Friday, November 28, 2008
By Kathleen Allen
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 11.28.2008
A boozy blonde, a lounge lizard named Buddy Toupee, and a private detective who drops lines like "And then she was gone. Trailing perfume like a whispered prayer."
Now that would be enough to sign us up for a look-see.
Add music and we're there.
That's what you'll get with Invisible Theatre's "Gunmetal Blues," a musical detective spoof with Sam Spade-ish lines, a Lauren Bacall-esque seductress, and a host of minor characters familiar and funny. The show, directed by Gail Fitzhugh, opens in previews on Wednesday.
"Gunmetal" is the brainchild of Scott Wentworth, with music by Craig Bohmler and Wentworth's wife, Marion Adler.
Wentworth's first career is as an actor (he was nominated for a Tony in 1989), his wife's as a singer/actress.
At first Wentworth, who penned the book for the musical in the late 1980s, was resistant to the idea of a noir-ish spoof.
"I thought parodies of detective stories were so easy and done to death," he said, speaking from Canada, where he was performing in a production of "Medea."
"But Marion hooked up with Craig and they started kicking ideas around for songs. I would periodically get a tape of music, and I thought there was a reason to write this.
"We literally thought we were creating it for us; we never thought it would have a life," said Wentworth.
"There have been over 100 performances in Canada and the States. Sometimes we feel we've written this underground hit."
The play's success has been attributed to Wentworth's "witty book" (The New York Times), and indeed the sendup is full of delicious lines such as "It was dawn when I left the Red Eye. And the rain on my face was a washrag full of straight pins," and "Forget about ships, this face could launch a thousand rockets. She had hair the color of moonlight on topaz and a mouth that could send Shakespeare thumbing through a thesaurus."
In "Gunmetal Blues," Sam Galahad, a struggling private detective (Armen Dirtadian), is hired to find the daughter of a recently dead millionaire. Love and other complications ensue.
While it comes across as a parody, it's more than that, Wentworth insisted.
"It's really a parable about a generation of people who grew up expecting life to be one way, and it turned out another way.
"'Gunmetal' is kind of fabulous for these times. It's funny. It's about greed. It's about people who have let down their fellows, people who are lost and trying to come back to some kind of connection. Hopefully this play can entertain, and make people think."
• Presented by: Invisible Theatre.
• By: Scott Wentworth with music and lyrics by Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler.
•Director: Gail Fitzhugh.
• When: Previews 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; opens 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 21.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• Tickets: $18-$27. Half-price rush tickets available 30 minutes before curtain, subject to availability.
• Reservations/information: 882-9721.
• Cast: Armen Dirtadian, Betsy Kruse-Craig and Mike Padilla
• Running time: 90 minutes, plus an intermission.
● Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4128.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
November 26, 2008, 11:16 a.m.
Film noir isn't just on film anymore. Invisible Theatre has mounted a rainy night black-and-white production of "Gunmetal Blues" perfectly cast with Tucson's matinee idol Armen Dirtadian as the troubled private eye and Betsy Kruse-Craig as the doll.
Private eye Sam Galahad (Armen Dirtadian),
is a sucker for a mysterious blonde
(Betsy Kruse Craig)in "Gunmeal Blues."
Although both singing actors are best known for their heroic performances at The Gaslight Theatre over the years, don't mention the G-word to either one. They start shaking their heads and waving their arms.
"This is nothing at all like Gaslight," says Kruse-Craig, looking alarmed that anyone would even ask. "There's a lot more to the story, and this is a much more intimate stage."
For the torch songs in "Gunmetal Blues" the cozier stage means a more sensual, shaded interpretation. The singers' phrasing can hang in the air on lingering notes that reluctantly slip into the past.
"You can give a song more layers and more character," she adds, explaining that she plays four different women - all blondes. So each needs a different singing style, a different pace to match the change in personality.
"This is the hardest show I've ever done in my life," injects Dirtadian, lest anyone think he just has to stand around looking cool. "It's the most detailed, and the writing is so rich."
He leans forward, reciting some lines. "She had hair the color of moonlight on topaz. And a mouth that would have sent Shakespeare thumbing through a thesaurus."
To fill the silence, he began another. "The gray mist of morning had given way to a ceiling of cold, unblinking stars."
The imagery definitely was several cuts above Guy Noir on National Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion." Scott Wentworth wrote the script, with music and lyrics by Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler.
"I get so caught up in the writing," Dirtadian says. "It is very precise. You can't ad-lib. If you can't think of the exact word, you can't just use a synonym. It's like doing Shakespeare. You can't ad-lib Shakespeare, either."
He has a point. Stephen Sondheim is another theater icon who kept coming up. "The music is similar to Sondheim," Dirtadian says.
"Which makes it wonderful to act," Kruse-Craig jumps in.
Both start singing together. It does sound like Sondheim, but sexier.
"One of the characters I play is a bag lady. It feels like I'm singing 'Sweeney Todd,' " Kruse-Craig beams.
Her other three personalities are Carol Indigo, who drinks not wisely but too well; Laura Vesper, a business executive in touch with her inner woman; and Jenny, the sweetheart every guy dreams of in the wee small hours of the morning.
The bag lady? Her name is Princess.
Completing the cast is Mike Padilla as the Piano Player, working in that kind of seedy hotel where lonely hearts pile up on the hard shoals of bitterness. Padilla also covers several small roles, as well, from cop to doorman to cab driver.
The plot begins with a flashback to 10 years before, at the same seedy lounge, when Sam felt one of those electric looks from a woman he would never forget. Or ever meet. But now, Sam is pulled into investigating a murder that may involve that very same blonde. Or maybe it's a suicide, and more than a coincidence she's the same woman. He can't be sure. There is only one way to find out.
IF YOU GO
What: Invisible Theatre presents "Gunmetal Blues" by Scott Wentworth, Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday previews; opening 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; continuing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 21
Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
Info: 882-9721, www.invisibletheatre.com
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving from
In the spirit of the holiday season, why not
join us for a "delicious" mystery!
Millionaire Adrian Wasp is found dead.
A mysterious blonde is seen leaving his penthouse. Can detective Sam Galahad find Wasp's missing daughter and only heir? Or is she better off lost?
The answers await you at ...
December 1 - December 21, 2008
The Invisible Theatre continues it's 38th Anniversary season
with GUNMETAL BLUES by Scott Wentworth
with Music and Lyrics by Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler.
This is a stylish musical murder mystery directed by Gail Fitzhugh
with its own witty and jazzy spin on the Hollywood film-noir genre. Not only is it in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett
and Raymond Chandler but is also an homage to the art of theatrical storytelling. All of the characters are played by
three actors! IT's cast features Tucson favorite's Armen Dirtadian
as the handsome gumshoe looking for a lost heiress, Betsy Kruse Craig as the blonde he can't figure out or forget and Mike Padilla as the man behind the piano who knows more than he's saying!
Wednesday - Thursday 7:30 PM
Friday - Saturday 8 PM
Sunday 3 PM
Special $18 Previews
Monday, December 1, 2008 7:30 PM
(a portion of proceeds will benefit The Loft Cinema)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008 7:30 PM
Call IT at 882-9721 for reservations.
We know, beyond a "shadow of a doubt",
this is the one show of the holiday season
that would be "murder" to miss!
Invisible Theatre 1400 North First Avenue at Drachman
P.S. Don't miss Suz in The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
She will be an "Invisible Doggie Walker Clown" this year!
Look for the red nose and sequined high tops!