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

House of Blue Leaves

By John Guare, Directed by Tom Smith

  • (L to R) Bananas (Amy Lanasa) and Artie (Josh Chenard)
  • Ronnie (Austin Parish)
  • (L to R) Bunny (Lila LeCuyer, Billy (Adolfo Enriquez III) and Bananas (Amy Lanasa)
  • (L to R) Artie (Josh Chenard) and Bananas (Amy Lanasa)
  • (L to R) Bunny (Lila LeCuyer, Bananas (Amy Lanasa) and Artie (Josh Chenard)
  • (L to R) Artie (Josh Chenard) and Bunny (Lila LeCuyer)
  • (L to R) Bananas (Amy Lanasa) and Artie (Josh Chenard)
  • (L to R) Bananas (Amy Lanasa) and Artie (Josh Chenard)
  • (L to R) Head Nun (Rachel Edwards) Corinna (Lily Staski), Second Nun (Stephanie Drake), Artie (Josh Chenard) and, Little Nun (Victoria Castillo)
  • (L to R) Artie (Josh Chenard) and Bananas (Amy Lanasa)
  • (L to R) Bunny (Lila LeCuyer, Bananas (Amy Lanasa), Artie (Josh Chenard) and Corinna (lily Staski)
  • (L to R) Bananas (Amy Lanasa) and Artie (Josh Chenard)

Jun 06-Jun 19, 2014

FRI JUN 6,13| 8:00 PM
SAT JUN 7,14| 8:00 PM
SUN JUN 15,22| 2:30 PM
THU JUN 19 | 7:00 PM

Description

Artie Shaughnessy has dreams of making it big in Hollywood as a songwriter, but he just can't figure out quite how to get there from his Queens, NY apartment where he works as a zookeeper and takes care of his manic wife, Bananas. But when the Pope makes a historical trip to New York in 1965, Artie's zany mistress Bunny is certain that with his blessing Artie's dreams will finally come true. But Artie's son, Ronnie, who intends on blowing up the Pope, Artie's Hollywood friends Billy and Corinna, and a group of pushy nuns seem to keep holding him back. A black comedy by one of America's best playwrights!

Director's Note

The House of Blue Leaves is a favorite play of mine. I've had the opportunity to visit it every now and again: discovering it and performing scenes as a high school drama student; auditioning with Ronnie's monologue at the top of Act Two in college; directing a production in Seattle in 1998; and 16 years later directing it again with No Strings Theatre Company.

I am endlessly fascinated with the fine line between comedy and tragedy, and John Guare's play walks that tightrope magnificently. The play centers on Artie Shaughnessy's struggle to be somebody - not necessarily to be famous but simply to be noticed, to be cared for - something his current life as a zookeeper with an ill wife cannot afford him. And in that struggle to want to be something more, Guare touches a real cord: who amongst us hasn't felt at one time or another that they are "too old to be a young talent"?

I am proud to bring this production to No Strings, the theatre company who has graciously supported my work for the past 14 years. And I am extremely grateful to a wonderful cast and design team--most of whom are making their No Strings debut--for their time and talent. I hope you enjoy the show, and that you'll tell your friends to come see the off-the-wall black comedy happening at the Black Box Theatre.

Credits

Artie
Bananas
Billy
Bunny
Corinna
Head Nun
Little Nun
Ronnie
Director
Written By

Reviews

'House' walks the tightrope - Black Box production both comic and tragic
- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin

In his director's note to the current outstanding production of "The House of Blue Leaves," playing on the stage of the Black Box Theatre through Sunday, June 22, New Mexico State University Theatre Arts Chair Tom Smith explains how multi-Tony Award-winning playwright John Guare masterfully and carefully walks the fine line between tragedy and comedy in "the tightrope" of this simultaneously comic and tragic work.

I have seen several productions of "The House of Blue Leaves," and this BBT offering can proudly stand alongside all of them, including the most famous 1986 revival directed by Jerry Zaks and with an exceptionally skilled cast including the inimitable Swoosie Kurtz, Stockard Channing, John Mahoney, Christopher Walken and, making his Broadway debut, Ben Stiller.

When I received an advance copy of the BBT cast list, I already began smiling. The performers in this company had already impressed me by their prior work even before the lights came up on the BBT stage. I couldn't wait. I wasn't disappointed.

The plot is complex with many convolutions. Characters change and re-change opposite aspects of their personalities on a dime, convincingly radiating other facets of their often-warped characters before we realize it ourselves.

Producer Ceil Herman provided me with the following synopsis, which hits all the key plot points without giving any humor or pathos away: "Artie Shaughnessy has dreams of making it big in Hollywood as a songwriter, but he just can't figure out quite how to get there from his Queens, NY, apartment where he works as a zookeeper and takes care of his manic wife, Bananas. But when the Pope makes a historical trip to New York in 1965, Artie's zany mistress Bunny is certain that, with his blessing, Artie's dreams will finally come true. But Artie's son, Ronnie, who intends on blowing up the Pope, Artie's Hollywood friends Billy and Corinna and a group of pushy nuns seem to keep holding him back."

Josh Chenard, NMSU professor of acting and director of American Southwest Theatre Company's fine productions of "The Misanthrope" and "Our Town," really gives a superior performance as Artie.

Amy Lanasa, NMSU creative arts institute professor, playwright, actress and BBT director, outdoes herself in the challenging role of Bananas. Her energy and inner strength are testament to what a gift she is to our theater community.

Lila LeCuyer also climbs a larger dramatic/comic mountain as Artie's mistress, Bunny. Her comic timing is spot on and she made many in the audience laugh out loud.

Austin Parish's performance as Ronnie, Banana's and Artie's warped son, literally made my skin crawl. What a stretch from the role he played so well in "The Misanthrope."

Lily Staski, who most recently impressed me with her enunciation and nuance in "The Misanthrope," now shows off her outré comic side in the role of the ditzy and deaf actress Corinna Stroller.

Smith's production team is top drawer. His scenic design encompasses every virtual corner of the acting space. Matt Reynolds' light and sound design is spot on. Guenevere McMahon's costumes are true perfection for 1965, most especially the get-ups she located for Bunny.

Save for a slow stretch towards the end of the second act, the production is kept at a brisk pace by Smith's wise direction. After a bit of thought, I realized the reason for slowing down of the pace toward play's end. In this subtle way, Smith and his cast - and Guare -prepare the audience for the play's powerful black-comic ending. So moved was the opening night audience that at play's end, there was silence in the theater, followed by a spontaneous, lengthy and well-deserved standing ovation.

A hearty bravo to all connected with this artistic masterpiece. Make reservations quickly. I have a feeling this play will generate quite a bit of word-ofmouth praise and attendance.

A word of caution: This is not a "happily ever after" show. While there are plenty of laughs, there is enough sadness to go around in order to give you much to contemplate.

Before the show, you may enjoy taking in a really lovely art show in the BBT's thetheatregallery, featuring the works of local artists based on the colorful title of the play. The art show was coordinated by local artist Margaret Bernstein. Thetheatregallery opens one hour before show time, and is also available for viewing by appointment.

"The House of Blue Leaves" runs through Sunday, June 22, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, June 15 and 22, and a 7 p.m. performance Thursday, June 19. Tickets are $12 regular admission, $10 students and seniors 65 and older and all seats on Thursday are $8. For more information or to make reservations, call 523-1223.

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