Friday, May 30, 2008

COM: Two good local theatre articles yesterday!

Be sure to check out Jeff's comments on GSQ in the first story . . .

Playhouse anticipates exciting summer
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published May 29, 2008

After arriving from New York late last week, Austin Owen sat with Jeff Cunningham in the back of the Cailloux Theater watching the audition for this summer’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

The two of them discussed the excited energy in the theater community and agreed that this would be a “Golden summer of Hill Country Theater.”

When asked why that was, Cunningham had a long list of theatrical events both in the Cailloux and beyond that supported that claim.

“First of all,” he said, “Austin is here to work with the Playhouse Academy students on their first major summer musical and on their audition and performance pieces.”

Owen returned to Kerrville after five years of university and professional theater, most recently completing the national tour of “The Producers,” and is in town to teach at the academy, as well as portray Don Lockwood in Playhouse 2000’s next production of “Singin’ in the Rain,” which opens next week

Cunningham added that he was enthused by the auditions for “Willy Wonka …” and “Book of Ruth” — two shows that he said “are the largest we have ever seen at the Cailloux.”

More than 100 people, mostly children, auditioned. He added that Playhouse 2000 is committed that “no child who auditions for ‘Willy Wonka …’ will be turned away,” and director Jim Boman currently is putting together a cast of more than 60 actors. The “Book of Ruth,” a new work for women, he said, also saw a large turnout of new faces.

“The theater excitement is in no way limited to our theater,” Cunningham said, explaining that the Point Theatre’s upcoming “High School Musical,” with it’s huge cast of young performers and veteran director Melissa Moncus at the wheel, has all the kids in the community excited.

The Point’s “Quilters” and “Steel Magnolias” also have recruited a lot of talented Hill Country actresses, he said.

“Willy Wonka …” and “High School Musical” aren’t the only big cast shows for young people. The Hill Country Children’s Theater, well known for its massive casts of child actors is producing a show called “Bobby Sox,” making this one of Kerrville’s biggest summers for child actors in years.

Youth involvement and educational opportunities are on the rise this year, Cunningham said, adding that there’s been “generous help” from the community, especially since theater intern programs are on the rise.

“The number of high school and college-age students learning the craft of theater production is as big as it has been since I was a Point Theatre intern, and that was a long time ago.”

Add to that the recent run of the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s “Death of a Salesman,” which won so much critical praise before it closed last week, and you have the beginning of theater season unlike any before.

“I have talked to folks across the spectrum” Cunningham said, “and everybody has loved ‘Death of a Salesman,’ even folks that haven’t traditionally enjoyed the piece.”

Playhouse 2000 staff members and their colleagues throughout the community encourage families, young people and anyone with an interest in the arts to take the opportunity this summer to be part of any of the multitude of Hill Country theater projects, noting that the abundance of performing arts in a community this size is a rare thing and requires interest and support on both sides of the curtain.

“Singin’ in the Rain” opens Thursday, June 5, at the Cailloux Theater. For tickets and information on all Cailloux shows, call the box office at 896-9393, ext. 226, or go to www.cailloux

Talkin' Quilts
By Carlina Villalpando, The Daily Times, Published May 29, 2008

Tales of survival for pioneer women who traveled with their families to settle Texas come to life beginning tonight at the Point Theatre, where the play “Quilters” will run through June 14.

“Quilters” is a story about a pioneer woman and her daughters who share stories and songs through the creation of quilts. The play, by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, with music and lyrics by Damashek, has been described by Newsweek as “… a tender and moving theater work, a human patchwork rippling in the breeze of memory.”

The show likely is one of the most complex the Ingram theater ever has attempted. It features seven actresses who each play multiple parts — going from children in one scene to elderly women or even men in others.

Point Theatre executive director David Cockerell, who is directing “Quilters,” said the show has required intensive rehearsals and has pulled from some of the Hill Country’s best actresses, including Joan Bryson as Sarah, the mother in the play. Bryson was last seen in the Schreiner University production of “Quilters.”

“It’s taken extra dedication to be in this show,” Cockerell said. “There are places where there are seven-part harmony. These women have to be singers and actresses, and work with my interpretation. I’m just so pleased with them.”

The daughters will be played by Suzanne Edwards, Sonja Johnson, Rebecca Leggett, Maggie Meek, Nancy Reagan and Beverly Vincent.

Cockerell also is no stranger to “Quilters.” He directed the Point Theater’s production in 1988, during his tenure there as theater director from 1985-1990. He said he has been drawn to this play because of its depth, honesty and richness of human experience

“This is not all a happy play,” he said. “This is a story about survival. There are some extremely dramatic moments when these ladies deal with death and the loss of siblings and children.”

“That’s why this story always has touched me, because it always has told stories that are real,” he added. “It’s rich in that it’s so diverse in the stories, but that’s human life.”

Cockerell added that the use of actual quilt blocks to illustrate the 16 different parts to the “Quilters” story adds additional perspective to the women’s story. He said the Hill Country Arts Foundaiton women’s auxiliary created each quilt block, which are combined by the play’s end to create a large quilt that serves as the show’s backdrop.

He said he hopes those who come to see the show not only will leave moved by the women’s stories, but will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the art of quilting.

“It’s so interesting the stories that are told through quilts,” Cockerell said. “Quilting truly is a great American artform.”

Like the play, Cockerell said, quilts tell stories. Theater-goers who see the show tonight will have an added treat of attending a reception prior to the show’s start at 7:30 p.m. that will be held in the Duncan-McAshan Visual Arts Gallery, which currently is hosting The National Quilt Show, a display of contemporary art quilts.

There also will be a post-show reception immediately following the performance, when the audience will have a chance to meet the cast and crew.

“Quilters” will run through June 14 with shows at 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Summer season passes to attend all of the Point’s summer shows — “Quilters,” “Robin Hood,” June 20-July 5; “Disney’s High school Musical,” July 18-Aug. 2; and “Steel Magnolias,” Aug. 8-23 — are $40. The sale ends Sunday.

For reservations or more information, call the box office at 367-5121 or visit the web site at

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