Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Texarkana Waltz"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"Texarkana Waltz"

by Louis Broome
Directed by John Kevin Fennessy

Set Design by Rodrigo de Mendoza
Lighting Design by Michael Franzese
Original Music, Score & Musical Direction by Andri Leonardo
Costumes & Props by Matilda
Co-Stage Manager Michelle Aguillon
Co-Stage Manager Lida McGirr

Eddie Wickett........................................................Barlow Adamson
Emma Wickett............................................................Sheila Stasack
Houston Wickett.....................................................Charles Linshaw
Dallas Wickett............................................................Kelly Lawman
Cowboy Bob/Warden Bob/Nurse Bob/Father Bob.....William Church
Morgan......................................................................Kate Fitz Kelly
Nurse Bessie...........................................................Rebecca Mobley
Slim/Twitty...............................................................Augustus Kelly
Sheriff Truett/Mr. Wickett...........................................Thomas Reiff
Mrs. Wickett............................................................Kippy Goldfarb
Patsy............................................................................Gwen Sweet

The Cowbloy Bob Band
Fiddle/Vocals....................Adriana Gnap
Vocals...........................Rebecca Mobley
Guitar..................................Moises Sole
Bass.................................. Owen Biddle
Drums (bandlweader).......Michael Vitali

What happened was this: Kelly saw this play out in L.A. by Louis Broome and liked it so much she looked around Boston trying to find somebody to do it. But nobody did. So finally everybody said Hell, let's just do it ourselves! And what happened was, there was this new Code that said Actors' Equity members could do a Members Project presentation, and five or six of the people wanting to do it were Equity, so what happened was they got Kevin Fennessy for a director and rented the little Threshold Theatre space, and called themselves Matilda Productions ('cause you gotta have a name), and found a really good little four-piece band, and what happened was they all pitched in and did this unBelievable funny-sad play called "Texarkana Waltz" and it just opened tonight and it's Wonderful and everybody's just Gotta go see it!

What happens is --- well, probably I shouldn't tell you what happens, because the characters tell you pretty quick and straight on when the play begins. But it mostly concerns a kid that is so traumatized by witnessing a horrible thing that, since he's always played at being a cowboy he grows up all retreated into a kind of fantasy world where he is a sort of protégé of a western gunslinger hero called Cowboy Bob. And what happens is that William Church plays Cowboy Bob. (That's okay to tell because it's in the playbob.) Oh, see what happens is Church plays a whole mess of people, like Warden Bob and Father Bob and a psychiatric nurse called Nurse Bob and Preacher Bob and so what happened was people just didn't think it right to call the program a playBill, y'see?

Oh there's a lot of cute little details in there, because after all so much of the play is done in the style of a kid's western novel, and I couldn't help but laugh fit to bust! But what happened was it was opening night, and nobody'd had no chance to read any reviews to tell them all how funny things was and I hate like hell to sit there laughin' all alone so I had to sorta just sit there chucklin' to myself inside. (But You can laugh.)

But what happens is all this really funny western parody stuff is actually working through this poor guy's psyche on a quest for sanity, so right up in the middle of some of the biggest laughs something real sharply moving would snap the mood around so sharp what happened was I felt hot tears leaking out the bottom of my beard. And there's lots of no-nonsense real stuff in there too, like the boy's sister (Kelly Lawman plays his sister) has to take this poor nearly catatonic grown man/young kid when his psychiatric hospital closes, and Kate Fitz Kelly plays her lover, who is worried she might be trying too hard to make him grow up too quick, and there ain't much to laugh at there, is there?

What happens is there's a lot of different characters, some of 'em real and some of 'em from the Cowboy Bob book, and even with people going off in one costume and coming right back on in another, there's a whole passel more actors in this here play than I seen in almost anything on that little Threshold Theatre stage. Kippy Goldfarb's there, playing the boy's old, blind granny --- and her at a much younger age as well. Sheila Stasack plays his momma --- but mostly her biggest scenes are playing her own ghost. Thomas Reiff gets to play his poetical grandfather as well as Sheriff Truett in... well, I guess you know in what ... and Augustus Kelly has the Longest handlebar moustaches when he comes on as Slim, but he's real polite and respectful and clean-shaved when he's being the best friend of the boy's daddy, a prison guard called Twitty.....

Uh-oh. Maybe I shouldn't a told that. But, what happens is Barlow Adamson plays the boy's daddy and he spends nearly the whole time he's in the play strapped in a big old electric chair, and I can tell you that 'cause what happens is when you walk in and set down there's that big old electric chair with the words Oklahoma State Penitentiary stencilled on it in bright red letters, so you'd know somebody'd use it fer Somethin' 'fore the evening was over, wouldn't you?

Charles Linshaw plays the boy, Houston Wicket, who is sometimes a little boy, and sometimes a grown, traumatized man, and sometimes an apprentice gunslinger, and sometimes a man reaching unwillingly toward sanity, and he's awful good. Everyone's awful good. And you don't hafta worry about the laughing and the crying because I Can tell you even though it might not look it sometimes this here play has prob'ly the happiest ending a play like this could have --- and the fiddle-playing alone will stir your soul! For a play about love, murder, revenge and the wild west, with rhymed verse and little hints of Hamlet thrown in along with all the tears and all the laughter, I can't see why all these Equity people couldn't find anyone but themselves to produce it.
But I'm damn glad they did. And so will you.

Love,
===Anon.


"Texarkana Waltz" (26 July - 18 August)
MATILDA PRODUCTIONS (Equity Members' Project presentation)
Threshold Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON
1 (617)746-4326


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