Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
‘The Rivals’ — No Strings Theatre Company closes its season with the play by Richard Brinsley Sheriden through June 10 at Black Box Theatre in Las Cruces. Directed by Monte H. Wright. This comedy of manners satirizes sentimentalism and sophisticated pretensions, without the typical 18th-century moralizing.
Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., 2:30 p.m. Sunday June 4 and 11; and at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 8. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday. Reservations: (575) 523-1223.
‘A Weasel in the Hen House or Ladies A’ Peril’ — Virus Theater presents the bawdy (PG-13) melodrama at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 1-2 and June 8-9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3, at El Sol Theater, 406 Bullard in Silver City, N.M. Tickets: $10. Information: virustheater.com.
Cloudcroft melodramas — Cloudcroft Light Opera Company’s live open air melodrama performances at 7:30 p.m. at Zenith Park’s pavilion on Burro Ave. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Early arrival recommended. Information: (575) 682-2733 or cloudcroftlightopera.com.
Summer performances are Friday and Saturday, June 1-2, July 6-7, July 2-13 and July 20-21.
‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall presents the musical by Heather Hach with music by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin June 1-17. Directed by Wil Kilroy. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $15 ($12 student, senior, military; $20 age 12 and younger). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
‘Los Desarraigados’ — Los Actores Spanish-language theatre company presents the play by J. Humberto Robles at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 1-2, at the Chamizal National Memorial, 800 S San Marcial. Admission; $10 ($8 seniors, military, students; $6 each for groups of 10 or more). Information: 540-3813 or 474-4275.
The Spanish-language play tells the story of an attractive well-to-do young woman from Mexico City whose unexpected arrival in El Paso at the house of a working class Mexican American family forces them to confront their own identity and place in American society. Co-presented by International Hispanic Cultural Institute (IHCI).
‘With Love, Marilyn’ — Erin Sullivan as she presents her one-woman tribute to screen goddess Marilyn Monroe at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1-2, at Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall. Tickets: $27.50; available from Borderlands Film Festival at (575) 408-9026 or borderlandsfilmfestival.org.
Reprising the role she originated on that stage in Mark Medoff’s “Marilee And Baby Lamb: The Assassination Of An American Goddess,” Sullivan was inspired to continue her exploration of the glamorous icon. She wrote this playful and sensual musical journey along with co-writer Stephanie Rosenberg, weaving together stories of Monroe's life, her loves and her legacy.
‘Anti-Social’ — The information superhighway makes an appearance in the comedy by Don Zolidis, directed by Raul Chavez 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through June 3, at First Presbyterian Church, 1340 Murchison. Presented by Kids-N-Co. Tickets: $7 ($5 children, students, senior citizens, military), available at the door. Information: 274-8797 or on Facebook at El Paso Kids-n-Co.
Logging on and browsing through Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and even Myspace provide prime fodder for “Antisocial’s” hysterical take on the effects of social media on society. Whether it’s parents being disgusted with their child for not having enough Instagram followers to selling your soul for YouTube viewers to finding love on MySpace, “Antisocial” brings new insights to social networking.
‘Viva El Paso!’ — El Paso Community Foundation and El Paso Live present the 41st season of the summertime outdoor musical extravaganza with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays June 15-July 28, at McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre. July 20-21 performances in Spanish. Tickets: $24 ($16 ages 2-12, seniors 65 and older and military with valid ID). Tickets opening weekend (June 15-16) are $10. All tickets available at Ticketmaster. Information: ElPasoLive.com.
Created by Hector Serrano in 1978, “Viva! El Paso” depicts 400 years of the El Paso area’s rich history.
Burges High School’s Keith W. Townsend returns for the third year to direct the 72-member cast. The show will combine many of the popular songs, dances and characters from the past, such as the iconic deer dance, with a new one.
“This year’s show follows the script’s historical-cultural story line, however, some scenes have been trimmed, and a couple were replaced with dance theater segments,” Townsend said. The mariachi and saloon bands will be a more integral part of the production. The updated script is by Tony Award-winner Marty Martin, with music by Jim Ward, Gabriel Gonzalez and Cody Ritchey.
Theatre of the Big Bend — Sul Ross State University’s Summer Theater Program celebrates its 52nd season. Performances are 8:15 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, Sul Ross’s Outdoor Theatre at Kokernot Lodge in Alpine, Texas. Lawn chairs welcome. Information: (432) 837-8218, 1-888-722-SRSU (7778) or sulross.edu/tobb.
• June 22-July 1: “Bleacher Bums,” a comedy by Joe Mantegna. Tickets: $8-$10.
• July 6-29: “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” Tickets: $10-$12.
The 4th Annual Sul Ross Children’s Theatre Camp runs July 16-23 at the SRSU Theatre. First week for age 6-10, second week for age 11-14. Cost: $75.
‘South Pacific’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre, in the UTEP Student Union West building, closes its season with the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical July 6-22. Show time is 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; non-dinner matinees are Sunday 2:30 p.m. July 15 and 22; dinner matinee is 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8. 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 the background of an idyllic South Pacific island during WWII, “South Pacific” follows two love stories: Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, who falls in love with Emile, a French plantation owner on the island. At the same time, U.S. Lt. Cable falls for a beautiful island native named Liat.
‘Peter & Wendy’ — Missoula Children’s Theatre will host its performance of the classic tale at 7 p.m. Friday, July 13, at Oñate High School, 5700 Mesa Grande in Las Cruces. About 60 children grades 1-12 will be cast as actors or as assistant directors or technicians as part of a weeklong theater experience. Tickets to be announced. Information: (575) 523-6403, firstname.lastname@example.org or riograndetheatre.com.
Auditions are 10 a.m. to noon Monday, July 9. Tuition: $60, due upon casting; partial scholarships available.
Jewel Box Series call for submissions — El Paso Community Foundation’s Jewel Box Series at the Philanthropy Theatre, which works to foster and showcase community talent in an inspiring atmosphere, seeks submissions through July 13 for performances for its 2018-2019 season. Performances are the second weekend of the month September through May. The Foundation will coordinate with each organization/artist to produce a performance program. Submission specifications, information: Kathrin Berg, 533-4020 or epcf.org/jewelbox.
The Foundation partners with El Paso Live to ease the financial burden of producing a show in the 191-seat Philanthropy Theatre.
NMSU Theater head directs LCCT play
Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon has provided her audiences with many memorable roles, from her winning singing turn as June Carter in “Walk the Line,” to Madeline Martha Mackenzie in the Emmy-winning TV series “Big Little Lies.” But still one of my favorites is her hilarious turn as the ditzy, but smart, Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.”
It became an equally successful Broadway musical of the same name. Las Crucens will get to laugh at this hilarious tale when it comes to the Las Cruces Community Theatre this month.
At the helm is NMSU theater chief Wil Kilroy, who recently directed the big hit “Rent” at the school. LCCT Board President Janet Beatty-Payne approached him about directing a show for them last year.
Kilroy brought a wealth of experience to Las Cruces when he became Department Head of Theatre Arts in 2015. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Art and then the National Shakespeare Conservatory, eventually earning an BFA and MFA in Theatre. He acted on stages around the country and did bits on soap operas, commercials and film. He was previously a professor at the University of Southern Maine, directing dozens of plays and continuing to act before he joined NMSU.
“NMSU is always looking to support the community,” Kilroy said, “and I realized this would be an opportunity to share my craft with members of the Las Cruces community and not just our NMSU students.”
He had seen the show at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine several years back, featuring Sally Struthers (of “All in the Family” fame) as Elle’s mom, Paulette.
“She was terrific, as was the entire show. Lots of fun, and in addition to the comedy, I also feel the final message is empowering to women.”
For those who haven’t seen the movie, Elle Woods has a sweetheart, Warner, who is accepted to Harvard.
“Warner decides it’s time to get serious, so before he departs for Harvard he breaks up with Elle, who is devastated,” Kilroy said. “Elle decides that she will work to get accepted into Harvard Law as well, to follow her true love. Elle succeeds, but discovers that Warner already has a new girlfriend, someone he knew in his youth at boarding school.
“Through the encouragement of Emmet, a teaching assistant at Harvard, Elle perseveres, and gains a spot aiding the professor and lawyer for fitness guru Brooke Windham, accused of murder. Elle’s insight cracks the case, and Brooke fires Professor Callahan and takes on Elle as her attorney, aided by Emmet. Elle wins the case when the deceased’s daughter confesses to the crime, graduates Harvard as valedictorian, and proposes to Emmet.”
Elle is played by high school senior Brianna Horvath. Warner is played by NMSU student Joel Fisk, Emmet by Calvin Chervinko, also an NMSU student, and Brooke by Torrie Hughes, who just graduated in theatre arts from NMSU. Professor Callahan is played by Greg Thompson, a recent transplant to El Paso who commutes to Las Cruces for this role.
“Greg is a former union actor from the Washington, D.C. area,” Kilroy said. “The remaining cast is a wonderful mixture of students and professionals ranging from juniors in high school, to a medical assistant, to a realtor.”
Kilroy quickly discovered the biggest challenge in community theater.
“The challenge is working with a vast array of community members who all have other jobs and commitments, so scheduling can be hard.” Kilroy said. “These are individuals who are performing because they love to do it and not because they are planning on pursuing theatre as a profession like the students I work with at NMSU. However, they are wonderfully dedicated, so we are working the hours we can, and the show is coming together.”
But it’s also given him an appreciation of community theater.
He said it’s been a joy “working with this wonderfully diverse group of people who all love theatre as I do - including the staff at Las Cruces Community Theatre and our musical director Christa Fredrickson, who works in the school district, and Janet Beatty-Payne, who is our choreographer and is playing Paulette.”
Kilroy said he is enthusiastic about the results so far, suggesting “everyone should come see the show as it is filled with wonderful songs, fun dance, comedy, and also a lot of heart.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
Las Cruces Community Theatre presents “Legally Blonde: The Musical” June 1-17. Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
Feature storyCopyright 2018 by Cristo Rey Communications.
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