Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ — Kids-N-Co. presents the musical conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with additional material by Jay Reiss, music by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin Jan. 11-27, at First Presbyterian Church, 1340 Murchison, directed by Anthony Michael Stokes. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $7 ($5 children, students, seniors, military), available at the door. Information: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, the story is of an eclectic group of six youths vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the ‘tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words.
‘And the Winner Is...’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, presents the David-Matthew Barnes comedy set backstage at the Academy Awards. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18-27. Tickets: $15 ($12 seniors 62+, students, military; $9 12 and younger). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
‘Disney’s Newsies’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre, in the UTEP Student Union West building, presents the hit musical based on the Disney movie Jan. 25-Feb. 10, with Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, and book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. Show time is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; non-dinner matinees are Sunday 1:30 p.m. Feb. 3 and 10; dinner matinee is 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. Tickets: $33.50 to $43.50 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday discount dinner performances; $36.50 to $48.50 (Friday and Saturday dinner performances), and $19.50 to $29.50 no-dinner matinee performances (Ticketmaster). Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
Set in turn-of-the century New York City, “Newsies” tells the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged “newsies.” When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right. Featuring many now classic songs including “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe.”
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ — No Strings Theatre Company presents the Tony, Olivier and Drama Desk Award-winning play by Simon Stephens based on the novel by Mark Haddon Jan. 25-Feb. 9 at Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall, in Las Cruces. Directed by Ceil Herman. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., 2:30 p.m. Sunday Feb. 3 and 10; and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday. Reservations: (575) 523-1223. Information: no-strings.org.
This story follows 15-year-old Christopher solving the mystery of who killed the neighbor’s dog.
‘The Crucible’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall presents the Arthur Miller play Feb. 1-17. Directed by Norman Lewis. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $15 ($12 students, seniors and military; $11 groups of 10 or more, $10 children under 12). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
A young servant-girl maliciously causes the arrest for witchcraft of a young farmer’s wife. The farmer brings the girl to court to admit the lie — and from there the monstrous course of bigotry and deceit is terrifyingly depicted.
‘Shakespeare in Love!’ — El Paso Community Foundation’s Jewel Box Series presents veteran members of the Shakespeare on-the-Rocks theater company performing as their outreach group, Shakespeare on-the-Run at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Philanthropy Theatre (next to the Plaza Theatre). Tickets: $16 (Ticketmaster). Information: 533-4020 or epcf.org.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the group play homage to the Bard’s most memorable couples, including innocent Juliet and her Romeo, iron-willed Cleopatra and Marc Antony, rebellious Katarina and Petruchio, and feisty Beatrice and Benedict.
Auditions and classes
‘The Many Deaths of Danny Morales’ casting call — Chamizal National Memorial hosts open auditions in collaboration with UTEP acting professor Rebecca Rivas 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, for the play to be featured in the 2019 Nuevo Siglo Festival. Actors must bring a contemporary monologue that must not exceed 2 minutes. This is a paid role. Information: Rebecca Rivas, email@example.com or 747-5231, or Frank Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org or 532-7273 ext.123.
Kids-N-Co. classes — Kids-N-Co. offers acting classes geared towards ages 5-15. Classes are 3:30 to 5 Saturdays, taught based on experience and level, not age group. Through the use of monologues, duet scenes, and group scenes, students work to build each other up to the next level based on their individual needs. Class dates are Jan. 5-March 9 (Session 2) and March 23-June 1 (Session 3). Tuition: $200. Information, location: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
El Paso Playhouse auditions — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, hosts these auditions for upcoming shows. Information, audition times: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com. Upcoming auditions.
• Jan. 20-21: “Wait Until Dark.” Shows run March 22-April 7.
• Feb. 3-4: “Peter Pan.” Shows run May 3-19.
No Strings presents ‘Curious Incident’
Being a teenager can be difficult enough, but teens with disabilities have a lot more hurdles to overcome. It’s certainly true in the case of Christopher, the protagonist in the Tony- and Olivier-award-winning play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” Directed by Ceil Herman, it comes to the Black Box Theatre in Las Cruces this month.
The play by Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon, premiered in London and won Best New Play at the 2013 Olivier Awards. When it transferred to Broadway the following year, it won the Tony Award for Best Play.
“Christopher is a special needs 15-year-old, abandoned by his mother, Judy, and being raised by his father, Ed,” said Herman who founded the No Strings Theatre in 2004 with her husband.
“He attends a school where a kind teacher, Siobhan, realizes he has great math ability. At the beginning of the play, he discovers that someone has killed the next-door neighbor’s dog and vows to find the culprit. When he discovers some disturbing facts about his own background, he travels to London on his own to find his mother, gaining strength and maturity through the journey.”
Taking on the challenging role is Joseluis Solorzano.
“Joseluis received a heart from a donor six years ago, and knows what it feels like to be different,” Herman said. “I feel that he is the perfect actor to play Christopher, and I have worked with him several times in the past.
“Christopher’s dad, Ed, is played by Joshua Taulbee. I have worked with Joshua on many productions and I know he is an actor capable of the range of emotions from frustration to love that Ed feels. Christopher’s understanding teacher, Siobhan, is played by Autumn Gieb and his mother, Judy, is played by Gina DeMondo.
“There are also six cast members who play multiple parts and help with properties movement during the play. These versatile and talented actors are Kathi-Jane Alvarado, Scott Brocato, Ashley Dahl, Luz Resendez, Bekah Taulbee, and Monte Wright.”
Herman said portraying Christopher accurately has been a challenge.
“The actor playing Christopher has a wide range of unusual behavior patterns, which we are working on being authentic for the boy being portrayed. Also, the six actors who are playing multiple roles need signature costume or prop pieces for the individual characters, so that the audience is not confused.”
So far, she said, it’s been a joy working with “my group of creative actors who already, though we are early in rehearsal, are contributing greatly to the process.”
Helping define the characters is costume designer Lana Eckman.
“She is providing small but important costume elements for the different characters portrayed by the six-member chorus of actors,” Herman said. Her husband Peter is providing scenic and lighting design “with a relatively bare ground plan and new lighting instruments, as well as slides, to create mood and location.”
Herman hopes people are empowered by the play.
“The journey of Christopher is absolutely inspiring in the script and the book upon which the play is based,” she said. “Its message is that any person can do anything, despite the obstacles.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
No Strings Theatre Company presents “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” Jan. 25-Feb. 9 at the Black Box Theatre in Las Cruces. Reservations: (575) 523-1223.
Feature storyCopyright 2019 by Cristo Rey Communications.
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