Production Blog

A behind the scenes peek at rehearsals, artistic choices, artist interviews, and the daily business of running a theatre.

A chat with Hannah Valdovinos on the unexpected

Q: In this play, things are not quite as they seem. Despite the realistic nature of the situation and setting, there is an undercurrent of both mystery and spirituality that permeate the script, making it somewhat slippery and mercurial. It’s quietly profound and unpredictable. What excites you most about this script and (without giving anything away) have you had any interesting revelations about the play during rehearsals?

A: It’s the layers of the people and even the setting of the play that excite me most about Between Riverside and Crazy, especially how Guirgis masterfully reveals them to us. When you first read the play, there are definitely twists and turns that are unexpected that make you want to read it again almost immediately. During rehearsals though, hearing the words out loud and watching these characters come to life made me realize just how human they are and how mystical the entire story is. Not a single character is exactly who you think they are, and even more exciting is that they surprise themselves and each other the way we do in real life. We watch these people get to know themselves while they try to figure out not just what they have, but also what they want and what they’ll do to get that. The play often touches on what is right vs. what is real, another poignant subject that, despite being hard for most of us to put into words, Guirgis illustrates gracefully throughout his work.

A moment with Director Joanne Zipay about the curtain FINALLY going up

Q: This production of Into the Breeches! has been years in the making. It was originally slated to be produced in the summer of 2020, and we feel very fortunate to finally have the opportunity to share this story with our community. While the play is set in the 1940’s, elements of it remain wildly familiar and timely. What do you find to be the most exciting aspects of working on this show now, and what about it are you excited for audiences to experience?

A: I have a history with Stage West that goes back into the 1980s, when I worked as a young actress with Jerry and Jim on several shows, and so this theatre has always had a special place in my heart. When I was getting ready to move back to Texas (I'm originally from New York) I reached out to Dana Schultes, and she just happened to be looking for a director for a show that was right in my wheelhouse. After serving as Artistic Director for Judith Shakespeare Company NYC for 20 years - the company I founded to give women more opportunities to perform classical theatre - there could not be a more perfect fit for me than Into the Breeches!  And what a fun show! It was a match made in heaven!

I got to town August 1, 2019, and we cast the show that next week as part of the full season - even though the show would not go up until the following summer. Little did we know that, thanks to Covid, things would get so crazy. No one knew what to expect from one moment to the next - but Dana and her staff fought hard for the theatre these past two years, and fought hard for this show as well. By the time we start rehearsal it will have been THREE YEARS since we initially cast the roles! That's pretty unique! And, boy, are we looking forward to it finally getting onto the stage!

The show follows a group of women on the home front during WW2, who are trying to keep their local Shakespeare theatre alive while the men are "over there." Their spirit to "make it happen" in the face of daunting challenges speaks to us even more vitally now that we've been coping with this pandemic for a good long while - and especially to that unrelenting determination of theatre people to keep our art alive. The entire staff of Stage West has demonstrated this in particular. Life imitates art imitates life...! The drive to create this art - which gives us so much more than we can describe or quantify - is a part of all of us who work in the theatre, and at the heart of this play itself. It's a show that celebrates resilience, ingenuity, the love and magic that is theatre! The show must go on - somehow - and it will! We are SO excited!

Patron Spotlight: Sandra Lackey

Stage West’s Development Director, Tonya Wilson-Brown, recently got the chance to chat with loyal Stage West supporter, Sandra Lackey.

How long have you been coming to Stage West?
I have been a patron of Stage West for a very long time. I remember coming over from Hurst where I used to live.

How did you become interested in theatre?
I love live theatre. I will go to live theatre before going to a movie. In fact, I haven't been to the movies in years. Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (pictured) was the first show I saw at Stage West (at least the show that stuck out the most). It was dinner theatre back then. You stayed in your seat as the show was performed. The play itself was riveting! I really enjoyed the music. There is a kind of energy that comes from the stage to the audience in really great productions. That production (Jacques Brel) had it. I hope that same energy gets reflected back to the stage. The actors in that production had a very special energy. It was intimate.

What do you like about Stage West?
The variety of the productions that you stage. Musicals, contemporary dramas, classics...Variety is brought to the audience through Stage West’s productions. Also the quality of productions amazes me. I know when I bring friends to the theatre they will have a great time. When we were in the pandemic and everything shut down one of the things I missed most was theatre. When the lights go down and come back up and you see the world through someone else's lens - it rivets me. I am glad theatre is back.

What is your favorite show of this season?
Scrooge in Rouge. I enjoyed seeing the four actors playing different parts. The young man who played the ingenue just blew me away. I like theatre that makes me think. On the way home I want to ask questions. I watched both Church and State and On the Exhale. I was in Dallas in ‘63 and heard the shot that killed Kennedy. When the gunshot happened in Church and State it really impacted me. Both shows made an impact.

What words would you use to sell SWT to a friend?
Quality. When you go to Stage West you know you are going to see people who are good at what they do, doing it at their best. I would also use the words thought-provoking. I have been a season ticket holder for at least 30 years. I remember telling Jerry Russell once that I can give what I can to keep the theatre going. I will continue to do that. If you want quality, you must show your support and give.

We thank Sandra for her long-time support of Stage West our local arts scene!