing a musical or a contemporary play there is a little like ordering a hamburger at a Chinese restaurant.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Final Solutions

Last week I went to the Visual Arts Collective to see East Indian Follies' production of Final Solutions, about the aftermath of the Partition of India and Pakistan and the strife between Hindus and Muslims in India afterwards. I really wanted to like the play; I saw a production by East Indian Follies once before at a Community Theater Association of Idaho event that I really enjoyed. Sadly, I don't think I can recommend Final Solutions for my average reader here. It may be appreciated more by the Indian community in Boise, but for me it was a bit hard to get through.

Final Solutions has an interesting premise. It's after curfew in a city in India, there are riots in the streets, and a mob of Hindu men has chased two Muslims, Javed and Bobby, to the home of Ramnik, who takes the men into his house to protect them. Ramnik's mother Hardika, wife Aruna, and daughter Smita are all, to varying degrees, upset by his actions. Hardika lived through the Partition in 1947 and says that these people -- Muslims in general, not Javed and Bobby -- killed Ramnik's father. Aruna, unlike the liberal, agnostic Ramnik and Smita, is a devout Hindu and believes that Javed and Bobby are desecrating things like the family's water when they are allowed to touch it. And Smita knows Javed and Bobby, and knows that Javed has joined a group of Muslims who started the riot. The play explores prejudices, deep-seated grievances, and tenuous attempts to make peace.

Some of the performances were excellent, particularly Aruna, played by Chandrika Anand, and Smita, played by Kavita Jayaraman. And the play has its share of powerful moments, such as when Bobby, played by Amit Gupta, grabs one of the gods from the family's Hindu shrine, and when Ramnik (Mouli Subramanian) and Smita confront Aruna and tell her that her religious prejudices make her no different than fanatics like Javed.

But unfortunately, the play gets bogged down. There are multiple flashbacks to when Hardika was a young woman, and there's also four men who appear periodically as a sort of Greek chorus, alternatively wearing the masks of Hindus and Muslims and chanting slogans repetitively. These continually interrupt the flow of the play and don't always add the dramatic tension they should, particularly since the woman playing young Hardika spoke in such a shrill, overwrought voice that it made it difficult sometimes to follow what she was saying. And the script goes from revelation to revelation, from big symbolic speech to big symbolic speech, trying to say too much and to say it with grandiose rhetoric. I think the real problem with the big speeches was that they led to an issue with timing. The characters delivered their speeches chock-full of dramatic pauses. The play should have been tightened up considerably -- it just went on too long. By the end of the three-hour production, I was exhausted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roundup

September
  • Sept. 24-27: The Idaho Shakespeare Festival presents Greater Tuna, a satirical comedy about small-town morals and mores starring two men in 20 roles, at 7:30 at the amphitheater on Warm Springs in Boise.
  • Sept. 25-27: Music Theatre of Idaho presents I Remember Mama, a musical about a Norwegian family's survival in the New World, at 7:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.
  • Sept. 25, 27 and 28: East Indian Follies presents Final Solutions, a play about an Indian family that struggles with intergenerational ideas about religion, politics, history, and in particular the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, at the Visual Arts Collective just off Chinden behind the Woman of Steel Gallery in Garden City. The play runs Sept. 25 and 27 at 8:00 and Sept. 28 at 7:00.
  • Sept. 26: Opera Idaho holds Puccini Martini Blast at the Arid Club at 7:00.
  • Sept. 26: Daisy's Madhouse opens Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, a look at the Peanuts gang and what happens when they go to high school and deal with drugs, violence and eating disorders, at 7:00 at Neurolux. The show continues Sept. 27 and Oct. 3-4 at 7:00 at Neurolux.
  • Sept. 26: Prairie Dog Productions opens Indiana Stones and the Quest for the Holy Oil at 7:15 at the theater at 3820 Cassia St. in Boise. The show continues at 2:00 Oct. 12 and 19 and at 7:15 on Sept. 27; Oct. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 and 31; and Nov. 1.
  • Sept. 28: Del Parkinson, a pianist for the Boise Philharmonic, will perform at 3:00 in the Morrison Center Recital Hall at BSU.
  • Now through Oct. 7: Bhutanese Thanka paintings by artist Phurba Namgay are on display in the Visual Arts Center of the liberal arts building in Gallery 2 at BSU.
  • Now through Oct. 12: "Waiting for the World to Change," Candace Nicol's exhibit of etchings, collapraphs and screenprints about growing up in a multicultural family and dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 is on display at the Hatch Ballroom at BSU's Student Union Building.
  • Now through October: The Boise Art Museum is displaying Gerri Sayler's exhibit Ad Infinitum. It consists of more than 900 glistening strands of sculpted hot glue.
  • Now through Oct. 17: Robert Kantor's "The Hope Series," an exhibit of large-scale steel and mixed-media sculptures, is on display in the Visual Arts Center of the liberal arts building in Gallery 1 at BSU.
  • Now through Nov. 9: Boise Art Museum hosts an exhibit by photographer and sculptor Catherine Chalmers called American Cockroach.
  • Now through Nov. 9: The Boise Art Museum presents Upstream Fly Fishing in the American West, an exhibit of photographs by Charles Lindsay.


October

  • Oct. 2, 4 & 5: Boise Open Studios Collective Organization holds its Open Studios Weekend from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 4-5. Attend the opening reception at the Idaho History Museum Oct. 2 during First Thursday to decide which studios to go to, or simply pick up a map and guide in that week's Boise Weekly.
  • Oct. 2: Boise State Department of Theatre Arts presents Tragedy: A Tragedy, an absurdist comedy about a TV news team prepared to cover a tragedy that isn't happening. Performances are Oct. 2-4 and 8-11 at 7:30 and Oct. 5 and 12 at 2:00 in the Morrison Center Stage II, newly rechristened the Danny Peterson Theatre.
  • Oct. 3: Opera Idaho holds Puccini Martini Blast at the Arid Club at 7:00.
  • Oct. 3-5: Ballet Idaho presents Fall Collage of Classics, a selection of three diverse ballets: Mozart's A Little Night Music, Debussy's Clair de Lune and Footage, a salute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Performances are Oct. 3-4 at 8:00 and Oct. 4-5 at 2:00 in the BSU Special Events Center.
  • Oct. 3: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents Ragtime, a musical combining Jewish folk music sounds, vaudeville and jazz to tell the story of a Latvian Jewish immigrant, an upscale white family, a Harlem musician, and historical figures such as Houdini, Booker T. Washington and Henry Ford. Show dates are Oct. 3-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 and 30-31 and Nov. 1 and 6-8. Show times are 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays; dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays. The theater is on Ninth Street between Front and Myrtle in Boise.
  • Oct. 3: CAN-ACT presents Something's Afoot, a musical murder-mystery spoof about 10 people stranded at an isolated English country estate and who are killed off one by one in mysterious and amusing ways, at its new location at 214 Seventh Ave., Caldwell. Show times are 8:00 Oct. 3-4 and 10-11 and 2:00 Oct. 4; tickets for the show include a wine, cheese and chocolate tasting.
  • Oct. 8: Boise Contemporary Theater presents God's Ear at the theater at 854 Fulton St. in Boise. A couple struggles to find themselves and each other in the wake of a family tragedy in this show that includes appearances from the Tooth Fairy, G.I. Joe and a transvestite flight attendant. Show dates are Oct. 8-11, 15-18 and 22-25 at 8:00 and 18 and 25 at 2:00.
  • Oct. 8: Company of Fools presents Jack and the Beanstalk, the musical, at the Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey. Performances are Oct. 8-11, 15-18 and 22-25 at 7 p.m., Oct. 12, 19 and 26 at 3:00 p.m. and Oct. 18 and 25 at 11 a.m.
  • Oct. 10: Stage Coach Theatre opens Dark Rituals, a thriller about an anthropologist learning about the Native American legend of the windigo, a cannibalistic creature. She and her son and daughter-in-law find themselves forced to face supernatural elements, murder and ritual death. Show dates are Oct. 10-11, 16-19 and 23-25; show times are 7:30 Thursdays, 8:15 Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:00 Sunday. The theater is in the Hillcrest Shopping Center at Orchard and Overland in Boise.
  • Oct. 10: Alley Repertory Theater opens Burial at Thebes, a contemporary version of Antigone written by Seamus Haney as a metaphor for security issues under the Bush administration. Performances are Oct. 10-11, 14, and 16-18 at 8:00 at the Visual Arts Collective on Osage St. behind the Woman of Steel Gallery on Chinden.
  • Oct. 14: Big Band Swing Design of the Netherlands performs at 7:30 p.m. at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Oct. 17-18: The Boise Philharmonic will perform three pieces by Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Piano Concerto No. 3 and Symphony No. 6, the Pastoral Symphony, at NNU's Swayne Auditorium in Nampa on Oct. 17 at 8:00 and at BSU's Morrison Center in Boise on Oct. 18 at 8:15.
  • Oct. 17: Boise Little Theater opens The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style musical mystery by Rupert Holmes based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. During intermission, the audience gets to vote on who the murderer is. Show dates are Oct. 17-18, 23-26 and 29-31 and Nov. 1; show times are 8:00 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2:00 on Sunday and 7:30 on Wednesday. The theater is on Fort Street just off Broadway in Boise.
  • Oct. 29: Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah performs Time Capsule: A Century of Dance at 7:30 at Jewett Auditorium at the College of Idaho in Caldwell.
  • Oct. 31: Music Theatre of Idaho opens Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a musical thriller by Stephen Sondheim about a murderous, vengeful barber and some suspicious meat pies. Shows are Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 6-8 at 7:30 and Nov. 1 at 1:30 at the Nampa Civic Center.