Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yonkers, Trout Stanley, Schmorgasborg add up to fun theater weekend

We took in a great triple-header of fun theater this weekend.

Friday we made our first-ever trip out to the Village Theatre in Issaquah, where we saw Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, directed by Brian Yorkey. The play is the story of two teenagers left to live for a year with their difficult grandmother while their Pop, Eddie, goes off around the country selling scrap metal during WWII in order to make enough cash to pay off a couple of loan sharks. Along the way we meet a couple of their ditzy aunts and Uncle Louie, a small-time mobster. Each is doing his or her best to escape the reach of Grandma Kurnitz, a battle-axe of a candy and ice cream shop owner whose picture is in the dictionary next to the definition of “tough love.”

Special kudos to Jody McCoy, the understudy who stepped in to play Grandma Kurnitz in place of regular cast member Suzy Hunt Friday. As near as we could tell McCoy nailed it. Also fabulous was Mike Dooly as Uncle Louie. Dooly always has a kick-ass stage presence, and he was bigger than life as Louie. He's one of our favorite actors and the main reason we ventured out to Issaquah for the show (along with the opportunity for a double-date with our friends Heidi and Steve.) Nick Robinson was especially fine as Arty; Robinson is a fine young actor. Jennifer Lee Taylor was compelling as Aunt Bella, a kind spirit if she’s not necessarily the brightest. Collin Morris as Jay, Bradford Farwell as Eddie, and Karen Skrinde as Aunt Gert also were wonderful. (That's the cast above at right. Seated L-R are Morris, Hunt, and Robinson; behind the couch Taylor, Skrinde, Farwell, and Dooly. Not sure who took the photo; I lifted it from Dooly's Facebook page!)

Lost in Yonkers is highly recommended. It plays in Issaquah through Feb. 28, then moves to the Everett Performing Arts Center for a run from March 5-28.

Balagan Theatre’s production of Trout Stanley by Claudia Dey, directed by David Gassner, is a sweet-yet-disturbing tale of twin sisters whose solitary lifestyle is broken up by the appearance of the title character, a roast-eating, whiskey snitching, slipper sniffer if there ever was one. Wisey Award-winning director Ryan Higgins plays Trout with a certain degree of subtlety, though the character is not the least bit understated. He also gets to wrestle with sister Grace Ducharme (Sarah Budge) and smooch with sister Sugar Ducharme (Angela DiMarco) with whom he eventually runs off. DiMarco was a revelation as Sugar, displaying a wide range of emotion in a challenging role. We enjoyed her work at 14/48 last month, but missed well-received performances in Abe Lincoln in Illinois at Intiman and in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Village. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing more of DiMarco's work. (That's Higgins, DiMarco, and Budge in the Andrea Huysing photo above at left.)

As for the play itself, the story was interesting, but there sure was a lot of speechifying, with some long soliloquies. Those could have used a little editing, though my Sweetie, the official scorer, opines that Trout’s what-I-believe speech rivals that of Crash Davis from Bull Durham in this category. Trout Stanley runs at Balagan through March 6. It's been getting lots of great reviews, so go see it.

Following the show was Balagan’s monthly late-night cabaret mash-up, Schmorgasborg. It’s free, but hostesses Terri Weagant and Julia Griffin would be well worth the price of admission on their own even if it were substantially higher. Griffin was assistant director of Trout Stanley, and Weagant is directing Balagan’s next production, The Jammer. Billed as “the King Lear of Roller Derby plays,” The Jammer opens March 11 and runs through April 3.

Favorites Bucket of Honey, the Vaudevillians, and Fanny Tragic were on the Schmorgasborg bill. So were Higgins and Chris “Sloop” Bell, who both proved again that they are sick and twisted. We love them for it.

1 comment:

Sweetie the Official Scorer said...

Nick Robinson, Arty in Yonkers, is one to watch; he has got some comedy chops! The whole cast of Trout was terrific; I am going to keep my eye out for wherever DiMarco is playing. Loved the Vaudevillians at Borg.