Posts Tagged Karen DeHart

Agatha Christie’s “The Hollow” – Play Review


“…the real tragedy of life was that you got what you wanted…”
― Agatha Christie, The Hollow

At CityLights theater in Agatha Christie’s “The Hollow”, directed by Doll Piccotto, audience get exactly what they wanted, intriguing murder of a complex person; with many possible suspects.  The homeowners, Sir Henry Angkatell (Ken Boswell) and his eccentric, ditzy wife, Lucy (Karen DeHart) have planned an extended family weekend and have invited several relatives and cousins. 

In addition to the colorful characters engaged in intrigue, affairs, and stolen moments of love and passion, there are maids, butlers, and an intriguing neighbor Victoria (Laura Domingo) who drops in as soon as she hears of the presence of her former love, Dr John Cristow (Damian Vega), notwithstanding the presence of his overly cheerful wife, Gerda (Caitlin Lawrence Papp), completely devoted to her husband and perpetually doubting herself. And then there was Lucy’s cousin Henrietta Angkatell (Anne Yumi Kobori); her character as complex as her sculpted and artistic creations. Henrietta, with her deep sense of integrity and right and wrong, rebuffed advances of affection from her cousin, Edward Angkatell (Kyle Dayrit) and yet was hopelessly in love with a married man.  While Edward’s attention was on Henrietta, Midge Harvey (Alycia Adame) was deeply in love with Edward. Adding to the chaos was the character of Dr. John Cristow, a philanderer who admired the single minded devotion of his wife Gerda. Dr. Cristow also cared more about the disease he was trying to find the cure for than his patients and was at once both highly narcissistic and yet seemingly unconcerned about anyone, including himself.

With so many miscreants and so much intrigue, when the murder takes place, everyone is a plausible suspect, and yet everyone seems innocent of committing such a heartless crime. And to add to the list of suspects, there is the maid, Doris (Erin Southard), and very very English butler, Gudgeon (Tom Gough). It becomes the responsibility of Inspector Coquhoun (Patricia Tyler) and Detective Penny (Andre Leben) to investigate the suspects and nail the culprit. And while you may be going through the “who dunn it” in your head, there are some characters least interested in solving the crime.

  • Lady Angkatell : I’m not terribly interested in who killed who. I mean, once you’re dead, you’re dead. It doesn’t matter why, does it?

So glad the theater season in the bay area is back.  This play will be running at Citylights Theater in San Jose, CA till March 6, 2022 and tickets are available at www.cltc.org .

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Alabama Story: Play Review


This play is set in Montgomery, Alabama, a place that has so much historical significance, both as the Cradle of the Confederacy and the Cradle of Civil Rights. “Alabama Story” is a powerful play by Kenneth Jones and is inspired by real events in “the Deep South of the imagination”.

Image result for alabama story city lightsThe incident springs from an innocent children’s story book published in 1958 (one may say it hides an apparent message promoting diversity).  Author and illustrator Garth Williams (best known for his illustrations in Charlotte’s Web and Little House On the Prairie) released a book called The Rabbits’ Wedding, where a black rabbit marries a white rabbit. This gentle children’s book created a massive stir and ignited the passions of a State Senator who harbored strong segregationist agenda. Senator Higgins (Erik Gandolfi) issued a request for the book to be pulled out of state’s library shelves on the charge that it promoted “race-mixing”.

Image result for alabama story city lightsThe story would end there, if it was not for a no-nonsense State Librarian, Emily Reed (Karen DeHart). She counters him saying that the book is an important vehicle for educating the impressionable youth and young minds must get all the information available so they can make their own decisions about people and circumstances. She in fact, ordered the book to be pulled out of shelves and out of general circulation and instead put it in reserve circulation so that it would always remain available.

Image result for alabama story city lightsThis public feud unfolds against the backdrop of intimate story of childhood friends, Joshua (Bezachin Jifar), son of a house slave woman and Lily Whitfield (Maria Giere Marquis), daughter of a slave owner.

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This is a simple yet powerful play that makes a bold statement about how a character may be tested at critical times and those who can withstand the test of character are the powerful figures that reshape the community; reshape a nation. Reed faced tremendous political pressure from the state politicians and at one time she said, “We have had difficulty with the book…. But we have not lost our integrity”. Mixed in with the politically charged focus of the play, there is some courtroom drama, childhood love, hint of passion, and a glimpse into how history may have unfolded in so many different ways, big and small, in private and intimate recesses of one’s mind and in public arena, during one of the most significant periods in America.  Superb direction is by Lisa Mallette, who is in her 17th season at City Lights.

I declare, this is a not-to-miss play of this theater season and will be running at City Lights Theater in San Jose, until February 18, 2018. For tickets, check the website www.cltc.org .

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Calendar Girls: Play Review


Image result for calendar girls, city lightsBased on a feel-good true story, “Calendar Girls” is adapted by Tim Firth from his original screenplay, for Nigel Cole’s 2003 British film, by the same name.  The play focuses on six women and their resolve to make a difference in the world, with meaningful contribution.  Members in a women’s club, these six women, Chris (Anne Younan), Annie (Deb Anderson), Cora (Caitlin L. Papp), Jessie (Ruth E. Stein), Celia (Karen DeHart), Ruth (Mary Lou Torre) often spar with the club queen bee Marie (Patricia Tyler) about how their club could be a more meaningful group.  Opportunity presents itself when Annie’s husband, John (Ken Boswell) passes away and in memory of John, the women decide to raise funds for a new couch in the waiting room of the local hospital.

They imagined that ordinary, run of the mill calendars with flowers and landmarks would not sell easily.  Chris and Annie came up with a unique idea (something they had jokingly discussed earlier in John’s presence). They decided to do a calendar with pictures of their group of mature women doing traditional Women’s Institute activities like knitting and baking, with a little twist. The women would pose in nude as they do these activities, with discreetly placed props to cover specific body parts with little exposure but more of a titillating suggestion.

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The women were not prepared for the notoriety and eventually international fame the calendar brought them. It took a toll on their friendships and personal lives. Sometimes they lashed out at each other and at other times in their frustration they lost sight of the fact that they had far exceeded their set goal.  While they had imagined raising a few hundred pounds for the couch, they ended up raising nearly 3 million pounds that enabled building of an entirely new hospital wing.

Eventually, these classy women found their footing and solace in their friendship. They recognized that “out of John’s tragic death came something very special; and acknowledged that “everything we do is born out of love for him”. Clearly their little act stood as a symbol of something much bigger than they had imagined. It was sexiness combined with spunk, mixed with a dose of sass that set them free and enabled them to create a work of art, in favor of a worthy cause, and the world took notice and found inspiration.

While the story is played on world stage, Director, Jeffrey Bracco, Scenic Designer, Ron Gasparinetti and Stage Manager, Kimberly Scofield did a fabulous job in bringing the world to the women, on stage. Calendar Girls will be playing at City Lights Theater in San Jose, CA till December 18, 2016 and tickets are available at www.cltc.org .

 

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