Bring Back Laura Marr in “One for the Road”

Paris Letter Runing, Hairspray Coming

Blame me and everyone else who writes about theater. We missed the boat on encouraging you  to see the funniest play of the season. It closed last weekend, and that means you also missed the best comedic performance in many a season.

The play was Willie Russell’s One for the Road at the Circle Theatre, and the performance was Laura Marr’s portrayal of a pretentious woman who turns into a side-splitting drunk. And that doesn’t mean she overshadowed three other stellar turns by Stephanie Anderson, Ben Birkholtz and David Sindelar.

Ask a whole table full of theater fans who saw it on the same night: Sherry Fletcher, Anne Shaughnessy, Melissa Jarecke and M. Michele Phillips, among others. (And don’t overlook Michele’s far different success in directing The Paris Letter, the SNAP! Production running through April 1. It makes effective use of flashbacks, thanks to narration by Randy Vest, in a cast including Connie Lee, Eric Grant-Leanna, Michal Simpson and the surprisingly mature 18-year-old, Noah Diaz.)

But you can still catch the SNAP! drama. If you want to see the Circle Theatre comedy, then beg and plead with Doug and Laura Marr to bring it back next season. Or next month. Or next week.

Meanwhile, I’ll apologize for all of us who should have done a better job of spreading the word amidst a flurry of theater openings.

That won’t be a problem with Hairspray, the musical coming to the Omaha Community Playhouse in May. We were lucky enough to sit next to its director, Susie Baer Collins, at another great 21 & Over staged reading, Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker, with memorable performances by Christina Rohling, Laura Leininger, Mark Thornburg, Doug Hayko and Bailey Newman.

Susie was full of enthusiasm after 175 auditioned for Hairspray, a record turnout except when youngsters are clamoring for roles in Annie. She called 65 back over three days and they left her laughing so hard “my face hurt.”

The only bad thing about her “surfeit of riches,” was having to say “No, thank you to so many incredible people.”

Speaking of 21 & Over and incredible people, Amy Lane’s series of staged readings is sponsored by Omaha Steaks, which also heavily supports the Blue Barn. And Fred and Eve Simon, who have some influence on Omaha Steaks, are now co-chairs of trustees for the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival.

I’ll be surprised if they don’t end up backing those new “adventurous” offerings of the Playhouse such as August: Osage County.

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

posted at 09:31 am
on Sunday, March 18th, 2012

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