Theater Notes by Sidney B. Simon

Kristen Coury, Producing Artistic Director, took this play under her wing with incredible dedication. Touches of her miraculous hand reached each performer who clearly sent messages that there was no other play they wanted to be in. This was dialogue an actor believes in. It matters. It changes lives. It is, in my mind, what theater is all about. This production is definitely in my “must see” category. It will be a sell out.

FOUR PLAYS IN FOUR DAYS

What a lucky Critic am I. A glorious four days with a different play every day, and this chance to tell you something about them.

Now, I start with something magnificent, but it will torture you, because it only ran for 4 performances, and it’s gone, yet it was clearly the most unique of all the four plays I saw. The title was: “Your Love, Our Musical.” Two New York actors, Rebecca Vigil and Evan Kaufman, gifted and skilled Improv performers, picked a couple from the audience, and for 20 minutes or so interviewed them on the stage. “Where did you meet? When did it get involving? And his parents, her parents? Etc.”

From that they created a full 45 minute Musical. Lyrics and suspense, drama and poignancy, with dozens of laughs. It was magical. My only hope is that they will be back to The Alliance again, next year and you will go. I was dazzled and deep down wished I had been free to see the other three versions,
because they never use anything they have done before.

My second adventure was here on Sanibel at THE HERB STRAUSS THEATER. Right up front, I need to say I’ve gone on record saying, “I Hate Farce.” I really dreaded having to go see a play I hated when I saw it on Broadway somewhere in the late 1980’s. I think some of you know my wife and I would go to New York two weekends a year and see 6 plays on each weekend. One of those weekends had one play we regretted we had to sit through. NOISES OFF. But go see what’s on the boards at THE HERB STRAUSS THEATER. It’s their noisiest and creative version and get there before February 17 because to my absolute delight, I now hate farce a whole lot less. Another critic said: “If laughter is the best medicine, this flawless show is capable of curing double pneumonia.

Come see for yourself. The cast is up for all the play within a play nuttiness filled with physical comedy, and laugh after laugh gags. The set itself is a work of art by Adam Trummel. Wait til they rotate it from the stage where the play is opening night and no one knows their lines, and hanky panky is going on the high burner with people coming in and out of doors (lots of doors is a requirement in Farce) and they take you to the same play but now back we’re backstage. Live theater on the Island is to be cherished. And the New York times can’t be argued with. Their critic said NOISES OFF is “Knee Slapping Funny.” And by darn, it is, if it’s your cup of tea. Call the box office and be charmingly served by Janet Scully at (239) 395-0900. Or get your tickets online at: www.BIGARTS.org

Well, guess what my third play was? Yes, another Farce. HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES, by Alan Ayckbourn, and he knows what he’s doing. Oh, the strain on my rigidity about hating farce. This one is at Florida Rep in Ft. Myers. It’s a play I had seen years ago, and I remembered being impressed with it, despite all the people behind all those doors coming in and going out. It’s farce, and the cast members at Florida Rep know what to do with milking it to it’s extreme.

The lead is a distinguished internationally know actor, Paxton Whitehead.
He anchors the two hysterical different dinner parties where all the infidelities get covered up. He’s supported by a full crew of familiar faces if you go to The Rep often. Get to this one and you will not be disappointed. The standing room only audience told me you better buy your tickets fast. Call the box office at 239.332.4488.

That leaves us with just one more play, and this one is by my favorite playwright, Arthur Miller. It’s a rare chance for people who have been deeply moved by Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN or his “ALL MY SONS” to name just two, to see one of his last plays, the one that is loaded with autobiographical references. THE PRICE is a play about two brothers who have not seen in each other for 16 years. Their mother has died and the stuff of her life is being appraised to be sold. The dynamics of this plot is enthralling. Our relationship with our own siblings sits in every seat around us. Miller doesn’t just give you a play to watch. You’re in it. There’s no place to hide.

Kristen Coury, Producing Artistic Director, took this play under her wing with incredible dedication. Touches of her miraculous hand reached each performer who clearly sent messages that there was no other play they wanted to be in. This was dialogue an actor believes in. It matters. It changes lives. It is, in my mind, what theater is all about. This production is definitely in my “must see” category. It will be a sell out. I urge to get your tickets fast. You will not be disappointed. And remember when you take your seat, waiting for the curtain to go up, start counting what must have been two hundred props to convey how their mover lived. I celebrate what GULFSHORE PLAYHOUSE has given us with THE PRICE by Arthur Miller. It truly is why I love theater. Here’s the box office: (866) 811-4111 or go online: www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org Go with my strongest recommendation.