Saturday, October 17, 2015

Review: Invisible Theatre explores art, culture in 'Bakersfield Mist'

Review: Invisible Theatre explores art, culture in 'Bakersfield Mist'

October 15, 2015 11:45 am  •  

Arizona Daily Star

Class attitudes and cultural differences collide like the paint and colors of a Jackson Pollock painting in Stephen Sachs’ comedy “Bakersfield Mist,” which Invisible Theatre opened Wednesday night.

Susan Kovitz as Maude and Roberto Guajardo as Lionel in Invisible Theatre’s production of “Bakersfield Mist,” by Stephen Sachs. The comedy was inspired by Jackson Pollock.

Read the entire review here:
Review: Invisible Theatre explores art, culture in 'Bakersfield Mist'

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: 'Bakersfield Mist' at Invisible Theatre

Review: 'Bakersfield Mist' at Invisible Theatre

by Ann Brown

Class attitudes and cultural differences collide like the paint and colors of a Jackson Pollock painting in Stephen Sachs’ comedy “Bakersfield Mist,” which Invisible Theatre opened Wednesday night.
Sachs, inspired by news accounts of a woman who purchased what she hoped was a Pollock painting in a thrift store, puts Maude Gutman (Susan Kovitz) in The Sage Brush Trailer Park in rural California with a painting that might — or might not — be a pricy Jackson Pollock, which she picked up for $3 as a joke gift for a friend. Maude is a rough-hewn, profanity-spewing unemployed bartender who is anxious to prove the authenticity of the supposed Pollock. She wants it to be real, and not just for the money.
A former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, dubbed the “Vatican of art” in the play, and expert from the hoity-toity International Foundation for Art Research in New York, Lionel Percy (Roberto Guajardo), comes to Maude's trailer to inspect the painting and determine if the piece is real or if it is a fake. Buttoned-up Lionel fancies himself the ultimate “fake buster.”
As the two collide over the painting's authenticity, the definition of art and what art should be and do is explored. Lionel’s richly textured description of the difference between the shallowness of a drip-and-splatter painter who copied Pollock, and the fire, power and allure of Pollack, which Guajardo delivered with passion, gives pause and pushes consideration of personal views of art.
Notions of instant impressions and authenticity percolate as the characters verbally spar, lubricated by a bottle of Jack Daniel's. Kovitz brings unsophisticated Maude’s hard-living, working-class wit and sensibilities to the surface and she evokes empathy.
Guajardo’s physical comedy — the blink of his eyes and the way he leans to the side as he inspects the painting — shows his character is more that a stuffed suit with a matching handkerchief. And, oh, can Guajardo deliver a line oozing with sarcasm.
Director Gail Fitzhugh, effectively working with Invisible Theatre’s small, angular stage space, begins the play by having Kovitz flit around the trailer while Guajardo was more rigid, seated on a chair with his briefcase and papers in front of him — another signal of their differences. Fitzhugh also adds depth to the characters’ personalities as underlying demons are revealed. Maude won't be intimidated or belittled by her lack of education or social status, and Lionel packs professional and personal baggage.
Set designers James Blair and Susan Claassen must have spent weeks rummaging through second-hand stores and yard sales. The entire play takes place in the tiny kitchen-dining-living area of Maude’s trailer, which is furnished with bright, bold colored patterns on the dinette, portable snack tables and hand-crocheted afghans, and is crammed with brick-a-brac like M&M’s-themed tchotchkes. Maude calls herself a packrat and freely admits that she frequents thrift stores and the bottoms of garbage bins for her décor.
However, Maude’s trailer, cluttered with her trashy treasures and is a mishmash of colors, textures and themes, is full of her vitality. They give her pleasure. Like a Pollock painting.
Unlike a Pollock painting, the play has patronizing points. Kovitz and Guajardo make strong adversaries with dueling personalities, yet the characters are overly stereotypical. And the name "Gutman" dealing with first impression? Oh, please.
And the ending is just too precious.
Overall, “Bakersfield Mist” is an enjoyable production that will have you thinking about art and its intrinsic value, and maybe checking the painting section the next time you’re in a thrift store.
Contact Ann Brown at or 573-4226. On Twitter: @AnnattheStar

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Invisible Theatre to open "Bakersfield Mist"

Invisible Theatre to open "Bakersfield Mist"

Invisible Theatre to open "Bakersfield Mist"

Jackson Pollock’s work has inspired many.
And stories surrounding the artist's works have been inspired, as well.
One of those stories drove playwright Stephen Sachs to write “Bakersfield Mist,” which Invisible Theatre opens Wednesday, Oct. 14. Pollock’s work is at the center of the comedy, which is a roller coaster ride with it's smart, biting dialogue to the vast differences between the two characters in the play.
Susan Kovitz as Maude and Roberto Guajardo as Lionel in Invisible Theatre's production of "Bakersfield Mist." -- Credit: Tim Fuller
Read the entire preview here:

Monday, September 7, 2015



By Chuck Graham,

Chuck Yates is Truman Capote in "Tru."
I always remember Truman Capote as the flamingly outrageous, perennial TV guest you watched in the 1960s because he was liable to say most anything – the more shocking the better.

Parents hated him, which was always a good thing.
But that's not the Capote personality we get to see in “Tru” at Invisible Theatre, where visiting guest artist Chuck Yates creates an off-camera Capote desperately alone in his sumptuous apartment at Manhattan's UN Plaza overlooking the East River.

Truman unplugged, you might say.
Directed by Yates' good friend Larry Raben, the actor in this one-man show creates a mincing Capote on the edge of losing it.

Facing the collapse of his career, he refuses to face anything. Always changing his focus, nervously looking some place else for help, he's desperate to get a laugh, grab for a straight line he can turn into a cutting remark, anything to prove he isn't afraid.
Historically, “Tru” begins on the evening of Dec. 23, 1975. It had been 10 years since Capote had that breakout hit with his book of journalism, “In Cold Blood” and 17 years since the charming “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” People were beginning to talk.

Would he ever write anything else worth reading? Would he ever write anything else at all?
Capote's answer, which he has been writing in secret, would be a tell-all book on all of his famous friends and cocktail acquaintances. Everything would be revealed. He would call it “Answered Prayers.”

To prime the pump, Capote had given Esquire magazine a portion of the book, which Esquire published had a few months earlier in 1975. But instead of praise, the pages created an instant storm of incensed protest from the betrayed celebrities.
Capote thought the excerpt would help revive his career. It shocked him to watch how “Answered Prayers” became the last nail in his own coffin.
It is this back story that gives depth to Yates performance. The nuances of his body language, the way his high-pitched, reedy voice kept running off to hide in a corner of his nervous laughter.

“I've been to seven parties in two days,” Capote announced early on, proudly proving his appetite for night life. Occasionally he would lift a bulky cassette recorder to his face, saving a thought, a phrase.

Capote could run through lists of notable friendships long as any lineage in the Old Testament. From New England's Kennedy family to Sharon Tate and the Manson family, Capote was connected.

“I like to talk to myself about myself,” he says in Act Two, ruminating about his life over those two days in two acts, December 23 and Christmas Eve.

For most of the play, this tortured and self-made personality is talking to the ceiling, stretching out on the couch, pacing back and forth, staring out his penthouse windows overlooking the swirling city below, where some of those same disgusted people are sitting around in well-appointed rooms muttering bitter words about Capote.

Yates takes us on this convincing journey of attempted escape, twisting and turning, darting about and giggling some more, with a talent so effortless “Tru” starts feeling like a documentary of Capote's demise.

The script written by Jay Presson Allen is taken, we are told, “from the words and works of Truman Capote.” It is Yates who adds the voice and the soul.

“Tru” continues through Sept. 13 with performances at 7:30 Wednesdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. matinees Sunday (Sept. 6),  Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 12-13), at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
Tickets are $30, with discounts available. For details, information and online purchase, visit, or call 520-882-9721.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Invisible Theatre's 'Tru'

September 03, 2015 10:45 am  •  

Truman Capote was brilliant. Funny. Acerbic. Mean spirited. Completely self-destructive.
And Chuck Yates brings the late author of “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to chilling life in Invisible Theatre’s production of the Jay Presson Allen play “Tru,” which opened Wednesday.
Yates is recreating the role he first played for the Palm Springs, Calif. theater he co-founded, Coyote StageWorks. He shimmied into the skin of the man who was short, chubby, an alcoholic and, at the time the play is set, Christmas, 1975, abandoned by most of his high-brow friends thanks to a tell-all chapter of his unpublished book “Answered Prayers” published in Esquire magazine.
Yates has incorporated Capote’s fluttery hands, eccentric mannerisms, and given us a reasonable facsimile of that distinctive, high-pitched voice. It’s not hard to believe we are watching the real Capote as he paces back and forth in his highrise apartment in Manhattan’s United Nations Plaza (Susan Claassen and James Blair were masters in transforming the small IT stage into the apartment).
The play is pulled from his writings and interviews, and as the insults, one-liners, and musings about his life spill out, the tragedy of Truman Capote is revealed.
And that is this: the man had little insight — he is totally confused as to why his longtime society friends abandoned him after the Esquire article came out. After all, he changed names, although the characters were thinly disguised. And he is a writer — what did they think he would do with the stories they told him? Stories about murder, infidelity, and generally abominable behavior that only the very rich seem to get away with.
We can take two things from this play — he really had no clue why people were treating him the way they were, or he is so ashamed of his behavior that he can’t admit to himself what a huge betrayal of trust telling those stories was.
And that’s perhaps the biggest fault of “Tru” — we don’t really get to know the man beyond the soundbites and witticisms. We aren’t sure way he sabataged himself with his betrayals. We ache for him for lacking the insight to look at himself with the depth and clarity that he looked at his characters in books such as “In Cold Blood.”
Still, Yates gives such a nuanced performance that you think you kinda know who Capote was. It’s only when one leaves the theater that you realize nothing new about the man is revealed. That falls on the playwright’s shoulders.
And, frankly, Capote is a train wreck as he drinks, tries to reach out to friends who abandoned him, insults others, and is drowning in some serious self pity. It’s hard not to watch that. Or to watch Yates.
To see article - click here
TRU is open now until September 13th. Purchase your tickets today by going to our website or call our Box Office at 882-9721 - ask about the benefits of becoming a Season Ticket Holder at IT! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Our Sizzling Season Ticket price is only $155 until Friday, July 31st! Get your 6 plays for this amazing deal before time runs out! 


  • You will get priority reservations for the dates YOU want.
  • You will have your year's theatre events already planned out.
  • You will see IT's wonderfully produced productions in their 45th Anniversary Season. (Basically history in the making!)
  • You will the BEST price of the year!
  • You will make your friends jealous!
  • NONE!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Music, dance acting in Invisiible Theatre's Sizzling Summer Sounds cabaret series

It’s not just the heat that’s sizzling this summer.
You’ll find the sizzle, too, in Invisible Theatre’s summer cabaret series, Sizzling Summer Sounds.
Eight different shows stretched over three weeks make up the series, and they each promise a triple treat — acting, dance and music, says Susan Claassen, the managing artistic director of The Invisible Theatre and director and producer of the series.
Audience members “should expect the unexpected in glorious talent,” says Claassen.
The music touches on different genres and generations, with tunes that ranges from ragtime to Carole King.
And don’t expect an evening of background sounds.
“The music is the highlight, it’s not a sidebar to conversation,” Classen says.
This year marks the series’ 25th anniversary, and in celebration some of the original performers from the premiere of Sizzling Summer Sounds are coming back to open the series in “The Borscht Belt Boys and Girl — The Sequel,” featuring veterans of IT’s cabarets, Jeffrey Haskell and Jack Neubeck.
Each show is given an especially personal touch as the performers can choose their own sets or they can collaborate with other vocalists and musicians to form something new.
“What we do is collaborate on the tunes that bring them all together and showcase their talents,” Claassen says. “It’s an intimate exchange between the audience and performer.”
The Borscht Belt Boys and Girl — The Sequel — 8 p.m. Wednesday, next Thursday and July 10.
The trio of Haskell, Neubeck and Katherine Byrnes kicks off the week. Named for the Borscht Belt, the nickname for the popular summer resorts that were a vacation spot for New York City Jews and a breeding ground for performers, this performance is a tribute to Jewish composers and lyricists who have influenced American music.

To Ella With Love — 8 p.m. July 11, 2 p.m. July 12.
Crystal Stark and Khris Dodge join forces to pay tribute to the First Lady of Song Ella Fitzgerald.

Girls’ Night Out — 8 p.m. July 15-16. 
Lisa LeMay, Heather “Lil Mama” Hardy, Christine Vivona and Jacinda Rose Swinehart-Johnson have blended their unique styles to bring a new show that includes styles from jazz to Broadway.

Perfectly Frank — 8 p.m. July 17.
Joe Bourne celebrates 100 years of Frank Sinatra with a tribute to one of the most influential voices of the 20th century.

Spreadin’ Rhythm Around — 2 p.m. July 19. 
Ragtime and Stride pianist and vocalist Ray Templin will keep the audience swinging as he plays selections from the 1920s into the Swing Era.

Swinging Jazz — 8 p.m. July 22.
Rob Boone, Christine Vivona, Jesse Boone and Fred Hayes form a quartet to bring the audience a collection of popular American songs.

Queens of King — 8 p.m. July 23-24. 
A tribute to Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Carole King performed by Stark, Byrnes, Janée Page and Haskell.

It’s All in the Family — 8 p.m. July 25, 2 p.m. July 26. 
A song and comedy show with Sandy Hackett, a comedian and the son of Buddy Hackett; his wife, Lisa Dawn Miller, and their children, Oliver Richman, 14, and Ashleigh Hackett, 9.

See the Full Article HERE
By Annie Dickman at Arizona Daily Star


QUEENS OF KING: A Carole King Tribute!
Thursday, July 23rd & Friday, July 24th at 8:00pm
Skyline Country Club
Get your tickets today by calling 520-882-9721 or visiting our website!