BWW Review: Theatre Artists Studio Wraps Up Its Season With Well-Tailored NEW SUMMER SHORTS

BWW Review: Theatre Artists Studio Wraps Up Its Season With Well-Tailored NEW SUMMER SHORTS

Thirteen years into their NEW SUMMER SHORTS, the members of Theatre Artist Studio remain in top form, reaching into their collective pockets for story lines that play on our fancies and foibles. This year's collection of eight ten-minute plays rises to the level of the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae. It's dessert time for a Season that has feasted its audiences with some pretty fine productions.

As ever, the playwrights have demonstrated the power of brevity.

In Alan Austin's comedy of error, THE RENTAL CAR, a couple (Jason Isaak and Julie Lee) on the way to their daughter's wedding, confront the challenges of driving the right (?) side of the road while fighting against time to arrive on time. Slapstick, sure, but refreshing in its trunkful of laughs and a neat closing twist.

Marcia Weinberg does double duty in two distinctive and forceful performances. One, in Micki Shelton's touching JITTERBUG, she plays Dalia, an older woman reminiscing about a youthful romance undone by prejudices. Her younger self (Tatum Grell) and beau (David Machbitz) are the dance shadows of her earlier life, a moment of nostalgia that allows her to embrace the dancers. In A LIFE ASSEMBLED by Kirt Shineman, Weinberg assumes the mantle and poise of Louise Nevelson, the American sculptor known for wooden wall pieces, comprised of urban debris that, when assembled, conveyed stories of the environs from which they were drawn. In an illuminating exchange with Martha K. Jackson (Laura Munoz Bottini), one of the most influential art dealers in post-World War II America, Shineman has shined a light on the ego that defined a giant.

Debra Gettleman, a long-time member of The Studio and now the Managing Director of Seattle's Phoenix Theatre, has sent the company a long-distance love letter in the form of AN OLFJKJJJLJTY ISSUE. Directed by Richard Hardt, the playlet is a hoot. After thirty years of marriage, Darian (Judith Eisenberg), a self-identified "super smeller," reveals that she can no longer tolerate Joe's (Rob Evans) odors. Metabolism be damned! Eisenberg is hilarious as the crusty scold to Evans's bewildered and defenseless hubby!

All of us (reviewers, too) have been there, at intermission, wondering whether or not we should stay, deferring hopefully that our companion will give the green light to leave. Under Patti Suarez's direction of Joe Bardin's INTERMISSION, Jason Isaak and Kimberly Phelps wrestle with the question, to go or not to go! They are the couple we all know!

Suarez, a class act in herself, never fails to deliver, whether on stage or behind the curtain. She returns as Vinnie, in a tender depiction of a great grandmother bringing a message of possibility (the light in a bottle) from the great beyond to Susan Sindelar's Anna, in Kathleen Buckstaff's heartful CALL ME VINNIE!, directed by Martha Welty. Suarez and Sindelar are a perfect pair in this story of love and hope.

The program of shorts also includes THE GOOD DOCTOR by Les Leiter, directed by Donna DeCarl and featuring Patti Hurtado and Kirt Shineman, and ROOM 217 by Tim Ashby, directed by Barbara Acker and featuring Julie Lee, Judith Eisenberg, and Patti Hurtado.

NEW SUMMER SHORTS runs through June 24th at THE STUDIO in Scottsdale, AZ.

Poster credit to Theatre Artists Studio

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From This Author Herbert Paine

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