It was probably one of the more unusual theater weekends in Carson City when two plays, each featuring two actors in unusual circumstances, opened Friday night. One was a musical; the other two one-acts featured Carson High School teachers. Both were rousing successes.
The musical, "The Last Five Years," had a cast of two veterans, both recently appearing in the show "Crazy For You." Joshua Jessup as Jamie turned in his usual impeccable performance, singing his part as the man who lost his girl after five years of problems.
Opposite him was Andie Anderson as Catherine. Her role in "Crazy For You" wasn't exactly sympathetic, but here she came into her own, giving her side of the story of the five years. Despite having a lower-key role, she brought her character to life with a pure, clear voice and a quiet sense of inevitability.
Good things are surely ahead for both actors.
They were accompanied by a fine six-piece orchestra, two cellos, a violin, a bass, a guitar and John Shipley at piano and as conductor. Seldom has any production in Carson City had such a professional backing.
The music, by Jason Robert Brown, was craggy and not exactly the sort that audiences whistle as they leave, but it was effective. Staging was basic, with a back-projector flashing images on a large screen at significant moments.
Director/producer Christopher James' staging was quiet and fluid - nothing spectacular, just as it should have been.
"High Dive" and "21-A"
At the same time, in the Bob Boldrick Theatre in the Carson City Community Center on the stage apron, the two one-acts were given fine performance by Carson High teachers, Karen Chandler (drama coach at CHS) and Jason Macy (English teacher). Each directed the other's show.
Chandler 's "High Drive" was a sophisticated work by Leslie Ayvazian in which a woman stands at the top of a high dive in Greece, trying to find the courage to jump. During her musings, her past flits by.
This is a very funny examination of a woman, and Chandler gives it brilliant life, jumping about with parts of her character's history, in proof that she clearly knows her theater business. Appearing in a black, one-piece swimsuit (with a short kind of tutu "for modesty," she said), Chandler is totally at ease and supremely confident. It's a tour de force performance and not to be missed.
Macy's "21-A," written by Kevin Kling, takes place in a bus. The show is much broader, much louder, much more active physically than "High Dive." It even includes (I think, as I didn't keep notes) 13 changes of costume. The most successful is one in which as a woman with shopping bags harangues other bus riders.
"21-A" is a perfect complement to "High Dive" in its fast action, off-stage comments via loudspeakers and wider sketching of life. It's another singular triumph, and if Macy is a good at English as he is at acting, his classes must be very popular.
Both shows continue next weekend.
n Contact Sam Bauman at email@example.com or 881-1236.
If you go
"The Last Five Years"
The Brewery Arts Center production continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the BAC Performance Hall, 511 W. King St. Tickets are $22 general admission, $18 for seniors, students and BAC members. There's a two-for-one price for students Friday. Call 883-1976.
"21-A" and "High Dive"
Performances are Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (no show Friday due to CHS homecoming) in the Bob Boldrick Theatre, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St. Tickets are $6, $7 and $8. Call 887-0438.