Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
One-Act Play Festival — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Downtown Mall, Las Cruces, hosts its one-act showcase Thursday through Sunday, March 30-April 2, featuring original works by area playwrights and directors; plays to be announced. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $10. Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
April Fools! Show — Jesters League of America, hosts an April Fools Day performance 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at Glasbox, 210 Poplar. Doors open at 6 p.m. Mature content. Donations: $10; BYOB. Information: 261-4060, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
The Jesters League of America is a group of improv comedians who perform live, unscripted comedy throughout El Paso.
‘The Conference of the Birds’ — No Strings Theatre Company presents the play by Peter Brooks and Jean-Claude Carriere, based on the poem by Farid ud-Din Attar, through April 2, at Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall, in Las Cruces. Directed by Karen Caroe. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., 2:30 p.m. Sundays March 26 and April. 2; and at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday. Reservations: (575) 523-1223.
The play, based on a 12th century Sufi poem by Attar and adapted for the stage in 1979 by Peter Brook is an exuberant experiment in ensemble storytelling. The Hoopoe has called the birds of the world together in order to undertake the journey to find their true king—a benevolent and beautiful bird known as Simorgh.
No Strings Theatre auditions — No Strings Theatre is hosting auditions for two upcoming plays at Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Information: email@example.com.
Auditions will be cold readings from the play. A copy of the script will be on reserve at the Research Help Desk at Branigan Library.
• Auditions for “Seagulls in A Cherry Tree” are 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, April 3-4. This comedy by William Missouri Downs, directed by NSTC’s Artistic Director, Ceil Herman, follows the adventures of two Hollywood screenwriters hired by Disney to adapt Chekhov's “The Cherry Orchard” into a new movie for Mel Gibson. Roles for men and women age 20s to 50s.
• Auditions for the comedy by Sam Bobrick, “Baggage” are 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday, April 30-May 1, directed by Nikka Ziemer, the cast consists of two women in their thirties and two men in their late 30s and 40s.
‘Roll Call’ — El Paso Community College Theater presents the play by Alfredo Lugo April 7-16 at Transmountain Forum Theater, 9570 Gateway North, directed by Matthew Smith. Ticket sales benefit EPCC student scholarships. Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($10 non-EPCC student/military with ID, $7 EPCC students, faculty, staff, seniors with ID). Ages 7 and older only admitted. Information: 831-5056 or forumtheater.wix.com/epcc.
The play focuses on two young Latino veterans returning home from the Vietnam War.
‘Bernabe’ — Eden Enterprises presents Luis Valdez’s play about a young man whose love of the earth is rooted in Aztec mythology at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 8-9, at the Philanthropy Theatre (next to the Plaza Theatre), as part of El Paso Community Foundation’s Jewel Box Series. Tickets: $16 (Ticketmaster). Information: 533-4020 or epcf.org.
Directed by local theater veteran Hector Serrano, the play is a cry against the exploitation of the planet by modern forces.
The final event in this season’s series is “Banging the Bell: A Texas Comedy in Two Acts” by El Paso playwright Ted Karber Jr. at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 20-21.
‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Jr.’ — Kids-N-Co. presents their musical take on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book through April 9, at First Presbyterian Church, 1340 Murchison. Directed by Anthony Michael Stokes. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $7 ($5 children, students, senior citizens, military), available at the door. Information: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
‘Unconditional’ — Abundant Living Faith Center, 1000 Valley Crest presents the live drama event for Good Friday at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 14. Admission is free. Information: 532-8543, alfc.com or on Facebook.
‘Driving Miss Daisy’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, presents the classic drama by Alfred Uhry through April 16. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $11 ($9 seniors; $8 students and military). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
The place is the Deep South, the time 1948, just prior to the civil rights movement. A warm-hearted, humorous and affecting study of the unlikely relationship between an aging, crotchety white Southern lady, and a proud, soft-spoken black man. Winner of the 1988
Pulitzer Prize and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.
‘Idol’ — The Border Theatre in conjunction with Glasbox presents Joel Murray’s play “Idol” at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, April 14-16 and 21-23, at the Glasbox, 210 Poplar. The play re-imagines an encounter between Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift in 1957, exploring the passions and insecurities of both men and the courage it takes to not only be an artist, but be yourself. Contains strong adult language. Tickets are $10 at the door and online at bordertheatre.org. Student tickets are $7 at the door.
Murray, former chair of the UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance, is now chair of the Department of Theatre at Florida International.
Siglo de Oro Drama Festival — The 42nd annual celebration of the Spanish language dramatic arts from Spain’s Golden Age runs Wednesday through Saturday, April 19-22 at the Chamizal National Memorial Theatre, 800 S. San Marcial. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Early arrival encouraged, as seating is limited. Ticket information to be announced. Information: 532-7273 or nps.gov/cham.
The Siglo de Oro Drama Festival is the only festival in the world completely dedicated to presenting works drawn from Spain’s Golden Age, generally considered as spanning the late 15th century to the late 17th century.
• April 19: “The Heresy of Love,” by Helen Edmundson. Performed by Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance. In English.
• April 20: “¿Qué con Quique Quinto?,” by Andrés Carreño, based on Shakespeare’s Henry V. Performed by EFE Tres Teatro & Cabaret Misterio from Mexico City.
• April 21: “La Reunión de los Zanni” by Daniel Tapia and Miguel Ángel Batista. Performed by Compañía de Teatro Reymala of Spain.
• April 22: “El Retablo de las Maravillas” by Cervantes, an adaptation. Performed by Morfeo Teatro of Spain.
‘The Meatball Chronicles’ — The solo show by Santa Fe's most prolific actress, Debrianna Mansini, is 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21-23, at Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Mansini steps out in her own unique way — sharing a culinary adventure of finding love through a meatball. Ticket information: (575) 523-1223.
“The Meatball Chronicles” follows Mansini through a culinary journey of her childhood, her relationships with men, and in particular, her complicated relationship to her mother. As she kneads the dough and thickens the sauce through each Italian recipe, the stories associated with those recipes reveal the complex ways that families cope, laugh, grieve, and show their love through food.
‘Damned Yankees’ — Alamogordo Music Theatre’s presents the musical comedy at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 21-23 and April 28-29, at the Flickinger Center, 1110 N. New York in Alamogordo. Directed by Keith Dodson. Tickets: $10; available at flickingercenter.com. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or alamogordomusictheatre.org.
With a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the modern retelling of Faust is based on Wallop’s novel “The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant.”
‘Anything Goes’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre in the UTEP Student Union presents the Cole Porter musical April 21-May 7. Show time is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Sunday dinner show is 1:30 p.m. April 23; non-dinner matinees are Sunday 2:30 p.m. April 30 and May 7. Tickets: $31.50 to $41.50 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday discount dinner performances; $34.50 to $46.50 (Friday and Saturday dinner performances), and $17.50 to $27.50 no-dinner matinee performances. Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set of on the course of true love... proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, and exotic disguise and some good old fashioned blackmail. Features classes like “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “You’re The Top,” and of course “Anything Goes.”
‘Urinetown’ — American Southwest Theatre Company closes its season with the hilarious musical by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis April 28-May 7, at NMSU’s Center for the Arts. Directed by Wil Kilroy with musical direction by Megan McQueen. Performances are 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $5-$18. Information: (575) 646-4515 or nmsutheatre.com.
Winner of three Tony Awards, Urine town is a hilarious musical satire of bureaucracy and musical theatre itself! A 20-year drought has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets; people must pay to use corporate-run facilities. But when a hero decides he’s had enough, he must lead the people into a revolution for freedom.
‘Medea’ — The UTEP Department of Theater & Dance closes its season with Euripides’ classic April 28-May 7, at UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts Wise Family Theatre. Directed by Jay Stratton. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $14 ($11 faculty/staff, seniors, military, groups of 10 or more, alumni and non-UTEP students, $9 for UTEP students. Information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
When Medea met Jason on the Isle of Colchis, she knew there was nothing she would not do to win the hero’s love. To be at his side, she fled her home and left her people behind, took up residence in a foreign city and tolerated it when she was called “barbarian.” When Jason breaks faith and turns his attention to a beautiful young princess, Media exacts a vengeance of unthinkable brutality.
‘You Can't Take it With You’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall, presents play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman May 5-21. Directed by larrychandler. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $12 ($11 student, senior, military, $9 children under 6; $10 per person for groups of 10 or more; $5 student rush tickets offered 15 before show time. Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
At first the Sycamores seem mad, but it is not long before we realize that if they are mad, the rest of the world is madder. In contrast to these delightful people are the unhappy Kirbys. Tony, the attractive young son of the Kirbys, falls in love with Alice Sycamore and brings his parents to dine at the Sycamore home on the wrong evening.
UTEP Theatre Summer Camps — The UTEP Department of Theatre, Dance and Film will host summer camps June 5-23. Tuition: $245 per three-week camp. Both acting and dancing camps culminate in a live performance for family and friends. Limited financial assistance available. Registration opens April 14. Information: Adriana Dominguez, 747-6213 or theatre.utep.edu.
Beginning (age 7-12) and Advanced Acting Camps (age 13-18) camps are 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays through Fridays. Acting Camps focus on the acting and rehearsal process. All students will learn the fundamentals of the performance process of theater. Beginning class attendees should have at least second grade reading/writing skills.
Young Dancers (age 7-12) and Tiny Toes (age 4-6) Dance Camps are 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays, focusing on the appreciation, performance, and creation of dance. Young Dancers styles include ballet, contemporary, tap, and jazz. Students will create their own choreography as well.
Mitchell does it all in ‘Anything Goes
For Josey Mitchell, her UTEP Dinner Theatre life has come full circle with “Anything Goes” – and Cole Porter. She was a senior in high school in 2001 when she landed her first UDT role in “Cole!” a Cole Porter review. Sixteen years later she takes the lead role of Reno Sweeney in Porter’s “Anything Goes.”
It’s hardly her first principal role. Many might remember her as Mary Poppins in that musical. Or Beauty in “Beauty in the Beast.” Or Evita in “Evita.” This triple-threat entertainer (dancer-singer-actor) has played to many sold-out houses.
But she admits difficulty when it comes to choosing her favorite.
“Tied for my favorite shows are ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Xanadu’ (as the quirky Greek Muse Clio/Kira). If I had to choose one it would be ‘Mary Poppins.’ As an educator I appreciate her character even more. I love how the musical captures the more complex aspects of Mary that are presented in the original books. The most challenging role I have ever played was Evita. You are literally on stage the whole show, even for costume changes. It is physically, vocally and emotionally demanding. It is also one of my favorites.”
One only need look at Mitchell’s family to understand why she is so good at what she does. Her mother is Beth Leffler, long-time theater teacher who recently retired from Eastlake High School. Her father is State Rep. Joe Pickett – who, once upon a time, also performed in theater. (Anyone remember Don Juan de Oñate in the early “Viva! El Paso!”?) And she is married to orchestra teacher and musician Chris Mitchell, who also knows how to carry a tune and act. Some might remember him as the hilarious Lonny in UDT’s “Rock of Ages.”
She grew up around the medium.
“I cannot remember a day in my life without the theater,” Mitchell said. “It is home to me. I remember going to rehearsals with my mom, who is also in “Anything Goes” (Her first UDT show). I love how people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences come together to create the whole picture on stage. I believe theater teaches you to value others, value process whether you are the face on stage or the technical crew. Each person has their part, something unique to bring that will influence others on stage and all that watch a production.”
There’s that teaching reference again. So it’s not surprising that, like her mother, Mitchell is a teacher. But she teaches her first love – even before theater – of dance. She’s currently director of Coronado (H.S.) Dance Company.
She’s been dancing since she was four. She was a student of Andree Harper, Ingeborg Heuser, Ouisa Davis, Myron Nadel and Lisa Smith. She has a BFA in Dance Performance, has studied at the world-renowned Paul Taylor School in New York, and has an M.Ed in Education. And she’s currently a doctoral student in UTEP’s Department of Teaching Learning and Culture.
“I love dance so much because it combines so many modes of learning and expression,” Mitchell said. “Dance can portray what words cannot. It is my hope to share that passion and love for the art form with my students so they can not only become artists on stage but also change the world for the better with their art. I totally believe this is possible.”
So it’s not surprising that Mitchell, besides acting and singing, is doing the choreography for “Anything Goes.”
“The show is exactly as the title states ... ‘Anything Goes’! It is a silly farce full of the unforgettable music of Cole Porter,” Mitchell said. “Like when it came out in the ’30s, I hope it will give audiences a break from all of the political strife while still poking fun at it.”
She’s also having fun pouring her dance experience into her character.
“Reno is my kind of gal. To me she embodies the free and independent spirit of women in the 1930s. My challenge is to exude that confidence, strength, sass, humor, and silliness all at the same time and still remain vulnerable and genuine on stage. I enjoy being able to create movement that plays to my dancer side.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
UTEP Dinner Theatre presents
“Anything Goes” April 21-May 7.
Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
Feature storyCopyright 2017 by Cristo Rey Communications.
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