POSTED ON JANUARY 13, 2010:
The Butler Did It Again
New show bares some of it and orchestra audience members travel to England
Under Covers. Mrs. Prentice, above, adds to the character chaos and mayhem discovered in the play What the Butler Saw.
If you've ever wanted to see local thespians in their skivvies, get thee to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center this weekend. Theatre Tulsa continues its run of Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw, a 1960a British farce that requires the on-stage undressing of half its cast.
The play opens with Dr. Prentice (Craig Walter), a psychologist, interviewing a potential secretary, Geraldine Barclay (September Boles). Using a nimble tongue, he convinces her to undress and lie on the couch so he might examine (read: seduce) her.
She does, expecting it to be a typical element of the interview, but Prentice's plans are thwarted when his wife (Missy Childs) enters the room. He attempts to hide his indiscretion by telling her the girl behind the curtain is a patient and the dress she finds hanging on the coat rack is her own.
Mrs. Prentice takes it--thankful to be clothed--for a bellhop at the hotel where she stayed last night--as an aside from having had his way with her--stole her purse and dress.
Said bellhop, Nicholas Becket (Trey Hammond), enters, demanding Mrs. Prentice get him a job as her husband's secretary in exchange for indecent photos and negatives of her.
Meanwhile, a government official, Dr. Rance (Susan Webb) shows up to Dr. Prentice's practice for a routine inspection, which turns out to be anything but.
Barclay is mistaken for a patient and committed, Becket dons a dress and poses as Barclay to avoid arrest, Dr. Prentice steals back the dress his wife is wearing and convinces a police officer (Robert Young) to undress, and nearly everyone overdoses on tranquilizers and descends slowly into madness.
The play's script is quite funny. Orton's language, in the style of great literary humorist Oscar Wilde, is at times discreet and coquettish and at others quite the opposite.
At times, the humor is lost for poor delivery and terrible English accents, but the play's more experienced actors ensure it doesn't flop.
Walter, Childs and Webb carry the play, capturing the audience's attention and splitting our sides. It seems to take most of the first act for the cast to get warmed up. The pacing seemed a bit off during the first act. But the second is high-energy, well-paced, off-the-wall and quite hilarious.
Theatre Tulsa's What the Butler Saw, directed by Jim Queen, continues its run in the Tulsa PAC's Liddy Doenges Theatre, 110 E. Second St., Jan. 14-16 at 8pm. Tickets are $15 and available at 596-7111 or www.tulsapac.com. The play is for mature audiences.
Good Music, Mate
On Saturday, Jan. 16, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra continues its season-long exploration of music from different countries with "The Music of England," beginning at 7:30pm in the Tulsa PAC's Chapman Music Hall.
The concert features music composed in England by Haydn, Britten and Elgar. Maestro Jose-Luis Novo, music director and conductor at the Binghamton Philharmonic, conducts.
The concert features Haydn's final symphony, Symphony No. 104 "London," which premiered at the King's Theatre in 1795; Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from Peter Grimes, based on excerpts from George Crabbe's poem "The Borough"; and "Enigma Variations," Elgar's best-known large-sclae composition.
According to TSO sources, Elgar's "Enigma Variations" is comprised of two puzzles.
"Elgar dedicated the piece to 'my friends pictured within,' with each variation being a portrayal of one of his friends," TSO representatives said. "Determining which variation represented which friend was the challenge of the first puzzle; the answers are now widely accepted. The second puzzle, however, was a 'hidden theme' upon which all the variations were based. Although there has been considerable examination and discussion over the many years, no definite conclusion exists about the identity of the 'hidden theme.'"
Tickets to "The Music of England" range from $10-$65 and are available at the PAC's Web site or by calling 596-7111. More information about the concert and TSO's season is available at www.tulsasymphony.org.
In anticipation of Jan. 21's "Oklahoma Landscapes: A Literary Tableau" and August: Osage County Jan. 26-31, author Billie Letts, mother of playwright Tracy Letts, presents "Where the Art Is: An Arts Celebration with Billie Letts" Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7pm in Central Library's Aaronson Auditorium, 400 Civic Center.
The program involves a readers' theater, in which actors from The Playhouse Theatre will perform dramatic readings from Letts' novels; a reading from Letts; a meet and greet and book signing with the author; the display of an exhibition titled "13 Ways of Looking at Billing," consisting of portraits by artists of the Whiteside Portrait Painters; and a drawing for two tickets to see August: Osage County.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.tulsalibrary.org.
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