click to see plays to be produced this season
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Since its inception in 2002, FUSION Theatre Company's professional artists have had as their primary mission presenting New Mexico audiences the finest works in fresh new stagings. Here's a quick sampling of our visitor reactions.....


"As always with FUSION productions, expect to be dazzled
by some of the most polished theater in town."

-Weekly Alibi

"...FUSION Theater Company’s production of Doubt
is one of those peak theater experiences where a
brilliantly crafted and engaging work is executed
by an essentially perfect cast of wonderfully skilled actors,
beautifully directed
."
-Jim Terr, KUNM-FM 89.9

"Be very proud. This was far better than the original
production I saw in New York."

-Audience Member

"...an evening of powerful drama and surprising staging,
a first-rate production...."

-Crosswinds Weekly

"Classic American entertainment at a beautiful theatre."
-TVI Times

"It's almost a shame we live in New Jersey, because
now we really want to see the rest of your season...."

-Audience Member


Reviews for the current season may be found
on the show's own pages....


A Few Highlights

 

 


 


Scott Harrison, Gregory Wagrowski

 


Gregory Wagrowski

 


Scott Harrison

 


Gregory Wagrowski

 



Gregory Wagrowski, Scott Harrison

All photos © Richard K. Hogle

Freud's Last Session
by Mark St. Germaine

presented November 1-17, 2012

Director: Jacqueline Reid*
------------------------------
Sigmund Freud: Gregory Wagrowski*
CS Lewis: Scott Harrison

* Actors Equity Association

Reviews

Review, broadwayworld.com, by Anya Sebastian, 4/5/12:

"FREUD’S LAST SESSION, the off-Broadway runaway hit by Mark St. Germain, is now playing at The Cell - home of the FUSION Theatre Company - and I urge you not to miss it!

This highly unusual play, set in London in September 1939, on the eve of World War II, imagines a meeting between Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, and writer C.S.Lewis, then a young professor at Oxford.

Freud, played by Gregory Wagrowski, is an analytical thinker, scientist and lifelong atheist, who, at the age of 83, is now dying of oral cancer. (The meeting allegedly took place just two weeks before Freud killed himself.)

Lewis, played by Scott Harrison, is 41 and a former non-believer, who has now embraced Christianity. In Freud’s book-lined study, complete with couch, and in real time (about 90 minutes, with no interval) the two men embark on a riveting, intellectual fencing match, set in motion by Freud’s admission that he had wanted to meet Lewis,‘ to learn how a man of your intellect could suddenly abandon truth and embrace an insidious lie.’

Freud regards God as an illusion, arising from Man’s need for a powerful parent figure. ‘Why should I take Christ’s word that he was God, any more than I believe any one of my patients, who calls himself God?’ he asks. But Lewis, the convert, is not to be deterred, arguing, ‘There is a God… and a man does not have to be an imbecile to believe in him.’

Thanks to the engaging, fast-paced dialogue, liberally laced with wit, jokes and good-natured humor, the play keeps the audience involved and entertained from start to finish. Considering it has just one act, one scene, a cast of two and virtually no action, that’s no mean achievement. Special credit goes to the director, Jacqueline Reid, who did an outstanding job with this production.

Wagrowski delivers a very credible impression of Freud, a man racked with pain, but whose intellectual capacities are still clearly intact. His physical distress, severe enough to cause him to collapse on his own couch at one point, is so convincing that you could hear a pin drop.

The humanity of both men comes through in the ongoing sparring match between these two great minds, as they debate the existence of God, religion, free will, relationships, sex, love and the meaning of life itself.

As CS Lewis, Harrison conveys the young Oxford don’s initial tentativeness, when first entering the great man’s study. But it doesn’t take long for the spirited conversation to draw him out as an intellectual equal. The tension between the two men is palpable, as is their chemistry, and both actors deserve special credit for creating and maintaining a relationship that can keep an audience enthralled for 11/2 hours. In spite of their differences, Lewis can’t help warming to Freud, the man, and the two finally part company with genuine affection and a deepened respect for each other’s views.

And don’t be put off by the title; you don’t need a degree in psychology to enjoy FREUD’S LAST SESSION. The topics are universal, well presented and thought provoking - the play is currently in production in several other countries - and it’s guaranteed to set you thinking about your own views on these fundamentally important issues."


Review, Albuquerque Journal, by Barry Gaines, 4/9/12:

"FUSION Theatre Company continues its series of plays imported from New York City stages with a fine production of Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain. This two-man, one-act work dramatizes an intellectually stimulating meeting between the father of psychoanalysis, ardent atheist Sigmund Freud, and devout defender of rational Christianity C.S. Lewis. That such a meeting never happened in no way diminishes the impact of their on-stage debate.

St. Germain’s play is suggested by “The Question of God” by Armand M. Nicholi Jr., a Harvard professor who taught classes in which Freud’s ideas on “God, love, sex, and the meaning of life”- the book’s subtitle – are compared with Lewis’. The play’s articulate, witty and intense dialogue comes from their writings as presented in Nicholi’s book.

Freud’s Last Session is purposely set in Freud’s London study on Sept. 3, 1939, the day that Britain and France declared war on Hitler’s Germany. The historical Freud, 83, was three weeks away from his death, and his advanced, agonizing oral cancer made speaking almost impossible. In the play, however, while Freud is in pain from his cancer and a poorly fitted oral prosthetic, his mind is sharp and his discourse spirited.

Lewis is 40, an Oxford don, who some years earlier had converted from atheism to the Anglican Church. The onset of another world war (Lewis had fought and been wounded in the first) gives special importance to the questions of divine purposes.

Set and lighting designer Richard Hogle has created an imposing set. A massive series of bookshelves crammed with volumes stretch along the back wall of the study, oriental carpets adorn the floor, the expected patient couch and analyst chair balance Freud’s desk and chair on opposite sides of the room. His collection of classical figures and pictures are evident.

Director Jacqueline Reid has chosen her actors wisely. Gregory Wagrowski portrays a sympathetic Sigmund Freud, unwilling to alter his staunch rejection of religion – that “pathetic, obsessional neurosis” – despite his terrible pain and impending death. Wagrowski’s Freud has a sparkle in his eye when the debate grows heated; regardless of everything, he enjoys the intellectual sparring.

Newcomer Scott Harrison is excellent as C.S. Lewis. His character is able to laugh at himself but grows priggish when Freud probes his sexual history. Lewis had parodied Freud in a book as a “vain, ignorant old man,” but Harrison’s Lewis is respectful and humorous in the old man’s presence.

Lewis can no more prove the existence of God than Freud can disprove it; neither man is convinced by the other’s arguments. Audience members are left to judge for themselves, and the opening night audience responded with a standing ovation."

 


 
click to view YouTube pre- production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

 

 

 


Paul Blott, Laurie Thomas, Jacqueline Reid, Bruce Holmes

 


Paul Blott


Bruce Holmes, Paul Blott, Jacqueline Reid, Laurie Thomas

 


Bruce Holmes

 


Paul Blott, Laurie Thomas, Jacqueline Reid, Bruce Holmes

 


Laurie Thomas, Jacqueline Reid

 


Laurie Thomas, Paul Blott, Jacqueline Reid

 


Paul Blott,Jacqueline Reid, Laurie Thomas, Bruce Holmes

 


Bruce Holmes

All photos © Richard K. Hogle

God of Carnage
by Yasmina Reza

presented August 18- September 4, 2011

Director: Gil Lazier
------------------------------
Veronica: Jacqueline Reid*
Annette: Laurie Thomas*
Alan: Paul Blott*
Michael: Bruce Holmes*

* Actors Equity Association

 

Reviews

Justino Brokaw, The Daily Lobo:
"Civility and manners are nice, but when you can’t agree to disagree, it’s time to evoke the inner animal that kept our ancestors alive.

Albuquerque’s only professional theater company practicing Equity theater, FUSION, fought hard for the rights to stage “Le Dieu du Carnage,” a piece by award-winning French playwright Yasmina Reza. The play has been performed in precious few other theatres, and is especially rare in the States. Professional theater comes at a cost, with The Cell’s general ticket price set at $30, which can be a bit steep for the average Albuquerque theatre patron. This rendition, however, is worth it.

The production perfectly captures Reza’s darkly humorous portrait of two middle-class couples descending into conflict after their children do the same. A comedy of disappearing manners, God of Carnage first shows us the couples at their civil best, then delights in peeling away the layers of deception and superficiality. The two couples ostensibly meet to discuss how best to deal with their children after one wounds the other in a playground scuffle. Differences of opinion on how best to address the situation and resulting minutiae build to farcical chaos.

The production is consummately cast: Each actor finds the ugliness and tragedy of their characters, in addition to the riotous humor. Paul Blott, as Alan Raleigh, a father not at all concerned with disciplining his child, is truly a pleasure to watch as a work-obsessed lawyer utterly bemused with the situation, which is made worse by his detachment. Jacqueline Reid, as the wounded child’s mother, Veronica, is unafraid of exploring her character’s shrewish passive-aggression with unexpected comic drive.

The two more passive spouses, Veronica’s husband Michael, played by Bruce Holmes, and Alan’s wife Annette, played by Laurie Thomas, start off largely as pawns but eventually come into their own in fierce, hilarious ways as the afternoon progresses. Reza’s script offers each character moments of high comedy and drama, and The Cell Theatre’s production, as directed by Gil Lazier, misses none of them.

Though undoubtedly hilarious, the audience may wonder what it all means. While Reza is notorious for leaving interpretation up to the audience, Richard Hogle’s subtle scenic design may leave a big clue. The tiger print on the back wall and leopard skin carpeting first seem gaudy and unrealistic. However, as the parents reveal their own childish, primal selves, one realizes that Hogle’s design merely emphasizes the animal inherent in us all. Reza’s play deals with the age-old literary conflict of “man-versus-nature,” finding a great deal of humor instead of a clear winner.

Having seen the original English language production on the West End, and hearing about the Tony-winning Broadway version, I wondered how Reza’s play might fare without the considerable star power both productions employed. The Cell Theatre makes clear, however, that even without a Ralph Fiennes or a James Gandolfini, the play is a fantastic romp."


Brian Herrera, TalkinBroadway.com:
"As presented by FUSION Theatre Company, God of Carnage is a bitter farce, a contemporary comedy of bad manners which grants audiences the delightful opportunity to watch very good actors behave very badly. The 2009 Tony Award winning play, written by French playwright Yasmina Reza, is a deftly crafted suite for four characters. The play depicts the unexpectedly chaotic encounter between two well-heeled New York City couples as they come together ostensibly to resolve the residual issues stemming from a recent playground altercation between their young sons. In the brisk ninety minutes of the play's running time, alliances shift, polite masks fall, deep-seated resentments unfurl, and projectile vomit is spewed. With comedic dexterity and formidable craftsmanship, Yasmina Reza's play charts the unmooring of everything that initially appeared to secure these two couples, stripping them of politesse's protective veneer to reveal the base, craven and animal instincts that guide even the most seemingly "respectable" people.

An ensemble of familiar FUSION Theatre Company actors deliver uniformly strong performances. As brazen corporate lawyer Alan, Paul Blott handles the play's language with masterful dexterity, transforming each of Alan's many intrusive cell phone calls into a reverie of blithe arrogance (a melodic motif we actually miss once gone). As Alan's "wealth manager" wife Annette, Laurie Thomas is utterly believable as a woman who routinely hobnobs with New York City's elite but is deeply appalled both by her husband's casual boorishness and her own startling displays of physical discomfort. Bruce Holmes offers a measured and generally effective depiction of Michael, the recently successful minor magnate who wears his new wealth with palpable unease and begins the evening offering imported tea to his guests but finishes it drunk, untucked and bellowing. As Michael's wife Veronica, the "socially conscious" writer convinced of her own righteousness (and completely blind to how her principled proclamations antagonize everyone around her), Jacqueline Reid's performance is at first firm and emphatic but becomes increasingly hilarious as Veronica slips out of control and into a manic and feral rage.

Gil Lazier's adroit direction is clean and light-handed, providing necessary scaffolding for his actors while never impinging upon them. Cassidy Zachary's costumes are thoughtful and aptly executed, evoking each character's idiosyncratic display of their wealth. Richard K. Hogle's scenic and lighting design splashes the stage with bright colors and animal prints (perhaps underscoring the thematics of the piece a bit too sharply for my taste) but it is a sensible choice accomplished effectively.

As presented by FUSION Theatre, Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage is diverting and delightful, laden with the gratifying pleasures that come from watching good actors, well directed, say and do terrible things. You will laugh. You will cringe. You will likely be deeply grateful you don't actually know any of these people. Yet, at the same time, you will almost certainly wonder (or worry) who in your life is so subject to the whims of this God of Carnage."


Barry Gaines, Albuquerque Journal:
"The FUSION Theatre Company's "Right Off Broadway" season brought the three most popular New York plays of the past decade to Albuquerque audiences. They conclude with the Tony Award-winning God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza in another sparkling production at the Cell Theatre.

Writer Christopher Hampton has transferred and translated Reza's scintillating play from its original Parisian setting and French language to Brooklyn and vigorous, biting American English. God of Carnage peels away the veneer of civility among two couples whose 11-year-old sons have had an altercation. Benjamin Raleigh struck Henry Novak in the face with a stick, breaking two incisors.

As the play opens, Henry's parents, Veronica and Michael, are seated on a red leather sofa while Benjamin's parents, Annette and Alan, sit on two white minimalist chairs. These well-intentioned parents have come together to deal with the unfortunate episode with equanimity, poise and tolerance. The Novaks offer their guests dessert and espresso and later serve an imported rum almost as old as the children. They put out a vase of tulips as a goodwill gesture. Yet almost immediately tectonic rifts open between and among the couples, and the afternoon turns into "Parents Behaving Badly" and "the worst day of their lives." And the audience can't stop laughing.

I won't betray much, but the plot includes a hamster murder, flying tulips, and incipient medication scandal, language to curl a rocking horse's mane and projectile vomiting. Plus some pontificating about the future of civilization.

FUSION veterans make up the cast, and under Gil Lazier's direction, they perform superbly together. The play is written with operatic precision: quartets, trios, duets and arias for all the characters. Paul Blott is Alan, a lawyer who was dragged to the meeting and is more interested in his cell phone than his son. Besides his rude sense of entitlement, Blott conveys Alan's gustatory delight as he finishes the dessert, compliments the rum and contemplates a Cuban cigar.

Laurie Thomas is Alan's wife, Annette. Thomas skillfully glides through her character's changing emotions and shows that she can scream with the best of them. Jacqueline Reid delightfully portrays the breakdown of the sensible, amiable Veronica whose righteous indignation throbs like a stubbed toe. She begins the play championing the "art of coexistence" and ends it "yelling like a stuck pig." As her husband Michael, Bruce Holmes is wonderful. Homes draws laughter with almost everything he does, and he relishes showing that his character is "not a member of polite society" -- he hates rodents and children.

Does this entertaining descent from courtesy to savagery have deeper meaning? Spend and evening with the God of Carnage and find out."

 


 
click to view YouTube pre- production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

 

 


Nicole Gramlich, Gregory Wagrowski


Joanne Camp, William Sterchi


Briget Kelly, Joanne Camp,
William Sterchi, Laurie Thomas


Laurie Thomas


Jacqueline Reid, Lauren Myers,
Bruce Holmes


Lauren Myers, Nicole Gramlich


Lauren Myers, Paul Blott


Ross Kelly, Jacqueline Reid


Nicole Gramlich, Laurie Thomas

All photos © Richard K. Hogle

August: Osage County
by Tracy Letts

presented September 9- 26, 2010

Director: Gil Lazier
------------------------------
Violet Weston: Laurie Thomas*
Beverly Weston: Gregory Wagrowski*
Steve Heidebrecht: Paul Blott*
Mattie Fay Aiken: Joanne Camp*
Charlie Aiken: William Sterchi^
"Little Charlie" Aiken: Aaron Worley
Bill Fordham: Bruce Holmes*
Barbara Fordham: Jacqueline Reid*
Jean Fordham: Lauren Myers^
Karen Weston: Wendy Scott^
Ivy Weston: Bridget Kelly^
Johnna Monevata: Nicole Gramlich
Sheriff Gilbeau: Ross Kelly*

* member Actors Equity Association
^ Equity membership candidate

 

Reviews

"...It’s an effective set-up, however, for the thunderstorm that follows, and the extraordinary cast of the FUSION Company turns it into a devastating tour de force - a cliché to describe it that way, but it’s true.

I was intent on seeing this play because I happened to have seen two other works by the same author, Tracy Letts, a play called “KILLER JOE” and a play-turned-film called “BUG”. Both were incredibly strange and intense, and in fact several members of the current production were involved in previous productions of those plays.

This is a huge cast filled with remarkable actors and remarkable performances. I could cite just about everyone but will mention just a few here: Paul Blott, Jacqueline Reid, Laurie Thomas, Lauren Myers in an incredibly convincing role as a teenager, and veteran William Sterchi as the desperately likeable good old boy trying to hold the scene together as everyone else tears each other apart.

I hear anecdotally several things that ring true: that the play’s run may be extended because people are coming back to see it a second and third time, and that a few homeless people who have been invited in to see it have also been moved to tears. This is the first production of August: Osage County outside the initial big-city productions, and I can easily believe what I’ve also heard – that this production is even better than those.

This is powerful live theater at its finest, a rare moment in time for some of the best talent New Mexico has to offer."
Jim Terr, review, September 14, 2010, KUNM-FM

"...brilliant fast-paced production with crisp scene transitions and a cast of strong Equity actors."

"The FUSION Theatre Company blasts open Albuquerque's brilliant fall theater season with a regional premiere of August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. This award-winning drama merits all the critical superlatives it has reaped. After its June 2007 premiere at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, it opened with the original cast on Broadway December 2007 and ran 648 performances. In 2008 it won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the Tony Award for Best Play. In his New York Times review, Christopher Isherwood called it "the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years."

Set in the dead center of America, in August 2007, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, August: Osage County presents the disintegration of the Weston family as a microcosm of the American dream gone horribly awry. In epic detail, the crafty sharp-tongued Westons and those related to them drag forth typical horrors of now normal dysfunctional American families: alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, divorce, incest, child abuse and molestation.

Patriarch Beverly Weston, once famous poet and now alcoholic, presents the play's prologue, then disappears, creating the central family crisis. Gregory Wagrowski plays the departing father as a congenial philosopher, witty and self-satisfied in his cups as he quotes cynical poetry to Johnna, a young Cheyenne woman he's hiring to care for the house and his wife. Nicole Gramlich's calm physical presence as Johnna—alert, capable, faintly smiling—holds everyone together from start to finish as catastrophes unravel. She represents the native people and land, forever battered by the European invasion, but surviving by holding firm to ancient traditions.

Like a wild fire destroying all life in its path, drug-addled but totally aware Violet Weston creates the central chaos. She lashes out at everyone, especially her three daughters who converge on the family home to console their mother and mourn their father. Laurie Thomas as Violet stabs at the heart of other characters' darkest secrets and wounds. She then spins stunningly into lucidity to reveal flashes of compassion for her sister and daughters amidst her vitriol. We are mesmerized by her mercurial display of hysterics—channeling Medea to Mary Tyrone.

Middle daughter Ivy, who stayed close to home, bears the brunt of her mother's venom. Bridget Kelly's Ivy grows from meek and mousy in early scenes into enough strength to resist Violet and make plans for her future. Ivy's cousin "Little Charles," played by Aaron Worley, also grows from his whimpering first appearance to resisting his hateful mother, Violet's older sister Mattie Fae.

Joanne Camp's brilliantly ridiculous Mattie Fae provides much-needed comic energy. She primps and flounces, bragging about still being sexy, and expands to reveal a more complicated personality under her superficial self-righteous sarcasm toward husband Charles, played with resilient gusto by William Sterchi, and the despised younger Charles.

Only eldest daughter Barbara battles her mother directly. Grimly determined to win against Violet, she strides into the dreaded family home with her philandering husband Bill and their 14-year-old daughter Jean. Jacqueline Reid exhibits Barbara's explosive rage with a sharp tongue and constant exhausting activity—snapping sheets onto the day bed while screaming at Bill and plopping silver and china on the dining table while resisting her youngest sister's self-indulgent monologue.

Bruce Holmes plays Violet's unrepentant husband Bill, an English professor having an affair with a student, but seeking redemption through his compassion for his wife and daughter at their time of crisis. His genuine admiration for Beverly as poet provides a wider view of the Westons in better days. Lauren Myers captures the capricious "whatever" attitude of their pot-smoking daughter Jean, whose ambivalence toward her parents and grandparents reveals the futility of hope for the future.

Wendy Scott portrays youngest sister Karen as a needy narcissistic loser who's always been lonely, unhappy and unloved. Compared to her sharper sisters, Karen lives in a bubble of denial. She arrives with her dream fiancé Steve, who quickly shows another side. Paul Blott's Steve is appropriately slimy.

For Albuquerque's professional FUSION Theatre Company, Gil Lazier has directed a brilliant fast-paced production with crisp scene transitions and a cast of strong Equity actors. The action moves so rapidly for more than three hours, we can hardly draw a breath: from Beverly's disappearance, through Violet's slurred mania, Barbara's attempts to wrest control from her mother and punish her husband, Ivy and Charles's secret, Steve's despicable actions, the sisters' confessions to one another, Violet's stories of her abusive parents, to everyone abandoning Violet in the end.

On a small, flat stage, with audience knee to knee with the actors, Richard K. Hogle has spread the original multi-level set horizontally with playing areas going light and dark as the action surges forward. Not only is the fourth wall preserved in this slice of American realism, but Violet's sealed-up house with its anachronistic '70s furnishings captures a stagnant stifling claustrophobia.

If Tony Kushner's Angels in America captured a fleeting hope for transcendence in the 1990's beyond disease and decay "toward the millennium," Tracy Letts' August: Osage County ushers in this new era as a burned out cauldron at the dry center: Oklahoma, microcosm of America's lost dreams and clashing cultures. In her first entrance foul-mouthed, soothsayer Barbara asks, "Who was the asshole who saw this flat hot nothing and planted his flag? I mean, we fucked the Indians for this?" With comic rationality, Bill quips "Well, genocide always seems like such a good idea at the time."

In an echo of the Prologue, Barbara in her cups toward the end muses to Johnna on her father's suicide and its wider implications: "As if whatever was disappearing had already disappeared. As if it was too late. As if it was already over. And no one saw it go. This country, this experiment, America, this hubris: what a lament if no one saw it go. Here today, gone tomorrow."

Violet's concluding cries in first and last acts wail her tragic recognition. First, speaking to the young sheriff (played with restraint by Ross Kelly), one of the enduring "natives," who announces finding Beverly's body, but actually to absent Beverly and Barbara: "And then you're here." At the finale, Violet collapses into Johnna's arms, repeating "And then you're gone" to her absent husband and daughter while Johnna rocks her and sings, "This is the way the world ends."

The world of Violet and Beverly Weston, who rose from rag poor roots to prosperity and prominence, bursts and fizzles. August: Osage County exposes our collective guilt and despair and challenges us to recognize our hubris. The clichéd Anglo-American dream fades. Only the native people and the land hold strong.

Rosemary Keefe, review, talkinbroadway.com

 


 
click to view YouTube pre- production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

 

 


Paul Blott


Paul Blott, Joanne Camp, Kate Costello


Paul Blott, Joanne Camp


Paul Blott, Joanne Camp, Kate Costello


Paul Blott, Joanne Camp

All photos © Richard K. Hogle

First Love
by Charles Mee

presented October 29- November 19, 2009

Director: Laurie Thomas*
------------------------------
Edith: JoAnn Camp*
Harold: Paul Blott*
Young Woman: Kate Costello^

* member Actors Equity Association
^ Equity membership candidate

 

Reviews

"The FUSION Theatre Company production of First Love by Charles L. Mee challenges and delights its audiences. This three-person play, directed by Laurie Thomas, is an unconventional study of a conventional topic: the intensely joyous and searingly painful arc of falling in and out of love, especially for the first time. The acting is superb and the play provocative.

Charles L. Mee is a unique playwright. He has declared, "There is no such thing as an original play," and his works remind me of visual artists who construct their works from "found objects." First Love is like a collage of scenes and emotions with rough edges and sudden shifts. After reading the play (available free online), I was confused and concerned. It took the fine direction and performances to unlock the play's humor and reveal its authority.

The story is ancient and familiar. Harold is an old man, apparently homeless and adrift from his family that meant much to him. Edith is an aging woman who has not given up her dream of finding a man with whom to share her life. They meet when Edith demands room on a park bench where Harold is sleeping. A "cute meet."

They verbally spar with each other and find that they have a common past as anti-establishment protestors whose youthful visions for a better world have not come to fruition. They recite stanzas from Allen Ginsberg's Beat poem, "Howl," and dance to the socialist anthem "L'Internationale." They make love, fight, split and come together again. Moving in and out of these scenes is a beautiful young woman playing various roles that take us beyond the simple narrative. Kate Costello portrays the young woman with a beatific smile that suggests she possesses some vital knowledge.

Mee places his play in "the world of Magritte," the Belgian surrealist painter who paints ordinary objects in unusual contexts. Scenic and lighting designer Richard K. Hogle captures this surrealism in the undulating back wall of the set featuring realistic pictures and comments about love scrawled as graffiti.

Paul Blott and Joanne Camp who play Harold and Edith are younger and more attractive than the characters Mee envisioned, but they are excellent. Blott, familiar to Cell audiences, captures Harold's insecurities, uncertainties, and yearnings, as well as his youthful memories as he eyes Costello dressed as a ballerina.

Camp is a welcome newcomer to Albuquerque with a wealth of experience acting both on and off Broadway. Her portrayal of Edith is honest and brave, touching and teaching. It is Edith who experiences First Love, and Camp is not afraid to display raw emotions — passion, fear, anger, joy — in her Edith."
Barry Gaines, review, October 31, 2009, Albuquerque Journal

 

 


 
click to view YouTube pre- production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

 

 


Ross Kelly and Bruce Holmes


Jacqueline Reid and Bruce Holmes


Ross Kelly and Jacqueline Reid


Ross Kelly and Bruce Holmes


Jacqueline Reid and Bruce Holmes

photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

Parlour Song
by Jez Butterworth

presented February 12- March 8, 2009

Director: Gil Lazier•
------------------------------
Joy: Jacqueline Reid*
Dale: Ross Kelly*
Ned: Bruce Holmes*

* member Actors Equity Association
• member Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Reviews

"Next month, English audiences will see the European premiere of Parlour Song, British playwright Jez Butterworth's darkly comic lovers' triangle. The play opened last year in New York City, and FUSION Theatre Company is staging a second production at the Cell Theatre.

More importantly, Parlour Song is a tautly exciting and intelligent study of desperate suburbanites. In a real estate development of virtually identical homes, Ned and Dale live next door to each other and are "mates," friends.

They also have marital mates - Dale's wife Lynn, whom we never meet, and Ned's spouse Joy. After 11 years of marriage, Ned is aware of Joy's disaffection although he is unaware of its causes. Dale, confident and secure, is Ned's opposite. Ned turns to Dale for marital advice and tries such things as sexual self-help tapes, Rogaine for his baldness and an exercise regimen.

Meanwhile, a mantle of menace hangs over the characters as Ned is terrified by a recurring nightmare and upset that his possessions are disappearing. Ned's profession is symbolic - he is a demolition expert, part of a team that destroys obsolete shopping centers, buildings and towers to make way for new construction. Such demolition is done by implosion (collapsing inwardly) rather than by explosion.

Ned's marriage is also imploding. Wife Joy is as unhappy as her husband, and she too turns to Dale, who becomes her lover. I will not reveal any more of the carefully considered plot, but it is never dull.

Gil Lazier, newly arrived in Albuquerque after a long and distinguished career in academic and professional theater, skillfully directs his first show with FUSION. Richard K. Hogle's set design is simple but effective - a paneled wall at the back of the stage and a trapezoidal platform thrusting away from that wall. Images are projected on the wall, and furniture groupings glide on and off stage as needed. Actors also use the narrow space between the platform and the audience.

Three FUSION regulars provide fine performances. Ross Kelly is an ideal Dale, equally capable of comforting and cuckolding his friend without apparent compunction. Bruce Holmes, his head hairless and his belly soft, is excellent as sensitive, yet painfully clueless, Ned. The two men work well together, subtly blending humor and pathos.

Playwright Butterworth acknowledges the influence of the late Harold Pinter. It strikes me that Jacqueline Reid's performance as Joy builds on her portrayal of Ruth in Pinter's The Homecoming earlier this season. Here again she is the only woman, compelling in her sexuality yet unable to plumb her desires.

Butterworth uses the lemon tree (sweet and sour as the song says) to suggest Joy's paradox, and Reid revels in Joy's sensual description of making lemonade. Parlour Song exposes the angst and confusion hidden by the façades of the tract houses we construct.”
Barry Gaines, review, October 27, 2007 (on-line), Albuquerque Journal:


 


click to view a YouTube production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

 


Ross Kelly and Jen Grigg
click to view YouTube slideshow


photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
by Martin McDonagh

presented October 25- November 18, 2007

Director: Jacqueline Reid*
------------------------------
Donny: William Sterchi*
Padraic: Ross Kelly*
Christy: Bruce Holmes*
Brendan: Will Peebles*
Mairead: Jen Grigg^
Davey: Justin Lenderking^
Joey: Aaron Worley^
James: Zane Barker

* member Actors Equity Association
^ Equity membership candidate

Reviews

"The Lieutenant of Inishmore presented by FUSION Theatre Company is the comically gruesome story of a man and his cat that only Irish playwright of the macabre Martin McDonagh could envision. The Cell Theatre production of this searing satire is the blackest of humor, an early Halloween gift enacted with gory glee by an excellent cast under the grisly guidance of director Jacqueline Reid.

Ireland has a history of violent rebellion, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore takes that violence to impossible extremes as the stage and walls run red with blood, dead men are hacked and mutilated (compare “The Sopranos”), and murder stimulates sexual passion. And the audience can’t stop laughing! The title character is 21-year-old “Mad Padraic,” a terrorist so vicious that the IRA wouldn’t let him join “because he was too mad.” We meet Padraic nonchalantly torturing James, who is hanging upside down. As Padraic is about to slice off a nipple and feed it to his victim, his father calls to inform him his cat, Wee Thomas, is “poorly.” Padraic is reduced to tears at the threat to his “best friend in the world” In fact, Wee Thomas’s brains have been bashed out as Padraic learns when he returns to his Inishmore home. The play revolves around the expanding violence surrounding revenge for dead cats. The bizarre plot is ingeniously constructed, and the ending includes the reversals and twists that mark McDonagh’s other work.

Special Effects Master Steve Tolin provides a realistic array of exploding wounds, dismembered heads and limbs, and decapitated cats. The three villains killed by Padraic and his BB gun moll Mairead are humorously portrayed by Bruce Holmes, Aaron Worley, and Will Peebles. Each character is an individual thanks to Jacqueline Reid’s direction. Zane Baker earns special commendation for his convincing rendition of James, the inverted torture victim. Jen Grigg is filled with butch attitude as Mairead, although she plays older than her character’s 16 years. William Sterchi is masterful as Padraic’s father Donny. His face is comic silly putty. Justin Lenderking as Davey, Mairead’s brother, interacts well with Sterchi in their scenes of frightened, overlapping dialogue. They are hilarious as they await death at Padraic’s hands. (When interrupted, Padraic apologizes to his visitors, “I’m just in the middle of shooting me dad.”) As Padraic, FUSION regular Ross Kelly gives another exceptional portrayal. He makes his character’s essential madness seem normal, even humdrum. His stage presence is commanding yet appears effortless. The characters keep speaking of the “principle” behind what they are saying and doing; indeed, it is “principle” that keeps much of the world in the turmoil of political violence, as McDonagh’s farce demonstrates.”
Barry Gaines, review, October 27, 2007 (on-line), Albuquerque Journal:


"On a public television biography that aired last week, Charles Schultz admitted to milking a lot of humor from straight-up violence. From a 21st century perspective, it might be odd to think of “Peanuts” as violent, but it was, of course. Schultz hurt his characters. We laughed. A simple, infallible equation that worked almost every time.

The FUISON Theatre Company is staging the New Mexico premiere of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Cell Theatre. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this play is so successful. Drenched from top to bottom in comedic, stylized violence, it fits in perfectly with the tone of the times. This play might be smarter (it’s certainly funnier) than “South Park,” but it’s powered by a sense of humor that’s similarly crude, demeaning and sadistic. Since all the characters speak with an Irish accent, and the story revolves around terrorism, we can call it art. Plus, you have to have some admiration for a playwright who can make brutality toward animals, of all things, so hilarious. Yet, you still may wonder how we can laugh out loud at all this cruelty and gore.

As Schultz said, it’s easy to laugh at violence when it obviously isn’t real, and when it happens to somebody else. What if all those guns the actors waved around were real? What if they aimed them at the audience and sprayed real bullets into the crowd? Who’s laughing now, punk?

Thankfully, the play doesn’t require that kind of reflection. Donny (William Sterchi) and Davey (Justin Lenderking) have a dead cat on their hands, Davey having found the poor animal with its brains knocked out in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, the cat, named Wee Thomas, belongs to a psychopath named Padraic (Ross Kelly), who’s a second lieutenant in the INLA, a splinter group of the Irish Republican Army. Donny was supposed to look after Wee Thomas while Padraic was away. When Padraic finds out his cat was murdered, it sets off a chain of violence that’s shocking to behold.

Well, it would’ve been shocking about 30 years ago, before this kind of cartoon bloodbath became commonplace in mass culture. But even if it isn’t shocking, it is extremely funny—and what an amazing cast. You won’t find a better ensemble on stage in Albuquerque. It’s such a pleasure to see how they feed off each other. The violence—both verbal and literal—is performed like music, players exchanging riffs so sharp and dangerous they leave the walls, floors, ceiling and furniture splattered with blood.

Sterchi often plays the heavy in this kind of production, and he’s very good at it. Here, he plays a goofy character, and he’s very good at that, too. One of the best around, Sterchi’s presence usually means a show is going to be excellent, and that’s true this time.

Kelly’s lethal mix of pretty boy looks and serious acting chops is an enjoyable combo. In this play, he’s a charismatic cartoon psycho, switching between caring tenderness and appalling brutality with ease. I’ve seen a lot of Lenderking around town in the last year or so, and his real strength is his eccentricity. No matter what character he plays, his presentation is appealingly weird. In this case, seeing this big, hulking dude play a vaguely effeminate sissy is a freaky good time.

The actors playing lesser roles are all very good, too. The best performance in the show, though, might be Steve Tolin’s, whose amazing special effects result in some truly eye-popping gore.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore isn’t deep or insightful or thoughtful in any way, but it is good, dirty fun. Besides, at this point, most of us realize the war on terrorism has become a joke, so we might as well get in a few good laughs at its expense. As Schultz said, violence, especially the senseless kind, is naturally funny, and what’s more senselessly violent than terrorism? McDonagh’s play isn’t realistic, and it won’t hit too close to home, so sit back, enjoy the barbarism and appreciate the fact that violence in the real world isn’t nearly this agreeable."

Steven Robert Allen, review, November 7, 2007 (on-line), The Weekly Alibi:


click to view a YouTube production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle

 

 


Ross Kelly as Fr. Flynn
24.5MB QuickTime movie


Ross Kelly as Fr. Flynn
7.5MB QuickTime movie Time movie


Laurie Thomas as Sister Aloysius
and Ross Kelly as Fr.
Flynn

me movie me movie


Angela Litteton as Mrs. Muller and
Laurie Thomas as Sister Aloysius



Laurie Thomas as Sister Aloysius
and Rachel Tatum as Sister James



Laurie Thomas as Sister Aloysius

All photos © Richard K. Hogle

Doubt
by John Patrick Shanley

presented August 23- September 16, 2007

Director: Jacqueline Reid*
------------------------------
Father Floyd: Ross Kelly*
Sister Aloysius: Laurie Thomas*
Sister James: Rachel Tatum^
Mrs. Muller: Angela Littleton^

* member Actors Equity Association
^ Equity membership candidate

Reviews

"The best play I saw this year was John Patrick Shanley's award-winning Doubt with the FUSION Company at the Cell. Under Jacqueline Reid's direction, each of the four cast members gave a memorable performance in a complicated and challenging play.

In her single scene, Angela Littleton was haunting and compelling. As a naive nun, Rachel Tatum had to do a lot of reacting, and she was convincing in her character's growing concern for the ugly innuendos at the heart of the play. Laurie Thomas conveyed so much as the strict parochial school principal— foibles and faults, strength and dedication. Ross Kelly's striking face virtually shone above his character's clerical collar. Kelly combined charm, anger, indignation and hurt in his complex characterization. It was his best performance to date."
Barry Gaines, year-end summary, Albuquerque Journal


"On the day when letters were published indicating that Sister Teresa was plagued with uncertainties of faith all through her saintly life, FUSION Theatre Company opened the regional premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt. It is an unpretentious but brilliantly constructed play that examines the relationship of doubt and faith in a Catholic setting.

In 2005 Doubt won five Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; the FUSION production at the Cell is, I believe, Albuquerque’s best of the year. Doubt is a four-character play set in St. Nicholas Catholic Church and School in the Bronx in 1964. Handsome, charismatic Father Flynn preaches parabolic sermons and coaches basketball. Sister James is a passionate teacher anxious to connect with her students and convey her enthusiasm for history. Sister Aloysius is the school principal, a firm disciplinarian who favors formality and distance in the classroom. Sister Aloysius questions the motives for Father Flynn’s interest in Donald Muller, the school’s only Negro student, and enlists Sister James in a campaign to spy out the truth of the relationship. Donald’s mother is questioned by Sister Aloysius. The insightfully crafted script moves intelligently from scene to scene, subtly suggesting without providing easy answers. Not until the play’s last words is the story complete. And that is all the plot you will get from me.

FUSION founding member Jacqueline Reid directs this production with clean, deft strokes. Richard K. Hogle’s set and lighting designs allow the action to move smoothly from the Principal’s office—featuring a desk and chair with a large wooden cross behind—to the flanking pulpit and garden bench. Coincidently, the two nuns are in Sister Teresa’s order, the Sisters of Charity, and Cassidy Zachary costumes them in black bonnets and floor-length habits.

All four actors are brilliant. In her single scene, Angela Littleton as Mrs. Muller is haunting and compelling. A fierce advocate for her son, Littleton’s character spars with Sister Aloysius. As naïve Sister James, Rachel Tatum has to do a lot of reacting, and she is convincing in her character’s growing concern for the ugly innuendos. Ross Kelly makes an ideal Father Flynn. His striking face virtually shines above his clerical collar and his passionate commitment to his vocation is palpable. Kelly combines charm, anger, indignation, and hurt in his complex character. It is his best performance to date. Laurie Thomas has taken the full measure of Sister Aloysius. Thomas conveys her character’s foibles and faults without lapsing into caricature, and she is equally adept at suggesting the nun’s strengths and dedication. The result is a fascinating, full creation.

Playwright Shanley sent Director Reid a congratulatory email for opening night; he would have approved of the performance and the standing ovation. See Doubt.”
Barry Gaines, review, August 26, 2007, Albuquerque Journal


"No one can tell a sinner just by looking at his face. At least, not most people and not most faces. Sin has a way of making itself look attractive, appealing, sexy; and some sinners know how to wear that appeal as a mask, hiding their true nature.

That allure is what make sinners such excellent literary characters, full of unknown motives, personal convictions and nondescript torment. John Patrick Shanley takes that person and puts him into the heart of the Catholic Church in Doubt, a play that questions what we think we see.

The FUSION Theatre Company's regional premiere of Doubt at The Cell begins with a dark stage and a soft folksy-rock song, allowing the audience members to clear their minds. As the song ends, the lights come up and the friendly, attractive face of Father Flynn (Ross Kelly) smiles warmly at his congregation from behind the pulpit. Father Flynn delivers a moving sermon about loneliness and doubt, setting the tone and theme that continues throughout the story.

Sitting under the bold wooden cross above her desk, Sister Aloysius (Laurie Thomas), principal of St. Nicholas Church School in the Bronx, is visited by one of her eighth grade teachers, Sister James (Rachel Tatum). Sister Aloysius uses this unexpected visit to question Sister James about the goings on in her class, particularly if Sister James had noticed any strange behavior relating to Father Flynn. The young and inexperienced Sister James is flustered and put off by Sister Aloysius' old-fashioned views of discipline and order, and even more put off by Aloysius' absolute conviction that Father Flynn is hiding a dirty secret. Sister James eventually recalls smelling alcohol on the breath of Donald Muller, the school's first and only black student, after a meeting with Father Flynn. Sister Aloysius seizes this evidence and begins her journey to uncover the truth—for the sake of the children, no matter the cost—including questioning Donald's mother (Angela Littleton) and the man of the cloth himself.

Doubt is a masterfully written play and has garnered the accolades to prove it, including four Tony awards, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play of the Season and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, just to name a few. Shanley has created four incredibly different and rich characters. As new evidence is found or an explanation given in Doubt, it's impossible to place faith and support onto any one character long, for as surely as the next scene begins another character appeals to that trust (making the play's title work on many incredible levels). Because the characters are so strong, it takes strong actors to portray them, and, by god, the FUSION Theatre Company found some.

As the first actor on stage, Ross Kelly immediately sells the audience on his charm and charisma. Kelly delivers the kind of sermon that would draw crowds to any church at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. He's gripping, delightful and believable to a sickening level, especially as his character comes under more and more suspicion for wrongdoing.

Opposing Father Flynn's immediate likability is Sister Aloysius' immediate dislikability. Laurie Thomas’ presentation of the strict schoolmarm your mother always told you about when you were being particularly naughty is spot on without being melodramatic. Sister Aloysius' unwavering faith would take beating after beating, yet Thomas keep her conviction fresh while hinting at a deep suffering just under the surface.

Rachel Tatum's innocent Sister James seemed ready to burst from embarrassment, uncertainty, passion and unwavering goodness at any moment. Where Thomas hid Sister Aloysius' warmth under her black tunic, Tatum wears it gleaming on her face. Sister James deals with doubt of her own, and Tatum doesn't shy away from the consequences of that doubt.

While Angela Littleton’s Mrs. Muller is only on stage for one scene, it's heated and tense. Littleton's reserve and poise while under pressure from Sister Aloysius makes the moments when the facade of niceties slink away chilling, wrenching and desperate. For a moment, Sister Aloysius seemed small, and that's an accomplishment.

While anyone involved in theater will say no performance is ever perfect, it's hard to find a flaw in Doubt. The performances were fantastic, the costuming and set design dynamic, the directorial choices complemented a masterful script and there wasn't an empty seat in the house. Call ahead and reserve your seats—unlike church, there's not always room for everyone."
Amy Dalness, review, Weekly Alibi


"I remember the name “John Patrick Shanley” as the writer of the Oscar-wining 1988 film, “Moonstruck.” I wasn’t as fond of it as most people, so when I saw that Shanley was the writer of a Pulitzer- and Tony-award-winning play called Doubt: A Parable, enjoying a sold-out run at the Cell Theater, I said to myself, “Well, maybe that’s why; maybe Shanley is actually more of a playwright than a screenwriter.”

But it turns out that Shanley has in fact had little recognition as a playwright, for his nearly 30 plays written in the past couple of decades. That is, until he wrote Doubt.

Twisted logic aside, seeing FUSION Theater Company’s production of Doubt is one of those peak theater experiences where a brilliantly crafted and engaging work is executed by an essentially perfect cast of wonderfully skilled actors, beautifully directed.

The setting is a parochial school in the 1960s, long before the priestly molestation scandals exploded publicly -- but obviously not before the activity was in progress. A scandal is brewing at St. Nicholas Church School. But is it really? Is the handsome father Flynn having his way with a particularly vulnerable young student, or is the highly analytical and controlling Sister Aloysius simply letting her imagination and her own bitterness run wild?

Hmmm it’s not real clear, and this fine line of Doubt keeps the audience engaged and in suspense as much as even the best murder mystery might do – perhaps even more so. What’s at stake here is reputation, a child’s life, and reality itself.

Ross Kelly plays the earnest, attractive and appealing Father Flynn. Appealing, that is, to everyone but the suspicious Sister Aloysius, played with razor-keen intensity by Laurie Thomas. The sincere Sister James (Rachel Tatum) doesn’t know quite what to believe, and just wishes all the turmoil and confusion would go away. “You would trade anything for a warm look,” Sister Aloysius admonishes her. Ouch!

In the middle of all this the child’s mother, Mrs. Muller, visits the school for a conference with Sister Aloysius, who as always has an agenda which reveals itself only after a snakelike few minutes of intense coiling before the strike. But Mrs. Muller, a flawless Angela Littleton, has a few surprises herself hidden under her at-first-compliant veneer, and the struggle and maneuvering between these two powerful, determined women is breathtaking.

It’s also on a strangely different note from the rest of the play, and it was interesting to read that this scene was actually the initial inspiration, the original vision, from which Shanley wrote the rest of Doubt.

FUSION is an Equity theater company, a professional designation which unfortunately carries with it a relatively high admission price, but for those who are able, Doubt is a powerful and unforgettable performance. Extra performances may be added to accommodate the tremendous response to this production; call the Cell Theater at 766-9412 or visit FusionAbq.org for ticket information."
Jim Terr, review, KUNM-FM 89.9


click to view a YouTube production slideshow
photos © Richard K. Hogle



Anna Felix, Kathy Mille-Wimmer


Vic Browder, Dean Eldon Squibb


Shelley Epstein, Ross Kelly, Laurie Thomas, John Hardman, Dean Eldon Squibb


Dean Eldon Squibb, Vic Browder


John Hardman, Shelley Epstein,
Dean Eldon Squibb


Kathy Mille-Wimmer, Vic Browder


Laurie Thomas


Vic Browder, Ross Kelly

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

A Lie of the Mind
by Sam Shepard

presented February 10 - March 6, 2005

Director: Jacqueline Reid
------------------------------
Frankie: Ross Kelly
Jake: Vic Browder
Beth: Laurie Thomas
Mike : Dean Eldon Squibb
Meg: Shelley Epstein
Baylor: John Hardman
Lorraine: Kathy Mille-Wimmer
Sally: Anna Felix

Reviews

"FUSION Theatre Company [opens] this month its fourth season with a strikingly well played and directed production of Sam Shepard's three-act and three-hour work, A Lie of the Mind.... Laurie Thomas, Kathy Mille-Wimmer and Shelley Epstein [are] especially fine in the difficult roles of spouses struggling variously with co-dependency, abuse, abandonment and neglect.... "--Roy Durfee, KUNM Evening Report, 89.9-FM

"Performances ring true in A Lie of the Mind.... FUSION Theatre Company begins its fourth season at The Cell with Sam Shepard's seldom-performed three-act play A Lie of the Mind, directed by Jacqueline Reid. The large opening night crowd responded warmly....As Lorraine, Kathy Mill[e]-Wimmer is simultaneously outrageous and frightening. Her dialogues with her children about their father are seething with resentment. Beth's mother, Meg, is less threatening, but no less crazy.  Shelley Epstein delivers her strange observations with a disarming comic lilt. As her husband, Baylor, John Hardman is impressive. His eyes suspicious slits, his voice raspy, he pontificates from his favorite chair when he is home. His macho paean to deer hunting is fine.... Vic Browder as Jake and Laurie Thomas as Beth are at the broken heart of the show. Browder sensitively portrays the brutish Jake with smoldering violence always close to the surface. Yet there is also perverse tenderness and perhaps even a mutant form of love. Thomas skillfully presents the tangled language of Beth's aphasia and produces sympathy for her character without resorting to sentiment. She understands Shepard's men: 'Look how big a man is. So big. He scares himself.'"--Barry Gaines, Albuquerque Journal

"This isn't the Montagues and the Capulets. It isn't even the Hatfields and the McCoys. The battle between two seriously screwed-up families in Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind is even darker and more deranged than either of those infamous feuds..... Lorraine, played with easy perfection by [Kathy] Mille-Wimmer, is a swirling tornado of maternal neurosis. In other local productions, Kelly often plays a smart-talking pretty boy. It's a character he plays very, very well. Here he plays against type. With his bad haircut and trailer park wardrobe, he does a nicely understated job as Frankie, a backward, soft-spoken dimwit.... With his penchant for gratuitous violence against wildlife, Mike-played with hilarious energy by [Dean Eldon] Squibb... is the kind of backwoods lunatic you wouldn't want to cross paths with while alone in a forest.... The set for this FUSION Theatre Company production is a work of beauty. A lot of Shepard's dialogue is extremely funny, but you might feel bad about laughing during some of the darker bits. I know I did... If you're in a appropriately twisted mood, FUSION's A Lie of the Mind might be a worthwhile experience. At the very least, it'll make you feel a lot better about your own life."--Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi

A Lie of the Mind a Theatrical High.... By every measure of dramatic art, this presentation is in a class by itself, again illustrating the highest standards of professional excellence for shows performed by FUSION, the theatre company-in-residence at the Cell Theatre... In addition to superb acting and directing, this production is noteworthy from [the] standpoint of its off-stage staff (those handling lighting, sound, set, costume, makeup, etc.), together with stage manager Maria Schmidt. In a word, the presentation is "dynamic." This entertaining play opened this past weekend to full houses for all performances, evidencing the mature recognition this theatre has justly attained.--LiveArtsToday.com


Interview with Jacqueline Reid
and KUNM's Spencer Beckwith

(mp4-check Apple for free player
if link above doesn't work for you)



Laurie Thomas, Ross Kelly, Vic Browder


Jacqueline Reid


Ross Kelly, Jacqueline Reid, Vic Browder


Jacqueline Reid, Laurie Thomas

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams

presented July 22-August 15, 2004

Director: Fred Franklin
------------------------------
Laura: Jacqueline Reid
Amanda : Laurie Thomas
Tom: Vic Browder
Jim/Father: Ross Kelly

Reviews

"...this FUSION version succeeds in communicating the play's impressive balance of dizzying comedy and bleak, soul-smashing tragedy.... Since this play takes place in the great stormy state of Tennessee Williams,... everything must end badly, and it does -- so, so badly. Thankfully, the play's hilarity keeps it from sinking into a lightless pit, and the cast, especially Thomas and Kelly, know how to milk this teat for laughs. Whenever Thomas is on the stage, she owns it. As the woman seated behind me said, 'She's so good I felt like slapping her.' Amen, sister. Thomas creates such a stylized, exotic Amanda, the character almost seems like a caricature. Yet Amanda is in many ways the most mysterious and intriguing personality in the play. Thomas paints a masterful portrait of a desperate, abandoned middle-aged woman who is simultaneously sympathetic to the audience and intolerable to everyone around her. As the overly enthusiastic, hyper-ambitious gentleman caller, Kelly is uproariously funny. He nails some of the best physical gags in the show.... Browder [is] one of the undeniable stars of Albuquerque theater... Reid... seems so breakable here, a fragile soul demanding protection. As she opens herself to Jim, you can almost see her flesh and bones transforming to glass in front of you then shattering to a thousand pieces during the inevitable unhappy ending. Reid's vulnerability is excruciating to watch, but during these later scenes it's impossible to tear your eyes away from her.... {A] truly ingenious aspect of the staging is the living portrait of Amanda's slimy ex-husband positioned in the middle of the set. Played with smarmy poise by Kelly, this winking, grinning photograph provides some of the play's funniest moments. It also serves as a smart thematic bridge between the man who abandoned the family and the gentleman caller Amanda hopes will replace him. I'm personally grateful that FUSION continues to present polished, professional stagings of Tennessee Williams' plays each season.... the fantastic stretches in the performance are long and dazzling enough to make this production will worth the price of admission."--Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi



The Cast


William Sterchi, Richard Move


Richard Move


William Sterchi, Richard Move,
Ross Kelly, Rebecca Gibel


William Sterchi, Rebecca Gibel


William Sterchi, Ross Kelly,
Richard Move

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
by Edward Albee

presented April 15-May 9, 2004

Director: Jacqueline Reid
------------------------------
George: William Sterchi
Martha : Richard Move
Nick: Ross Kelly
Honey: Rebecca Gibel

Reviews

"FUSION Theatre Company's second show of the 2004 season is a gender-bending, exciting new staging of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play, expertly directed by FUSION founding member Jacqueline Reid, examines the brutality that spouses visit upon each other and the search for intimacy and understanding. .. The set, crafted by Charles Clute, an Emmy Award winner and veteran Santa Fe Opera designer, is a snapshot of the bourgeois trappings of a disappointed life.... The best two compliments I can give to Move's charismatic, boiling Martha is that I forgot Elizabeth Taylor's iconic movie portrayal and I forgot that Move is a man playing a woman's role. His physical and speech mannerisms convey only a bitterly disappointed, angry middle-aged woman whose only joy comes from belittling her long-suffering but equally angry husband. Sterchi's verbal facility and vulnerability enlivens George's polyester-clad whipping boy.... This production is another triumph for Albuquerque's best theater group."--Kelly Koepke, ABQArts

"When Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? exploded on Broadway in 1962, it shocked and confused some audiences and critics while capturing the New York Drama Critics Circle and Tony Awards. The FUSION Theatre Company production directed by Jacqueline Reid at The Cell demonstrates that the play has not lost any of its impact. It remains a powerful and painful American classic... Unexpectedly, Martha is played by Richard Move, who is too young (20 years his character's junior), too tall (reportedly 6 feet 4 inches), and, well, male (with pancake makeup struggling to cover a five o'clock shadow). Move, however, has Martha's voice, from the vulgar bray to the dusky smoothness of 12-year-old scotch. Moreover, he understands and conveys Martha's coarseness, anger, cruelty, and vulnerability. The other actors have the advantage of being the same age and gender as the characters they play. They are excellent. Ross Kelly is ideal as the handsome, hunky Nick... Kelly successfully conveys bewilderment as well as academic ambition. As his wife Honey, Rebecca Gibel is delightfully dim. Her character strains to make sense of the carnage swirling around her. Gibel's performance is a joy to watch. The strongest achievement is William Sterchi's portrayal of George. Sterchi's ruddy, round face and cherubic grin belie the cruelty his character inflicts. Sterchi embodies decades of disappointment and belittlement twisted to viciousness."--Barry Gaines, ABQ Journal

"The FUSION Theatre Company is currently staging a production of Albee's iconic American masterpiece at The Cell Theatre. Directed by Jacqueline Reid, this version, I'm happy to report, is as hilarious as it is terrifying .... Engines fueled by a couple gallons of gin, bourbon and brandy, the unpleasant situation quickly degenerates into a scene of pure domestic hell. Don't let this description repel you. This play is very funny, even if its humor is mostly mean-spirited and cynical. The best thing about FUSION's production is the peculiar but brilliant casting. Reid brought in New York actor Richard Move to play the role of the domineering, back-biting Martha. You should know that Move is a burly man who towers at least seven feet tall. With his stubbled chin, horrid bleached hair, fake tits and slurry, drunken swagger, Move brings a perfect funky eroticism to the mix. heightening and highlighting the hilarious surreality of Albee's caustic dialogue. In an inspired application of one of the golden rules of comedy, Move's gargantuan stature makes William Sterchi seem all the tinier... One of the things that makes this production so enjoyable is that the two performers are utterly unconvincing as a realistic married couple, but the unbelievability of their pairing just makes this production even funnier... A long-time veteran of local theater and film, Sterchi is always reliably good, and in FUSION's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I've never seen him perform better. Time after time, he brings an ingenious, unexpected, idiosyncratic twist to Albee's lines. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a loud play -- meaning there's an awful lot of yelling. Thankfully, these players don't yell merely to cover up a lack of acting skills. All four actors are sharp and effective. This polished professional production is also aided greatly by a simple, frumpy scenic design created by Emmy Award winner Charles Clute... No sharper black wit can be found in American theater, and this cast and crew wield that wit with the precision of brain surgeons. "--Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi



Laurie Thomas, Arron Shiver


Jacqueline Reid, Angela Littleton


Jacqueline Reid, Arron Shiver,
Laurie Thomas


Vernon Poitras, Vic Browder,
Arron Shiver, John Hardman


Nick Robbins, Laurie Thomas


Angela Littleton, Vic Browder


Florence Tonissi


Cast: Final Scene

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

A Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams

presented July 17-August 10, 2003

Director: Susan Finque
Additional Staging and Direction: Fred Franklin
------------------------------
Stella: Jacqueline Reid
Stanley : Arron Shiver
Blanche: Laurie Thomas
Mitch: Vernon Poitras
Eunice: Angela Littleton
Steve: Vic Browder
Pablo: John Hardman
Doctor: Wayne Rowe
A Collector: Nick Robbins
Mexican Woman: Florence Tonissi
Nurse: Teddy Eggleston

Reviews

"...Williams says he's always felt closest to people who are screwed-up in one way or another, people who don't adjust well to this world. He places these people in his plays not because he has any deep admiration for depressed, violent, mentally unstable men and women, but because he believes that to be well-adjusted in a country and world that are themselves so screwed-up is disturbing. That strange sympathy toward human shortcomings floods through the FUSION Theatre Company's production of Streetcar like a steaming river of sweat. The actors savor every inch of Williams' dark poetry. From start to finish, this is a technically polished but emotionally raw production, the kind of professional theater I rarely see in New Mexico ... a day before the opening, Arron Shiver stepped into the role of the belligerent Neanderthal, Stanley -- played so perfectly by Marlon Brando on Broadway and in the movie. It isn't particularly easy filling Brando's shoes under any circumstances, but, astonishingly, Shiver took to Stanley like a drunk takes to wine, putting in a truly brilliant performance. The rest of the cast is great, too. Jacqueline Reid, playing Stella, Stanley's wife, juggles the subtleties of that role well. Vernon Poitras plays the awkward doofus Mitch very convincingly, too. ...I'm happy to report, Laurie Thomas does everything right. Thomas is just so damned good--she's irritating, she's funny; she's pathetic, she's sympathetic. For my money, she presents an almost archetypal Blanche DuBois .... FUSION, as they have so often in the past, have shown they're up to the task of performing such stellar material. Trust me, these people know what they're doing. I can't recommend this play enough."--Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi

"FUSION's latest production, A Steetcar Named Desire, could have been a war-horse. It's a classic of American theater for sure, but really, how many times has it been done? How many times has it been badly done? FUSION worked its magic though, breathing new life into a staple of the theater and giving Albuquerqueans thirsty for professional caliber performance an outstanding drama.... The performance hinges on the astounding ability of Laurie Thomas to transform herself into Blanche DuBois, the alternately funny, sad, tormented and tormenting Southern belle.... From the first scene, when a weary Blanche unexpectedly arrives at the young couple's tiny apartment, Thomas creates the portrait of a fragile woman teetering on the brink of madness.... Reid's Stella is a sensual woman, torn between the childhood role of sibling and her mature one as wife and soon-to-be mother... Shiver convincingly gives Stanley a primal quality, with violence lurking just beneath (and sometimes on) the surface. But Thomas is the star of the show. She's in almost every scene, many of them featuring long monologues exposing diverse emotions, one after another. Never does her accent waver, never does a hand motion seem unnecessary nor out of place, nor does her body show any hint of being anything other than Blanche, a broken, lonely, desperately unhappy woman."--Kelly Koepke, ABQArts

"The FUSION Theatre Company's production of A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is spectacular. Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for this play more than 50 years ago, and this production at The Cell shows us why. The entire cast is strong, but Laurie Thomas is phenomenal as the faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois. Thomas continually displays new and compelling aspects of Blanche's character. Her subtly nuanced performance is one of the finest I have ever seen.... Arron Shiver took on the part of Stanley the day before opening, and he has done well considering the circumstances. Talented Jacqueline Reid is excellent in the rather thankless role of younger sister Stella. She maintains a trace of her character's plantation past and a believable reticence in her sister's presence. Her scenes with Thomas are powerful. Reid is also strong in showing Stella's sensual attraction to her husband. As mama's -boy suitor Mitch, Vernon Poitras does fine work.... The play belongs, however, to Thomas' Blanche. Thomas is able to convey palpable disdain as she enters her sister's apartment for the first time.... Portraying Blanche as a consummate actor (another word for liar), Thomas is superb in the roles she plays; those roles, however, take their toll. Thomas is wonderfully inventive as she stages Blanche's decline into madness.... Thomas showed me unexpected facets of Blanche with a classic performance of a classic role. Don't miss it."--Barry Gaines, ABQ Journal


 


Erin Neal, Gary Houston

 


Erin Neal, Gary Houston

 


Gary Houston

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

Bedbound
by Enda Walsh

presented February 13-March 9, 2003

Direction: Cecil O'Neal
------------------------------
Dad: Gary Houston
Daughter: Erin Neal

Reviews

"Bedbound is currently playing in New York; it's also--in a coup de grace in production now at The Cell. The Cell hit the ground running and hasn't slown down. They do brand-new theater, edgy theater; and a few fun classics, such as last season's You Can't Take It With You. Both Houston and Neal are terrific actors, able to keep control of the torrents of words that fall from the characters' mouths....Director Cecil O'Neal does a fine job of choreographing the action on the tiny stage....Bedbound is a tour de force, and Daughter expresses the nothingness that being bedbound creates, and Dad is adept at expressing striving, always, to failure." --Ann L. Ryan, ABQ Journal

"The curtain doesn't part: It falls with a crash to the stage floor, revealing a girl in dirty pajamas seated on a brass bed covered with ratty, stained blankets. The room is bare, white, fluorescent. The walls and ceiling angle in to make the room's contents look more remote than they really are....In Bedbound, FUSION continues its brief but distinguished tradition of bringing the best possible theater to Albuquerque....O'Neal's stark, blindingly lit set is ideal for this darkly comical drama, and the performances by the two leads are very high caliber.... FUSION's Bedbound is a worthwhile production. The ticket price might be double what you pay at some other theaters in town, but in this case you'll definitely get what you pay for." --Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi

"The Cell Theatre and its resident professional theatre company, FUSION, have brought another hot new play to town. An Irish father and furniture salesman and his polio-stricken daughter re-enact memories from their pasts in Walsh's very Irish play. The father erects walls and forms a sort of prison for his daughter. Entirely a countryman of William Butler Yeats and Samuel Beckett in theater style and James Joyce in use of language, Walsh's play has a rhythm that is infectious.The two actors, Chicagoans Gary Houston and Erin Neal, inhabit the stage for the entire play. Neal has the very difficult task of portraying her character with limited use of her body. FUSION's actors are all professional actors, so it is a treat to have the opportunity to see Bedbound, directed by another Chicagoan, Cecil O'Neal of the Tony award-winning Victory Gardens Theater. Just like other theaters in bigger cities, The Cell has a rush ticket policy for students on Thursday nights. For $10, students can see professional theater in downtown Albuquerque.

What the Cell and FUSION are doing for theater in Albuquerque is tremendous; they are providing a chance to see groundbreaking new plays and classics... but they also give local actors a shot at roles -- and a paycheck. The building they are housed in, located in the 'warehouse district' downtown south of Lomas on First Street, was practically empty a little over a year ago. I attended a rave there before its transformation and a few months later a brand new British play was on its stage with the first use of onstage cyber sex [Closer by Patrick Marber, presented February 13 through March 9, 2002]. The Cell doesn't try to put on a different show each weekend. Instead, it puts up quality shows for a good run." --Rafael Gallegos, Daily Lobo



Interview with Jacqueline Reid and KBSG's "Raving Richard"
(mp4-visit Apple if you need free
QuickTime player)


Paul Ford


John Hardman, Colleen McClure

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

Buried Child
by Sam Shepard

presented October 31-November 24, 2002

Direction: Jacqueline Reid
------------------------------
Dodge: John Hardman
Halie: Colleen McClure
Rev. Dewis: Wayne Rowe
Tilden: Paul Ford
Bradley: Tim D. Janis
Vince
: Malcolm Sharbutt
Shelley: Kerry Morrigan

Reviews

"Never have five characters been so honestly awful, so full of anger and self-loathing. The Cell's current production is gutsy; director Jacqueline Reid and her phenomenal cast realize that sometimes going too far is the only way to go far enough. The result is a mesmerizing trip back to the root of this family's self-created horror show....Hardman, Ford, Janis, Morrigan and Sharbutt are as good as they've ever been, and that's damn good....Reid's direction is invisible--it's that good. Watching Friday's premiere was like watching a car crash. I wanted to leave, but I couldn't. It's a powerful production--maybe the best of the year--and deeply, disturbingly honest. Don't miss it, but be forewarned." --Ann L. Ryan, ABQ Journal

"Buried Child by Sam Shepard is a tough play to sit through, but the Cell's November production, directed by Jacqueline Reid, was so mesmerizing that it was impossible to leave. It's the story of the most loathsome family you will ever meet--if you're lucky. They hate themselves, each other, the world, the universe...and into all this stumbles Shelley (Kerry Morrigan), girlfriend of Vince (Malcolm Sharbutt), son to Tilden (Paul Ford), grandson to Halie (Colleen McClure) and Dodge (John Hardman). As these folks ravage each other, the actors involved give the best performances of their careers." --Barry Gaines, ABQ Journal, in his summary of the year's best shows

"An excellent production of Buried Child just opened last week a the Cell Theatre and the cast, under the accomplished direction of Jacqueline Reid, milks Shepard's bent sense of humor at every turn. Paul Ford as Tilden brings an enormous amount of subtlety to what is probably the play's most difficult role....The other standout is Tricklocker Kerry Morrigan as Shelley. A stranger to the family, Shelley...the la-la rabbit fur princess, gets a lot of the play's funniest lines, and the night I saw the performance Morrigan nailed all of them. She's by turns manic, terrified and, finally, utterly spent as she passes in and out of this familial house of horrors....Go see it. It might give you a whole new appreciation for your own dysfunctional family." --Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi

"The Cell Theatre, an up-and-coming creative Downtown hotbed, is presenting an excellent night of drama. The play Buried Child by Sam Shepard won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979 and is still fresh and haunting 23 years later....This Buried Child is a highly satisfying evening at the theater and The Cell has certainly raised the bar for other theaters in town....Ford's Tilden is a semester's worth of acting classes in one evening. Morrigan is so electric as Shelly, I wanted to watch her the whole time she was onstage. Hardman's Dodge was his best character work I've witnessed. Sharbutt has proved he is a key player in this taxing role.....The Cell Theatre and its in-house company FUSION certainly live up to their mission stated as "rooted in conviction that theatrical arts nourish and renew community through the dialogue expressed in storytelling," and their dedication to professionalism." --Rafael Gallegos, Daily Lobo


 


Ellen Herschel, Paul Blott,
Tom Shuch, Levi Shaw-Faber

All photos © Zygote Pro-Creations

 

Cat On a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams

presented May 9-June 2, 2002

Direction: Laurie Thomas
------------------------------
Big Daddy: Paul Blott
Big Momma: Robin Goodhue
Maggie: Jacqueline Reid
Brick: Joe Pesce
Mae: Kristin de la O
Gooper: Tom Schuch
The Reverend Tooker: Alan Hudson
Doc Baugh: Frank Melcori
No-Necked Monsters:
   Dixie: Ellen Herschel
   Sonny: Levi Shaw-Faber

Reviews

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Cell Theatre in May was a finely wrought, thoughtful interpretation of Tennessee Williams' long, dark classic. Laurie Thomas as director was able to get her hands around this sprawling play--an accomplishment in itself. Standouts in the cast included Robin Goodhue as Big Mama, and Paul Blott as Big Daddy. None of Burl Ives' false cheeriness in this Big Daddy. Blott's take was as a gaunt, used-up man who has seen everything and believes in nothing...." --Ann L. Ryan, ABQ Journal, in her review of the year's best theatre.

"Albuquerque's newest professional theater company presented an evening of powerful drama and surprising staging, breathing life into Tennessee Williams' American dramatic classic.... And unlike the Broadway and film versions, director Laurie Thomas uses Williams' own 1974 rewrite of the play's conclusion, refusing to succumb to a happy ending. The characters are left in their own uncertainty and the audience left to ponder a first-rate production of a true American classic."
--Kelly Koepke, Crosswinds Weekly

"An incredible cast has been assembled for this Cell Theatre production....The prize of the night, though, goes to Paul Blott as the cancerous, cantankerous Big Daddy. In a lot of ways, his is the key role of the play, and Blott pulls it off perfectly. He's gruff. He's mean. He's funny....Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is classic American theater, and this team really nails it."
--Steven Robert Allen, Weekly Alibi


FUSION Theatre Co. Productions:
Complete History

Year

Shows

Link

2012/13
Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz
Freud's Last Session by Mark St. Germaine
Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones
The Seven: New Works Festival: "Failure to Communicate"
 
2011/12
Once in a Lifetime: A Celebration of Tennessee Williams
Red by John Logan
You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole by Matt Hanf
Time Stands Still
by Donald Margulies
The Seven: New Works Festival "Nothing is as it Seems"
2010/11
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
Happy Days by Samuel Beckett
Alfred Hitchcok's The 39 Steps adapted by Patrick Barlow
God of Carnage
by Yasmina Reza
The Seven: New Works Festival "Tangled Webs"
2009/10
How the Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn
First Love by Charles L. Mee
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur by Tennessee Williams
The Mandrake by Niccol Machiavelli, trans. by Wallace Shawn
The Seven: New Works Festival "Hidden Agendas"
2008/9
The Homecoming by Harold Pinter
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Parlour Song by Jez Butterworth
Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl
The Seven: New Works Festival "That One Thing"
2007/8
Doubt, a Parable by John Patrick Shanley
The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh
Madagascar by JT Rogers
Boston Marriage by David Mamet
"Being David Mamet:" One-Acts by David Mamet
The Seven: New Works Festival "Something Left Unsaid"
2006/7
Private Lives by Noël Coward
The Seven: New Works Festival "Games People Play"
Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams' One-Acts
Anna Christie
by Eugene O'Neill
Orange Flower Water by Craig Wright
Mad Hattr by Laurie Thomas
The Seven: New Works Festival "No Regrets"
2005
A Lie of the Mind by Sam Shepard
Hedda Gabbler by Henryk Ibsen
The Unexpected Man by Yasmina Reza
The Long Christmas Ride Home by Paula Vogel
2004
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode
2003
Bedbound by Enda Walsh
Bye Bye Blackbird by Willard Simms
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
The Art of Dining by Tina Howe
2002
Closer by Patrick Marber
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
You Can't Take It With You by Hart and Kaufman
Buried Child by Sam Shepard

 


 

 

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