(L to R) Chris (Donny Prosise) and Kenni (Jade Diaz)
(L to R) Joe (Jeff Peckham), Chris (Donny Prosise) and Becky (Kathleen Murphy)
(L to R) Walter (Gerald Kumpf) and Becky (Kathleen Murphy)
(L to R) Becky (Kathleen Murphy and Ginger (Yvette Crofford)
(L to R) Kenni (Jade Diaz) and Joe (Jeff Peckham)
(L to R) Steve (Bob Singer), Chris (Donny Prosise) and Joe (Jeff Peckham)
(L to R) Becky (Kathleen Murphy) and Steve (Bob Singer)
The full cast
Mar 09-Apr 01, 2012
"When a woman says she needs new shoes, what she really wants is a new job. When she says she needs a new house, she wants a new husband. And when she says she wants a new car, she wants a new life."
Have you ever been tempted to flee your own life? Becky Foster is caught in middle age, middle management and in a middling marriage to Joe, a roofer who has no time to fix their own roof. Also in her family is her live-at-home perpetual graduate student son, Chris, and it seems to her as if there are no prospects for change on the horizon. Then one night Walter, a socially inept and grief-struck millionaire, stumbles into the car dealership where Becky works. Becky is offered nothing short of a new life...and the audience is offered a chance to ride shotgun in a way that most plays wouldn't dare. "Becky's New Car" is a thoroughly original comedy with serious overtones, a devious and delightful romp down the road not taken.
The NSTC production features veteran actors as well as those new to the Black Box Theatre. Kathleen Murphy plays Becky. This is her first production at the Black Box Theatre, but she is well known to Las Cruces audiences for her role as Sister Mary Amnesia in many Nunsense musicals produced at LCCT. Jeff Peckham (Joe) was previously seen in NSTC's "More Fun Than Bowling", also written by playwright Steven Dietz. He has also appeared at the Black Box Theatre in "Lone Star" and "A Delicate Balance" as well as many productions at LCCT. Becky and Joe's son Chris is played by Donny Prosise, who was last seen in NSTC's "Cockeyed." Gerald Kumpf plays Walter in his first production at the Black Box Theatre. Jade Diaz plays his daughter Kenni, She was last seen in NSTC's "The Spitfire Grill". Bob Singer playing the role of Steve, a friend of Becky and Joe, has been seen at the Black Box Theatre most recently "The Sisters Rosensweig" and "The Spitfire Grill." as well as in many productions at LCCT. Yvette Crofford, playing Ginger, a friend of Walter, was recently seen as Dr. Gorgeous in "The Sisters Rosensweig," but she has also been very active at the El Paso Playhouse, most recently in "The Boys Next Door" and "A Few Good Men." Peter Herman designed the set and lights and Desiree Trujillo is the Stage Manager.
"Perhaps the highest praise that can be given to Steven Dietz's praiseworthy new comedy is that it's funny. Not ironic. Not hysterical in a slapsticky kind of way. Just gently and consistently funny-right up to the point that it's touching, and then even a little bit after that. "Becky's New Car" takes the audience on a smart, comic cruise through the perils of middle-aged longing and regret." -Variety.
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER
A humorous take on the search for a new life
- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin
Since Ceil and Peter Herman opened the doors of the Black Box Theatre over ten years ago I have reviewed and enjoyed many No Strings Theatre Company productions. In that decade, never have I heard such frequent laughter and chuckling throughout any production than at last week's opening night performance of Becky's New Car, a delightful, yet thought-provoking production which will run through March 25. Some of the loudest guffaws were coming from this usually reserved, silent and overly critical theatre reviewer!
Becky's New Car is a difficult show to categorize. While there is humor laced throughout its two acts, there are other more serious aspects of the production which add texture, depth and a strong moral subtext to our theatregoing experience. For instance, there are a fair share of preachy explanations of human behavior, given to Chris, the title characters son who is a graduate psychology student. There are discussions by Becky and other characters about death, infidelity, mid-life change, the current economic downturn, and the Human condition in general. When artfully stitched together by award-winning playwright Steven Dietz, the result is a remarkable evening of theatre.
Becky's New Car has been performed frequently by regional theater companies across the country since its 2008 premiere at Seattle's Actor's Conservatory Theatre. Dietz was commissioned to write the play by Seattle arts supporter Charles Staadecker as a gift to his wife Benita.
Dietz seems to enjoy breaking the fourth wall. He has created chatty dialogue which permit his characters interact with members of the audience throughout the play. These are the moments which generate the most laughter.
Thanks in great part to Ceil Herman's skilled direction and staging, coupled with well crafted performances by a fine ensemble cast, there is so much to commend you make reservations immediately to see this production. You won't be sorry!
From the get-go, Kathleen Murphy - a perfectly cast Becky, adeptly engages the audience by welcoming us into her cluttered home as she cleans up the place. Needing help with her housekeeping, she hands an audience member in the front row a roll of toilet paper attached to a cleaning brush and asks her to leave it in the bathroom. She offers another a can of Sprite. Swamped with take-home work from the office, she asks another audience member to do some collating and stapling for her. She takes a poll of audience members to help her make an important decision, and later, she brings up a few audience members to help her change clothes in preparation for a dinner party. At one point her frustrated husband Joe offers a beer to an audience member.
Ms. Murphy steps into her Black Box debut with ease, having broken through that fourth wall for years as Sister Mary Amnesia in all of the Nunsense musicals produced by the Las Cruces Community Theatre. One marvels at how easy she makes this role appear, and yet, upon reflection, we recognize and appreciate her skill, talent and comic timing all the more.
Near the plays start, Becky shares words of wisdom imparted to her by a friend who recently died. When a woman says she wants new shoes, what she really wants is a new job. When she says she wants a new house, what she really wants is a new husband. And when she says she wants a new car, what she really wants is a new life.
It is clear that Becky badly wants a new car. Boredom and frustration have entered her twenty-eight year marriage to her amiable roofer husband, Joe, played with warmth and compassion by Jeff Peckham. She has a good relationship with her deadbeat perpetual psychology student son, Chris, played easily by Donny Prosise, and her job as a title supervisor at a car dealership, while burdensome, is tolerable.
One evening, while staying late at work, she encounters an eccentric widowed millionaire, Walter, played elegantly by Gerald Kumpf who thinks she is also widowed. Becky doesn't bother to correct Walter. All too easily she becomes an adulteress. Albeit likable, she enmeshes herself in a web of lies which she weaves. Because we have been allowed into her thought process, her actions somehow become less savory than they are in fact.
The plays resolution, perhaps a bit too simplistic, leaves us, Becky, Joe and the other members of the ensemble sadder, and a touch wiser. In the end, we walk away from the show recognizing that in order to move forward, we must maintain our cars and our psyches and keep on traveling down the unknown road to what Becky calls - in the last word of the play, heaven.
Technical aspects of the production, designed by Peter Herman are up to usual Black Box fine standards. Speaking of which, make some time before the show, or during the intermission to see "The Big Picture: The Art of Sets" an outstanding exhibition which Peter has assembled about the art of set design. It gives you a chance to re-visit some of your favorite Black Box productions of the past decade.
BECKYS NEW CAR runs through Sunday, March 25 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays, March 18 and 25 at 2:30 p.m. and a Thursday performance on March 22 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 regular admission, $9.00 students and seniors over 65 and all seats on Thursdays are $7.00. Reservations: (575) 523-1223.
No seating plan has been posted.