A trio of one-act plays presented by Dominical Little Theatre marks the debuts of five new actors and three new directors. Dubbed “Three’s Company,” the four-night run of three very different plays proves once again how varied and exciting live theater can be.
All three new directors attended a six-week directors’ seminar conducted by Monica Perez, the major creative force behind Dominical Little Theatre (DLT) since its 2004 inception in the southern Pacific coast community. Perez, who grew up in a theatrical family in the U.S. state of Alaska, met with four aspiring directors once a week, then assigned them lots of homework, including many scripts to read. The seminar focused on three crucial aspects of directing, says Perez: choosing the right play, visualizing how to get that play “from the page to the stage,” and the nuts and bolts of making it actually happen.
Three new directors took up the challenge, and the results are fresh, original and, above all, entertaining.
First up is “American Saint,” by Adam LeFevre, a 25-minute play directed by Martín Lutz, a former Californian who says he got “bitten by the theater bug” and is “still under medication for the symptoms.” He chose this quasi-mystical story of a Roman Catholic priest – played by young Jesse Alan Chapman, already a veteran of many productions – searching for a reputedly saintly “Virgin of the Valley” in the U.S. state of Vermont, in the early 1900s. Donn Driver makes his debut as a salty ship’s captain and a wisecracking telegraph operator. An incandescent Rachelle Williams, making her stage debut at 13, plays the otherworldly ingenue with amazing aplomb and self-possession. Veteran actor Steve Fergus ably rounds out the cast.
Next up is “The Red Coat,” by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Lindsay Dreibelbis, a U.S. ex-pat from North Carolina. According to the program notes, this “thin slice of romantic interaction,” only 10 minutes long, struck a chord with Dreibelbis because, more than just a play about falling in love, it was also about “that dream of connection that ensnares us time and again.” The fallingin-love actors play it convincingly: Veteran thespian and singer Frank Witte and new to-the-stage Edith Aguilar just happen to be a real-life couple, too.
The third play, an hour long, is the main course of the evening: “Laundry and Bourbon,” by James McLure, directed by Jo Ann Rogers. A longtime resident of Dominical, Rogers has appeared onstage in past DLT productions. Her family boasts a long, if tenuous, theatrical tradition, she says in the program notes, and “being related to famous dead people” gave her the confidence to try her hand at directing.
Blood will out, as the bard says, and in this case Rogers hits a main artery, presenting a rollicking, bittersweet comedy about three very different women, set on a back porch in small-town 1960s Texas. From impressive set design to perfect casting, this is an unqualified hit.
Two of the play’s three actors make their stage debuts with this work. Saskia Rack captures the languid, sexy but intensely spiritual Elizabeth, trying to cope with a wildcat, errant husband. Linda Young, musical director of DLT’s first musical, “The Fantasticks,” reveals herself to be a natural comedienne, playing Hattie – a blowsy, brassy mother, wife and talker – to the hilt, delivering snappy one-liners with perfect timing and making a real character of a potential caricature. Accomplished actress Victoria Leamer skillfully plays Hattie’s old enemy, Amy Lee, given to snide gossip. (In true trouper tradition, Leamer is onstage only five weeks after giving birth to son Oz William.)
As usual, the plays are presented in the open-air lobby of the Roca Verde Hotel, generously donated by owner Michael Witte. This open space presents lots of challenges, but expert lighting by Ian McGeagh and thoughtful staging by the new directors create the necessary theatrical illusions.
Tonight is your last chance to catch these plays. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Tickets cost ¢5,000 and ¢10,000 ($9 and $18); call 2787-8007 or e-mail email@example.com. For more information, visit www.dominical.biz/theatre.n