Without a doubt, the Nightingale Theater's John Cruncleton is a talented actor and writer.
His most recent original play, One Man's as Good as Another, which opened last weekend, is an exercise in patience--for the audience.
Set in 1932, the tale opens with two small-time crooks, Chick and Zip (Joseph Gomez and Cruncleton, respectively), wandering through the woods after robbing a bank and abandoning their car--and their money--in a lake to escape a police chase.
They encounter a couple of tramps robbing two unsuspecting Johns who tell them to head to Dr. Crow's Medicinal Sanatorium in Hot Springs for a little rest and booze. It's been purported that, at the same time, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd and his partner in crime George Birdwell are expected to be at that same speakeasy.
Right away Zip is mistaken for Floyd and Chick for Birdwell, and rather than correct the mistake, instigated by Hop Clover Vetch (Sara Wilemon), a reporter desperate for an interview with Floyd, the two assume the outlaws' identities, hoping to gain a little self-gratification.
What ensues is an extraordinary, four-hour-long debacle too convoluted for me to even attempt to translate.
While the play was well-written with intricate details and numerous side-plots, it was entirely too much to sit through in one night. At intermission, one of Nightingale's owners likened the work to that of Shakespeare, pointing out a few similarities: The large cast, the eloquent, if not a bit superfluous, writing style, the structure, the subplots.
But the thing about Shakespeare's work is that, in order to be well-presented, it requires a number of things: a thorough understanding of its text and context by its players, smart blocking and directing, good pacing and a good skimming down.
For me, there was too much standing around and rattling off lines and not enough action. As well, some of the actors went through the lines so quickly and without pause that it was difficult to catch all of Cruncleton's carefully placed nuances. But, had they slowed down at all, we would have likely been there six hours rather than four.
The best part of the entire evening was Erin Scarberry, who played Hop's tightly-wound, prudish sister Button and whose cute and witty delivery was a breath of fresh air.
Another thing I'll say for the play's all-star cast is that they have stamina. While I was practically lying on the floor by the time the thing ended, the players onstage remained as strong and energetic as they had been when they started.
The play continues this Friday and Saturday and next Friday and Saturday at the theater, 1416 E. Fourth St., and you shouldn't have to sit there as long as I did. I can almost guarantee the show will be cut by this weekend. I think the bard realized his mistake when he lost more than half of his audience at intermission. And, while the four-hour version did little to excite me, the play will be really wonderful at two hours.
Show starts at 8pm and tickets are $8. For more, www.nightingaletheater.com.
Summers in Tulsa are marked by the following: Drillers baseball games, 49-cent fountain drinks at QuikTrip, sweltering humidity and SummerStage.
The Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust's SummerStage Festival is an eight-week performing arts festival held June and July in the PAC's various theaters, at 110 E. Second St.
As the performing arts season generally runs fall to spring, SummerStage provides theatrical, music and dance entertainment during the summer months, when there typically would be none.
SummerStage opens this weekend, with Talent, Incorporated, presented by Ciao, Baby! Productions, June 5-6 at 8pm in the Liddy Doenges Theatre; "Crossroads in Concert" June 5 at 8pm in the Charles E. Norman Theatre; and "Let It Be: Claire Kifer," presented by Metropolitan Arts Theatre, June 6 at 7:30pm in the Norman.
Talent, Incorporated is a 90-minute musical wherein Kathleen Kennedy, owner of Ciao Baby! restaurant on Brookside, stars as the director of a one-woman talent agency. The talent includes local jazz performers Rebecca Ungerman, Annie Ellicott, John Sawyer, Janet Rutland and Travis Fite. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $20 for table seating.
Crossroads is a trio of musicians exploring the music, culture and tradition of the Celtic people. Julia Harris plays the hammered dulcimer, fiddle and viola; Melissa Schiavone plays the flutes, whistles and concertina; and Dana Maher plays the Celtic harp, bodhran and sings. Tickets to the concert are $15.
In "Let It Be," Clair Kifer, one of Tulsa's favorite vocalists, shares with audiences her passion for The Beatles, presenting a range of song choices that span the group's career and incorporating quirky instruments and unique arrangement. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $20 for table seating.
For the past year or so, merchants in the Brady Arts District have banded together every first Friday of the month for the "First Friday Art Crawl." Club 209, whose founder Greg Gray initiated the event, Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery, Tulsa Glassblowing Studio, CFC Chocolatier and ... all participate, holding exhibition openings or open houses, welcoming hundreds of visitors to the district to mingle and view and buy art.
Recently, the soon-to-be-constructed Visual Arts Center, a project of the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, has been participating, opening the bay doors of the Mathews Warehouse, 100 E. Brady, and allowing local artists to set up shop inside.
Twenty or so artists use the space just inside the building's garage doors to, in a sort of guerilla style, exhibit and sell work. The artists are there, mingling with patrons, and AHCT reps are on hand as well to talk about progress of the project.
The entire crawl is a lovely event that draws people downtown, but the Baywalk is especially nice because it allows patrons to visit with artists in a relaxed, casual setting.
At this Friday's event, two local artists will be on hand with special exhibitions; Grace Grothaus, spotlight artist for this year's "Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still" event in Oklahoma City, will present her installation "McWilderness," and James Gallagher will offer a presentation of five- to 30-second videos and animations.
Grothaus's "McWilderness" is an exploration of man's relationship to his environment and the roles industry and technology play in that relationship. The installation is built entirely by plastic and other non-organic materials, addressing the human tendency commodify nature, preferring a man-made ideal to the real thing.
Gallagher's video presentation pays homage of sorts to the people making the VAC happen. His goal is to fill the Mathews building with light, "occupying the space and recording as if leaving a symbolic mark."
The First Friday Art Crawl lasts from about 5:30pm to dusk, and the VAC Baywalk should get rolling around 6pm. The event is free and open to the public.
On the agenda for the Brady District's Art Crawl is an exhibition of new paintings by E. Scott Hurst titled "The Eye Knows What the Hand Sees" at the TAC Gallery, 9 E. Brady.
The collection is Hurst's first after a 10-year hiatus from painting.
An abstract artist, Hurst said, of his rejuvenated effort to put paint to canvas, "I think it must have had something to do with what was going on in my life last summer: My father was struggling with Alzheimer's, and I was trying to keep up as best I could with everything that entailed. I think my return to painting is as simple, and as complicated, as that--I needed to be doing it again."
"The Eye Knows What the Hand Sees" opens Friday at 6pm with an artist reception. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 6-9pm, or by appointment. More at 592-0041 or www.tacgallery.org.
Opening Thursday, June 4, in conjunction with Tulsa Pride 2009, is "More Color" at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, 621 E. Fourth St.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, more than 50 area artists will exhibit work that will be available for purchase via silent auction. The proceeds from the auction will benefit Oklahomans for Equality, housed in the Neill Center.
The event opens Thursday at 5pm, and for hours and other information, as well as additional Tulsa Pride events, visit www.okeq.org or call 743-4297.
Short but Sexy
This weekend at Living ArtSpace, 308 S. Kenosha, a group of Oklahoma artists present "Erotica," an exploration of erotic art.
The artists, whose work usually addresses themes of sensuality and eroticism, are: Tom Conrad, Shane Scribner, Scott Hale, Joni Herzog, Lance Hunter and Slyvia Nitti. Hunter, Nitti and Patrick Cunningham will present a video installation titled "Jimmy" as well.
The event runs June 4-6, and hours are 5-9pm Thursday, 12-5pm Friday and 12-9pm Saturday. For more, go to www.livingarts.org or call 585-1234.
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