BACKSTAGE BYTES – Marie J. Kilker, Ph.D. – Winter 2019

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UNITED ONCE MORE AT ASOLO REP, David Breitbarth is happy to be performing on its Mertz  stage with wife Kate Hampton.  They’re actually starring as man and wife (but fictionally they’re estranged)  in DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2, but each work separately in another Asolo Rep play. David’s in THE CRUCIBLE and Kate’s in NOISES OFF.  DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2 is the third play I am reviewing of follow-ups on Ibsen’s original A DOLL’S HOUSE.  The last was NORA, a play I saw two years ago in Belgrade, Serbia as part of an international play festival. It seems current dramatists just can’t keep the ex-doll Nora and her husband Torvald separate.  At Asolo Rep, it’s worth seeing how she’s fared after famously slamming their house door on her way away from him.

CAROLYN MICHEL revealed that next summer she will be playing the same roll as Kate Hampton plays at Asolo Rep in DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2.  But Carolyn will be doing so in New Hampshire, with husband Howard Millman at her side, not playing opposite her.  I learned this while congratulating Carolyn on her foreign film award for acting and Howard on being recognized for his contribution to beginnings of and then saving Asolo Rep and helping it in its new programming direction. The couple has every reason to be beaming over past and continuing accomplishments.

TIM MOONEY, who’s successfully appeared often at Venice Theatre with his monodramas, writes that he’s scheduled to be in Orlando and Tampa with his new Shakespeare show.  But the big news is that he’s formed a Tim Mooney Repertory Theatre “Patreon Page” on his website: www.patreon.com/timmooneyrep. To be a regular patron at $9 a month, you get special mailed offerings and entry into a monthly drawing.  The drawing gets you a free “living room performance” by Tim Mooney from his repertory.  You also get special admission to any performance he does in your area or place you can get to easily to visit or his Chicagoland home base. So, Mooney fans, do check this out.

BRENDAN REGAN seems busier than ever, being a MainStage director for Asolo Rep this season in addition to his major position at Urbanite.  Have you also seen him doing a TV commercial for a medicine that reverses the power of an opiate that’s been digested?

SPEAKING OF URBANITE, I met up at FST recently with Harry Lipstein, one of its founders, who greeted me warmly. He did not know of my expulsion from that theater as a critic, although its representative said the decision was from all staff.  So the lie that I disturbed a performance of BO-NITA is compounded by a lie about my not being welcome by anyone on staff as a critic at Urbanite.  Harry, in fact, has said I’d be welcome to review at his new venture, Denizen Theatre, in New Paltz, NY.  He, unlike Urbanite’s other staff, seems to think critics are of value when they make comments that help elevate performances and point out when scripts and productions fall short (as I did, but not for BO-NITA).

CATCHING UP WITH AMBER IKEMAN, once a musical star at Booker Performing Arts High School, means finding her in Montana. Fulfilling a longtime ambition, she’s now a cantor!  Thanks to her dad, I have her latest CD as a professional showperson: made last year and entitled RISE.  All the songs, mainly with a Western-lyrical flavor, are written by Amber, who appears singing in a beautiful wild setting.  Amber earlier also made FREE, a CD  recorded in Bozeman, MT, for which she supplied vocals, guitar, and piano.  Her producer and co-performer on each CD is Chris Cunningham.  You can experience the pretty Amber’s work by ordering Amber Ikeman’s recordings at amazon.com.

ON A HOLIDAYS CRUISE on Holland American’s Veendam, I found the major entertainment wanting as usual with such shows. However, there were a fine classical violinist and pianist I was able to catch a few times after early dinner.  Mainly, though, I enjoyed later at night a musician named Don Alexander, who worked a keyboard and sang, justifying his slogan “Live music at its best.”  I talked to him about his heavy task of also doing all of his sound and light system, and he said he also did his arrangements.  He free lances both song writing and arranging, so if you need same, he can be reached at www.DonAlexanderMusic.com or (702)743-6240.

GOOD TO SEE IRENE HERMAN healed from getting rid of her last cancer.  She’s involved in performance of poetry at Senior Citizens Center.  I wish someone would take up the work of the late Justin Spring in using poetry as therapeutic.

ANGELA SAUER, 2011 graduate of FSU/Asolo Conservatory, played the leading role of Li’l Bit in HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE at Coachella Valley Rep in Rancho Mirage, CA at the end of 2018.  She’s done a variety of TV episodes and acted on tour for Theatre Dybbuk. Angela has agents in both New York and California now.  While a student, she became known for documenting in Backstage Magazine her learning and the roles she played as an MFA aspirant.

AN FSU/ASOLO CONSERVATORY grad who often returns to the area since her 2012 graduation, Katie Cunningham most recently was seen at American Stage in St. Petersburg. I reviewed her performance in MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY for totaltheater.com/criticopia.  I believe she’s back in NY now.

STEVEN BARGONETTI, my nephew who’s lead guitarist for THE CHER SHOW on Broadway, reports that audiences are very appreciative.  Check it out if you get to NYC.

WHILE DISPOSING OF MY OWN AND INHERITED LIBRARIES in gifts to schools and museums, I came across this funny little, very old contribution in STAGE JOKES AND STORIES. I think it’s the perfect answer to a heckler.  It’s under the title PROMPTLY ACCEPTED and says:  Barry Sullivan, the Irish tragedian, was playing in “Richard III” some years ago at the Shrewsbury.  When the actor came to the lines, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” some one in the pit called out,“Wouldn’t a donkey do, Mr. Sullivan?” “Yes,” responded the tragedian, turning quickly on the interrupter. “Please come around to the stage door.”

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