Posts Tagged Andrea Bechert
It’s remarkably powerful, it’s touching, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it’s intimate, it’s deeply personal and political at the same time. Based on autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, the play Fun Home focuses on the theme of sexual identity. Through very powerful and familial context of father-daughter relationship, the musical explores the cost of living in the closet and the possibilities that open up, on coming out. Fun Home has won several awards including Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Obie, Award, and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and has garnered five Tony Awards including “Best Musical”.
While prejudice remains as a dark and ugly presence in the world today, Fun Home helps us see the costs that societies, families and generations bear due to hidden and overt biases. Born in 1930s, a husband and father, Bruce Bechdel (James Lloyd Reynolds) lives a closeted life. A caring husband and father, Bruce hides a big secret that diminishes his accomplishments, at least in his own mind. He channels his frustration into an obsession with cleanliness, obsession with dressing his daughter in girlie attire and looking for secret avenues to fulfill his desire. He has built a beautiful family with his wife, Helen Bechdel (Crissy Guerrero), his sons, Christian (Jack Barrett, Dylan Kento Curtis), John (Billy Hutton, Oliver Copaken Yellin), and his daughter Alison. The play mainly centers on his relationship with his daughter, Alison. Moira Stone (as narrator Alison), Lila Gold (as young Alison), and Erin Kommor (as older Alison) are all super fabulous in their roles and vividly bring out the complex father-daughter dynamics at various stages in the story. When Alison grows up and goes away to college, she meets Joan (Ayelet Firstenberg) and experiences love’s first stirrings. Terrified and excited, Alison tries to quosh the feelings at first and later explores them and comes out as a lesbian.
Special kudos to scenic designer, Andrea Bechert, fabulous stage manager, Randall K. Lum and assistant stage manager, Emily Anderson Wolf for beautiful staging and scenes. Robert Kelley is a brilliant director and in Fun Home, the story of impact of prejudice is brilliantly told.
Somewhere between the father who felt compelled to live a lie his whole life, and a daughter who finds the environment and courage to seek fulfillment on her own terms, lie the simple truths about both the suffering and cost of having to hide who you truly are, and the joy of embracing your whole self. Great kudos to Alison Bechdel for embracing her whole self and finding to courage to share the story. It was Lisa Kron who was an early fan of the story and with Bechdel’s blessing, teamed up with composer Jeanine Tesori and adapted the graphic novel for the stage, as a musical. In blending this beautiful human story told through pictures with stirring lyrics, the trio has carved a straight path to the human heart.
This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season. Tickets are available at www.theatreworks.org .
In the Regional Premiere of the theatrical production, “The Country House”, at www.theatreworks.org , there is a gathering of colorful characters, associated with the performing world of films and theater. They have gathered to honor the anniversary of the loss of a daughter, sister, mother, and wife, in the country house of the family matriarch, Anna Patterson (Kimberly King). Anna’s, Kathy, a renowned actress, succumbed to cancer, after a “heroic fight”, about a year ago. Joining Anna’s son, Elliot Cooper (Stephen Muterspaugh), son-in-law, Walter Keegan (Gary S. Martinez), and grand-daughter, Susie Keegan (Rosie Hallett), the guests also include Walter’s gorgeous, young, new girlfriend, Nell McNally, (Marcia Pizzo) and Anna’s friend and special invitee, Michael Astor (Jason Kuykendall).
The play written by Pulitzer prize winning playwright, Donald Margulies and directed by Robert Kelley, picks up steam as it progresses and delivers an unexpected ending, packed with depth. In the first act, it seems unclear if the playwright intends to offer a comedy or offer reflections on deeper issues pertaining to life, love, and loss. In trying to do both, he seems to succeed at neither, as initially, the play fails to blend both comedy and tragedy seamlessly. The comic repartee in the first half of the show, seems to fall flat. But as the play progresses into the start of the second act, it begins to tackle serious issues.
As characters struggle to deal with old unresolved issues, grief, jealousies, and insecurities, they evolve and exhibit more depth and substance, and the end is significantly more impactful, than what transpires in the first half of the play.
Anna (King), who describes herself as “the leading lady, without a stage”, with a flair for dramatics, is clearly the star of the show. Andrea Bechert’s set design is perfect and keeps viewers focused on everything that transpires within the “Country House”. The play will run at www.theatreworks.org in Mountain View, till September 20, 2015.
British authors, Steven Canny and John Nicholson have adapted Victorian thriller, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles, for the stage, as a spoof. Whether you love the brilliant detective, Sherlok Holmes, or whether you find his arrogance stifling, you will agree that this material renders itself for parody, and Director, Robert Kelley has once again surpassed expectations. When Holmes asks Watson (holding a walking stick), “what is it” and Watson responds, “I assume, it is a walking stick”, Holmes says, “Never assume anything, Watson”. Laughter from the audience continued in the halls, long after the show was over.
Great kudos go to the Scenic Designer, Andrea Bechert, and Costume Designer, B. Modern, for superbly designed sets and costumes that lend themselves for quick changes, while adding to the humorousness. Three men play over 20 different characters who are constantly interacting, and each of them come in their own zany, wacky costumes and props. It is no small feat to pull off that level of theatricality. It is absolutely hilarious to watch bold butler’s bushy beard pushed to the top of his head, as he comes out as the man’s wife. There are lots of scenes where the props are masterfully utilized, like when Watson and Holmes go to speak with Sir Henry, while he is in the sauna, or when Watson and Holmes find the butler’s wife looking out of the window and they grab it from her hand and then try to get out of the tiny window.
But in the end it is the impeccably timed, perfectly synchronous, and absolutely zany antics of the three men with boundless energy, that carry the show. Each of the three men, Darren Bridgett (primarily as Sir Henry Baskerville), Michael Gene Sullivan (primarily as Dr. John Watson), and Ron Campbell (primarily as Sherlock Holmes), play several other characters, in addition to one main character. Jed Parsario serves as the stagehand. These are brilliant actors, with improvisional talents, and this was a production that best showcased them.
While the three performers embody dozens of characters, they also tell the story that is full of wordplay and wit, at a breakneck space. At the end, when Watson and Holmes come upon a dead body, they assume it to be Sir Henry’s and Holmes chides Watson, “Are you happy now Watson? All you had to do was to keep Sir Henry alive”. But the brilliant detective Holmes soon solves the mystery and the audience spills out of the theater with howls of laughter. Elvis Presley’s “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog Cryin’ all the time” plays in the background. If you are looking for fun evening with plenty of laughter, to last the entire weekend, then don’t miss this show.