Thursday, December 12, 2013

Invisible Theatre presents "Borrowed Time"

Invisible Theatre presents "Borrowed Time"
By Kathy Allen


Ann Dusenberry has taken on big challenges in her life.
The Tucson native and University of Arizona graduate faced sharks in “Jaws 2,” co-starred with Lucille Ball in the television series “Life with Lucy,” and dealt with murder in “Murder, She Wrote.”
But this year, the actress-director has faced one of her biggest artistic challenges — directing her husband Brad Fiedel in his one-man show, “Borrowed Time.” Invisible Theatre brings it here for one performance on Sunday.
“It was hell,” she says with a laugh in a phone interview from her Santa Barbara home.
Read the entire preview here: Invisible Theatre presents "Borrowed Time"
Borrowed Time
Composer-turned-actor Brad Fiedel left Hollywood behind to pursue other dreams.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Shrines, Soup and the Seventies | Review | Tucson Weekly

Invisible Theatre's Miracle on South Division Street is the perfect play for a season that celebrates family

by , Tucson Weekly

...Playwright Tom Dudzick unfolds the story of the Nowak family with a very light touch. The result is a good-natured piece that has us laughing from start to finish at a wonderfully contrived setup and characters who are not so very different from people we know and love.

...Miracle on South Division Street gives us a spirited and very funny story. The IT gang does a fine job, and chances are this will be a hot ticket this season. Nab yours soon.

Carley Elizabeth Preston, Alida Holguin Gunn and Seth Fowler in Miracle on South Division Street.
  • Carley Elizabeth Preston, Alida Holguin Gunn and Seth Fowler in Miracle on South Division Street.

Read the entire review here: Shrines, Soup and the Seventies | Review | Tucson Weekly

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Miracle on South Division Street

Review: Miracle on South Division Street
November 17, 2013 12:00 am  •  


What this wispy comedy lacks in substance is made up in charm and heart.
Director Gail Fitzhugh has assembled a cast that’s committed to the outrageousness and to fleshing out the characters....
Miracle
Sibling rivalry reigns supreme in this rollicking comedy with Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston), Bev (Alida Holguin Gunn) and Jimmy (Seth Fowler). -- Credit: Tim Fuller
It’s tough not to laugh at this play, even when it uses broad strokes and goes for easy laughs. Fitzhugh and company have, happily, given us something to smile about.
Read the entire review here: Review: Miracle on South Division Street

Saturday, November 16, 2013

SWEET PHILOSOPHY IN“MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET”

by Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com

  photo by Tim Fuller
Shocking news surprises the Nowak family (from left) Beverly (Alida Holguin Gunn), Clara (Toni Press-Coffman), Jimmy (Seth Fowler) and Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston).

A lovely warm-up for an ecumenical holiday season is found at Invisible Theatre in its sprightly production of “Miracle on South Division Street” by Tom Dudzick. Not to be confused with Kris Kringle’s Christmas shopping “Miracle on 34th Street,” this miracle of a much different kind is set in Buffalo, New York, in 2010.
Gail Fitzhugh directs a tightly knit cast of four to deliver plenty of laughs while reminding us that family devotion will always be more important than religious differences. Anyone who grew up back east will recognize the spot-on characterizations in three generations of the Nowak clan of Polish-American Catholics who staked their claim to the New World just before World War II.
First, we are reminded how urban blight has taken its toll on the once prosperous upstate city of Buffalo. Clara (Toni Press-Coffman) has grown up in this house on this street where her deceased father ran a barber shop for 60 years.
Back in 1942, Clara’s grandfather was visited by the Virgin Mary shortly after he opened his Buffalo barbershop. To honor this occasion, he had a statue of the Holy Mother erected on the spot. Although the Church has refused to recognize this miracle, Clara has become the keeper of its flame.
Her grown children – angry Beverly (Alida Holguin Gunn), bitter Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston) and genial Jimmy (Seth Fowler) – have not embraced their grandfather’s shrine with any particular devotion, which only increases Clara’s determination to keep the faith.
As the neighborhood has deteriorated, the shrine has become ever more important to Clara. Her sincerity and her dizzy grasp of current events are portrayed with smiling sympathy, even as Ruth and Beverly seem to lose patience with their mom.
Jimmy, the youngest, is the typical little brother in his 20s who always tries to keep balance in the family. All this interplay makes “Miracle on South Division Street” a wonderful ensemble piece that just becomes more buoyant the more complications set in.
Performed in 90 minutes without an intermission, once all the characters have established their identities, Ruth kicks over this house of traditional beliefs with her news of a deathbed confession that rattles this family to the core, but in a humorous way that has a happy ending.
“Miracle On South Division Street” continues through Nov. 24 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, plus 4 p.m. Saturday Nov. 23, at the Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
Tickets are $28. For details and reservations, 520-882-9721, or visit www.invisibletheatre.com

Theatre - Let the Show Begin

Arizona Daily Wildcat :: Stage comedy comes to downtown Tucson

By CASEY KNOX Published November 11, 2013 at 10:50pm Updated November 11, 2013 at 10:50pm

For Susan Claassen, the theater’s managing artistic director, the play epitomizes the types of productions that the Invisible Theatre likes to bring to Tucson — ones that aren’t the typical production. ...

“I think everyone can relate on some level to it,” Claassen said. “We hope that people can relate to it and look at the world a little differently.”
Calling it a “comedy with heart,” Claassen said “Miracle on South Division Street” will simultaneously tug on the heart-strings of audience members while making them laugh. The show stars Toni Press-Coffman, Alida Holguin Gunn, Carley Elizabeth Preston and UA business management senior Seth Fowler.

Read the entire preview here: Arizona Daily Wildcat :: Stage comedy comes to downtown Tucson
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Photo courtesy of Tim Fuller
Sibling rivalry reigns supreme in this rollicking comedy with Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston), Bev (Alida Holguin Gunn) and Jimmy (Seth Fowler).

Invisible Theatre brings us a "Miracle"

November 07, 2013 12:00 am  •  

In Tom Dudzick’s comedy, family secrets and comedic events are twisted together. Laughs are there, said [Director Gail Fitzhugh]. But there’s more.
“They are all very interesting characters. They are working class people and the play itself really deals with family, faith, and sometimes lack of, and the lies we believe,” said Fitzhugh.
“It’s about what it is we believe and how we can change and adjust to surprises in life. It is very funny and very inclusive, really heartfelt.”
Miracle
The Nowak family, clockwise,starting with seated: Jimmy (Seth Fowler), Bev (Alida Holguin Gunn) Clara (Toni Press-Coffman) and Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston). Credit: Tim Fuller
Read the entire preview here: Invisible Theatre brings us a "Miracle"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Totalitarian Trauma | Review | Tucson Weekly

Totalitarian Trauma 

A dark drama at IT takes on sex, lies and government-speak


Anna, an editor at the Soviet-style Ministry of Information, is not one to complain and certainly not to the Director.
But the man has summoned her and is now standing much too close.
And if you must know, this new project might just be the death of her. Anna and her comrades, black markers in hand, are working like the devil cleaning up the personal letters of Russia's most famous composer.
Seems the late composer was a boisterous homosexual who liked putting pen to paper. He documented his sexual adventures at length and with explicit glee.
"It's pornography," Anna tells the Director, who clearly has a dirty mind of his own. The grim-faced worker, played by Lori Hunt, explains that the filth removal is proceeding as planned. But it's dawning on her that the Director (Roberto Guajardo) didn't call her to his office for a status report.
Something else is going on. But what?
That's the question at the heart of The Letters, a tense two-character drama that opened Invisible Theatre's 43rd season last week.
John W. Lowell's play was inspired by a biography of Tchaikovsky, whose personal papers were reportedly censored by the Soviets. The government was hellbent on scrubbing the gay away.
The play, which earned its first major production in 2009, was also inspired by the overheated reaction to Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky in the '90s.
Read the entire review here: 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Invisible Theatre’s 'The Letters' is a doubleplusgood drama

Power struggle play echoes Orwell's 1984

Dave Irwin
TucsonSentinel.com

Better known for light comedy, Invisible Theatre opened its 43rd season with a taut psychological drama that owes much to “1984,” George Orwell’s dystopian novel, as well as to the Soviet era that provides the play’s setting.

The backdrop for “The Letters,” by John W. Lowell, is the Soviet Union of 1931, as Joseph Stalin was consolidating his dictatorship through fear and reprisals towards any and all opponents, actual or perceived. The play examines the issues of a culture built on fear and deception, through a two-person power struggle fraught with suspicion, manipulation and intrigue.

The cat and mouse game begins

Read the entire review here: Invisible Theatre’s 'The Letters' is a doubleplusgood drama

Lori Hunt and Roberto Guajardo in
Lori Hunt and Roberto Guajardo in 'The Letters.'
photo by Tim Fuller

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: "The Letters" at Invisible Theatre


September 14, 2013 12:00 am  •  

Surveillance, suspicion and misinformation evoked tension and paranoia during the Invisible Theatre’s opening Wednesday of its 43rd season with John W. Lowell’s 2009 “The Letters.”
A departure from the theater’s often-sentimental fare, “The Letters” is a two-actor, 80-minute quiet thriller of intrigue set in a ministry director’s office in the 1931 Soviet Union.
From the moment the lights go up on the monochromatic, sepia-toned office set — splashed with the bold red Soviet flag with its glinting gold hammer and sickle — a feeling of oppression percolates through the intimate theater. Portraits of Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin  seem to be watching every move.
Invisible Theatre's

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Friday, September 13, 2013

“THE LETTERS”MUST BE SEEN

Theatre - Let the Show Begin


Anna (Lori Hunt) keeps up her guard talking to The Director (Roberto Guajardo) in "The Letters"

The most fascinating aspect of Invisible Theatre’s production of “The Letters,” directed by Susan Claassen, is how two actors – Roberto Guajardo and Lori Hunt – can create such electrical tension on stage using only their words and their body language.
Without question, “The Letters” is the first must-see event of the new season. It is powerful the way sheer drama is powerful, drawing truth from taut conflicts between willful personalities.
Instead of threatening weaponry, massive explosives hooked up to a ticking timer, agitated suicide bombers or other such special effects, there is a desk and two chairs.
And talent…there is a lot of talent. Guajardo is The Director and we are in his office, with his title painted on the door. Hunt is simply called Anna, a subordinate. She seems to be a featureless cog in the bureaucratic Soviet machine of some equally faceless Russian city in 1931.
It doesn’t take a historian to know the communist party officials of that time kept tightening their hold on the country. Execution was an unspoken threat hovering over every conversation. Each day brought a new struggle against unknown enemies.
Yet, even in these conditions people still had to live, still had families to care for, still needed to find compelling reasons to keep going. No one was really far enough up the political ladder to feel absolutely safe.
The Director had to stay ahead of others competing for his job. Anna may have had an inferior position, but she wasn’t about to cave in.
All of this combative backstory is efficiently set up in the opening conversations between the two. Anna has been called into The Director’s office, but isn’t sure why. She looks for hidden agendas in The Director’s every word.
The Director, determined to defend himself from any threat in any direction, needs to find out everything he can from Anna without revealing any more than he must.
It is the shading of nuance as Guarjardo and Hunt tap dance around this Russian bear of uncaring menace that gives the performance its breath-squeezing grip.
Nothing quite like it has been seen on a Tucson stage in many years. In the real world, with a new revelation coming out every day that our own government has been secretly spying on all of us for years, “The Letters” is a reminder that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Performances continue through Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays (additional matinee 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept, 21) at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.

Tickets are $28 general admission, discounts available. For details and reservations, 520-882-9721, or visit www.invisibletheatre.com  

Lowell

Friday, September 6, 2013

Invisible Theatre stages "The Letters"

September 05, 2013 12:00 am  •  By Chuck Graham Special To The Arizona Daily Star

“The Letters” lit up regional theaters across the nation, reminding audiences of uneasy reports about U.S. government programs to spy on its citizens. Tucson’s Invisible Theatre has scheduled its production of Lowell’s “The Letters” opening next week.

Read the entire preview here: Invisible Theatre stages "The Letters"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Golf Goofiness | Review | Tucson Weekly

Golf Goofiness | Review | Tucson Weekly:



Invisible Theatre closes its season with a wacky touch


 tell you, those folks at the Invisible Theatre have no fear. Far be it for them to be dissuaded from producing a full-out farce, complete with a sizable cast chasing each other and doing pratfalls and other broad physical comedy stunts on a stage the size of a beach towel.
Last week, IT opened its last show of the season, a truly silly, old-style comedy, The Fox on the Fairway by Ken Ludwig. The resulting laughs—and groans—are abundant. ...
This kind of show requires a director who can choreograph the actions of the characters carefully and deliberately and orchestrate a pace that builds and swells as the complications grow. Veteran Susan Claassen understands this well and does a good job directing traffic with farcical finesse. She also is not afraid to utilize some cheap comic tricks, but usually does so knowingly, with a wink-wink implied.
Read the full review here: Golf Goofiness | Review | Tucson Weekly
Jack Neubeck and Lori Hunt in The Fox on the Fairway.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

If laughs are birdies, 'Fox on Fairway' gets plenty

If laughs are birdies, 'Fox on Fairway' gets plenty

Kathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star



There's no way around it: Golf is funny.

The concept - hit a little ball with a skinny stick and try to get it into a tiny hole far, far away - is just plain ludicrous. And do this while not hitting the ball into sand traps, water hazards and your fellow golfers? Please. And then there's the clothing: bold plaids and loud colors are preferable.

So it's no wonder that playwright Ken Ludwig opted to use the sport as the basis for his comedy "Fox on the Fairway," which Invisible Theatre opened Wednesday.
...
Director Susan Claassen knows her comedy and she shaped a play that was easy with the laughs and polished enough to gloss over the script's rough spots.

She had a cast that helped immensely.

BIG LAUGHS IN THIS "FOX"

BIG LAUGHS IN THIS "FOX"


By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com


“Stop making sense,” David Byrne so famously said, “And go see ‘The Fox on the Fairway’ at Invisible theatre.”


Well, no, he didn’t say that last part. But it is still excellent advice. A cast of wild and wacky actors led by director Susan Claassen have unleashed one of the most enthusiastically uninhibited productions this company’s stage has seen in quite a while.


Making sense is never required. In fact the less you think about the logic in this comedy of bad bets, broken hearts and tacky fashions, the better.


Ever wonder what it would look like if a very proper lady accidentally let a raw oyster slip down the front of her dress? You won’t be wondering any longer.


Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me A Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo”) is the playwright here, with farce on his mind and garishly garbed golfers in his gun sights. Ludwig himself says “farce, essentially, is broad comedy.”


If this “Fox” was played any more broadly, you’d have to be adjusting the horizontal hold on your reality.


In a cast of equals, Lucille Petty is a bit more equal in using the manic pace to get her laughs while boosting her portrayal of frustrated young love in the Tap Room of the Quail Valley Country Club.


She plays the innocent Louise, an employee at the club, in love with Justin (RD Mower), her well-meaning swain forever misunderstood by Mr. Bingham (William Hubbard), the impeccably dressed country club boss.


Mower, who graduates from the University of Arizona theater school next month, makes his IT debut this month looking like he can anticipate a fine career in show business.


Bingham is the propriety-obsessed straight man to Dickie (Jack Neubeck) the millionaire-without-a-clue so proud of his ludicrous golf sweaters and exuberantly clashing pants. Being sensitive to the feelings of others isn’t high on Dickie’s list of things to do, either.


The plot is so totally irrelevant to the pleasure of watching all this overbearing hubris get turned into shaved ham, it is scarcely worth describing. But there are professional requirements.


So Dickie goads Bingham into betting $200,000 plus Bingham’s wife’s antique shop that Dickie’s country club team can beat the Quail Valley team in the annual golf tournament (which Quail Valley traditionally loses).


In to add their complications are Pamela (Lori Hunt) the free-living manhunter who never got over her teen crush on Bingham, and Muriel (Victoria McGee), Hubbard’s harridan wife who harbors a few secrets of her own.


You needn’t know anything about golf to get the jokes. Their conversation provides all the necessary information. The game itself, with first one side than the other out in front, takes place off stage with an announcer giving us the play-by-play.


“The Fox on the Fairway” continues through May 12 at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave., with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $28, group discounts available. For details and reservations, 882-9721, www.invisibletheatre.com

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Invisible Theatre opens 'The Fox on Fairway,' a wry shot at golf

Invisible Theatre opens 'The Fox on Fairway,' a wry shot at golf:

Kathleen Allen, Arizona Daily Star


Ken Ludwig knows from funny.
His plays, such as "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Moon Over Buffalo," have kept audiences chuckling across the country and around the world. ...
Ludwig's "The Fox on the Fairway" opens at Invisible Theatre next week.
It's an over-the-top look at the game and the people who play it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

'First Kisses' that last a lifetime

'First Kisses' that last a lifetime:

February 07, 2013 12:00 am  •  

Maedell and Harold Dixon star in Invisible Theatre's production of "First Kisses," playwright Jay D. Hanagan's first full play. It traces a 61-year relationship that starts in childhood.
Invisible Theatre/Tim Fuller

You might call Jay D. Hanagan an accidental playwright.
Hanagan, who penned Invisible Theatre's next offering, "First Kisses," had written sketches since high school, but it hadn't occurred to him to do plays.
Then, in the late 1990s, he was asked to help pick scripts for the Geneva (N.Y.) Theatre Guild's Playwrights Play Readings.


Read the entire preview here: 'First Kisses' that last a lifetime: