Friday, January 29, 2010

Dilemmas with Dinner

If Fools is a dumb frat boy, Dilemmas with Dinner is someone who's smart enough that I could see possibly dating for a while. Which is not to say that it's overly intellectual or anything -- it actually contains a lot of slapstick, malapropisms, impressions and the like -- but some of the humor is a little more subtle and it's nice for audiences to be able to get it without being hit over the head with it. It's the whole package, really -- smart and funny with a lot of character.

Megan Barsness plays Brooke Williams, a career woman who's trying to win a major promotion and asked her boss and his wife over for dinner so she can ask for the job. But her house is in a state of chaos and everything that can go wrong does. It's all she can do to wipe the bleach off her upper lip and get dressed, let alone deal with broken plates, broken heels, her husband's broken back and the constantly ringing phone.

The entire cast was excellent. Barsness did a wonderful job of degenerating during the evening from merely frazzled to practically homicidal. Paul Kersey, who plays Donny, Brooke's sarcastic husband, and Kevin Tuck, who plays Stephen, Brooke's assistant's flirtatious boyfriend, stole the scenes they were in. Genny Ulmen (Caren the caterer) had some particularly nice exchanges with Eric Johnson, who played Donny's hapless, klutzy assistant Max. Brittany Buckner (Brooke's assistant Julia) added some excellent tension to her scenes when she discovered some things she hadn't known about her boyfriend. Karl Johnson and Shelley Ward were positively irritating as Brooke's boss and the boss's wife -- exactly as they were supposed to be -- but pulled it off in a way that wasn't just a caricature of someone annoying.

The night I went had some technical difficulties with the phone -- and unfortunately it's a central source of much of the chaos in the show, so the cast had to play along and answer it even when it wasn't ringing. It was really a relief when the phone started ringing again. Hopefully those kinks have been worked out for closing weekend.


If Boise Little Theater's production of Fools was a person, he'd be a big grinning frat boy who's learned to balance a spoon on his nose while belching The Star-Spangled Banner and pouring you a boilermaker. Yeah, he's really dumb, but he throws a good party. And yes, the show may just be the dumbest thing Neil Simon ever wrote, but you'll have fun nonetheless.

Jason Roper plays Leon, an enthusiastic schoolteacher who has taken a job as schoolmaster in the village of Kulyenchikov. When he arrives in town, he meets several villagers, played by Andy Neill, Sean McBride, Joey Maxey, Steven Lanzet and Becky Kimsey. They inform him that the village has been cursed with stupidity for 200 years. Really stupid. Like, not being able to tell the difference between a cow and a duck stupid. Legend has it that if he stays in the village for 24 hours and cannot break the curse, he too will become stupid. Leon meets Dr. Zubritsky (Don Mummert) and Lenya (Jo-Ann Jones), who have hired him to educate their daughter Sophia in the hopes that that will break the curse, and falls in love with Sophia (Allison Terenzio) in the process.

It's pretty dumb -- which the actors and director themselves readily acknowledge -- but there's a lot of good schtick that keeps it entertaining, and the brisk pace of the show keeps it from being dumb in a mind-numbing way.

Roper's numerous asides to the audience were a bit hammy and sometimes rather distracting, but I suppose that's primarily a problem I have with the script. Pretty much everything he says in the asides is something he could have (and did) easily demonstrated with his acting, so mostly they just seemed unnecessary and I would've rather the play just continued with the action.

One really nice element director Kevin Kimsey and the cast added to the show was to have several of the cast members come out into the lobby during intermission in character. Lanzet, who played the postman, delivered mail to the audience (I accidentally got something addressed to William Shakespeare. Apparently someone was trying to sell him a vacation tour of the Yampa River). Becky Kimsey sold some unusual-looking fish to audience members who remembered to bring their kopecks. And Neill kept asking people if they'd seen his two dozen sheep; he'd managed to lose all 14 of them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


  • Jan. 8-30: Stage Coach Theatre presents Dilemmas with Dinner, a farce about a woman trying to win a major promotion by hosting an elaborate dinner for her boss. The show runs Jan. 8-9, 14-17, 21-24 and 28-30 at 7:30 Thursdays, 8:15 Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 Sundays at the theater in the Hillcrest Shopping Center at Orchard and Overland in Boise.
  • Now through Jan. 9: Company of Fools presents A Year with Frog and Toad, a musical based on the popular childrens' books by Arnold Lobel in which Frog and Toad learn life lessons and the value of friendship. The show runs at 7:00 Jan. 2, 3:00 Jan. 3, and 11:00 a.m. Jan. 2 at the Liberty Theater on Main Street in Hailey. The show also runs for two days in Twin Falls at 7:00 Jan. 8-9 and 11 a.m. Jan. 9 at the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts Theatre.
  • Now through Jan. 9: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents Irving Berlin's White Christmas, a musical about two friends in show business who find love while putting on a show at an inn in Vermont. The show runs Jan. 1-2 and 8-9 at 7:30 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Jan. 9: As part of its Sounds Like Fun series, The Boise Philharmonic presents a percussion concert for families at 10:45 a.m. and noon at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy.
  • Jan. 15-16: Starlight Mountain Theatre presents A Starlight Evening of Cabaret, a performance of hit songs from more than 25 Broadway shows. The production takes place at 7:30 Jan. 15-16 and 2:00 Jan. 16 at The Star theater at 1851 Century Way in Boise.
  • Jan. 15-30: Boise Little Theater presents Fools, a Neil Simon play about a man who lands a job teaching in a Russian village whose residents have been cursed with stupidity for the last 200 years. The show runs Jan. 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30 at 8:00, Jan. 21-28 at 7:30 and Jan. 24 and 30 at 2:00.
  • Jan. 15-Feb. 14: Prairie Dog Productions presents The Adventures of Sheerluck Holmes and Dr. Snotson at 7:30 Jan. 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30 and Feb. 5-6 and 12-13 and 2:00 Jan. 24, 31 and Feb. 14 at the theater on 3820 Cassia St. in Boise.
  • Jan. 16: Daisy's Madhouse is organizing Will Act 4 Food, a 24-hour play festival to raise funds for the Idaho Foodbank. The event takes place at 8:00 p.m. at the Danny Peterson Theatre in the Morrison Center on the Boise State University campus. (If you want to form an acting team and participate, you have through Jan. 8 to sign up.)
  • Now through Jan. 17: Boise Art Museum presents A Survey of Gee's Bend Quilts, a collection of abstract quilts created by women in the African-American community of Gee's Bend, Alabama.
  • Jan. 18: Boise Contemporary Theater presents a dramatic reading of Atlasing Sodom, a play about the secrets shared by two young men in a romantic relationship and how one boy's father obsesses over those secrets years later. The show runs at 7:00 at the theater on 9th and Fulton.
  • Jan. 21-31: The Boise State University Theatre Arts Department presents Master Class by Terrence McNally, a show based on a series of Julliard classes given by the opera singer Maria Callas. The show runs Jan. 21-23 and 28-30 at 8:00 and 24 and 31 at 2:00 in the recital hall at the Morrison Center on the BSU campus.
  • Jan. 22-23: The Boise Philharmonic and Opera Idaho present the Philharmonic's Salute to Opera Idaho, including performances of Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter" and Leonard Bernstein's Suite from Candide. The concerts are at 8:00 at the Northwest Nazarene University Swayne Auditorium on Jan. 22 and 8:00 at the Morrison Center on the Boise State University campus on Jan. 23.
  • Jan. 22-30: CAN-ACT presents Nuncrackers, a musical in which the nuns from Nunsense decide to tape a Christmas special in their convent basement studio for cable access TV. The show runs at 8:00 Jan. 22-23 and 29-30 and at 2:00 Jan. 30 at Grace Episcopal Church at 411 10th Ave. S. in Nampa.
  • Jan. 22-Feb. 20: Knock 'Em Dead Dinner Theatre presents The Murder Room, a comedy about a gold-digger who attempts to bump off her rich husband. The show runs Jan. 22-23, 28-30, and Feb. 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20 at 7:00 Thursdays and 8:00 Fridays and Saturdays at the theater's new location on 415 E. Parkcenter Blvd. in Boise. Dinner is served at 7:00 Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Jan. 27-Feb. 20: Boise Contemporary Theater presents At Home at the Zoo, a play by Edward Albee about three New Yorkers whose lives are changed forever by a confrontation one afternoon. The show runs at 8:00 Jan. 27-30, Feb. 3-6, 10-13 and 17-20, and 2:00 Feb. 6, 13 and 20 at the Fulton Street Theater on Fulton and Ninth.
  • Jan. 28-31: Idaho Dance Theater presents its winter production, Figuratively Speaking, in the Boise State University Special Events Center at 7:00 Jan. 28, 8:00 Jan. 29-30 and 2:00 Jan. 31.
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 6: Encore Theatre Company presents Bridge to Terabithia, the story of a boy and girl who imagine a magical kingdom. The show runs Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 5-6 at 7:30 and Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 at 2:00 in the old Northwest Nazarene University science lecture hall on 550 Holly St. in Nampa.
  • Jan. 30: As part of its Sounds Like Fun series, The Boise Philharmonic presents a strings concert for families at 10:45 a.m. at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy.
  • Jan. 30: The Boise Art Museum opens the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection, a selection of 50 works of minimal, post-minimal and conceptual drawings, paintings and sculptures.
  • Now through March 14: Boise Art Museum presents Patchwork, a collection of quilts from the early 1800s through the mid-20th century.
  • Now through April 18: Boise Art Museum presents Idea as Art: Contemporary Works on Paper, a selection of abstract drawings by such artists as Sol Lewitt and Mel Bochner.