POSTED ON MAY 9, 2012:
Closure can be found onstage
Heller presents a show about past lives and second chances
What ever happened to the one that got away?
What if you could get that one back?
You might not be able to in real life, but Heller Theatre is giving you a chance to at least do it vicariously.
Presenting Shooting Star at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, Heller presents us a rarity in these days of over-the-top productions, movies, tv shows, everything. Shooting Star features a cast of exactly two, and a minimal set. Part of this is due to the show itself, and part of it is due to where Heller is taking the show this summer, and that's to the Oklahoma Community Theatre Association's OCTAFest in July.
"We've cut some of the play because we're going to take it to OCTA, so we had to keep it under 50 minutes, but the meat of it is still in there," said Lisa McCrossen-Porter, who makes up half the cast.
Fifty minutes doesn't seem like a long time to tell a compelling story, but in the hands of playwright Steven Dietz and director Julie Tattershall, it's more than enough time.
McCrossen-Porter, who spent a considerable amount of time praising Dietz's writing, cut right to the chase.
"What I love most about the play is the ending. It's so realistic. There's not a nice, tidy, tied-with-a-bow ending," she said. "Dietz is such an incredible writer--all the emotions under what these people are doing and saying are there in the writing. It really parallels real life."
Director Tattershall echoes McCrossen-Porter's fondness for the playwright's work.
"This will be my sixth Steven Dietz show over a 20-year period," she said, and that, in and of itself, says a whole lot about her feelings for the author's body of work. "I think he's a fabulous, undervalued American playwright."
So what's this all about, then?
"It's basically two people in their late 40s," Tattershall said. "It really is the one that got away."
Two former lovers meet, by chance, in an airport. Thrown together by fate, then held together by a snowstorm, the snowed-in exes do what snowed-in exes do.
No, not that. They talk. They talk a lot and they talk some stuff out.
"They were in their 20s and were just too immature to deal with things that happened," Tattershall said. "They kinds of have holes inside them because they didn't get closure."
So years later, that opportunity presents itself.
"They get to have those conversations and remember why they loved each other. There's a line about 'This person knew me when I was young.' It's kind of a sweet, thoughtful play about how we change and the dreams we have," she said.
While Tattershall helms the production, it's the actors who are out onstage actually telling the story: in this case, McCrossen-Porter and Timothy Hunter, a name that's brand new to the Tulsa theater scene.
"I just started doing some theater in Tulsa back in January. I'm really lucky to be doing this show," Hunter said.
He moved to Tulsa from New York about three years ago, where he did some theatre work on- and off-stage, and now he's ours. This is much to the delight of his co-star.
"I'm very fortunate to be able to do this show with him. He's phenomenal and very professional," McCrossen-Porter said. "And it's really a joy to work with him."
With only two people in a cast, the actors have a unique challenge: get through the show without the help of a large cast. Having only one other person on whom to depend can be very difficult. Or it can be a lot of fun. Guess which way it's gone for this bunch.
"I think it's easier and a lot more fun," Hunter said about the small cast. "The play's all about connection anyway. I'm lucky to be working with Lisa. You have a great sense of focus, and there's a trust there. It makes it a lot easier for me."
"It's been really enjoyable. I think we've all really grown. And we can take time to learn the characters as we all see them," she said. "In theatre, everyone has their own view of the different characters. It's been great to sit around and talk about the characters."
This leads her back into praise mode. Rather quickly, actually.
"Julie is so great. She lets the actors bring their own points of views. She's not the kind of director who just says, 'Do this, stand there.' She wants to find the underlying emotions. She lets you find it so you both agree on it. She's just so talented and creative," she said.
Hunter spoke about Tattershall's approach to the task of directing, indicating her near-OCD organization skills, as well as her artistic and creative powers.
"Julie has been amazing to work with. She knows what she wants to see onstage at a certain stage in the rehearsal process," he said. "She's this diminutive woman with a huge presence. Like all good directors, she's managed to create a vision. She sees emotional levels that we don't. She's incredibly perceptive about things like that. I just can't say enough about her. She's great."
McCrossen-Porter, succinctly: "I love Julie. I think she's very talented."
How this love-fest started is pretty much like any other theatrical tale: different people want different things, they come together, and they create something.
McCrossen-Porter, already familiar with Tattershall and Dietz, saw an opportunity to work in an environment she knew she'd enjoy.
"I saw that Julie was directing, like she always does with Heller. Then I read the play and it was fascinating. Steven Deitz is amazing. I definitely wanted to audition for this play," she said.
Hunter was on the other end of the spectrum.
"I was just looking for another show," he said. "I wasn't familiar with Steven Dietz's work, but I was really intrigued by the description of the show. Once I read that, I was like, 'This is good.'"
And he feels his instincts were right on.
"I just love the play. Part of it is that I'm age-appropriate for the character," he said. But it goes beyond that.
"I hope people sit in the audience and look at their old relationships in a new light. We have a tendency to blame the other person. But then we look back years later and go, 'Wow, 50 percent of that was my fault,'" Hunter said.
The chance to watch two people get some closure comes this week. Shooting Star plays at the Henthorne Community Center Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, and on Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $10 and available by phone at 918-746-5065.
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