Posts Tagged Stephen Muterspaugh

FROSTNIXON – Play Review


Tony and Olivier Award nominated drama, Frost/Nixon is currently playing at www.theatreworks.org in Mountain View, CA. Written by Golden Globe winner Peter Morgan, the play focuses on 1977 television interviews between British journalist, David Frost (Jeremy Webb) and former President Richard Nixon (Allen McCullough).   

Even in 2019, the events surrounding the Presidency and resignation of Richard Nixon, stories of Watergate cover-up and Spiro Agnew’s criminal conduct, still holds the fascination and gets a great deal of attention in the media. At the time Nixon sat down for a series of interviews with David Frost, the Watergate scandal was still fresh in everyone’s minds and public was thirsty to hear from Nixon himself. There was a great deal of curiosity on whether contrition and guilt would find its way in his expression but Nixon continued to remain tight-lipped and when he did speak, he stayed short of admitting guilt.

Image result for frost/nixon, theatreworksTheatreworks production switches between on-camera Nixon, glib and defiant and off-camera Nixon, haunted by his own imagined ghosts, skeptical of everyone, socially inept and obsessed with money. The production also switches rapidly between on-camera Frost, also glib, confident, entertaining and at ease on camera and off-camera Frost, obsessing over the single most crucial and defining event of his life, his series of interviews with the defiant President of America, who had thus far managed to evade taking any responsibility.

Some of the most memorable and poignant moments of Nixon presidency were indeed marked by Television, like him defending himself in he “Checkers” speech, him protesting “I am not a crook”, and his resignation speech, to mention a few. But given his silence, it was hard to get Nixon to admit to the people, how he led and participated in one of the biggest scandals at the uppermost level in the American government. If it seemed reasonable to expect that when the moment come to nail down Nixon on his crimes, it must be a public moment where people may be watching him live on TV, sweating and all, David Frost did not seem to be a reasonable interviewer for such a high profile interview.  David Front won the interview for two simple reasons: He paid Nixon $600,000 from mostly his own money, and he was viewed by Nixon and his advisers as a pushover.

Image result for frost/nixon, theatreworks Image result for frost/nixon, theatreworks   Image result for frost/nixon, theatreworks
Although David Frost was witty, insightful, entertaining and brought an informal touch to the interview, Nixon was a formidable adversary who was certain that he could hold his own. Having never testified or stood trial, Nixon was pardoned by Ford, and he never had to admit to or apologize for his deceitful conduct. So will Frost manage to nail Nixon on his favorite media, not Twitter but Television?!!  Frost’s team of producers and impassioned journalists, (Adam Shonkwiler, Patrick Russell, Stephen Muterspaugh) are all on edge, almost certain that Frost will mess it up and Nixon will just get a free pass. And Nixon’s team (Kenny Toll, Craig Marker, Adam J. Saucedo) were ready to bail the boss.

The showdown is imminent between these two men with their own private agenda. The stakes couldn’t be higher when these two ambitious men come face to face on camera, one who tried to undermine America’s democracy and the other trying to use the best weapon available in a democracy. What follows is a game of chess and a contest of wits. Even though many of us have lived through this history, this is a non-to-miss show of this theater season, certain to keep you riveted to the satisfying and portending, very end. Frost/Nixon is running at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and tickets can be purchased at www.theatreworks.org .

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The Country House – Play Review


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.  

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