Category Archives: comedy

Caught in the acting —  Triumvirate stages one-act comedies

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Unicorn (Eli Graham) and a fantastical creature (Sandy Weeks) debate whether they’re going to board Noah’s arc in “The Chance of a Lifetime.”

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Unicorn (Eli Graham) and a fantastical creature (Sandy Weeks) debate whether they’re going to board Noah’s ark in “The Chance of a Lifetime.”

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Sandy Weeks is exhibiting the first signs of the contagious condition — the itch of excitement, uncontrollable bursts of laughter, bouts of dramatic pauses and restless gesture syndrome.

Yvette Tappana succumbed many years ago and now has such a full-blown case that she can’t stand to go long without treatment.

The bug? Acting. The treatment? Community theater, of which there will be an offering — “Scenes to See,” a presentation of one-act comedies from Triumvirate Theatre — this weekend and next in Soldotna.

“I was going through stage withdrawals, straight up. I was starting to shake. You can only talk to yourself in front of the mirror so often before you realize the audience of one sucks,” she said.

Weeks and her family are new to the area, and she decided to audition as an activity she could do with her teenage daughter. Her daughter ended up having scheduling conflicts and couldn’t participate, but by then she was hooked. Now she finds herself squabbling with her

Dog (Nicole Egholm) celebrates treeing Bear (Natalie Tucker) in “Duet for Bear and Dog.”

Dog (Nicole Egholm) celebrates treeing Bear (Natalie Tucker) in “Duet for Bear and Dog.”

husband about an unattended bag — among other things — at the airport in “Baggage Unattended,” by Eric Coble, directed by Sally Cassano-Archuleta. She’s also an ill-fated, fantastical beast in a fable of Noah’s ark, “The Chance of a Lifetime, Or How the Unicorn Lost His Spot,” by H. Michael Krawitz, directed by Terri Burdick.

“I chose it because it’s humorous and because it said, ‘A cartoon for the theater,’ and that just caught my funny bone,” Burdick said.

Burdick herself is performing in “A Duet for Bear and Dog,” written by Sybil Rosen, directed by Laura Forbes, about a bear treed by an unlikely dog in New York City, debating the merits of domestication versus remaining wild.

A wildlife safety officer (Tim Tucker) describes how he’s going to relocate Bear (Natalie Tucker) out of an urban park and back to the wilderness.

A wildlife safety officer (Tim Tucker) describes how he’s going to relocate Bear (Natalie Tucker) out of an urban park and back to the wilderness.

Marc Berezin is another pulling double duty, playing Noah in “The Chance of a Lifetime,” and the beleaguered husband in “Baggage Unattended.”

It’s addiction, yes, in that they find it hard to resist, but the one-act format means participation really doesn’t impose negatively upon their lives.

“We’ve been doing 10-minute plays for many years now and they’re always fun. The commitment isn’t too demanding, they’re just short little, generally humorous pieces, although they can be dramas. But it’s fun being in them, and directing a few,” Berezin said, as he’s directed in the past. “I’m just happy there were some parts for an old immature man.”

This versatile format offers opportunities for the mature and less so, in age or behavior. It’s a great introduction to theater for newcomers, and a way for veterans to stay involved without having it consume all their spare time.

“It’s a good opportunity for someone wanting to get into theater locally or theater in general. It’s a great way to get people in without feeling like they’re overly committed and scared, to kind of test their theater wings,” Tappana said.

It’s also an opportunity for audiences to get a variety of shows in one sitting.

“They’re always a lot of fun,” Berezin said.

“Scenes to See” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 9, 10, 16 and 17 at Triumvirate Threatre at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. Tickets are $15, available in advance at River City Books in Soldotna, or at the door. The show includes performances by Berezin, Ken Duff, Nicole Egholm, Eli Graham, Kate Schwarzer, Donna Shirnberg, Tappana, Natalie Tucker, Tim Tucker and Weeks, as well as “Ledge, Ledger and the Legend,” by Paul Elliott, directed by Ann Shirnberg.

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Friendly fights — ‘Odd Couple’ is regular riot

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Felix (Jamie Nelson, left) gets up the nerve to speak his mind to Oscar (Ian McEwen, right), in one of the many fights the poorly matched friends have after attempting to coexist as roommates.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Felix (Jamie Nelson, left) gets up the nerve to speak his mind to Oscar (Ian McEwen, right), in one of the many fights the poorly matched friends have after attempting to coexist as roommates.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

An odd couple. It’s such a common phrase that one need not have ever seen the Neil Simon play and subsequent takeoffs to be familiar with the reference to a buttoned-up, mannerly, meticulously scheduled, order-obsessed neat freak and the fun-loving, gregarious, unkempt, devil-may-care extrovert best friends, who nevertheless spend much of their time wanting to maim each other.

It takes some serious staying power to be so well known as to coin a stereotype of a relationship dynamic that’s still familiar nearly 50 years since the play debuted on Broadway. And Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar have just that, as evidenced by a production of the “Odd Couple” staged this week at Triumvirate Theatre in Soldotna.

odd couple ladelNeither Ian McEwen, playing Oscar, nor Jamie Nelson, playing Felix, had seen the play or the entire subsequent movie, but both were familiar with its classic characters.

But they wondered if the script could live up to the fame, or if it was more the magic of the actors who popularized the show — Walter Matthau and Art Carney in its Broadway debut, Matthau and Jack Lemmon in the movie, and Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in the Broadway revival.

Turns out that the acclaim for the script is no oddity — it’s every bit deserved.

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With a little help

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

I recently learned that there is an official patron saint to pray to for almost every life issue a mortal will ever face. Like Hallmark, there’s a saint for every occasion, from cooking to bad weather. No kidding. There is a saint for health, travel, music, divorce and even a patron saint of handwriting. As I investigated further I confess to having a few celestial favorites. St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost items, is a definite fav. I’ve been calling on him without knowing it for years. Lost purses, cordless phones to cellphones, several sets of keys, temporarily misplaced children, dogs, cats. … If I had to pay for prayer time with ol’ Tony I’d definitely need the unlimited plan, no roaming or overages —  ever.

When it comes to St. Raphael, patron saint of lovers, and St. Elijah, patron saint of sleep, it’s hard to choose a favorite. Then there’s St. Vincent of Saragosssa (patron saint of wine) and St. Bibiana and St. Monica (patron saints of the hangover). It’s clear these saints are team players! They work together! I also feel a keen affection for St. Ramon, patron saint of silence. I’d like to delve into a deeper understanding of this silence one day.

For now, memories of St. Nick’s visit and St. Valentine’s Day are slowly fading. I find myself suspended in time until we celebrate our next saint, Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, at the annual Soldotna Sweeney’s day parade. (A little aside here, we always told our son, Patrick, that this parade was just for him.)

I’m also soon to be suspended in time between needing to pray to the patron saint of college tuition costs and the saint of empty nesters — whose name I imagine sounds somewhat like the name of an exotic tropical island.

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Improv? ‘Yes! And…’ Acting troupe brings comedy show plus ‘Barefoot in the Park’ to Kenai Peninsula

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Ann Flynn and Austin Terrell play Corrie and Paul, newlyweds on the verge becoming newly divorced, in “Barefoot in the Park.”

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Ann Flynn and Austin Terrell play Corrie and Paul, newlyweds on the verge becoming newly divorced, in “Barefoot in the Park.”

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

The stories are real(ish). The “Alaskans” (except for one) are not. Yes, the bears are embellished for comedic effect, but the humor is completely genuine.

“You find the humor in authenticity,” said Ann Flynn.

“You listen to the audience, whatever the audience is responding to, that’s a signal to you, ‘Oh, that’s funny, let’s keep doing this.’ If they’re not responding then you know, ‘OK, let’s move on.’ So each show becomes tailored to that particular audience,” said Royce Roeswood, who will perform “Faked Alaska,” a touring improv show, with Flynn and Austin Terrell on Feb. 28 and March 1 at Triumvirate Theatre in Soldotna.

Austin Terrell performs a scene with Sabrina Ferguson, an eighth-grader at Ninilchik School, at an improv workshop held Saturday in Ninilchik.

Austin Terrell performs a scene with Sabrina Ferguson, an eighth-grader at Ninilchik School, at an improv workshop held Saturday in Ninilchik.

The trio is up from the Lower 48 — Roeswood from Colorado, where the three performed at an improv club, and husband and wife Terrell and Flynn from Austin, Texas — to perform a series of improv shows and a Neil Simon comedy, “Barefoot in the Park,” for Triumvirate.

With improvisational comedy each performance is completely different, generated on the spot in front of the audience, though every show in “Faked Alaska” starts with the same approach.

“We bring a volunteer onstage,” Roeswood said.

“And take a look at their authentic Alaska identification to make sure they themselves are authentic Alaskans because we, in fact, are faked Alaskans,” Flynn said.

“And we ask them a whole bunch of questions about what’s it like to live in Alaska, what they do here, do they have a bear story. Based on their answers we use that to improvise for the next hour. We take those answers and turn them into scenes and characters right in the moment, live onstage,” Roeswood said.

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Tragedy parody of ‘Troutanic’ proportions — Triumvirate stages annual movie spoof

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Capt. Smith, played by Chris Jenness, is asleep at the wheel of Alaska’s premier new ferry, the Troutanic, in treacherous ice conditions.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Capt. Smith, played by Chris Jenness, is asleep at the wheel of Alaska’s premier new ferry, the Troutanic, in treacherous ice conditions.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

When it came time to pick the target of Triumvirate’s annual fish-themed movie parody show, the question wasn’t, why not “Titanic?” It was how, after eight of these shows, have they not already spoofed “Titanic?”

“‘Titanic’ is just begging for it, it’s just begging for parody. I’m surprised it took us this long to get to it, but it just occurred to us one day. We were thinking of what we could do this year and all of a sudden I thought, ‘Oh, of course,’” said Chris Jenness, with Triumvirate Theatre.

The 1997 James Cameron movie presents as big a target as the original ship did — the swooning of star-crossed lovers, the crooning of Celine Dion’s hit song (that now causes people to want to hit their radio if it comes on), the buffooning of an overly dramatic storyline. Any movie that takes itself so seriously is ripe for being lampooned.

“Another ice warning, sir. This one from the Princess Cruise lines vessel Arctic Princess,” warns First Officer Murdoch, to Capt. Smith.

“Humph. Probably too busy dumping a toxic mix of darkroom chemicals and sewage in the harbor to actually check their radar. I’m not concerned,” Smith replies.

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Clued in to comedy mystery — Fishing is fodder for fast-paced film parody

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Mrs. Peacock (Terri Burdick) and Professor Plum (Randy Daly) check Mr. Boddy (Joe Rizzo) for signs of life in a rehearsal of Triumvirate Theatre’s movie parody “Clue,” to be performed this weekend at Mykel’s.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Mrs. Peacock (Terri Burdick) and Professor Plum (Randy Daly) check Mr. Boddy (Joe Rizzo) for signs of life in a rehearsal of Triumvirate Theatre’s movie parody “Clue,” to be performed this weekend at Mykel’s.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

There’s been a murder in Soldotna.

Wait, has anyone seen the cook? Oh — thud — there she is. Correction: two murders.

Was that a scream? Then three.

Followed by a cruel death by Carly Rae Jepsen. Make that four.

And Hobo Jim isn’t as popular as he once was, it seems. Five.

Except the body of the first victim, Mr. Boddy, has gone missing. So, maybe four after all?

Nope. Here he comes tumbling through the kitchen door, with fresh injuries. Back to five.

With this much foul foolery afoot, in Triumvirate Theatre’s spoof of the comedy classic film “Clue,” the question isn’t whodunit, so much as who didn’t do it? They all had the means, motive and access to a weapon — though, admittedly, some more menacing than others.

Was it Mr. Green with the marine radio? Professor Plum with the gun? Miss Scarlet with the fish bonker? Mrs. Peacock with the fillet knife? Mrs. White with the landing net? Or Col. Mustard with the ominously named, yet comically innocuous Whappy the giant plush stuffed salmon?

It’s up to Wadsworth, the butler, to figure out as the rest of the dinner guests founder around for clues like, well, fish with their heads cut off.

As with Triumvirate’s previous annual fundraiser events, this is a dinner theater presentation, with dinner downstairs at Mykel’s Restaurant in Soldotna and an auction following the show to raise money for the theater’s parent organization, Alaska Children’s Institute for the Performing Arts.

This show also continues the long-standing tradition of creating a fishing-themed parody of a classic movie. Previous titles include “Gone with the Fish,” “Maltese Salmon,” “Cast-A-Blanca,” “Forrest Guppy” and last year’s “Top Chum.”

When it came to choosing this year’s source film, scriptwriter Carla Jenness said that she couldn’t resist spoofing “Clue,” the 1985 comedy murder mystery starring Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd and Madeline Kahn.

“I’ve wanted to do ‘Clue’ for years. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. I used to watch it over and over in high school on VHS,” she said.

But unlike the usual dramas and mysteries Triumvirate has chosen to spoof before, this is the first time Jenness tried to overlay humor onto a movie that was already a comedy.

“I thought the movie was hilarious, but we discovered it’s really hard to write a parody of a comedy,” she said.

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Short scripts, not short shrift — ‘Sudden Theatre’ packs full-length play’s punch in 1-act packages

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. From left, Chriss Erwin, Heather Swanson and Kathleen Knowlton are the three witches, with a twist, from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in the one-act play “Macbeth Mixed Up.”

Redoubt Reporter

A one-act, by basic definition, is shorter than a full-length play. Ergo, less than a full-length play, right?

In some regards, that’s true. One-acts are typically pared down in staging, costuming, props, sets and the rest of the technical pomp and circumstance of theater. And shorter in length can mean less scenes, fewer characters and not as many side stories or secondary plots to explore.

But truncated doesn’t mean that audiences are shorted on what’s truly important to the quality of a play — an interesting story, compelling characters, engaging dialogue, suspense, emotion, humor and surprise. All that can come in the smaller package of the one-act format.

So, less than in time, yes. But when done well, one-acts can offer a more powerful experience, with all the

Ian McEwen and Jessica Bookey practice a scene from “A Brief Pause,” in which two shy sweethearts narrate their own meeting.

entertainment of theater concentrated in a fraction of the time.

“With the 10-minute, 15- or 20-minute shows, you’ve got to pack in the introduction, middle and conclusion just like a full-length play, and the audience has to be able to move with you through that,” said Ken Duff, director of one of the offerings in Kenai Performers’ “Sudden Theatre” collection of one-acts being performed this weekend and next in Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna.

“To be able to tell a compelling story in a short amount of time is amazing,” said Donna Shirnberg, who is acting in two of the one-acts.

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