BWW Reviews: ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS Opens at McCoy Theatre
When I went to see Jane Martin's comedy Anton in Show Business, I was expecting an acerbic, all female, backstage farce at its fourth-wall-shattering best. What I found instead was a cast of promising young actors stuck with a ham-handed script. After the opening monolgue, the loss of purpose was palpable--as if the playwright had gone with her every initial impulse instead of looking further.
This play within a play follows three actresses through pre-production of Chekov's Three Sisters in San Antonio, Texas. Intriguing premise, except that each main character was a ubiquitous stereotype: Lisbette (Rachel Harris) -- naïve, hyper-religious, small town virgin. Casey (Emily Tarr) -- aging, single, failed actress and Holly, (Katie Marburger) -- Hollywood bimbo hooked on plastic surgery and shallow sex. Of those three, I felt Rachel Harris' performance gave her character the most dimension and presence.
While the leading roles were sitcom-level, the three second-tier supporting actresses had edgy, challenging roles --not because the characters, themselves were written with any more originality, (These supporting stereotypes included the arrogant director, the homespun country singer, the neurotic gay fashion designer, the assertive lesbian career woman, the ruthless, tobacco company executive, the militant feminist . . . and so on) but because multiple roles (three apiece, with women playing men) were taken on by each actor (Misty O'Neal, Léerin Campbell and Madison Tallant).
Their transformations in appearance, mannerism, vocal intonation and temperament were bold, well-defined and consistent. (Decades ago, I taught adult E.S.L. and state for the record that Wikéwitch's (Madison Tallant) Russian accent sounded spot on.)
Still, I would have cared about all of these characters more had they been in a better story. As it was, they felt like little more than constructs in sketch comedy going off on dead-end, punchline driven tangents. One cliché hooked onto another like a third rate circus train chugging on to nowhere--and since actors instinctively want to take material somewhere, spasms of overacting flared up from time to time.
The Gate Manager (Francesqua Santos) was competent and solid and Joby (Olivia Gacka) was wholly believable as a young theatre critic. Kathy Haaga's simple set was visually interesting and versatile. The stage was managed throughout the show by the swift and capable Samantha Ramsey, Emma Vescovo, Francesca Santos and Collin Hall--though crediting this crew as "Set Ninjas," naming them after The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and costuming them with sashes, headbands and plastic swords was a distraction that felt too "high school cute" for a college production.
Despite the lackluster material, Director Bob Hetherington got a lot out of his cast and crew, and seeing the supporting cast play all those roles is worth the price of admission.
Anton in Show Business plays November 1st, 2nd and 7th - 10th
Evening Performances: 7:30pm and Sunday Matinees: 2:00pm
Show Tickets are priced as follows:
Rhodes Students: $2.00
Community Students: $5.00
Senior Citizens (65+): $7.00
General Admission (All Other Tickets): $10.00