Director’s Chair

“A Delicate Balance”

By Les Maurseth

I was asked to suggest a play I might be interested in directing.  I considered Aspirin and Elephants to be a success and was proud of everyone involved in that production. I hadn’t even thought about directing again, until I was asked, so I started looking for another play about LIFE – in theatrical terms, a drama.  It’s not easy to find a drama that fits our demographics, but I did.

Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has been performed hundreds of times with talented actors, many of whom we all know and enjoy.

Some think Albee’s plays and characters are too complex.  Some have said they are “dark”.  But that’s not the case.  The characters are real people with real problems – problems that most of us can relate to.  We will show them to you – the real people and the real problems.  We have had many spirited discussions about these interesting characters, what they have done and what they should have done.  I believe you will have similar spirited discussions once you have seen a performance – possibly even during intermission.

I want to dispel one aspect of the play that some waste time on – why are they there?  In the play, Harry and Edna show up at Agnes and Tobias’ home expecting to stay there, expecting to move in. The author’s script does not reveal the reason why they are there.  It doesn’t matter why they are there, but I know why.  I have read their words many times to figure them out, and I have read a medical article that describes their condition exactly – chronic loneliness.

“Studies show that chronic loneliness triggers an increase of stress hormones such as cortisol and the ‘fight or flight hormones.’  … It can disrupt sleep patterns, increase risk of suicide, precipitate depression, and even affect memory.  …  Older people suffer …  increased risk of heart disease …”

Harry speaks of his shortness of breath (heart) and both speak of being tired and frightened.  Clear symptoms of chronic loneliness, although they don’t know it.  So, the ‘fight or flight hormones’ cause them to flee their home and go to the only people they feel safe and comfortable with – their best (only?) friends of over 40 years

However, their presence threatens to upset A DELICATE BALANCE that Agnes and Tobias have crafted for themselves.  A balance that is already severely tested due to her live-in alcoholic sister (with a salacious past).  Then, daughter Julia returns home escaping her fourth failed marriage and it all becomes too much.  It unravels dramatically.

Will they be able to recover

A DELICATE BALANCE?

Well, with the able help of our Assistant Director Pam Solace, the very talented cast of Betsy Froderman, Sandra Dyke, Chelsea Cantrell, Kassie Walters, Brian Cantrell and I will show you.  (Yes, some of them are new to our stage, but I like bringing in new actors.  If you’d like to give it a try, let me know!  Anytime!)

Performances:

August 2, 3, and 9 at 7:00 PM

August 4, 10, and 11 at 2:30 PM

Tickets are available online at www.pinewoodplayers.com and at the Pinewood Playhouse Box Office on Saturdays from 10:00 am to noon. Tickets may also be purchased in the Pinewood Country Club lobby on Fridays from 5:00 to 6:30 pm. Need assistance to purchase tickets? Call our Ticket Hotline at (928) 300-0481.

“Cahoots”

A Play by Richard Johnston, Directed by Frank Hess

A Pinewood Players Production

By Frank Hess

“Cahoots” is a comedy/drama in two acts revealing the complicated relationship between two couples and the unfortunate consequences that can ensue when common decency is abandoned. “Cahoots” requires a stellar cast and I was fortunate to assemble five actors and actresses who more than fulfil this need. An over-sized Caribbean pepper mill also plays a significant role.

Tom Harris plays Ken Miller, a semi-successful architect. Ken is a likeable guy with perhaps a bit too much of a temper. Tom had leading roles in “The Gazebo” and “Dear Ruth” and played Sam Spade in Readers Theater.

Will Ken’s grand designs ever get built?

Ken is married to Jan, a former actress now reduced to the occasional commercial. Jan is bored with her current status but she has a big secret which is gradually revealed as the plot gels. Jan is played by Elyse Webber who had a leading role in “Aspirins and Elephants” last season and has also acted in Readers Theater.

Is Jan trying to spice up her marriage?

The Millers have invited their friends, the Shields, over for a rare meal together before they are all due at a Crime Busters block association meeting.  Lois Shields has been best friends with Jan for many years, whereas her husband Al has been in an adversarial “friendship” with Ken for 13 years. Lois is played by Jayne Heckman who had memorable roles in both “Southern Fried Funeral” and “The Crazy Quilt Club.”

Is there any hope Ken and Al can work out their differences?

Al, who is overly obsessive about the crime problem in New York City is scheduled to give the presentation at the meeting after a pleasant meal prepared by Jan. Al is played by Scott Sustman, who had leading roles in the last five plays on the Pinewood Playhouse stage as well as appearing in Readers Theater.

Does Al also have a big, dark secret?

The evening does not go as planned. Bad things happen and the future looks dim for all four participants. A conspiracy develops, with a frantic effort to make the best of a bad situation. No such luck!

The evening is further spoiled by the unexpected appearance of a new Trump building security guard. Do you remember Kathy Vogt in the food fight scene of “Southern Fried Funeral” last season? Well, here she is again causing more mayhem!

I have directed three plays previously for Pinewood Players, the last one being “The Gazebo.” All three were murder mysteries. There’s no mystery in “Cahoots” but a totally unexpected event occurs and as the plot unravels several of the characters are in “cahoots”.

“Cahoots” is produced by Tricia Hess. She has been active behind the scenes in many capacities in 14 productions for Pinewood Players.

Don’t miss “Cahoots!” Get your tickets now! Tickets are available online at www.pineswoodplayers.com, at the Pinewood Playhouse Box Office every Saturday from 10:00 am to noon and in the Pinewood Country Club lobby every Wednesday from 4:00 to 5:30 pm.

Southern Fried Funeral

Southern Fried Fun for the Whole Family!

 By Linda Sustman

This comedy, full of family intrigue, is set in a small Mississippi town. The play’s action takes place over several days when family and friends gather after Dewey Frye has dropped dead telling a joke at the Rotarian’s meeting. His widow, Dorothy, is faced with the realities of widowhood and a crazy assemblage of southern personalities.

The characters are as colorfully wacky as you’d find in any southern neighborhood and the relationships are as richly diverse. Dorothy played by Marsha Propps is a veteran actress. She uses her skills to bring this strong southern woman to life. She is the mother of three children.  Jayne Heckman returns to the stage doing a brilliant job as Harlene, the black sheep daughter who ran off to Dallas at the first opportunity. After 10 years Harlene returns to the annoyance of her sister Sammy Jo. This daughter personifies perfection in everything she does. Portrayed by Sandy Dyke, she makes you believe she is the epitome of a true southern belle. Dewey Jr., aka “Dew Drop”, who’s daft in a sweetly weird way is played by Brian Cantrell. This is Brian’s second play of the season. He does a fine job in both!

Adding to the equation is Dub Frye, the late Dewey’s dastardly brother, with just the right blend of condescension and smarmy Southern charm. Played by Les Maurseth who rejoins the acting ranks after directing Pinewood Player’s first play of the season. The cast also includes Atticus Van Leer, the Frye family’s consigliere (that’s “lawyer” for all you hicks out there). Scott Sustman plays this role as only a veteran actor can!  This is Scott’s second play of the season.  Sammy Jo’s husband is Beecham, who loves her even though she’s overbearing and bossy. Gene Propps is excellent in this role.  He has appeared in several Pinewood plays. Martha Ann is the widow’s best friend who is caring but a bit snarky at times. Returning to the stage, is Barbara Maurseth. She really does a fine job with this role!  New to Pinewood Player’s is Kathy Vogt. She plays the part of Ozella, the overzealous chairman of the “Son Shine” Committee at the church! Kathy is excellent in this role even if she might have stolen a pair of candlesticks from a prior funeral. Fairy June is another contemporary of the widow Dorothy. This part calls for Sandy Kyle to act the part of a ditsy friend. Sandy will have you believing she is that character! Bob Flach is another newcomer to the stage. As Benny Charles, he plays the best friend of the deceased. Bob does a great job as he tries to keep a steady head while keeping his toupee on!

Southern Fried Funeral is genuinely funny while delving into a cast of characters that offer a view into Southern manners, traditions and family dynamics at their best and worst. Bless their lil’ hearts!

Performances Friday/Saturday August 3, 4, 10, 11 Curtain at 7 PM & Sunday Aug 5 & 12 at 2:30 PM.

Order Tickets at: www.pinewoodplayers.com Or Call  928 300-0481

Aspirin & Elephants

 A Play About … LIFE

by Les Maurseth

Pinewood Players has presented many excellent plays of various kinds – from musicals to farces.  They were all good plays, good entertainment, and fun to perform in.

For my directorial debut, I went searching for a play about real life.  I wanted a play that all of you could relate to, enjoy and talk about long after seeing a performance.  After all, we put on plays for the community and beyond to enjoy, and we want you to keep coming back.

It was not an easy task.  There are many more musicals, farces, and far-out comedies to choose from than plays about real life.  But, I persisted.  Found some that were beautiful life stories but the characters didn’t fit the demographics here.  Finally found a play that fit.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was close.  I read it several times.  Before I could order it, and by pure happenstance, I came across Aspirin & Elephants.  It is about … LIFE.  I knew immediately it was what I was looking for.  Isn’t it funny how that sort of thing happens sometimes in … LIFE?

This play is the story of a upper middle class husband and wife who take their two daughters and their husbands on a cruise in the Baltic Sea.  He is recovering from a heart attack; she is doting on him to help him recover.  He has to take an aspirin a day and periodically his chest feels like an elephant is tap dancing on it – hence the name of the play Aspirin & Elephants.

Dad is like a lion with a thorn in his paw, and Mom keeps trying to pull it out.  Their daughters have their own issues with their lives, their husbands, and their concern for their father.  As they all deal with their issues (all enhanced by the close quarters), two primary things appear – emotion and humor.

This play will show you how they navigate life on this cruise.  This is an enjoyable story about … LIFE.  Everybody will relate to at least one issue presented, some many.  You’ll have to attend to see which/how many you relate to.  But, you will enjoy it no matter how many.  After all, it’s about … LIFE and we all enjoy that!

Come along with us on our cruise, onboard the Royal Norway in the Baltic Sea.  Your seat will provide you with a view into three different staterooms and the lives of the couple that resides in each.  You will see each couple, and the family, deal with life issues – financial, sex, love, marriage, social issues, jealousy, dislike, etc.  Watching them deal with all those issues will keep you laughing, even after you begin to feel the emotion.

Cast:

Joe Burton                    Gina Burton

Brian Cantrell              Elyse Webber

Scott Sustman              Terry Brown

Order tickets online at www.pinewoodplayers.com

or call 928-300-0481

Performance dates: June 15, 16, 22, & 23 at 7 PM and June 17 & 24 at 2:30 PM

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