Women take the stage as U.S. presidents
KEYSTONE – Cidalia Alves plays at least four U.S. presidents in “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” but she never gets the chance to play the role she’s had for more than 20 years – a woman.Had she known this would be her Summer Stock fate, she may have never applied for the gig.”To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for ‘Once on This Island,'” Alves, a Connecticut native, said in reference to the now scratched musical that was originally on the bill for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s Summer Stock.Chris Alleman, performing arts director of the Lake Dillon Foundation for the Performing Arts, had been excited about producing “Island.” But the first of what would be one of Summer Stock’s many setbacks, put the kibosh on the musical.”I couldn’t cast it, ’cause I couldn’t find the men,” Alleman said.
By the time Alleman knew what the theater’s financial picture would be – April – the men he had hoped to hire were all spoken for. Instead of settling for so-so talent, he went with a trio of women. As a result, he is presenting shows in ways most audiences have never seen, namely “History,” a fast-paced comedy taking audiences through 500 years of U.S. history from Columbus to Clinton. The script calls for a cast of three men.”There are aspects of it that are quite different, but maybe equally as funny,” said Alleman, who is directing the show. “Obviously, it’s funny to see a woman play Ronald Reagan.”Having an all-female cast did mean altering the script a bit. The penis joke had to go, as none of the actors were equipped with the appropriate appendage. The history of feminism also got the boot; Alleman couldn’t see three woman sitting around bashing women.If it sounds bizarre for women to take on the roles of U.S. presidents, it is hardly any more awkward than a man – as it is written in the script – to play Lucille Ball. That’s Alyssa Larson’s bit, and one she’s taking special care perfecting.
“I’m really hoping not to let the audience down on that part,” said Larson, who is studying at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. “There’s a lot of ‘I Love Lucy’ fans.”The show’s quick costume/character changes – sometimes only seconds – doesn’t allow for elaborate gowns, wigs or other clothing elements that usually help tell the story. The lack of visuals stretches the actors’ abilities to portray a historic, often well known character, to the audience.”It’s all about characterization,” Alleman said, “and what they can do vocally and physically.”As much as the cast and crew would like to celebrate the opening of “History,” after tonight’s show, there isn’t time or energy for a late night at the bars. Opening two shows on July 15 is sobering.”It’s the nature of Summer Stock, in that you’re always scrambling,” Larson said. “But I’ve never opened two shows in the same day before.”
“A Year with Frog and Toad” geared toward children, opens at 11 a.m., July 15 at the Quaking Aspen Amphitheatre in Keystone. At 7:30 p.m. the same day, the group opens “Broadway Babies, a Musical Review” in the Lake Dillon Theatre.For now, the crew is still focused on polishing “History,” and possibly still coming to terms with the script.”I’ve never played a man in front of an audience who was paying to watch me,” Larson said.Chris Kornelis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 216, or at email@example.com.
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