Treasure Island, 2010

Allen Pontes as George, and Julie Anchor as Helene
MSTW Continues Hilarious Summer Season With “Alone Together”
by Rachel Norris (Ledger Dispatch)
August 18, 2019

Viewing local theatre companies’ productions is one of my favorite ways to spend a summer’s evening. There’s really something different about kicking off my shoes, having the cool grass on my feet, munching on some snacks and watching good old-fashioned live theatre. It’s just a totally different experience than going to the movie theatres, an experience I highly suggest for those of you who have never gone.

This year, Main Street Theatre Works (MSTW) is celebrating 25 years of providing live entertainment in Amador County. Their 2019 Summer Season was first kicked-off with the comedy “Leading Ladies,” which has now moved over to make way for their second summer show “Alone Together,” written by Lawrence Roman in 1983 and directed by Susan McCandless. This production was a bit special to me because it was my first time seeing a play in the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, which was just delightful, as well as my first time viewing a production by Main Street Theatre Works. I was certainly not let down!

“Alone Together” is very easy to connect and relate to, whether you’re a middle-aged parent who can’t wait for the kids to officially be out of the house, or a young adult who has thought about rooming back with your parents because of setbacks in your life, or still trying to “figure it out.” Not to mention, it’s just downright hilarious. The story takes place in September of 1985 in West Los Angeles, California, starring the Butler family. Parents Helene (Julie Anchor) and George (Allen Pontes) are trying not to get too excited about their youngest son Keith (Conner Ohlrich) moving out of the house to start his first semester of college in the state of Washington. Once he is finally out of the door, luggage and all, Helene and George believe they are finally free of sharing their house with their kids…or are they? Dreams of the house to themselves, carefree activities and the chance to fulfill some of their long-lost passions are quickly thwarted. Their oldest son, 30-year-old Michael (Jason Kaye), who is supposed to be on the opposite side of the country and enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suddenly appears in his childhood bedroom, once again, luggage and all. He is quickly followed by their 28-year-old son, Elliott (Eric Fawcett), whose marriage in Texas ended due to his extreme interest in other girls.

The play gets funnier and funnier, as the four of them try to figure out how to live around one another, and Michael and Elliott still have a lot of growing up to do. The circumstances become even more bizarre when a young woman shows up at their door introducing herself as Janie Johnson (Rian Lombardo), explaining that Keith told her she could room in his old bedroom for a while until she finds a place of her own. Suddenly, it’s a full house again, and Helene and George feel like they’re living in a nightmare.

The production had no shortage of funny jokes, and was slightly heavy on adult humor, which I really enjoyed. This was the first play I have seen in this county that had some curse words thrown in, some suggestive material and a few dirty jokes, and to be totally honest, it was quite refreshing! I love a comedy that can be a bit risqué once in a while.

 In the end, some great lessons were learned, breakthroughs were made, apologies were said, and Helene and George finally got the house to themselves after thirty long years of child rearing.

Earl Victorine as Duncan, Rick Grant-Coons as Leo, Skyler King as Jack
Leading Ladies Cashes In On Theater Staple For Fast-Paced Comedy
by Jeff Hudson (Capital Public Radio)
July 3, 2019

Men in drag have long been a staple of popular summer comedies staged outdoors.

This month, Main Street Theatre Works in the Sierra Foothills is proving that audiences still love laughing at a tall man in an awkward dress in the farce “Leading Ladies.”

In this play, by contemporary playwright Ken Ludwig, down-on-their-luck Shakespearean actors named Leo Clark and Jack Gable are barely making ends meet by performing at Moose Lodges in rural Pennsylvania. They see a newspaper item about a wealthy old woman who’s just died and bequeathed her fortune to her nieces — but the nieces had moved to England decades before and haven’t been heard from in years. One of the actors proposes that they don dresses, impersonate the long-lost nieces and cash in.

At first, his companion will have none of it, and the two argue. But the lure of easy money is irresistible. Soon, these gentlemen are introducing themselves as the long-sought nieces, who have, naturally, been working in British theaters in their absence.

 

“Hello, hello, hello, my darlings. Oh how wonderful to arrive at long last, into the bosom of my own dear family. Oh, this blessed plot, this air, this realm…” Clark says, dressed as Maxine, when he meets the family.

 

There are, of course, complications. For one thing, the old woman with the money makes a miraculous recovery and is still very much alive and cranky. And as the play moves along, various family members begin to doubt the authenticity of their British guests. Soon, secret letters are circulating and doors are slamming as chaos ensues with people running every which way.

Shakespeare himself knew that a guy in drag could be good for the box office. Back in the 1500s, he had his most popular character — the burly Falstaff — don a dress in “The Mery Wives of Windsor,” and Elizabethan audiences loved it.

 

Director Allen Pontes does a good job setting up the scenes involving mistaken identity, lightning-quick costume changes and assorted schemes going off the rails. The play is smartly staged at a suitably rapid pace.

The cast of community actors in this production includes longtime stalwart Maggie Upton as the imperious old lady with the money, who eventually realizes that her nieces are imposters. But, she decides she likes them anyway — because it’s that kind of summer comedy.

The balmy evening air in the cozy Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre compliments the improbable shenanigans onstage. Take a picnic basket and enjoy.

Kelley Ogden as Savannah, Janey Pintar as Hayley, Mitch Alaire as Norleen (Mama)

(Jason Harper Photography)

Big Laughs for Main Street Theatre Works’ “Mama”

by Caitlyn Schaap, Ledger Dispatch

Jul 1, 2018

 

There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned road trip comedy. From the classics like “Vacation” to newer entries like “Little Miss Sunshine” there is something about watching everything go wrong in a cross-country voyage that never gets old. If you’re a fan of the genre, or you are just looking for a fun and up-beat way to spend a Friday or Saturday night in Jackson, then Main Street Theatre Works’ production of “Mama Won’t Fly,” is a must-see.

Opening its 15th season at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, MSTW premiered its first show of the summer last weekend. This bright and fun comedy is directed by Allen Pontes, director of last year’s hit comedy “Doublewide, Texas.” Penned by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, a playwriting team known for great comedies with strong female leads, the show centers on a group of three women on their disaster-plagued drive across the U.S.

The story follows Savannah Honeycutt (Kelley Ogden) who is trying to get Mama (Mitch Alaire) to her brother’s wedding in four days. There’s just one problem — Mama won’t fly. With airline tickets in hand, Mama, a perpetual meddler in Savannah’s life, tells her that fear of flying will prevent them from taking the flight and that they will be traveling to California in Mama’s Cadillac. Joining them on the journey is the bride to be, Haley Quinn (Janey Pintar) a bright ray of sunshine cursed with terribly bad luck.

The ensuing journey takes the three women, and the audience along for the ride, through trials and tribulations from a giant runaway ball of bras, to an Irish cowboy pub in the middle of nowhere, to grand-theft auto, Las Vegas and beyond in road trip comedy full of wacky situations and great supporting characters. 

Ogden, who we saw in “Doublewide, Texas” last summer, is a real star as Savannah, a career-focused divorcée with her own accessory business. Expressive, funny and believable in every scene, Ogden is an anchor in the wacky show. At her side is Pintar, a bright ray of sunshine in her portrayal of Haley and seeming to enjoy every minute of the performance. Pintar is also an MSTW veteran, who you may remember from last year’s “The Crucible,” and 2016’s “The Last Lifeboat.”

Rounding out the trio is Norleen Sprunt, or Mama, played by Mitch Alaire, who you may recognize from standout performances in Volcano Theatre Company’s productions of “Wait Until Dark” and “Lost in Yonkers.” Bringing a playful sass to the role, she is a pleasure to watch.

Supporting the three women is a delightful ensemble, all playing multiple roles. Supporting actors Amanda Aldrich, Lee Marie Kelly, Janet Motenko, Brandon Rapoza and Scott Taylor add color and plenty of laughs to the performance playing a variety of bizarre characters from a Vegas wedding officiant with a light-up showgirl costume, to an elderly docent at a bra museum, to a creepy cousin and more.

Janet Motenko almost steals the show with her hilarious portrayal of Essie, the elderly docent at the bra museum.

The show features an abstract set, made of multi-colored blocks  with moving pieces that are rearranged to create each new setting. It’s a fun and creative way to tackle a show that moves from place to place so much, with the bright colors embodying the spirit of show, and the actors and additional props helping paint the picture.

The costumes stand out as well, moving from more reserved colors and styles at the top of the show, to more wild and colorful outfits as the trip moves forward. With plenty of laughs, a fun story, impressive performances and colorful visuals this is a perfect show for a summer evening. 

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