is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cast Change Will Not Slow Pace of "Run For Your Wife"


Even after a few years of covering the arts, the amount of time and effort it takes to put on a play still astonishes me, the procuring of the props, the blocking, the timing, the assembling  a perfect cast, the stage management - all of that must come together in a timely manner and be audience-ready by show time.  As someone who can barely get a supper of bean soup and cornbread ready on time, it's fascinating for me to watch the process unfold.  However, that is my perspective as a writer, not as a theatre-goer.  Like most folks, when I sit down to watch a show, I don't want to worry about all the details, I just want to be entertained.  So thank goodness for directors like Ross Carter, actors like Bob Singleton and Allie Darden, and the oldest community-involved theatre in Kentucky, Studio Players.  


As Ray Cooney's Run For Your Wife begins its final weeks of preparation, Director Carter has a lot of balls in the air, but in the past few days has had to make a cast change that would normally have knocked any production off its axis.  Luckily, producer and board member Bob Singleton is not yet in rehearsals for SummerFest's Merchant of Venice, and was able to step into the lead role of John Smith.


From last summer's performance as Dr. Jekyll to his recent direction of Wait Until Dark, Singleton's devotion to local theatre is well-known, so when Carter needed a new Mr. Smith, Bob was most likely a natural choice. Since his real life leading lady, Allie Darden is portraying his wife in the hilarious British farce, it's a good bet that their charisma will translate into that elusive element known as great stage chemistry that we all love to experience. 

When I asked Ross Carter about the cast change so late in the production, he was quick to sing his praises. "Bob Singleton graciously and nobly offered to come to our rescue by playing John Smith. I was preparing to assume the role myself because I am familiar with it, and there are very few actors who can learn such a challenging role in the short time we have available."

"Bob is just amazing. He was off book for Act 1 in 48 hours. He is not only learning the role, he is bringing a vitality to the performance that is helping all the actors reach a new level of performance. Sometimes I wonder whether audiences realize how hard it is to do comedy. When it's done right, it looks effortless; the laughter seems a natural consequence of the lines in the script. But getting the lines right is just the beginning. Most of the time it is not the actor speaking the line who triggers laughter in the audience, but rather another actor on stage who might not even have any lines at the time. Just learning the lines for the John Smith role is daunting; learning the lines and how to work the comedy is even bigger job. Bob is doing both, at an amazing rate."


For those who have never had the pleasure to see Singleton or Darden perform, you are in for a real treat.  In addition, putting their wonderful talents aside, both are exceedingly nice people and once you see them together, you simply have faith that all things do work together for good, after all.

As a talented actor/producer, Singleton consistently sees the big picture and so for me, he is a great go-to guy when I need words to help illuminate to you readers why it's a good idea to make the effort to get out and see stage productions such as Run For Your Wife.  He explained a few weeks ago why Studio Players thought it would be a good idea to present such a show. "Run For Your Wife (the final production of the season) is a full-on, perfect example of British farce, so that separates it from previous productions this season. In fact, the 2009-2010 season has been one of the more varied seasons I can recall, at least recently. For the past few seasons, we've scheduled a farce or comedy as the final show, to go out with a bang so to speak. This type of show is something our audiences have always enjoyed, and it gives a strong, upbeat finish to the season. This show is the perfect vehicle for it."

With all the typewriters, golf clubs and toasters that were required for True West (in which he masterfully played Lee, the 'bad' brother),  Singleton is glad that this show doesn't require unusual props. His directorial search for circa-1960s furniture and appliances for Wait Until Dark was understandably angst-filled, so I asked him if there were any unusual items needed for Run. "Thankfully, no! Considering the prop requirements that had to be met for our two previous productions, Wait Until Dark and True West, I am happy to say that the prop demands for RFYW are, relatively speaking, minimal and rather ordinary!"

"The set is unique (for want of a better word) in that it consists of two different apartments, but with an "overlap" to them. There are many instances where the action is taking place in both apartments simultaneously, and the characters in one place are walking through the same space as characters in another place, and yet (of course) completely oblivious to each other. It sounds more confusing than it is...it's a wonderful concept and a great idea on the part of the playwright."

The play is set in the early 80s, in England, and Ellen Hellard is the costume designer for this show.  Hellard hosted a charming reception for Bob and Allie this past weekend as friends gathered at the Bell House to toast the coolest couple in the community just weeks before they are set to tie the proverbial knot.  Allie, as always, was delightful and energetic, never giving a clue that she had been in an intensive rehearsal most of the day just prior to the soiree. 

When asked about her role in RFYW, she explains, "I play the role of Barbara Smith. She is one of the wives of John Smith (he has two). 
The lines are challenging but not in the way that you might think. You give me a monologue of 3 pages, and I'll have it verbatim. But when you have 5 pages of one word lines (hello? what? John?--etc.), it can be challenging to keep those straight and not mix them up!"  


Darden's plans for the future are bright but she's enjoying the work that is presently on her plate. "Of course, I am having fun working on this show, and I adore Ross Carter! ... My next project will be playing Brooke in the movie Checking In in Atlantic City, written by Brian Hampton. This will take place in August."  


As a new feature here in KimmyVille, I have begun to ask artists to reveal to me a 'hidden talent' about which most are not aware (because I think you as a reader might enjoy knowing little tidbits like that; but also because I'm just plain ol' nosy :). Accordingly, through social media posts, I discovered that Bob is a drummer, and Allie is a singer.  So I asked her about her secret talent, and she laughed, "It's funny you ask. I spent the first half of my performing career singing. I sang in musicals, theme parks, bands, and cruise ships. I haven't sung professionally in about 4 years. Acting has sort of taken over my life! In a good way!"

As the weeks go by and the show's opening date is approaching, it's apparent that Music's loss is Theatre's gain, and I am eager to see how that all comes into play at the Carriage House.

********** 

Run For Your Wife
by Ray Cooney

Directed by Ross Carter

This superb example of British farce had them rolling in the aisles in London and New York. A taxi driver gets away with having two wives in different areas of London because of his irregular working hours. But once an unexpected incident and the ensuing publicity interferes with his intricate ruse, complication is piled upon complication as the cabby tries to keep his double life from exploding.

Featuring:
Amy Mayer, Allie Darden, Bob Singleton, Gareth Evans, Kelly Hale, Jeff Roberts, David Senatore, Michele Breeze

Dates:
May 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, June 4, 5, 6, 2010

Tickets:
$15 ($10 Students)

Reservations:
www.lexarts.tix.com / 859.225.0370

More information:
www.studioplayers.org
 


*photographs courtesy of Erin Cutler, DMD
and 
Thomas Eisenhauer Photography 


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