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Summer Theatre Closure Stuns Staff

The move (to close the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre) left Roger Welch, the artistic director who has been with CST since 1986, and Michelle Mendez, the executive director, shocked. Both said they had presented to the board what they believed was viable business plan and two major fundraisers that would put the theater in the black. “There was a plan to fix this that was going to work,” Welch said. “They weren’t buying it.” Mendez said she didn’t expect it to go this far. “We had a plan for a big fundraiser and we were figuring out how to cut back. We had a plan to go by, but Roger and I were excused from the executive session”/Carolyn Lamberson, SR. More here. (SR file photo: Mallory King and Christian Duhamel rehearse for CST’s production of “Mary Poppins”)

Question: Do you expect the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre to rise from the ashes?

Travolta Urges CSTheatre Donations

The fate of Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre rests in the performing arts organization's ability to raise $150,000. And it has to be done quickly. "We need support now," said actress Ellen Travolta, of Coeur d'Alene. Travolta's acting resume includes roles on several hit television sitcoms. She has been a staple on the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre stage since 1990, and formerly served on the nonprofit's board. Earlier this week, season ticket subscribers and the public learned that financial woes may force the cancellation of the 46-year-old theater group's 2014 season. The situation is more dire and urgent than many people realize, Travolta told The Press on Friday. Lackluster ticket sales, in recent years and during this summer's four shows, leave the organization in need of $150,000 to break even/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene. More here.

Question: Do you plan to contribute to fund to save Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre?

Curtain falling on CdA Summer Theatre

This is the final season of Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre "unless the community tells us otherwise," Executive Director Michelle Mendez said today. Ticket sales are at a 10-year low, and that's the primary income to produce the shows, Mendez and Artistic Director Roger Welch said in a letter to patrons. "The situation is dire and we are appealing to you, our loyal fans, for help," they wrote. To keep the program going, they asked for donations or pledges to purchase season tickets for summer 2014. The newest musical, "9 to 5," opens Thursday. Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre also staged "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Mary Poppins" and "Romance Romance" this summer.

Are you a fan of CdA Summer Theatre?

CST To Debut ‘Romance, Romance’

Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre debuts "Romance/Romance" next week at the Schuler Performing Arts Center on the North Idaho College campus. Opening night is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. "Audiences will love this unique show, where they get two love stories in one show," said Roger Welch, CST artistic director and director of Romance/Romance. "This show has lots of sparkle and intelligence; it will keep audiences entertained with romance, and the music is beautiful." Romance/Romance consists of two separate one-act plays with only four actors. The first act takes place in turn-of-the-century Vienna, while the second act is set in modern day in the Hamptons. Both acts take a look at varied romance seekers/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Gabe Green photo: Matt Wade, left, and Joy Martin act out a scene from "Romance Romance")

Question: Do you plan to see this play?

OTV reviews Mary Poppins

From left, Mallory King, Sophie Anderson, Tiger Ashtianti and Christian Duhamel star in Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins.”

CdA Summer Theater's production of Mary Poppins is based on the 2004 hit Broadway version of the P.L. Travers naughty nanny epic, and it differs slightly from the film. Gone are several of my favorite elements: the clucking ladies who grasp for the china and knick knack shelves every time the bell rings, and the tea party on the ceiling at Uncle Albert's. Also, Mrs. Banks is now an unfulfilled actress rather than a suffragette, and in the stage production, Mary takes the kids to visit the ancient Miss Corry's candy shop, something which didn't exist in the film. No matter, the musical performances, stage sets, lighting and magic special effects are so incredible you never even have the opportunity to stop and notice the differences at all. More here.

You can read Carolyn Lamberson's review here.

OTV sez, "There are only five performances left and it's got to be close to selling out, so get on it peeps!"

Sam and I loved the Broadway touring production of Mary Poppins. Are you a Poppins' fan?

CST Begins Season With ‘Big River’

Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre kicks off its season Thursday with a production of “Big River.” Here are four things to know about CST this year. 1. The first two plays are the most technically challenging to mount. “Big River” is an adaptation of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” and as such is mostly set on a raft floating down the Mississippi River. CST purchased the set from Village Theater in Seattle, said CST’s artistic director Roger Welch. “The raft moves on its own around the set. It’s motorized,” he said. “It’s a beautiful set.” “Mary Poppins,” of course, features plenty of feats of theatercraft, with flying and other magic tricks. More difficult is the scene where Bert the chimneysweep dances on the ceiling. Literally. Welch called it one of the most difficult dance scenes he’s ever seen. 2. There are some major Broadway pedigrees here/Carolyn Lamberson, SR. More here. (Kathy Plonka SR photo: Terence Kelley stars as Jim in the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre production of “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”)


Question: How many Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre plays do you see per summer?

CST’s ‘Ragtime’ Opens Tonight

Harry Houdini makes an appearance. So does Henry Ford. J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman. Admiral Robert Peary. Booker T. Washington. These real-life characters rub elbows with the well-heeled, the immigrants and the African-Americans who inhabit the world E.L. Doctorow created in his 1975 novel “Ragtime.” Local theatergoers will be transported back to 1906 America beginning tonight when Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre stages the Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical adaption of the novel. In terms of plot summary, “Ragtime” seems simple enough. It’s the story of turn-of-the-20th-century America, as told through the eyes and experiences of three distinct social classes: a wealthy white family, a family of Jewish immigrants and an African-American musician. The real life characters from America’s history add to the tapestry as well/Carolyn Lamberson, SR. More here. (Kathy Plonka SR photo: Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s production of “Ragtime” includes, from left, Joann Coleman and John Devereaux)

Question (for Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre fans): Which CST production has been best so far this season?

Review: You’ll Love CST’s ‘Spamalot’

It cannot be easy playing the straight man in “Spamalot.” In the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre production of the Tony-winning musical comedy, that task falls to Eric Jensen as he assumes the role of Arthur, King of the Britons. “It’s hard, but it’s really rewarding,” Jensen said. “We have so many wonderful, talented comedians, it’s a joy to just be able to sit there and give them stage and space and try to keep a straight face.” In this Tony-winning musical comedy, Arthur leads his band of merry knights – Robin, Lancelot, Galahad and Bedevere – on a quest through the early Middle Ages to find the Holy Grail. Along the way, they encounter the Lady of Lake, Tim the Enchanter, the Knights who say Ni, the French taunter, the Black Knight and a very nasty rabbit/Carolyn Lamberson, SR. More here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Wanna play favorite Monty Python films?

Here’s John Travolta, with CdA’s Munchkins

John Travolta talks to all of the Munchkins in the cast of "Wizard of Oz" during intermission, in this photo sent in by Laura Little of the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre.

Travolta was in town to attend "The Wizard of Oz" because two of his sisters, Ellen and Margaret, played the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch, respectively.

He apparently gave the children an inspiring talk about following their dreams.

"A special day indeed for the 27 local children," noted Little.

CST’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ Opens Tonight

This show has a Tin Man, a Scarecrow and a Cowardly Lion. It has a 19-piece orchestra playing classic Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg songs, including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It has a flying Wicked Witch who is – no doubt about it – 100 percent evil. It is, in no way, a prequel, a sequel, a retelling or a reimagining. In other words, the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s “The Wizard of Oz” is a faithful stage version of the classic 1939 MGM movie, from its head all the way down to its Toto(s). It has all of the charms and even most of the dialogue of the movie. And that came as a pleasant surprise to Margaret Travolta, who plays both Glinda (the Good Witch) and Auntie Em/Jim Kershner, SR. More here. (SR photo/Jesse Tinsley: Margaret Travolta (right) plays Glinda the Good Witch while Mallory McKooney-King plays Dorothy)

Question: Have you ever read Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz" or any of the other Oz books?

Hi-Noon: ‘Oz” To Launch CST Season

The Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre will launch another season a week from today with its production of "The Wizard of Oz" (June 9-19). 'Wizard' will be followed by "A Little Night Music" (June 30-July 10), "Once on this Island" (July 9-19), and "The Sound of Music" (Aug. 11-21). You can read about this year's plays here.

Question: Which Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre production ranks as your all-time favorite?

Summer Theatre Takes ‘Bee’ To Moscow

In what is hoped to be just the first of many co-productions with Idaho Repertory Theatre, the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre will present five performances of the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in Moscow next week to open the IRT season. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Hartung Theatre on the UI campus. Kelly Quinnett of the University of Idaho theatre department, who will be co-creative director of IRT next year, said she and “Spelling Bee” director Roger Welch had talked about doing a co-production for years and that things finally fell into place/Alan Solan, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here. (SR Photo/Kathy Plonka: Scene from “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” with Reed McColm and Yvonne Same)

Question: Are you a fan of the theater?

High Noon: Kennedys Make CST Debut

Those of you lured away by the sights and sounds of Car d’Lane Saturday night missed the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre debut of Councilman Mike Kennedy and his son, Will. The Kennedys were two of the four audience members invited on stage by the thespians to join in the antics of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Papa Kennedy survived three rounds, spelling “Mexican” and “boulia” correctly before stumbling on “muntjac.” Young Will survived 4 or 5 rounds before being eliminated before intermission on a word that the enunciator made up, something that started with hippo and continued on for another 15 or so letters. Good fun. Good play.

Question: Have you ever performed on stage?

CdA Resort To Offer ‘Pirate’ Cruise

Kids are absolutely going to love this. The serenity of Idaho’s tranquil waters is soon to be interrupted by a band of swashbuckling salty sea dogs, as the Pirates of the Caribbean culture craze spreads from the high seas of Hollywood to the forested shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene. “The resort has been doing scenic lake cruises for years, so this year they decided it would be fun to try out a Pirate-Themed Summer Cruise,” says Jillian Kramer, production director (and Director of Entertainment at the Lake City Playhouse). This isn’t your average troupe of circus-sideshow wannabees — more than 60 actors auditioned, Kramer says/Blair Tellers, Pacific Northwest Inlander. More here.

Question: Do you include summer cruises on Lake Coeur d’Alene aboard Hagadone Hospitality boats among your traditional summer fun activities?

‘Spelling Bee’ Opens CST Season

Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater’s version of 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee from left Reed McColm, Yvonne Same, Jay Paranda, Kara Jones, Matthew Wade, Andrew Hartley, Mallory Cooney King and Laura Sable. Jim Kershner discusses the show that will open the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre season this year here. (SR Photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: My wife and I bought each other season tickets for our gifts to each other for our 35th wedding anniversary on June 21. I’m sure we’ll both enjoy the gift b/c summer theater is a good way to enjoy summer evenings in Coeur d’Alene.

GONI! ‘Spelling Bee’ Opens CST Season

Get Out! North Idaho (via Facebook): It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That is, Cd’A Summer Theater is starting it’s new season June 12 with “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Description: “a hilarious tale of overachievers’ angst chronicling the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime.” Oh, and it’s a musical, of course.

Question: On average, how many of the four plays of the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater do you watch in a summer season?

CST’s ‘Producers’ Opens Tonight

I watched the dress rehearsal of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” Thursday night. I can see why Digger’s begging for tickets for this one. It’s funny. Complex. And deserves a PG-13 rating. It may be the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre production of the summer. The show opens tonight and runs through Saturday, July 18,  starring Eric Hadley as Max Bialystock (left), Jen Davis as Ulla, and Matt Wade as Leo Bloom. You can read Jim Kershner’s thoughts regarding the complicated play here. I plan to see it again next Thursday as a paying customer. (J. Bart Rayniak/SR)

Question: What is the last Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre production that you saw?