The Finger Wins 1st Place Honors at 28th Fringe of Marin Award Ceremony Ross Valley Players' Heartfelt "Mockingbird" Mystery, Murder and Mischief in Fall 2011 Fringe of Marin Program One
With grateful thanks to Dr. Annette Lust, Artistic Director and Festival Coordinator, the Dominican University Community Players and the Fringe of Marin just celebrated their 28th anniversary season.
Bay Area Theatre Critic's Awards for Best Play, Director and Actors were announced Sunday, November 20 at Meadowlands Assembly Hall at Dominican University.
The first awards presented were for Best Play. The pride of 1st Place went to The Finger by Kenneth J. Nugent. There was a 2nd Place tie between Who Is Who? by Bill Chessman and Lovebirds by Rod McFadden. 3rd Place honors went to The Psychic by Joseph J. O'Loughlin. There was a 4th Place tie between Stay with Me by Justine Kaltenbach and A [Tail] Tale of Two Dogs by Steve North.
Next up were the awards for Best Director. Bill Chessman won 1st Place for Who is Who? There was a 2nd Place tie between Tim Giugni for The Finger and Carol Eggers for Lovebirds. Tracy Ward won 3rd Place for Stay with Me and Suzanne Birrell won 4th Place for Saturday In the Park with Vic. Nominations for Best Director went to Crystal Nezgoda for Louisville and Michael Belitsos for Why We Travel; A Magical Mystery Tour.
Rick Roitinger won 1st Place as Best Actor for Louisville, The Psychic, Lovebirds and The Finger. 2nd Place honors went to C. Conrad Cady for Who Is Who?, Louisville and Can One Make Love Wrapped Up In the French Flag? Lonnie Haley won 3rd Place for Stay with Me and Burt Lampert won 4th Place honors for No Kidding, the Meaning of Life! Special nominations went to Tyler Costin for Stay with Me and Keshuv Prasad for No Kidding, the Meaning of Life!
The last of the Critic's Awards were for Best Actress. Claudia Rosa won 1st Place for Lovebirds and The Finger. Diane Rodigues won 2nd Place for It Don't Have to Hurt. 3rd Place honors went to Maureen Coyne for Waiting to Go and there was a tie for 4th Place between Patricia Inabnet for Who Is Who and Crystal Nezgoda for Can One Make Love Wrapped Up In the French Flag? For the 9th consecutive time, the Audience Awards took place. Here are the results. Stay with Me by Justine Kaltenbach won Best Play. No Kidding, the Meaning of Life! by George Dykstra won 2nd Place and Lovebirds by Rod McFadden came in 3rd Place. 4th Place honors went to It Don't Have to Hurt by Susan Little. 5th Place for Best Play went to The Finger by Kenneth J. Nugent. 6th Place went to Saturday In the Park with Vic by Suzanne Birrell, 7th Place to The Psychic by Joseph J. O'Loughlin. There was a tie for 8th Place between Louisville by Joe Amato and Waiting to Go by Michael Ferguson. There was also a 9th Place tie between Why We Travel: A Magical Mystery Tour by Michael Belitsos and Who Is Who? by Bill Chessman. There was another tie for 10th Place between A [Tail] Tale for of Two Dogs by Steve North and The Perfect Step by Melinda E. Lopez, David Moltzen and G. Randy Kasten. 11th Place went to Can One Make Love Wrapped Up In the French Flag?by Benoit Vitse.
Tracy Ward won 1st Place as Best Director for Stay with Me. Susan Little won 2nd Place honors for It Don't Have to Hurt. Suzanne Birrell, for Saturday In the Park with Vic and George Dykstra for No Kidding, the Meaning of Life tied for 3rd Place as Best Director. Carol Eggers won 4th Place as Best Director for Lovebirds. There was a 5th Place tie between Crystal Nezgoda for Louisville and Tim Giugni for The Finger. There was also a 6th Place tie between Michael Ferguson for Waiting to Go and Steve North for A [Tail] Tale of Two Dogs. There was a 3-way tie for 7th Place for Best Director between Bill Chessman for Who Is Who?, Jim Colgan for Can One Make Love Wrapped Up In the French Flag? and Melinda Lopez, David Moltzen and G. Randy Kasten for The Perfect Step. Michael Belitsos won 8th Place as Best Director for Why We Travel: A Magical Mystery Tour.
Rick Roitinger again won the Audience Award for Best Actor for Louisville, The Psychic, Lovebirds and The Finger. C. Conrad Cady won 2nd Place as Best Actor for Who Is Who?, Louisville and Can One Make Love Wrapped Up In the French Flag? There was a 3rd Place tie for Best Actor between Lonnie Haley for Stay with Me and Burl Lampert for No Kidding: the Meaning of Life! Tyler Costin won 4th Place as Best Actor for Stay with Me. 5th Place went to Tyler Hewitt for Saturday In the Park with Vic. There was 3-way tie for 6th Place for Best Actor between Gifford Teeple for The Perfect Step, David Moltzen for The Perfect Step and Jeffrey Orth for The Psychic. There was another 3-way tie for 7th Place between Michael Belitsos for Why We Travel: A Magical Mystery Tour; Alan Badger for Waiting to Go and Steve North for A [Tail] Tale of Two Dogs.
Diane Rodrigues won 1st Place as Best Actress for It Don't Have to Hurt. Claudia Rosa won 2nd Place for Lovebirds and the Finger; and Flora Lynn Isaacson came in 3rd Place as Best Actress for Saturday In the Park with Vic. Maureen Coyne won 4th Place for Saturday In the Park with Vic and Waiting to Go. There was a 5th Place tie for Best Actress between Crystal Nezgoda for Can One Make Love Wrapped Up In the French Flag? and Paula Suyehiro for The Perfect Step. There was also a 6th Place tie for Best Actress between Suzan Lorraine for Who Is Who and Judi Rich for The Perfect Step.
Bravo to Dr. Annette Lust for maintaining the Fringe of Marin for 28 seasons.
Flora Lynn Isaacson
Brigid O'Brien, Steve Price and Katrina Horsey in
To Kill a Mockingbird at Ross Valley Players
The powerful and yet sensitive stage version of the great American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird opened Friday, November 11, 2011 at Ross Valley Players. This is an outstanding production from the marvelous casting, to the brilliant staging by James Dunn, the wonderful set and the time perfect costumes.
To Kill a Mockingbird was born as a book by Harper Lee which won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1960. Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for the 1962 film adaptation. It is important to note, particularly for the fans of the movie, the stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel (1970) more closely follows the book.
Veteran Actress and Director Mary Ann Rodgers plays Jean Louise Finch (or Scout) who is the narrator of the story and we witness all of the events through her eyes. She is onstage all the time either speaking to the audience, listening or observing. She looks back on her life as Scout during the summer of 1935 in Maycomb, Alabama.
On Saturday night, November 12 when this play was reviewed, the young Scout was played by Katrina Horsey who is alternating with Brigid O'Brien who played Scout on opening night. Katrina Horsey's Scout was both focused and chipper. Scout Finch lives with her brother, Jem (sensitively portrayed by Gerrit deBlaauw) and their widowed father, Atticus (portrayed by Steve Price in an amazing performance). Atticus is a prominent lawyer and the Finch family is reasonably well off as compared to the rest of society. One summer, Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill (played by Layne Ulrich in an excellent performance).
Atticus is a lawyer who has been assigned by Judge Taylor (played with appropriate authority by Alex Ross) to defend a young black man, Tom Robinson (in a moving performance by Wendell H. Wilson), who has been accused of beating and raping a white woman (a hysterical Melissa Bailey). This is the pre-integration South, a time when black people had few rights. In Tom's trial, for instance, the Sheriff, Heck Tate (played by Ray Martin) constantly calls Tom "boy" even though he's a married man with three children and a steady job. Atticus, on the other hand, treats Tom with respect. In his impassioned final speech to the jury, Atticus stresses that an unbiased court system is the very foundation of American society and that every person is entitled to a fair trial. Outstanding performances are given by Frederick Lein as the scurrilous Bob Ewell, father of the girl who accuses Tom, Anne Ripley as Mrs. Dubose, the crabby neighbor, Wood Lockhart as the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Gilmer, Sumi Narendran who plays Calpurnia, the Finch's housekeeper with care and apprehension, and Jeffrey Taylor as Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor.
Director James Dunn has put together an excellent show. The first act is mostly exposition and introduction of characters. The performance moves quickly leading up to the famous court room scene in the second act. In Mr. Dunn's capable hands, the play, at all times, lives up to its potential with good pacing and tense delivery.
The real star of the show is Atticus Finch, the father and lawyer whose high morals set him apart from the rest. Steve Price's Atticus was so natural, he did not seem to be acting.
David Apple has created a wonderful set and Michael A. Berg's costumes fit perfectly in the Depression era. To Kill a Mockingbird continues at Ross Valley Players through December 11, 2011. Thursday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. (no performance on Thanksgiving).
Ross Valley Players Barn Theatre is located at Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross, CA.
For reservations, call 415-456-9555 or go online for further information at www.rossvalleyplayers.com
Flora Lynn Isaacson
Dr. Annette Lust
Thanks to the inspiration and leadership of Dr. Annette Lust, the Fringe of Marin Festival is now in its 28th season. Program One opened Friday, November 4 with seven new plays.
The opening play was "Who Is Who," an exhilarating mystery comedy written and directed by Bill Chessman. This play is about wealthy British people pretending to be someone else. Outstanding performances are given by Jim Colgan as a perfect butler, and C. Conrad Cady as Inspector Nigel Cork from Scotland Yard. The theme of this play is that things are seldom what they seem. This play was followed by "Louisville," by Joe Amata and directed by Crystal Nezgoda and stars C. Conrad Cady as Ralph and Rick Roitinger as Louis. The direction builds in suspense in this dramatic encounter between these two men. In this play a burglar is set up to be a killer and is discovered by a "supposed" home-owner. There is a surprise ending. Michael Belitsos, a retired advertising executive turned magician presented "Why We Travel: A Magical Mystery Tour," next. His definition of travel is a lot like magic and includes both discovery and revelation. We want to find ourselves and lose ourselves. Mr. Belitsos contrasts the attitude of travelers with the attitude of tourists. His highlight was his trip to the Amazon jungle teaming with exotic wildlife and splendor and being a magician, he makes magic before our very eyes.
The first half of the program before intermission concluded with Joseph O'Loughlin's "The Psychic," directed by Keshuv Prasad. In this play, the psychic played by Rick Roitinger is a t.v. personality who seeks counseling from a priest played by Jeffrey Orth. The play starts off timely and builds into an unexpected climax of tragedy, horror and controversy.
The second half of the program opened with "Stay with Me," by Justine Kaltenbach with music by Sanna Salmenkalio and directed by Tracy Ward. This is a drama about a "possible" gay young man, Ernst (sensitively played by Tyler Costin), who seeks suicide counseling from Lucious, understandingly played by Lonnie Haley. Both actors give fine performances but need more projection.
The next play was an amazing solo performance, "It Don't Have to Hurt," written and directed by Susan Little. Diane Rodrigues plays Iris with excellent comic timing. The grand finale of the evening was "Can One Make Love Wrapped Up in the French Flag?" James Colgan directs this sexy French farce written by Benoit Vitse, a Romanian living in Paris which is translated into English. This charming play involves an amorous couple delightfully played by C. Conrad Cady and Crystal Nezgoda who wonder if they will be punished by French law for wrapping themselves in the "drapeau tricolore."
A memorable outcome of the Fringe of Marin is to discover fresh voices and to bring in the community to participate either as an artist or spectator. Program One continues Saturday, November 12 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 13 at 2 p.m.
All performances take place at Meadowlands Assembly Hall, Dominican University, 50 Acacia Avenue (at Grand Ave.), San Rafael, CA. For reservations and information, call 415-673-3131.
Flora Lynn Isaacson