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June 30, 2005
Behind the Stage Door

Laugh by laugh toward Niagra Falls


[sea captain and woman in barrel]REDWOOD CURTAIN HAS ANOTHER surefire hit on its hands in Wonder of the World, a fast-paced comedy of manners, or lack thereof, by David Lindsay-Abaire.

Vivacious Cass (Lexy Cann) is married to apparently boring Kip (James Hitchcock), who hides a secret too humorously dreadful to repeat. Cass flees by bus to Niagara Falls, where she meets Lois (Carrie Hudson), also leaving a failed marriage for more ordinary reasons. Cass has a list of things she's always wanted to do and adopts Lois as her sidekick.

Meanwhile, Kip is bereft and hires private detectives (Susan Abbey and Lincoln Mitchell) to find Cass, which they do right after she beds Captain Mike (Brad Curtis). TinaMarie Ivey plays six more characters including three waitresses simultaneously and a tourist helicopter pilot who is secretly afraid of heights. In fact, the whole play is about secrets held and secrets revealed.

The accomplished cast director Cassandra Hesseltine and designers, including Daniel Nyiri (set), Jon Turney (sound), Greta Welsh (lights) and Catherine Brown (costumes) brings the sights and sounds of one of America's tackiest attractions to Redwood Curtain. If you are unoffended by plain thinking, outspoken silliness, relationship truths, smatterings of adult language and very adult concepts, don't miss it. Wonder of the World continues Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until Saturday, July 16, at 8 p.m., with a matinée on Sunday, July 10, at 2 p.m. Visit or call 443-7688 for more information and reservations. Redwood Curtain is located in the Eureka Mall, on the Henderson side of 800 Harris, Eureka.


Dell'Arte is to be congratulated on itssuccessful Ensemble Theater Festival. More than 200 participants and locals watched a staggering lineup of performances.

Kicking off the festival, a repeat performance of The Golden State, Dell'Arte's adaptation of Molière's classic The Miser, provided a piercing look at American materialism and unbalanced family dynamics. Mother (the brilliant Joan Schirle) is the miser, removing light bulbs and gypping the maids while amassing millions of dollars in cash in her bra. Her son Cubby (Tyler Olsen) and daughter Sylvia (Barbara Geary) are profoundly affected in quite different ways. This dysfunctional family is enabled, challenged, loved and observed by two maids, the haughty but practical Russian (Keight Gleason) and an illegal alien from Canada (Jacqueline Dandeneau), as well as a Chilean gardener (David Escobedo) and Federico (Aaron T. Cunningham), simultaneously Cubby's gay lover and Mother's flexible fiancé. All is made clear when Mother's old friend Bunny Schimpf (Donald Forrest) appears in the smoky haze of wildfires burning toward The Miser's multimillion dollar southern California spread. You'll laugh, you'll cry and when it's over, you'll think about it for days on end. Next time I tell you "Golden State is coming back," make a reservation. You'll enjoy every moment of this sparkling and intelligent performance.

Less than a week later, the San Francisco Mime Troupe's newest show premiered. Doing Good is the story of two globe-trotting American expatriates. Beginning with their school days during the Vietnam War, the story follows James (Noah James Butler), Molly (Lisa Hori-Garcia) and her Uncle Ray (Michael Gene Sullivan) as their parallel careers in industry, social work and the CIA take them from South America to Asia and the Middle East. The rest of the cast plays a dizzying array of characters: bartenders and secret agents (Michael Carrero), corrupt officials and street performers (Brian Rivera), mullahs and peasants (Christian Cagigal), and hookers and madonnas (Keiko Shimosato). This twirling world tour is accompanied by a virtuoso trio: Jason Ditzlan, Pat Moran and Doug Port, who play just about every instrument ever invented. It will be interesting to see this piece again as SFMT performances evolve in response to audience feedback and the ever-developing understanding of their artistic collective. Some of the rough edges will smooth as the piece plays nearly every day this summer in the Bay Area. I hope one of the changes is that the band members change hats as well as instruments. They are such an integral part of the performance that to leave them in T-shirts and tractor caps for the whole show shortchanges their role and contributions to the feel and mood of the piece. Don't miss it if you have the chance. It's daring and disturbing in a very personal way.


Dell'Arte's 2005 Mad River Festival continues with NaCl Theatre's Confessions of Punch and Judy. Based on the classic children's puppet stories, the title characters engage and collide physically and emotionally. After hundreds of years of fighting it out, Punch and Judy's battles reveal the humor and the absurdity of long-term relationships. See it at the Carlo Theatre in Blue Lake, Thursday, June 30, to Sunday, July 3, at 8 p.m. Call 668-5663 or visit for tickets and more information.

The Ferndale Repertory Theatre's "Patriotic July 4th" begins with an old-fashioned parade down Main Street at noon, followed by a picnic on the Town Green and a patriotic salute in the theater at 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome in the parade. Call 786-5483 for more information and reservations for parade slots and the performance.



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