|Boston Christopher sings in his role as writing instructor Leonard.|
Theresa Rebeck's witty new comedy, Seminar moved so quickly that I didn't notice an hour and forty five minutes had passed without an intermission. An introspective discussion on the concept of truth, the dialogue sparkles likes conversations found at only the best dinner parties.
Perseverance Theatre is known for showcasing new plays and filling the roles with Alaska's best actors. This recipe serves them well here. Seminar opened on Broadway late in 2011, and the Alaskan cast takes these fresh ingredients and creates a rich and adventurous meal that is sure to please the most sophisticated pallet.
Director Cynthia Croot keeps the pace fiery, pouring the saucy dialogue over suggestive action. As a writer, the characters were familiar and relatable. Like Croot, I found myself thinking of my own literary mentors as the play developed. They challenged the precepts I based my world view upon, defined integrity, and offered an understanding of human frailty and passion that has served me well.
Art Rotch offers a lovely inviting set that strongly supports the suspension of disbelief that transports us from a rainy Juneau evening to a rent controlled palace in New York City.
Corin Hughes-Skandijs embodies Douglas, a pretentious, self important ass who demonstrates a competency that is commercially viable - if he is willing to embrace the lucrative lure of the shallow end of the pool.
Enrique Bravo nails the insecurity masked by bravado of Martin, who bounces between the extremes of a young man searching to find his better self. Those of you who remember Bravo from Bigfoot will find this role a far better illustration of the breath of emotional reach this actor has to offer.
Allison Holtkamp seduces us as Izzy, a hot-to-trot opportunist who knows how to tie the knot and fluff out the bow to make a package sexy. Bumping into her at the State Capital where she staffs the Senate Finance Committee is a bit disarming, the extreme opposites of her real world day job and her work on stage illustrates the strength of talent of this hysterically funny actress.
Meredith Hinkley Schmidt is new to the Juneau stage, and demonstrates a lovely chemistry with Holtkamp. Kate is the glue that holds the semi-autobiographical story line together, and Hinkley Schmidt prosecutes the evolution of the character in an authentic and compassionate manner.
Boston Christopher delivered in Leonard - a greying idealist who has grown world wise by paying his dues, taking a few in the teeth, and reaffirming the important of reflection on the road to self discovery. It's been a couple decades since I have had the pleasure of watching Christopher work on-stage, he has lived up to the exceptional promise of his youth.
Extra credit bonus points go to stage manager Nikki Dawson, who is kind enough to pack patrons into her Subaru at the end of the night and drive them back to their hotel.
It is a crime against humanity that this production isn't touring the state. Ready audiences could be found who would appreciate the lively and engaging wit, the relevant and meaningful themes, and the high end production values that this effort brings to life. Seminar makes my heart recall the heyday of regional theater, when Alaska was strong and bold in her productions, and her companies recognized as the best in the nation.