Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on September 10, 1972 · Page 111
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 111

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 10, 1972
Page 111
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Kaiiawha players facing critical season By Martha Smith The Kanawha Players have their work cut out for them during their 5lst season. They have chosen a series of five plays which are designed, as Director Barry Steinman explains, "to draw our audience away from chairs in front of television sets to experience live productions which have more excitement." This will be a critical year financially for the Players, as they strive to equal last year's revenue, which included proceeds from the 51st anniversary celebration. Steinman is the first to acknowledge that this will be a "sink or swim" year for the community theater group. "We need something to stir up interest in the Players," he explains. "We could have a problem trying to follow last year's financial success. "It's up to concerned people willing to beat the bushes for extra money. There is no reason this town can't generate community theater excitement." He points to the Charleston, S.C. community theater production of "Porgy and Bess" which featured a city-wide all- Black cast. That show was so popular it was advertised in the New York Times. This Kanawha Players season offers a balance of comedy that is, at the same lime, thought provoking. The basic idea, however, is entertainment. The first show will be "The Women" by Claire Booth. This is a bounce-back show for the Players following the stunning blow they were dealt by the loss of "Dames at Sea." "Dames" was to have been the season opener, but after the initial announcement, rights to the show were lost during some fancy footwork on the part of the professional t h e a t e r owners. "I'm rather excited about 'The Women.' I think it can g e n e r a t e the interest 'Dames' would have," Steinman says with a good display of confidence. "It may not appeal to militant bra- burners, but under reexamination, it can be seen as a strong women's lib statement against Park Avenue matrons." The show will be staged Oct. 19 to 21. "Little Murders" by Jules Feiffer is the second show and is one which has received much publicity via the film starring Elliot Gould. Steinman doesn't think the film did justice to the play because the displays of violence pictured in the movie occur off-stage during the play. This show, to run Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, plays on word satire rather than visual satire. "This show was chosen because it is entertaining comedy, but it also has a point to make about cities," Steinman notes. "It takes a look into the not-too-distant Mure when murders are commited on the streets and no one pays any attention." Neil Simon's "The Gingerbread Lady" is the third show, focusing on the struggle of a woman attempting to return to realistic life TIME, SEPTEMBER 10, 1972 after bouts with alcoholism, divorce and nymphomania. This play shows us a more serious Neil Simon, but his comic approach is always visible. Characters include an aging homosexual actor, the central character and her daughter, an ex-boyfriend, and a friend who is so exquisitely turned out and perfect all the tune that her husband divorces her. This show will be mounted Jan. 25-27. "Play It Again. Sam" a play by Woody Allen for Woody Allen runs March 15-17. This play, Steinman points out, is "total commercial fluff." We explore the question: How do homely, insensitive men make it with women? One of the major problems with this show is finding a local actor who does a GOOD Humphrey Bogart impersonation. Another Neil Simon work "^laza Suite" closes the sjason April 26-28. We see mother Simon face, one which is just beginning to look at human failing. Although most people consider the play hilarious, there are some poignant slice-of-life scenes focusing on unfilled hopes. Steinman will direct this play completely away from the movie version. Although I can't completely hide my disappointment over loss of ''Dames at Sea," this Players season still retains a lot of power. It is a season which has the ability to bring back the popularity once enjoyed by the Kanawha Players. Most importantly, it is a year in which all the Players-especially t h e old hands and the new talent- must pull together in every way (building sets, selling tickets, acting) to save this organization. Steinman's attitude sums up pretty well the goal which the Players need so much to make a strong showing this year. He says simply and sincerely: "This year we must make ourselves known again. The Kanawha Players used to mean something here, and I'm bound and determined to see that we are again a source of pride for the Charleston community." 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