Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall presents the classic Joseph Kesselring play Jan. 31-Feb. 16. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $17 ($14 senior, students and military; $10 groups and children). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
The nephew of two spinster aunts is in love with a reverend’s daughter. The nephew’s family, descended from the Mayflower settlers, is composed of insane individuals, from homicidal aunts, to a cousin who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt.
‘Saturday Night Fever’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre, in the UTEP Student Union West building, presents the Broadway and West End smash hit based on Nik Cohn’s 1975 New York Magazine article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” and Norman Wexler’s 1977 film Jan 31-March 1, featuring music by the Bee Gees. Show time is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; non-dinner matinees are Sunday 2:30 p.m. Feb. 9, 16, 23, March 1; dinner matinee is 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2. 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.
A talented, streetwise kid from Brooklyn attempts to escape his dead-end life through dancing. Saturday Night Fever includes an “all hit” disco-era score featuring favorites by the Bee Gees such as “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “More Than a Woman,” along with many other disco era classics featured in the original film. Adult subject matter and language.
Search for a Star 2020 — Boba Cafe and Cabaret, 1900 E. Espina in Las Cruces, presents the talent showcases Friday and Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 and Feb. 7-8, consisting of 12 contestants from age 10 to 50, including singers, musicians, a comedian, actor, and dancers competing for a cash prize. Audience members have the opportunity to vote by ballot for their favorite star at the end of each show (final voting concludes after the Feb. 8 show). Dinner shows start at 6 p.m. and cocktail shows begin at 8:30 p.m. each night. Tickets: $25 dinner show; $12.50 cocktail show. Reservations: (575) 647-5900.
‘As You Like It’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana presents one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies Feb. 7-23. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($12 seniors, students, military and teachers; $9 children). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
Love blooms in the Forest of Arden, as the banished Rosalind and her faithful cousin Celia encounter a group of other exiles. Gender roles, nature, and politics are confused in this play that reflects on how bewildering yet utterly pleasurable life and love can be.
‘The Killing Game’ — No Strings Theater Company presents the play by Eugene Ionesco, directed by Marissa Bond, through Feb. 9, at Black Box Theater, 430 N. Main in Las Cruces. Showtime is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday). Information: (575) 523-1223 or no-strings.org.
Set in a small town during an outbreak of plague, citizens fall one after another, and the town is transformed from a gossipy, boring burg (where the townspeople all speak in clichés) into a maelstrom of paranoia and horror, as hundreds of citizens literally drop dead.
‘Monsters We Create’ — UTEP Department of Theater & Dance presents original pieces created by UTEP students in collaboration with New York playwright Georgina Escobar at Feb. 12-16, at UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts Studio Theatre. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturday, plus 2:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Directed by Kim McKean. Tickets: $12-$18. Information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
Inspired and created by students, the pieces examine subjects and themes that percolated through a series of methodologies of devised theater and writing techniques.
‘Tartuffe’ — Doña Ana Repertory Theatre (DART) presents the energetic, one-act adaptation of the Moliere classic at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 14-16, at Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall. Created by Ron House, Diz White, Alan Sherman, John Neville Andrews and Derek Cunningham. Admission: $15. Information: (575) 541-2290 or riograndetheatre.org.
So virtuous is Tartuffe that every form of pleasure is an abomination to him. Orgon, a rich merchant, is completely duped by the ruse and watches approvingly as the cunning Tartuffe “reforms” his whole family.
‘The Vagina Monologues’ — Star on the Mountain Production Company’s 3rd annual Day presentation of Eve Ensler production is 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14-15, at Mount Hope Lutheran, 9640 Montwood, directed by Rachel Mullins. Admission: $10; available at brownpapertickets.com.. Information: staronthemountainep.weebly.com.
‘ReUnión rEvolución’ — The Latinx New Works Fest is Feb. 17-22, at the Chamizal National Memorial, 800 S. San Marcial. The program, created by UTEP assistant professor of theater Kim McKean, was funded by a Humanities Texas grant to celebrate both local and national Latinx voices and stories. Admission is free. Schedule, other information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
Kennedy Center Spring Student Showcase — UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance will showcase performances and design presentations by students traveling to the American College Theatre Festival this spring at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Fox Fine Art’s Wise Family Theatre. Admission: $10 (includes dessert). Information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
R-Rated Magic Show — Comedy magician Grant Freeman performs his unique, raunchy show at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall, with tricks, antics, pranks, stunts, wisecracks, and buffoonery. Admission: $27 (18 and over admitted). Information: (575) 541-2290 or riograndetheatre.org.
‘A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer’ — Star on the Mountain Production Company presents its 3rd annual VDAY production of the Eve Ensler play at 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, at Mount Hope Lutheran, 9649 Montwood. Directed by Jesse Snyder. Admission: $10; available at brownpapertickets.com. Information: staronthemountainep.weebly.com.
‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ — American Southwest Theatre Company presents the musical comedy March 5-15 at NMSU’s Center for the Arts in Las Cruces, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with book by Rachel Sheinkin, music and lyrics by William Finn, and additional material by Jay Reiss. Directed by Wil Kilory. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, plus 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14 and Sundays. Preview night is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Tickets: $18 ($15 seniors; $11 students; $5 high school students with current I.D.) Tickets: (575) 646-4515 or nmsutheatre.com.
Playhouse auditions — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, hosts auditions for “Murder on the Orient Express” Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17. Performance dates are May 8-24. Call for audition times: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
El Paso Comic Strip — 1201 Airway. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Feb. 2 and 9. Tickets: $6 Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday; $8 Sunday, except as listed. Age 17 and older admitted. VIP Booths $10 more per ticket for all shows; available at ticketweb.com.
Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233), elpasocomicstrip.com or on Facebook at El Paso Comic Strip.
• Jan. 30-Feb. 1: K-von (opening act Justin Rivera)
• Feb. 13-16: Nikki Carr
• March 12-15: Darren Carter
• March 19-22: Willie Barcena
SNL alum Jay Pharoah known for his impressions of President Barack Obama, Jay Z, Denzel Washington, Kanye West and others, performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6-8. Tickets: $25 ($30 VIP).
Dark comic classic opens 2020 for LCCT
Nothing works better for a theater audience than a classic. “Arsenic and Old Lace,” next up at Las Cruces Community Theater, fits that bill to a “T.”
“Arsenic is a play with archetypal characters and delightful blend of horror and comedy,” director Darin Robert Cabot said. “And Mortimer’s story is one of nature vs. nurture in which he realizes that he can escape the trappings of his family history.”
Written by Robert Kesselring in 1939 (and subsequently a classic movie starring Cary Grant in 1944), the dark comedy has been popular with professional and community theaters ever since.
“Set against the backdrop of an aging, Victorian Brooklyn house that neighbors a churchyard cemetery, ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ is the story of Mortimer (a theatre critic) and his struggles to overcome the shenanigans of his macabre and dysfunctional family: his spinster aunts who poison the guests of their ‘bed and breakfast’ operation, his brother Teddy, who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt, his brother Jonathan who, thanks to some plastic surgery (provided by Dr. Einstein), looks like Boris Karloff (the role was played by the real Boris Karloff in the original Broadway production}, and his impatient girlfriend Elaine,” Cabot said. “The complications and laughs multiply as the dark secrets of the Brewster family unravel.”
Luz Resendez is the put-upon nephew. Dawn Duncan and Virginia Ostendorf are the crazy aunts, Abby and Martha, respectively. James Boberg is Teddy Brewster, Nathan Harper is Jonathan Brewster, Veronica Bissell is Dr. Einstein, and Stephanie Beauregard is the confused girlfriend, Elaine Harper. Rounding out the cast are Victor Roberts as Rev. Dr. Harper and Lt. Rooney, Mike Cruz as Officer O’Hara, Mario Nuñez as Officer Klein, and Doug Abbott as Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Witherspoon.
Cabot said his biggest joy is working with “community performers and artists with whom I haven’t collaborated before.”
That includes his tech crew: Roxy Garcia, stage manager; Melissa Muñoz, costume and set design; Doug Roby, set construction; Jessie Ortega, lighting design; Ally Flitcroft, assistant lighting design; and Zane Chaffe, sound design.
Currently the theater teacher at Centennial High School, Cabot got his BA in theater arts from NMSU in 2002 and his MFA in Acting Pedagogy from the University of Alabama in 2009. He lived and worked in New York City after that until 2014, when he moved back to Las Cruces. He also has acted in Colorado, Arizona, Alabama, and Havana, Cuba.
Cabot said he wants the audience to walk away with two things when they leave the theater after seeing “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
“A smile. A chill.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
Las Cruces Community Theatre presents “Arsenic and Old Lace” Jan. 31-Feb. 16. Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
Feature storyCopyright 2020 by Cristo Rey Communications.
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