After Spokane audiences sold out all nine performance of resident playwright Molly Allen’s “Closing It Up,” the folks at Stage Left Theater must have known they had something special on their hands.
Special enough to submit the play, which premiered in October, to the Kaleidoscope Theatre Festival in Prosser, Washington, at the end of the month.
As per competition rules, plays must not be longer than an hour. Each theater group gets 10 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to break down their set, which must fit inside a 10-foot by 10-foot space.
In order to prepare for Kaleidoscope, the cast and crew will present the competition format of “Closing It Up,” complete with set up and breakdown, at the Bing Crosby Theater on Saturday.
“Closing It Up” is a comedy that follows three siblings who return to their childhood home following the deaths of their parents, working through grief while rehashing old conflicts.
The siblings were born 10 years apart and have very different memories of what their parents were like.
Allen stars as Sara, the middle child, who stayed in their hometown and is a married mother of two sons.
Mary Starkey stars as older sister Andrea, a Hollywood publicist, and Andrew Biviano plays brother Scotty, a lawyer in New York.
Mark Pleasant plays Scotty’s boyfriend, a fashion magazine writer named Marcus.
“Closing It Up” is directed by Heather McHenry-Kroetch, stage managed by Thomas Heppler and produced by Kelly Meilbrecht.
The play also stars Mary Jo Rudolf, Marty Kittleson and Penny Lucas.
In order to get the 90-minute play down to an hour, Allen and McHenry-Kroetch had to make some cuts.
Allen wanted to keep all seven characters in the shorter version, and McHenry-Kroetch wanted to keep the humor in the show.
Allen began to look at the script and cut dialogue that didn’t move the plot forward but that sometimes conflicted with funny moments, like a scene with Allen’s character in a dressing room, that McHenry-Kroetch was hoping to keep.
“That was a tricky balance because some of the stuff that was purely there for fun had to go because it didn’t move the story forward,” Allen said.
The cast and crew of “Closing It Up” will have about half a dozen rehearsals before heading to Prosser at the end of the month.
Spokane Civic Theatre is sending its production of Tracy Letts’ “Bug” to Prosser as well.
If either show makes it to the next round, they will have a hometown advantage during regionals, which will be at Spokane Civic Theatre.
The national competition culminates in the American Association of Community Theatre Festival in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
No matter how far they go, Allen and the rest of the “Closing It Up” cast and crew want to represent Stage Left Theater, and Spokane, as best as they can.
“Spokane typically does very well because we have a lot of really talented people here so we fare well in the national scene,” she said. “If it’s not us, we want it to be ‘Bug.’ We have to be Spokane strong.”
Kaleidoscope 2019 will also feature performances of “Emotional Baggage (Academy of Children’s Theatre, Richland); “Silent Sky” (Edmonds Driftwood Players); “The Savannah Sipping Society” (Stage West Community Theatre, Ocean Shores); “The Pillowman” (Tacoma Little Theatre); “Almost Maine” (The Bellingham Theatre Guild); “Metacycle” (The Changing Scene Theatre Northwest, Bremerton); “Vanities” (The Richland Players); “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]” (The Rude Mechanicals, Tri-Cities); and Act I of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (Valley Theater Company, Prosser).
Performance sessions are Feb. 28-March 2. All performances are open to the public. Festival passes are $25, and single day passes cost $10-$20. Passes are available at www.theprincesstheatre.net or at the Princess Theatre box office before all performance sessions.
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