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Lake City Playhouse heads to nationals with edgy ‘K2’

George Green, top and Todd Kehne, in Lake City Playhouse’s production of “K2,” which will be presented this week at AACTFest. (File)
George Green, top and Todd Kehne, in Lake City Playhouse’s production of “K2,” which will be presented this week at AACTFest. (File)

It may have been a risk, but it finally paid off.

Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City Playhouse was recognized at the regional level by the American Association of Community Theatre for its production of “K2,” which ran in January as part of the 2012-13 season.

Now the show is off to nationals.

An hourlong version of the show will be presented at AACTFest, a competition featuring performances from the most notable community theaters and productions from around the country. The event starts Monday and runs through next Sunday at the Tarkington Theater in Carmel, Ind.

But actually getting “K2” to the Coeur d’Alene stage was a challenge in itself. George Green, the Playhouse’s artistic director, had wanted to put on the show for years, despite the intensity of the material.

“It’s a very edgy production,” Green said. “Most theaters will pass on a script like ‘K2.’ Is it going to be a big seller? Probably not.”

Green, who also stars in the show, says the fact that “K2” isn’t a popular stage adaptation is one of the reasons it demands attention. “This isn’t ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ ” he said. “Not many theaters perform it, and that’s advantageous. It makes us unique.”

The play, written by Patrick Meyers, is a character piece focused on two climbers who are stranded on an icy ledge near the summit of the world’s second tallest mountain. They only have a single rope between them, and one of the men has a broken leg. They’re facing almost certain death.

“K2” is reliant on minimalism: There are only two characters, played by Green and co-star Todd Kehne, and only one set, a climbable mountain face that’s 26 feet wide and 15 feet tall. It’s distressing stuff – the themes are heavy and the language is often crass – and it can be as daunting for the audience as it is for the characters.

“But that’s what artists should be doing,” Green said. “If you challenge your audience every once in a while with a show like this, there are rewards.”

Lake City is the first Idaho-based theater to make it to the national competition, representing a region that also includes Washington, Oregon and Alaska. The production won the regional competition this spring. AACT also recognized “K2” for its outstanding set design, by Green and Rustin Hall, and the direction by Troy Nickerson.

Green hopes the acknowledgement Lake City Playhouse has received from the organization will validate the work of the area’s community theaters.

“This is just another way of proving that our entire region has a level of talent that is truly top notch,” he said.

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