Thursday, April 24, 2014

Olive and One-Liners | Review | Tucson Weekly

Olive and One-Liners 

by 


Charles Busch's Olive and the Bitter Herbs is a playful little comedy, notable only for its zippy one-liners and its lead character. But what a character she is. And who better to play her than Susan Claassen, IT's artistic director, who has shepherded this company through most of its history.


... Olive is a tasty dish. The cast totally invests itself in the season finale's silliness, no matter how disjointed the story. And Claassen, well, she spreads the wisecracking, acerbic, misanthrope with a heart of—well, at least with a heart—across that tiny stage "like buttah."


Read the entire review here: Olive and One-Liners | Review | Tucson Weekly


David Alexander Johnston, Eric Anson, Susan Claassen, Susan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck in Olive and the Bitter Herbs.

David Alexander Johnston, Eric Anson, Susan Claassen, Susan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck in Olive and the Bitter Herbs.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: Invisible Theatre's "Olive and the Bitter Herbs"

Review: Invisible Theatre's "Olive and the Bitter Herbs"



By Kathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star





Oy vey. There is a mighty unpleasant woman on stage at Invisible Theatre. And funny. And annoying. And funnier still.
That would be Olive, given a very funny turn by Susan Claassen in IT’s production of Charles Busch’s hodgepodge comedy, “Olive and the Bitter Herbs.” Olive is the washed-up and very grumpy actress who lives alone in her New York apartment and does everything she can to run everyone she can off.
Here’s a rundown of the play, the production, and all that jazz.
Bitter
Olive (Susan Claassen), the original star of the "Gimme The Sausage" commercial sees an image in the mirror within the mirror that sets off a chain of mad-cap events! -- Credit: Tim Fuller

Saturday, April 19, 2014

NEW YORK HUMOR IN"OLIVE AND THE BITTER HERBS"

By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com

photo by Tim Fuller
This Passover Seder becomes a time of truce for (from left) David Alexander Johnston, Eric Anson, Susan Claassen, Susan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck.
Watching a culture clash take place in a haunted mirror during a seasonal Jewish holiday doesn’t happen often, but here it is at Invisible Theatre in a Charles Busch-wacky production of “Olive and the Bitter Herbs.”
James Blair is at the controls as director, with IT’s managing artistic director Susan Claassen flaunting her love for the eccentric in the title role of Olive Fisher
Although that title could well be the name of a popular vegetarian rock band, it is actually Busch’s way of framing Olive as eternally bitter about everything.
From the gay couple who live next door in her rent-controlled East 30s Manhattan co-op, to the noisy roomer upstairs (who’s dead now, thank goodness), Olive is unhappy. Not just unhappy, but unhappy-unhappy, expressing herself in the most creatively insulting dialogue directed at everyone else onstage.
On opening night there was instant recognition and constant laughter from the audience, connecting with her double barreled insider complaints common to Big Apple life at the middle-class bohemian level, a lifestyle delightfully expressed through the catchy set design by Blair and Claassen.
In the play Olive resents having become an actor of a certain age, still hoping for that big role – even though her career peaked some 30 years ago as the “star” of a popular series of commercials with the hook line “Gimme the sausage” (remember that vintage TV ad where the salty old lady kept asking “Where’s the beef?” Like that).
Acting as loyal band members in this ensemble effort are Wendy (Susan Kovitz), a retired theater manager who considers herself a kind of caretaker for Olive; Robert (David Alexander Johnston), also retired, formerly an editor of children’s books; Trey (Eric Anson), the gay companion of Robert; and Sylvan (Jack Neubeck), who is sweet on Olive and no doubt has a fondness for astringent wines.
All are popular veterans of the Tucson theater scene, carrying their roles responsibly and getting all their laughs. Each develops an identifiable character and keeps up the energy that builds as Olive becomes more taken by the unseen figure in her full-length framed mirror at the edge of the stage.
This spooky fantasy gets the mundane name “Howard,” but his presence is announced by the ghostly lights and eerie sounds you would expect from a spirit with a more fearsome handle. Howard never speaks, however. We come to “know” him through the comments of others.
Plot-wise, there isn’t a lot happening. Mostly the others are drawn to Olive’s apartment because of some past connection to Howard. There aren’t any labyrinthine trails to follow, no red herrings to dismiss.
The real fun is just in catching all the jokes, which are pretty good, filled with Busch’s over-the-top attitudes whetted by that New York edge. Exactly the kind of humor Classen can deliver so well.
“Olive and the Bitter Herbs” continues through April 27 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, plus a 4 p.m. matinee Saturday, April 26, at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
All tickets are $28, group discounts available. For details and reservations, 520-882-9721, or visit www.invisibletheatre.com

Friday, April 11, 2014

IT serves up Pesach comedy, ‘Olive and the Bitter Herbs’

IT serves up Pesach comedy, ‘Olive and the Bitter Herbs’ « AZ Jewish Post



Actress Olive Fisher, known for her “Gimme the Sausage” commercial, is a classic New York curmudgeon at war with the world in general and her next door neighbors in particular. Her closed-off life is shaken by the appearance of a ghost in her mirror, but that’s the least of her problems. Can a Passover Seder bring about a temporary truce? Artistic Director Susan Claassen stars in Invisible Theatre’s production of “Olive and the Bitter Herbs” by Charles Busch, which runs April 15-27. For tickets, call 882-9721 or go towww.invisibletheatre.com.



The cast of ‘Olive and the Bitter Herbs,’ (L-R):  David Alexander Johnston, Eric Anson, Susan Claassen, Susan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck (Tim Fuller)

The cast of ‘Olive and the Bitter Herbs,’ (L-R): David Alexander Johnston, Eric Anson, Susan Claassen, Susan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck (Tim Fuller)


Invisible Theatre' 'Olive and the Bitter Herbs': It's a howler, we assume

Invisible Theatre' 'Olive and the Bitter Herbs': It's a howler, we assume




Invisible Theatre's 'Olive and the Bitter Herbs': It's a howler, we assume

By Kathy Allen, Arizona Daily Star

... Speaking of laughs, Susan Claassen, Invisible Theatre’s managing artistic director, knows how to wring them out of every word. So it’s natural that she portray that old grouch, Olive. DirectorJames Blair has assembled a supporting cast with the chops to back Claassen up: Eric Anson,David Alexander JohnstonSusan Kovitz and Jack Neubeck.


Bitter
Susan Claassen as Olive sees an image that sets off a chain of events in Invisible Theatre’s “Olive and the Bitter Herbs.”