@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

Shirley Valentine

By Willie Russell, Directed by Ceil Herman

  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)
  • Shirley Valentine (Janet Mazdra)

Aug 10-Sep 02, 2012

FRI AUG 10,17,24| 8:00 PM
SAT AUG 11,18,25, SEP 1*| 8:00 PM
SUN AUG 19,26, SEP 2*| 2:30 PM
THU AUG 23 | 7:00 PM
* RUN EXTENDED

Description

"Shirley Valentine," an entertaining comedy by Willy Russell directed by NSTC's Artistic Director Ceil Herman and starring Janet Mazdra, is the first play of No Strings Theatre Company's 2012-2013 Season. "Shirley Valentine" runs through Sunday, September 2 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. In this one woman play, Shirley ruminates on her life and tells the wall about her husband, her children, and her past in this "joyful, captivating piece of theatre."-The New York Daily News. Shirley Bradshaw (her maiden name was Valentine) is a 42 year old Liverpool housewife in a bad marriage. The marriage was once fine, but over the years her husband, Joe, has become abusive, and Shirley feels trapped. She is given the opportunity to take a 2 week vacation to Greece with her friend. Although she fears the response of her husband, she courageously goes anyway. In Greece she develops as a person, and ultimately is able to face her life on her own terms.


Playwright Willy Russell, well known for "Educating Rita" and "Blood Brothers," wrote "Shirley Valentine" in 1986. The play was a great success in London and in New York where it won numerous awards including Laurence Olivier Awards for Best New Comedy and Best Actress in 1988, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play, Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut in 1989. It was also nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play and the Tony Award for Best Play

The Hermans saw "Shirley Valentine" in the late 1980s in London's West End. Ceil Herman comments "The play is an exploration about choices we make in life and the results of those choices. The play is truly "Mega Brill and Double Fab" as the London reviews said, and I think our audience will identify with Shirley and love the show. It is very different from the movie, because it is a one woman show, and the actor needs to play all the parts, leaving their physical characteristics to the audiences' imagination."

Starring in this one-woman play is Janet Mazdra, is well known to Las Cruces theatregoers for singing, dancing and choreographing numerous musicals at LCCT and the Boba Caberet. She starred in the sold-out production of "Always Patsy Cline" as Patsy, as well as "Tell Me on a Sunday" at the Black Box Theatre When not on stage, Janet works as a speech-language pathologist for the Las Cruces Public Schools and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico. "When Ceil Herman first gave me the "Shirley Valentine" script to read a few years ago, I knew that I had to be part of this amazing project. The character of Shirley is rich, and funny...and deeply moving. To me, Shirley represents the thoughts and feelings that we all experience as we progress through life...Shirley represents the human experience of relationships, growing older, self sacrifice, and self discovery. Creating Shirley Valentine on stage has certainly been my most challenging theatrical project yet, but is, by far, my most rewarding."

Credits

Shirley Valentine
Director
Written By

Reviews

A timeless and relevant 'Valentine' - Mazdra is delightful in one-woman theater production
- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin

For a play written more than a quarter of a century ago (1986, to be exact), Willy Russell's award-winning dramedy "Shirley Valentine" holds up very well.

Ceil Herman made the decision to open the No Strings Theatre Company's current season with this fascinating character study a number of years ago, but, as is the case with many theater projects, it took some time to assemble all of the pieces of this theatrical puzzle.

Herman offered the part of the title character to accomplished and popular local actress Janet Mazdra, who agreed to accept the challenges presented in performing this one-woman tour de force. It took time for Mazdra to not only learn the role, but also to make time in her own busy schedule. We are now the beneficiaries of all this planning.

The play runs at the Black Box Theatre through Sunday, Aug. 26, and is guaranteed to provide you with an enjoyable, thoughtful evening of theater and a bravura performance to top it off. I have a sense this production will be a sell-out and may extend its run.

The point of "Shirley Valentine" is simple and timeless. Each of us has a choice to either live our lives as others would have us, or to make our own decisions and live our lives and dreams as we see them.

What makes this play work so well is that Shirley seems to enjoy thinking out loud and breaking the "fourth wall" of the theater - namely us.

We are privy to her raw, honest and sometimes painful thoughts and memories.

The clever way in which Russell mixes up the plethora of Shirley's memories and emotions, provides the tension and brilliance that warranted the many awards the play has received, and prove why it has found new audiences over the years.

Certain aspects of the plot and character development are timeless, but there are elements of the play which are dated.

For instance, the "salty" language and frequent references to the female anatomy found throughout the script are far less shocking in 2012, especially since Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues" came on the scene in 1996. In today's world, speaking the names of parts of the female anatomy in public is no longer funny or daring in and of itself.

In short order, from the moment the lights come up, and we watch Shirley easily put away an entire bottle of Reisling, we learn about the deterioration of her 20-year marriage, the "empty nest" syndrome facing her and her husband and the blossoming of the seeds of feminism which have been dormant and untended for years. When offered a two-week trip to Greece to accompany her feminist friend, she doesn't spend too much time making a momentous and ultimately life-changing decision.

Her struggles, frustrations and journey to Corfu represent the challenges and potential journeys in our own lives. The message here is to follow our dreams. Although without giving too much plot away, I have to say that the resolution of the play seems very unrealistic.

Mazdra's performance is, in a word, transformative. She nails the Manchester accent to a tee and carries the show as if on air. Hers is one of the most memorable performances I have seen in years. For that reason alone, one needs to see this production.

What I envisioned as a dingy kitchen, reflective of Shirley's state of mind, is far cheerier looking than it needs to be. But to his credit, Peter Herman's set does have a working kitchen in which Mazdra prepares a very yummy looking and smelling plate of "chips and eggs."

The second act, set in Greece, is far more realistic.

In summary, it looks as if the No Strings Theatre Company has another hit on its hands. If "Shirley Valentine" is any indication of the quality of this season's repertoire, I would call and reserve season tickets immediately.

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