Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
‘Pirates of Penzance’ — Gilbert and Sullivan Company of El Paso presents the comic operetta for its 50th anniversary production at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 Sunday, Aug. 2-4, at Black Box Theatre 430 N. Main in Las Cruces. Tickets: $12 ($10 students, seniors, military); available at the door. Reservations: (575) 523-1223. Information: 479-2485, 584-9319, gselpaso.org or Facebook at GandSElPaso.
As a child, Frederic was apprenticed to a band of tenderhearted pirates by his nurse who, being hard of hearing, had mistaken her master's instructions to apprentice the boy to a pilot.
Scenes from ‘Shakespeare on Love’ — Shakespeare-on-the-Run players will perform scenes from “Antony and Cleopatra,” “Macbeth,” “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” and “Taming of the Shrew” 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Richard Burges Public Library, 9600 Dyer, sponsored by the City of El Paso's Museum & Cultural Arts Dept. Community Arts Program. Admission is free. Information: 212-3131 or shakespeareontherocks.com.
Theatre of the Big Bend — Sul Ross State University’s Summer Theater Program performances of Dan Goggin’s “Nunsense” are 8:15 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, through Aug. 4, at Kokernot Outdoor Theatre in Alpine, Texas. Lawn chairs welcome. Tickets: $12 ($10 children and seniors). Information: (432) 837-8218, 1-888-722-SRSU (7778) or sulross.edu/tobb.
Senior Talent Spectacular — EPCC’s Senior Adult Program hosts its first senior talent show noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at EPCC’s Administrative Service Center, 9050 Viscount, Building A Auditorium. Information: 831-7801 or
Auditions are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, in the auditorium.
‘Biloxi Blues’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main, Las Cruces, opens its 57th season with Neil Simon comedy Aug. 9-25, directed by Michael Wise. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays. Cake and non-alcoholic beverages with the cast and crew follow opening night performance. Tickets: $17 ($14 senior, student and military; $10 groups and children). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
The second in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon’s trilogy, which began with “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and concluded with “Broadway Bound,” Biloxi Blues won the Tony Award in 1985 for Best Play. Eugene Jerome is a young army recruit during WW II, going through basic training and learning about life and love, along with some harsher lessons, while stationed at boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1943.
‘Disney’s High School Musical’ — Kids-N-Co. closes its season with the musical based on Disney Channel's smash hit movie Aug. 16-Sept. 1, at First Presbyterian Church, 1340 Murchison, directed by Anthony Michael Stokes with the assistance of Raul Chavez, and musical direction by Ajith Kumar. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $7 ($5 students, seniors, military), available at the door. Information: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
It’s the first day after winter break at East High, The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes find their cliques, recount their vacations and look forward to the new year. Basketball team captain and resident jock Troy discovers that the brainy Gabriella, a girl he met singing karaoke on his ski trip, has just enrolled. They cause an upheaval when they decide to audition for the high school musical.
LCCT opens season with Simon comedy
The late, great Neil Simon wrote so many wonderful comedies (“Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Sunshine Boys”) and some great musical scripts (“Sweet Charity” and “They’re Playing Our Song”). Las Cruces Community Theatre begins its 57th season with the second of his autobiographical comedy/drama trilogy, “Biloxi Blues,” directed by NMSU Theatre Arts Department Production Coordinator Michael Wise.
“I directed ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs ‘several years ago at the University and really enjoyed the script,” Wise said. “I thought this was something that LCCT might want to do. I got involved with LCCT many years back (‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ – 2000, which is also when I moved to Las Cruces) and I’ve directed some plays since: ‘The Foreigner,’ ‘Company,’ ‘Lend Me A Tenor’ and ‘Pinter’s The Homecoming.’”
Now he takes on this Simon classic, which he said “is a coming of age play about a group of young men in basic training (in Biloxi, Miss.) in 1943 who survive boot camp (and their training sergeant) and then are shipped off to WWII. It is Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical account of his experience, learning to become a writer, falling in love, and experiencing issues like racial discrimination, anti-Semitism and sexual relations.”
“Biloxi Blues,” which won the Tony Award in 1985 for Best Play, is the second in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Simon’s trilogy, which began with “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and concluded with “Broadway Bound.
Nick Check stars as the Simon-based Eugene Morris Jerome. His fellow boot-campers are Shane Caballero as Roy Selridge, Nico Holguin as Joseph Wykowski, Calvin Chervinko as Don Carney, Gus Sanchez as Arnold Epstein, Mario Nuñez as James Hennesy, and Scott Brocato as Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey. Rounding out the cast are Veronica Bissell as Rowena and Brianna Horvath as Daisy Hannigan.
“The biggest joy has been the rehearsals,” Wise said. “The cast and I are having a LOT of fun exploring the text. . . they make me laugh in rehearsals a lot, which is always a good sign.”
Before he came to Las Cruces, Wise worked mostly in the uber-theater community of Seattle, directing a wide variety of shows, from classics like “She Stoops to Conquer” to ‘70s classic works like “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and “Veronica’s Room” to musicals like “Working.” He also was a free-lance stage manager and director on the West Coast. He has directed for NMSU every year and added LCCT and Doña Ana Lyric Opera shows to his repertoire.
As with any shows, there have been challenges.
“The biggest obstacle so far is trying to match the time period (1943) in terms of costumes, props and setting,” Wise said.
He also warns though this is a Simon comedy, it is an adult comedy.
“There’s some ‘salty’ language. It is a men’s army barracks, after all,” Wise said. “And there’s some adult themes (sex, racism…). But it is a comedy, so they can expect to laugh, chuckle and perhaps remember what it was like to be clueless at 18 again.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
‘Biloxi Blues’ runs Aug. 9-25 at Las Cruces Community Theatre. Info: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
Feature storyCopyright 2019 by Cristo Rey Communications.
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