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John Hull

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The Mystery of Irma Vep

Married couples daydream about the oddest stuff together, but I bet the conversation between D.C. and Peter went something like this:
“More coffee? What if we did a play together?”
“Hmm, did you speak? Oh, we often work plays together. Yes please, I’ll have another cup.”
“Yeah, but what if we performed all the parts?”
“Hmm. Seems like we’d be pretty busy.”
“Yes, but think what we could do—and we could use dressers!”
“Hmm. We could, couldn’t we? You know what else we could do?”
“No. Yes. Tell me.”

The Mystery of Irma Vep was written by Charles Ludlum and first performed in 1986. Like the original production, there is a cast of only two: Peter Budinger and D.C. Scarpelli. This show is directed by Robert Love.

The Musical of Musicals at the Masquers

When you haven’t seen a show in a while, do you sometimes wonder what attracts you to theatre? I do, regularly. I know, fundamentally, I’m happier when I persevere in getting out of my soft couch, but that’s a logical deduction from a memory. Yet, at most performances, I become amazed (again) by the magic of theatre. What’s surprising is the magnitude of the before and after feelings. It’s like forgetting what cherries taste like until this time of year. Unless you have season tickets to the Masquers, then you’ve not resolved this issue either. My job is to try to capture that great wonder into words, so that you too will get off your duff to see this performance.

The Mystery Plays at the Masquers

If you need a play to make sense, this show may not be your cup of tea. A technique common to horror and supernatural fiction genres is to dole out sense one sentence at a time. Reality shifts constantly to encompass something previously unimaginable—for a few moments the world is understood—then a new reality changes one’s expectations again.

Know beforehand that The Mystery Plays are two one act plays with completely different styles and largely separate storylines. Neither play follows definitions of modern mystery fiction.

Still with me? Good. The Mystery Plays, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Patricia Inabnet, present two mysterious settings which take us on unexpected journeys. The show continues until Feb. 26.

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Is this the season for silly? Exactly six years ago for my first TPIT review, I watched David Irving metamorphose into a dog. This time his face contorts with petulance, his feet fly, and he shoes his way into our hearts.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a fun show suitable for youth and adults alike and plays at the Masquers until Dec. 18th. The show is directed by John Maio with music direction by Pat King and was written by Rachel Sheinkin with music and lyrics by William Finn. The music is ably executed by Wesley Asakawa, Barbara Kohler, Jo Lusk, Dean Starnes, Patrice Young and Pat herself.

Rocky Horror Show at the Masquers

I was a virgin until that night. Assistant Director Michelle Pond told me that’s the label for someone who’s never seen Rocky Horror Show. As always, virgins are rare. For 30+ years, Rocky Horror, written by Richard O'Brien, has drawn a huge cult following; Director G. A. Klein has seen the production upwards of 500 times.

G. A. Klein directs a big show: Rocky Horror has lots of glitter, a copious cast and sweeping, grand music.

Lady Windermere's Fan at the Masquers

With Oscar Wilde’s writing style as lure, I expected to completely enjoy Lady Windermere’s Fan but my actual reaction was quite different.

In part, I had the incorrect assumption the play was a comedy, so my expectations were upset—though there are many funny aspects. More importantly, much dialogue was difficult—some nearly incomprehensible. Bay Area community theatre management (not limited to Masquers) would do well to reconsider having actors speak in accents which are not their own, as few community theatre actors perform accents well. I’ve discussed this at http://tinyurl.com/pf8vzr

The screenplay of Lady Windermere’s Fan, originally written in 1892, has been reset to the 1950s. Directed by Patricia Inabnet.

Absent Friends at the Masquers

Awkward, what? A few delicate difficulties exacerbate a rare gathering of old friends in Absent Friends, written by Alan Ayckbourn and directed by Angela Mason. The situation is ripe for the kind of tragic comedy for which British playwrights, especially Ayckbourn, are well known.

Do I Hear A Waltz? at the Masquers

How well do you understand your “secret” inner longings? Well enough that you could take advantage of an opportunity if it arose? Interesting question, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Do I Hear A Waltz was created by three Broadway greats: music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and story by Arthur Laurents. This production is directed by Dennis Lickteig with Joanne Gabel as Music Director.

Little Mary Sunshine at the Masquers

Little Mary Sunshine looks like a tribute to musical entertainment from the past, starting with a pretty damsel lighting the gas footlights which illuminate the stage. This was a time before television, perhaps even before radio, when men were men, ladies were girls, good and bad were easily distinguished, and virtue always triumphed—a time when the hero went off to save the world (or at least Colorado) leaving the heroine behind. Problems arose, trouble ensued, but it all came right in the end.

I’m not absolutely certain of author Rick Besoyan’s intent, but I can tell you the outcome when the wise old hands of Director Robert Love and his crew were done with it.

Ring Round the Moon at the Masquers

Need a laugh or two? There are lots of reasons to go to the theatre—it gets you out of the house, gets you talking to other humans about something non-work-related—but the biggest benefit comes when the play is a hoot, the actors are having a blast, and the whole experience is, well, uplifting and downright silly.