The Gorge theater scene stretches its muscles in several ways this month with two new productions.
The productions are “Senior Moments” at the new Adult Center Theater, opening April 20, and “All in the Timing,” a traveling show by CGOA Stages opening April 12. Each provides opportunities for veteran Gorge actors to explore comic and dramatic themes.
Performed in new venues and familiar ones, one involves the debut of a new troupe and the other presents work from new directors who are well-known stage performers. One is a Gorge road show and the other takes shape in a new location. Together they are two comic presentations that have at least one thing in common: five or six short one-acts comprising a whole.
‘Wacky World of Wordplay’
A comedy road show ensues the next two weekends courtesy of “All in the Timing,” presented by CGOA Stages.
Tickets and Times: “All in the Timing”
April 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. — Bingen Theater, Bingen
April 15 at 2 p.m. — Hegewald Center, Stevenson
April 19 at 7:30 p.m. — Naked Winery, Hood River
April 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. — Hood River Elks Lodge
Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors; tickets sold at the door only.
The seven performances are spread out over four Gorge venues: Bingen, Stevenson and two locations in Hood River.
CGOA Stages welcomes three new directors to the company — Ashly Will, Barb Berry, and William Thayer-Daugherty — with “All in the Timing — A Series of One Act Comedies” by David Ives.
“Audiences should be delighted with an evening of pure fun, which is always welcome, perhaps now more than ever,” said producer Kathleen Morrow (see her notes, below). Morrow, a veteran director and actor in numerous productions in the Gorge over the past 10 years, coordinates the five one-acts.
She said, “A wacky world of witty wordplay awaits!”
Zachary Tyynismaa teaches Rebecca Stryker a whole new language in “Universal Language.”
In “Mere Mortals,” David Dye, Kathy Williams, and Dennis Castañares are construction workers with secret identities.
Both are directed by Ashly Will.
Tom Burns plays Trotsky, Janelle Child plays Mrs. Trotsky, and Jasper Krehbiel is the murdering gardener in “Variations on the Death of Trotsky.”
Tay Lynne explains to Dana Tickner why she is having such a bad day, while Theresa North emphasizes the point, in “The Philadelphia.”
Philadelphia and Trotsky are both directed by Barb Berry.
Thomas Tyynismaa and Anastasia Valentine as they try to figure out a dating situation in “The Sure Thing.”
And in “Speed the Play,” Dick Withers, Emily Walker, Yasmin Myers, Kelsey Stewart, Rachel Bryan, and Rosemary Shepardson perform ENTIRE David Mamet plays in two minutes flat. (Well, not quite, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless.)
William Thayer-Daugherty directs both.
Producer’s Notes: One-acts allow new directors to stretch creatively
With Kathleen Morrow providing production and technical oversight and support, the “All in the Timing” directors were able to focus on working with their respective casts over the past two months.
One acts are laid-back, low-stress, onstage fun with a bit of last-minute panic thrown in for good measure, writes Morrow:
“By nature, they tend to require smaller casts, with fewer lines for actors to memorize and less technical sets and props.
“That is why many first-time actors and those new to town or community theater find one acts appealing; they can dip their toe in the Gorge theater scene without feeling like they’re in over their head. For someone not usually in the director’s seat, it is a great opportunity to stretch creatively as well as contribute experience and energy to something they know and love.
“The three directors for the six short plays, or one acts, of ‘All in the Timing’ have spent their share of time onstage. This gives them the advantage of understanding the challenges and needs of the actors as well as the chance to see their vision of the play come to life,” writes Morrow.
Director Barb Berry has been involved in community theater in the Gorge since 1993, and had her first experience with one-acts in Tom Burns’ production of “Laundry & Bourbon.” After reading all 14 scenes in the original collection by Ives, she agreed to co-direct. “I chose ‘The Philadelphia’ for its straight-forward comedy and the flexibility to change the genders of the characters without losing any of the intended message, namely that sometimes we all feel like we’re trapped in another reality,” Berry said. “Variations on ‘The Death of Trotsky’ appealed to me because of its strong characters as well as its historical subject. The absurd finds a place here too as Trotsky, repeatedly dying with his wife and attacker looking on, questions the reasons for his demise.”
Ashly Will has been involved with CGOA Stages and Plays for Non-Profits both on and off stage. She previously directed “Big Love” and “Cabaret” in Chicago, as well as “Death Comes to Us All, Mary Agnes” in Portland.
Will said, “’Mere Mortals’ has always been one of my favorites in the ‘All in the Timing’ collection and I couldn’t resist the challenge of directing a play with no blocking (or I’m lazy). ‘Universal Language’ I chose for its pure ridiculousness and how challenging it is for actors.”
William Thayer-Daugherty is an unseasoned director, whose only follies in this field so far include a short original play directed and written in the eighth grade, and the first 15 minutes of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged. (Okay, he has been assistant director a time or two.) He feels very fortunate to be given such a warm and forgiving cast to work with, and hopes everyone in the audience doesn’t mind colorful language.
Berry adds: “We were very pleased with the talent that auditioned in February. It was great to see new faces alongside seasoned regulars we knew and trusted to do whatever we might ask of them. Filling 23 roles for our six short plays was the first task of directing, perhaps the most difficult, but the end result is going to be a night of great performances and much needed laughter.”
Adult Center Theater presents ‘Senior Moments’ vignettes
What’s so funny about getting older? The community is about to find out when the Hood River Valley Adult Center launches its first theater season with five short one-act comedies, called “Senior Moments,” the last two weekends of April.
Tickets and Times: ‘Senior Moments’
Shows are April 20-21 at 7 p.m., April 22 at 2 p.m. and April 27-28 at 7 p.m.
All shows are at Hood River Valley Adult Center, 2010 Sterling Place, just off Brookside Drive.
Purchase tickets at the door or call 541-386-2060: senior and students $10; general admission $12; block of four, $40; block of 10, $80.
A casino, a senior living facility, a bedroom, and a restaurant are the settings for the five vignettes in “Senior Moments,” by Donald R. Fried, opening April 20, the first production of the new Adult Center Theater (ACT.)
A kind of mistaken identity, a lovers’ tryst, a testy committee meeting, and a slot machine encounter are among the events involving seniors in the 90-minute (including intermission) program.
“It’s vignettes from the lives of seniors that should resonate with people of a certain age,” said director Ken McCarty. However, episodes such as an ineffectual committee meeting will resonate with adults of just about any age.
In “The Code,” two seniors, Charlie and Rose, meet after posting ads in the classifieds. They are portrayed by Ken McCarty and Irene Fields.
In “The Gamblers,” Angie plays the slot machine and meets Col. Williams, who is not a gambler but finds that the carpeted casino with plenty of bathrooms is a great place to get his exercise. From this staid premise, things quickly head sideways. Maren Euwer and Michael Beckner face off here.
In “First Love,” old flames Iris and Oscar reconnect after 60 years and matters get darkly and humorously intimate. Performers are Lorre Chester-Rea and Harold McBain.
“On the RAC” brings five committee members around a table and a power struggle ensues with bagels at the center of it all, with Jim Bull, Irene Fields, Maren Euwer, Michael Beckner, and Lorre Chester-Rea.
“Growing Old” is the sequel to The Code; Rose and Charlie (Fields and McCarty) meet again and perspectives switch.
The sets are minimal — a small table and a larger one, a few chairs, a stool and TV tray, and a bar counter — which will double as the bar for beer and wine service at intermission.
The non-profit adult center, with the support of local actors and directors, recently created ACT (Adult Center Theater) to provide entertainment, education and community discussion, with proceeds from the productions supporting the center’s Meals on Wheels Program. In addition to “Senior Moments,” in late July ACT will present “Cell,” a play about immigration and family, including a discussion with its director and playwright, Cassandra Medley.
In September, it’s three one-act dinner theater plays: “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and ??” directed by Gary Young, including, you guessed it, hot dogs, apple pie, lemonade and beer.
The Meals on Wheels Program provides daily hot, nutritious meals delivered by adult center volunteers to people who are not able to leave their homes. Volunteer drivers typically work a few hours one day a week to deliver food and visit for a few minutes. Spouses or friends often volunteer together. For more information, contact the adult center at 541-386-2060.
Currently, 70-75 people throughout Hood River County are visited and receive a warm meal, Monday through Friday, and frozen meals to warm and enjoy over the weekend. The number of Meals on Wheels recipients has increased by 35 percent in the last two years, creating a need for more volunteer drivers/visitors.