On Stage

KMUW commentator Sanda Moore Coleman looks behind the curtain to give listeners (and play goers) a bit of history and perspective.

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Signs Of Summer

May 25, 2015
Kechi Playhouse

In local theatre, among the seven signs of the impending summer includes the re-opening of the Kechi Playhouse, home of light comedy and farce.

German Federal Archive / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license

Everyone from the chef with a soufflé in the oven to the kid playing double-dutch on the playground knows the importance of timing.

Playwright Douglas Anderson tightens dramatic tension with the title of his play The Beams are Creaking, which was actually a password used by members of a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Anderson's play examines the exploits of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and pacifist theologian who worked for the German resistance and was jailed and later executed for his efforts in the conspiracy.

clevercupcakes / Flickr / Creative Commons

An archetype familiar to us all is “mother." If you aren't a mother yourself, you've most certainly had one.

May is the month that we honor mothers, according to greeting card companies across the country, and mothers everywhere are waiting expectantly for the brunch and bouquet that have become our traditional go-to gifts for Mother's Day. If you think your mom deserves more for her efforts than a champagne cocktail and a corsage, you might try something different—a night at the theatre, celebrating your mother and hers.

Siena College / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Fairy tales speak to us on a primitive level, according to Carl Jung, who interpreted the stories as symbols in the collective unconscious. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine took a deliberately Jungian approach when they created their award-winning musical Into the Woods.

DanceCenter No1 / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

She has been known as Katie Woodencloak, Aschenputtel, Cendrillon, and of course, Cinderella. Her rags-to-riches story has been told in books, stage, film, television, opera and ballet. There are versions of it from all over the world. The popular French version of the tale, written by Charles Perrault, is best known for supplementing the narrative with such details as the pumpkin-turned-coach, the slippers made of glass and the fairy godmother.

Mkleine / Wikimedia Commons / GNU Free Documentation License

Theatre loves an old chestnut. Revivals of audience favorites are a never-ending source of stage entertainment. Playwrights from William Shakespeare to Noel Coward to Tennessee Williams to Neil Simon reliably draw audiences who enter comfortably into the production like putting on a well worn slipper.

huntingtontheatreco / Flickr / Creative Commons

Christopher Durang is an actor and playwright known mainly for his satires, parodies and dark comedies. His first professional production, co-written with fellow student Albert Innaurato, was a parody titled The Idiots Karamazov for the Yale Repertory Theatre. It starred another student, Meryl Streep, in the role of Constance Garnett.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Satire has long been a tool of social and political commentary. Many contemporary critics point to the Greek playwright Aristophanes as the most famous of the early satirists. He used his considerable skills to attack powerful figures in fifth-century BC Greek society, including Cleon, a statesman and general during the Peloponnesian War, who was depicted by Aristophanes as a war-mongering demagogue.

Tracy Letts was born in Oklahoma in 1965, and his experiences growing up there inspired his Tony-and-Pulitzer-Prize-winning play, August: Osage County.

It is the story of a damaged family, led by an abusive, drug-addicted matriarch, who was based on Letts’ own maternal grandmother. Letts told the New York Times that after he gave the script to his mother to read, she remarked, “You have been very kind to my mother.”

If your familiarity with cabaret is restricted to a sad Liza Minnelli in a bowler hat, you should be pleased to discover that this type of entertainment is almost certain to be a happier experience.

The cabaret is European in origin, although every country produces its own particular version. It may include song, dance, instrumental, comedy, political satire, juggling and even drama, but the venue is usually a restaurant or nightclub, the content is almost always for mature audiences, and the entertainment is led by an emcee.