Friday, May 15, 2009

We have to say IT's 'Don't Talk' is funny theater | www.azstarnet.com ®

We have to say IT's 'Don't Talk' is funny theater www.azstarnet.com ®


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We have to say IT's 'Don't Talk' is funny theater
By Kathleen Allen
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.15.2009

Theater ain't always pretty.

It can be full of playwrights who think every word is golden, directors who are little Hitlers and actors with egos so large and judgment so off that they are walking disasters.

Oh, my, do we love it.

Especially as laid out in Tom Dudzick's backstage comedy "Don't Talk to the Actors," which Invisible Theatre opened on Wednesday.

Dudzick has crafted delicious, over-the-top characters, director Susan Claassen has boosted the hilarity with her attention to detail and fine-honed sense of over-the-topness, and the cast has delivered an evening full of ridiculous, and quite funny, theater.

It's a fine way to end a season.

Jerry (Eric Schumacher) is a green-behind-the-ears playwright whose first Broadway production is about to start rehearsal. On the first day, he brings with him his fiance, Arlene (Dallas Thomas), who is more green behind the ears than Jerry and has long had a crush on Curt (Douglas Mitchell), the aging television star who is starring in the play. Curt's co-star is the bawdy Beatrice (Liz McMahon), another aging TV star.
The director, Mike (David Johnston), likes Jerry's play, and warns the playwright not to talk to the actors — he knows those actors will do everything they can to make the play about them.

And then there is the fastidious stage manager, Lucinda (Carrie Hill), who is all business and completely focused on doing the director's bidding.

My, my. These people know how to ruin a good thing.

Mitchell's portrayal of the suave, kinda-creepy Curt is too priceless. Curt is intent on getting Jerry to change his character from a nice guy to one with edge. "Texture," he calls it. And he's not above seducing Arlene so that she can convince Jerry of just that.

McMahon matches Mitchell for outrageousness and laughs. Her character, too, wants Jerry to change the script, only she wants to sing a song or two and tell a couple of off-color jokes.

The energy level soared when McMahon and Mitchell took the stage. It got so the audience couldn't wait for Arlene to drop a one-liner, or for Mitchell to raise a brow and leer.

Underscoring the personalties of the characters were the costumes by Shana Nunez, who dressed the cast, especially McMahon and Mitchell, in the perfect outfits.

What was so terrific about this production is that the whole cast was engaged all the time. While Mitchell's character overacted, Thomas-as-Arlene sat in the corner and made googoo eyes at him. Schumacher never lost his character's anxious, will-this-go-right-and-make-me-a-star persona. Johnston's director had just the touch of benevolent exasperation, and Hill's stage manager was deliciously prissy, obsessive-compulsive and very, very funny.

The actors all had keen timing, allowing the funny bone to be exercised all the more.
"Don't Talk to the Actors" is as silly as can be. And, as it turns out, a fairly accurate peek at some of the backstage dramas of theater.

As we said, not pretty. But it sure is funny.

Review
"Don't Talk to the Actors"
• Playwright: Tom Dudzick.
• Director: Susan Claassen.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 31.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• Tickets: $22-$25 regular performances. Half-price tickets, subject to availability, can be purchased 30 minutes before all shows.
• Reservations/information: 882-9721.
• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128