Sunday, October 24, 2010
Theater review: There’s No Business in Show Business at Bishop Arts Theater Center
Teresa Coleman Wash's play allows audience members to decide what is fact and fiction, as well as how the play really ends.
OAK CLIFF Bishop Arts Theater Center artistic director Teresa Coleman Wash takes the stage pre-curtain to welcome the audience to TeCo Theatrical's original production of There's No Business in Show Business. She admits with a smile that she had no idea of the level of drama and commitment, along with a passion for the arts, that went into keeping a theater afloat, especially in a waning economy. But that very factor inspired her to write about her experiences with a careful yet reflective pen. She concluded by stating that she would leave it up to the audience to decide what was real life and what was real fiction.
In There's No Business in Show Business, budget cuts, deadlines, clashing co-workers, and an out of control home life make for just another day at the office for artistic director Frankie Fitzpatrick (played by director/actor JuNene K). The smart, sexy, and savvy theater administrator is caught between a barely smoldering marriage, the impending birth of her second child, and maintaining a theater in a downturned economy. Keeping Frankie afloat are her mostly faithful employees.
James Casarez plays the flamboyant, know-it-all assistant Fernando. He's young, impatient, and persistent, and fires off flawless one liners while knocking back a little Grey Goose Vodka. Mild-mannered Megan (played by Danielle Hardwick) shows us the frustration of the ambitious playwright-artist with big buck ideas at a basic budget theater. Buster Spiller brings to life Mr. Truman, the theater's self-appointed sage and house manager who finds it impossible to keep his opinions about everything to himself. At one point he exclaims, "Reality TV was the worse thing that could have ever happened to Whitney Houston!" Thus we have the clash of titan egos, managed with patient precision by Frankie, the goddess of savoir-faire.
In the midst of the theatrics at the theater, Frankie is pressed to support her overly ambitious husband Troy, perfectly portrayed by Eric Window. His desire to dominate the mayoral elections in Dallas clouds his judgment and his appreciation for his woman. This lack of adoration for Frankie pushes her into the protective tempting and titillating tango-twirling arms of Sergeant Maxwell Lockhart.
Frankie struggles to balance her need to find funding for the theater with her husband's need for her support (when it's convenient for him), all while dodging the forbidden phone calls from Sergeant Sexy-Man. Her attempts to woo philanthropist Amy Stacy (portrayed by Laura L. Cutler) fall flat despite Frankie's expertise and Fernando's tenacity, and rejection comes at the most crucial moment. As if those weren't enough, there's also a covert cooperation between two unfaithful forces.
These culminate into a situation that gives the audience members just enough rope and then leaves them completely hanging. The ending is harsh, abrupt, and startling with riveting revelations. While it may appear incomplete, the message is in what is not uttered. What is seen and what is perceived is much stronger than what can actually all be said. Insert your own ending here.
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