Stage West Presents ROLE PLAY, Begins 6/24

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Justin Lazenby and Julie-Ann Jobson are newly engaged, living happily in Justin's apartment in the London Docklands area. And they have decided to throw a dinner party so that they can meet each other's parents, and the parents can meet each other. What could go wrong? Well, since the playwright is Britcom master Alan Ayckbourn, everything is likely to go wrong, quickly and hilariously, and it does, as Stage West presents RolePlay, which will begin its run Thursday, June 24.

Julie-Ann is having something of a meltdown over the party, insisting that every detail be perfect. It's March, and the weather is not cooperating-there's a fairly intense wind-and-rain event in progress. The parents are late. The absence of one pudding fork sends a panicky Julie-Ann out in search of a replacement. And then Paige literally drops onto Justin's balcony. A former exotic dancer, she's decided to try to escape from her mobster boyfriend, and she's barely missed falling into the Thames. And she's followed, shortly, by her ex-boxer bodyguard Micky, who refuses to leave. When Julie-Ann's very conservative parents arrive, followed by Justin's rather inebriated mother, the stage is set for the dinner party from hell-and a riotous evening in the theatre for audiences.

Alan Ayckbourn is noted for being a playwright who loves to dissect, in comedic fashion, the failures of relationships and family life. In a 2002 interview with famed theatre critic Michael Billington, Ayckbourn said, "When I started out, there were serious plays where the lighting was desperately dark and the tempo turgid, and comic plays where madness prevailed and everyone talked like Dick Van Dyke on speed. What I've tried to do is bring these elements together, which is a bit like dancing on The Edge of a razor blade."

Ayckbourn is a prolific and highly respected playwright, sometimes called "the Moliere of the middle classes," whose works (70 full plays, and over 20 other revues and plays for children) have spanned some forty years. Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough from 1972 to 2009, he also spent two years as visiting director at London's National Theatre. More than half his plays have been produced in the West End or at the National Theatre; at one point, Ayckbourn held the record for having the most professional productions of his work being performed simultaneously in the West End. His work is characterized by his constant willingness to experiment with stage time and space, which led the Michael Billington to label him as one of the few British playwrights to be constantly pushing the envelope of theatre. In 1997, he became the first playwright to be knighted since Terence Rattigan. Ayckbourn suffered a stroke in 2006, but later that year was directing his latest play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. His most recent work is this year's Life of Riley.

Director Jerry Russell has assembled a terrific cast for this piece, including two actors new to Stage West. Playing the engaged couple Justin and Julie-Ann will be Justin Flowers, most recently seen as Father Welsh in The Lonesome West, and Cheryl Lowber, a recent MFA grad from SMU whose credits include Lindy Love in the Theatre Three production of Ayckbourn's House and Garden. Returning to our stage as Julie-Ann's parents will be Jim Covault, Stage West's Artistic Director, and Amy Mills, whose recent credits include Rona Lisa Peretti in Theatre Three's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Dana Schultes, director of our production of Copenhagen, and last on our stage as Jean in Dead Man's Cell Phone, will play Paige, while Judy Keith, whose many Stage West credits include Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, will play Justin's mother. Rounding out the cast as bodyguard Micky will be Jeff McGee, most recently seen as Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Lone Star Christmas Carol at Circle Theatre.

The Docklands apartment set will be designed by Jim Covault, with lighting by Michael O'Brien. Costume design will be by Covault and Peggy Kruger-O'Brien.

RolePlay will preview Thursday, June 24 at 7:30 and Friday, June 25 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, July 25. There will be no performance on Sunday, July 4. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, June 26 following the play. Ticket prices range from $26 to $30, with discounts for students and seniors. Preview tickets are priced at only $15. Pay What You Can performances will be Sunday, June 27 and Thursday, July 1. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations strongly advised). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.


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