OUR NEWEST TITLE - Michael Bigelow Dixon
EVIL GENIUS: Monsters on Stage - $17.95 - ISBN 9781575259048
To Order: Call Toll Free - 877-668-8680 ... See MoreSee Less
from Corvallis Gazette-Times - August 18, 2016
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
PATRICK FANCHER The E Updated Aug 18, 2016 0
People say the kitchen is the heart of the home. Sarah Sheldrick certainly agrees, which is why she chose it as the setting for her production of Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."
Sheldrick said the play "usually takes place in the living room, but I felt like, because it's about family and the home, the kitchen is where things get going."
The director handed a pencil sketch, her "wish list," to set designer Arland Ziegler and crew. The concept was of a late 1950s farmhouse kitchen belonging to an upper-middle-class family in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Three months later that vision of a functioning kitchen is alive on stage at the Majestic Theatre just in time for Friday night's debut performance.
John Doty, who built much of the set, donated real cabinets and appliances, and equipped the kitchen with running water.
"For the most part, the house and appliances are original to the era, and there are some newer elements involved," Ziegler said. "There is crown molding at the top of the walls, small accouterments to step it up a little bit."
The kitchen also includes modern furniture, not to mention a microwave and coffee maker that will be used onstage.
"To do a kitchen is a huge request, and it takes a lot of inspired people coming in to help with that," Sheldrick said.
The production will be the first to use lighting upgrades the Majestic recently added through a grant.
Ziegler, who is the theater systems designer for most productions, called the new lights "a major game changer for the set crew. I'd say it puts us on par with the five best theaters in the state as far as quality goes."
Lighting effects will illuminate the kitchen windows and more. "They give us the capability to simulate cars pulling in and out (of the driveway), the sun and moon rising and rainstorms without having to change out the lights and use a whole bunch of electricity," he said.
Durang's Tony Award-winning comedy centers on three siblings, Vanya, Sonia and Masha. The three are named after characters created by Anton Chekhov, and various references are made to the famed Russian playwright throughout the performance.
Middle-aged Vanya (Rus Roberts) and Sonia (Johanna Spencer) live at their parent's house and have never left. The two put their hopes and dreams on hold to care for their aging parents.
Masha (Mishele Mennett) is the successful sister. She moved to Hollywood and made millions as an actress. She owns the house and has long supported the family, but her career has taken a hit. Masha returns home with her boy toy, Spike (Rory McDaniel), to announce her intention to sell the house.
The cast is rounded out by Melvyn Manapsal as Nina, a young fan of the famous actors, especially Spike, and Cassandra the maid (Vreneli Farber). In this production, Cassandra has a more involved role as a Greek chorus observing and judging the action on stage, Sheldrick said.
Sibling rivalries ensue between these exaggerated characters, with a lot of physical and high comedy, especially in the first act, she said.
Durang's play is frequently performed, but Sheldrick said this production is as unique as the custom kitchen that the crew has built for it. The production also will feature "live" tweets from Spike.
"This won't be like any version of 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike' I've ever heard of before," Sheldrick said. "We're exploring the different sensory ways the audience can be involved with the show." ... See MoreSee Less