A charmer. A brilliant political leader. A hypochondriac. A brave chorine. These are four characters I'm looking forward to seeing on stage this summer.
Only the chorus girl, an ambitious little dancer with eyes on Broadway, will appear in Durango. The rest I'll have to drive a bit to see. Santa Fe? Creede? Cedar City? Well worth it.
As we all "staycate" this summer because of the economic downturn, I still need a cultural fix. Music in the Mountains begins July 10, so what else is around?
"Dames at Sea" opens at the Henry Strater Theatre on June 19. Presented by Merely Players, the company founded by Mona Wood-Patterson and Charles Ford, "Dames" spoofs all those Depression-era musicals that untangle ambition, jealousy and love with a guaranteed happy ending. Ruby, a talented girl from the sticks (read: Utah), goes to New York, only to find herself shanghaied into a ship's company.
Created in the savvy '60s, "Dames" is all parody, all the time. When the musical opened off Broadway, it catapulted Bernadette Peters to stardom. Heavy on clichés, the local production features Jessica Hagemeister as Ruby and Adam Fontana as Dick, the boy of her dreams. Expect to see other talented local actors who have returned from college drama programs: Elizabeth Gray, Austin Hohnke, Landon Newton and Leah Nicula. The music sparkles, the whole thing is a romp, and "Dames" will run all summer at The Hank.
The summer "charmer" is no other than Don Juan, master seducer. He will appear in Mozart's great opera "Don Giovanni" in a Santa Fe revival beginning July 18. The young American baritone Lucas Meachem will sing the title role, dazzling all the women, creating enemies among the men and finally getting his comeuppance. So gratifying.
Mozart's 1787 work often is referred to as the world's most perfect opera. And I'll drive a long distance to see any production - especially the sumptuous revival at Santa Fe Opera.
You can see four others running through Aug. 29. A new production of "La traviata" is expected to be a stunner. I'm also anticipating the world premiere of Paul Moravec and Terry Teachout's "The Letter." It's based on a W. Somerset Maugham short story, has been filmed twice and turned into a riveting play, which I saw last year.
"Henry V," Shakespeare's brilliant exposition of a young and complex leader, is one of six plays running in repertory at the Utah Shakespearean Festival through Aug. 31. I wouldn't miss Brian Vaughn, one of America's finest stage actors, as Henry, nor would I miss the festival productions of "As You Like It" and "Comedy of Errors." In addition, you can see Noel Coward's witty "Private Lives" and the emotionally rich Cooper-Cronyn play "Foxfire." The musical this summer is "The Secret Garden."
The festival takes place in three theaters, one a replica of Shakespeare's Globe, and is housed on the beautiful campus of Southern Utah University. Cedar City is about a seven-hour drive. Plan well and you can see all six in three days.
Molière's "The Imaginary Invalid" opens at Creede Repertory Theatre on July 24. By that time, the theater will have mounted almost all of their summer productions, including three musicals: "A Wonderful Noise," "Swiss Family Robinson," and "Grimm Pajamas." Creede also has a concert series beginning June 22.
If you've never seen Molière's farce, why not this summer? We all know hypochondriacs. So now you can put your friends or relatives in hilarious perspective thanks to France's greatest playwright. Creede is just a few hours' drive and the season runs through Sept. 19.
Jud_reyn@yahoo.comJudith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic.