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Vanya and Sonia
and Masha and Spike

by

Christopher Durang

September 5 - 28, 2013

Gala Opening: Thurs., Sept. 5, 7pm
Performances in ABQ, Santa Fe
and now in Las Cruces, too!

"Well, I'm unhappy, too!"

 

 

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Christopher Durang


The newly-acclaimed 2013 Tony Award-winner for Best Play will have it's national regional premiere at The Cell, opening only twelve days after the close of its Broadway run. In this hysterically funny and affecting romp, Mr. Durang takes on Anton Chekov's most time-tested themes proving that whether you're in 19th century Russia or 21st century Pennsylvania, the human condition really never changes. As we join Vanya and Sonia in their Bucks County childhood home, they are surprised by Masha, their glamorous movie star sister, who brings home her twenty-something boy toy. Masha's exploits throw the normally quiet household into utter upheaval as its residents and visitors get swept up in an intoxicating mixture of lust, rivalry, regret, and the sudden possibility of escape.The inaugural production of the 2013-14 season is directed by Gil Lazier (FUSION’s Other Desert Cities, God of Carnage, August: Osage County, How the Other Half Loves and Parlour Song).

Other Desert Venues!!

FUSION Theatre Company continues to grow! We're thrilled to announce performances in Albuquerque at our home for the past eleven years,The Cell, as well as at the fabulous Simms Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Albuquerque Academy; in Santa Fe at the Lensic Performing Arts Center (where FUSION enjoyed a terrifically auspicious inaugural season last year!) and now, for the first time, in Las Cruces at the historic Rio Grande Theatre downtown. FUSION will present Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike:

Thursday, Sept. 5, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM GALA OPENING SOLD OUT!
Friday, Sept. 6, The Cell, ABQ, 6PM SOLD OUT!
Saturday, Sept. 7, The Cell, ABQ, 2PM (matinee) SOLD OUT!
Saturday, Sept. 7, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM SOLD OUT!
Sunday, Sept. 8, The Cell, ABQ, 6PM SOLD OUT!
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Tuesday, Sept. 10, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM SOLD OUT!
Wednesday, Sept. 11, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM SOLD OUT!
Thursday, Sept. 12, The Cell, ABQ, 8PM SOLD OUT!
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Saturday, Sept. 14, The Rio Grande Theater, Las Cruces, 8PM SOLD OUT!
Sunday, Sept. 15, The Rio Grande Theater, Las Cruces, 2PM (matinee)
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Friday, Sept. 20, Simms Center for the Performing Arts, ABQ, 8PM
Saturday, Sept. 21, Simms Center for the Performing Arts, ABQ, 2PM (matinee)
Saturday, Sept. 21, Simms Center for the Performing Arts, ABQ, 8PM
NOTE: Special Student pricing at Simms! Only $10!
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Friday, Sept. 27, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, 8PM
Saturday, Sept. 28, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, 2PM (matinee)
Saturday, Sept. 28, The Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, 8PM

Do not wait to purchase your tickets! We regularly sell out The Cell and have enjoyed wonderful, full houses at The Lensic in Santa Fe
and the Rio Grande in Las Cruces !

 

Special Season Subscription Available for a Limited Time!
For tickets and information call 766-9412 or click here:

 

  • Free parking is plentiful in our lot just north of the theatre. The Cell is located at 700 1st St. N.W., just west of Broadway and south of Lomas
  • Parking at Simms Center is on the campus of Albuquerque Academy, immediately adjacent to the theater
  • Parking at the Rio Grande Theatre is free and available adjacent to the theatre
  • Parking in Santa Fe is available at a number of inexpensive public lots in the immediate vicinity of the Lensic.

2013 Tony Award Winner for Best Play!!

Barry Gaines, ABQJournal: "FUSION Theatre Company begins its 12th season with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. This Tony Award-winning play, directed by Gil Lazier, arrives mere weeks after its Broadway close. Durang’s play presents a Chekhovian family and setting that is thoroughly American. Parody and absurdity are woven into the fabric of the play, but the result is laugh-out-loud funny and warmly satisfying. And the laughs don’t depend on knowledge of the plays of Russian dramatist Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.

The first three names in the title are siblings whose academic/theatrical parents burdened them with names from Chekhov. Vanya and adopted Sonia cared for those parents through illness and dementia while Masha found success in theater and film and paid the expenses. Vanya and Sonia feel the ennui and despair associated with Chekhov’s characters. As they sit in the family morning room, Sonia observes, “We are in our twilight years, and we realize that we have never really lived.” Soon Masha joins the group. She has achieved stardom, but her five marriages have failed. She brings to the family dacha (I mean farm) Spike, a studmuffin wannabe-actor roughly half her age. Rivalries, insecurities, jealousies, resentments and anxieties appear in the dialogue among the siblings although Spike seems unaware of any of it.

There are two more characters in the play. Cassandra is the housekeeper. Like her classical namesake, she sees the future but no one believes her. The catalyst for much of the play’s action is Nina, a lovely 22-year-old neighbor who also hopes to act. Nina idolizes Masha who fears her as competition, finds Spike attractive as he does her, and overcomes Vanya’s shyness to perform a play he has written.

The FUSION cast is strong. Elizabeth Huffman’s portrayal of Cassandra is too frenetic and over-the-top for my taste, but Durang provides much craziness in her lines. Beautiful Andréa N. Agosto is adorable as Nina, a refreshingly normal character. Hunky Ross Kelly plays the fatuous gigolo Spike with élan and gets plenty of laughs.

Bruce Holmes brings his likeable decency to the character of Vanya. Holmes savors Vanya’s diatribe about the comforts of the 1950s and almost stops the show. Jacqueline Reid plays the middle-aged spinster Sonia with the requisite bitterness and depression, and we are glad when her character has a chance at romance.

It is a pleasure to watch Joanne Camp as Masha. Her character becomes more self-aware as the play progresses and is not finally able to fool herself any longer. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is perceptive fun."


Dean Yannias, TalkinBroadway.com: "How is it possible that the very first post-New York regional production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which just won the Tony award for Best Play, is taking place in Albuquerque? And less than two weeks after it closed on Broadway? Well, the folks at FUSION Theatre Company are nothing if not resourceful and are doing their best to put Albuquerque on the theatrical map. The city owes them a debt of gratitude.

Up to now, I have not been a fan of Christopher Durang. I have found his plays more cruel than funny, of little consequence, and eminently forgettable. (I know that I saw Betty's Summer Vacation and Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them fairly recently, and yet I remember nothing about them.) So it came as a surprise to me that I liked Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and I think it might stick with me for a while.

I had thought the Tony might really be more of a "lifetime achievement award" for Durang than for this particular play. But maybe this really was the best non-musical show on Broadway last season. You wouldn't know it from the first act, though. The exposition is clunky, the jokes not all that witty, and the plot (what little there is of it) contrived. It's almost like a grad school sketch: How many Chekhov references can we throw in to show how smart we are?

But come back after intermission, and in the second act it turns around and becomes a play that stands on its own. Despite the fact that all four major Chekhov plays are alluded to, it is not a pastiche or a parody of Chekhov, but resolutely contemporary and American and even somewhat touching. Very little absurdity, no cruelty, and sunniness rather than darkness (with an appropriate Beatles song on the soundtrack). It must be that Durang has entered the warm September of his years.

The premise is that three siblings had parents who were professors and community-theater people, and they saddled their children with names from Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters. Vanya and Sonia stayed home to take care of the ailing parents while Masha became a famous movie star (but not a respected actress). The parents have died, but lost souls Vanya and Sonia have never left home; since Masha pays the bills, they have no incentive to get out and do something with their lives.

Masha, a serial divorcée, shows up for a visit with her much younger boyfriend Spike, one of those handsome and hunky Hollywood types with zero acting talent. Masha thinks it's about time to sell the house (a classic Chekhov plot device), since she's not making the kind of money she used to. What's to become of Vanya and Sonia, then? Of Masha and Spike?

Actually, that's about it for the plot, except that Nina, an aspiring actress, materializes out of "The Seagull" to complicate things between Masha and Spike. And to fill the time, Durang throws in a costume party that Masha makes everybody go to. But the plot isn't what makes this play work, anyway.

It's the two brilliant set-pieces (arias, really) in the second act that won me over. One is for Sonia, on the telephone. The other is for Vanya, an extended tirade against the 21st century lifestyle exemplified by Spike. Here, Durang is playing to an audience of his peers. When the funniest line references Señor Wences from "The Ed Sullivan Show," it's obvious that this monologue can only be fully enjoyed by people over 50, but since I'm in that demographic, I loved it.

Gil Lazier, the director, has done a good job of making things snappy. There's never a dull moment. As always with Fusion, the set by Richard Hogle and props by Robyn Phillips are excellent. The costumes by Elizabeth Huffman are entertaining, but the evening gown worn by Sonia to the costume party is maybe too glamorous.

Bruce Holmes is very good as Vanya, and excellent in the long monologue. Jacqueline Reid (Sonia) does a little too much mugging in the first act, but acquits herself brilliantly in the telephone scene. It's some of the best acting I've ever seen her do. Ross Kelly (Spike) is appropriately good-looking and well-built, but also hilarious, and his rendition of a failed audition for "Entourage 2" is side-splitting. Andréa N. Agosto is sweetness personified as Nina; if there is supposed to be any Eve Harrington in this character, I didn't pick it up from Andréa, but that did not detract from a good performance.

Elizabeth Huffman is certainly hyper as the oracular housekeeper Cassandra, a little too much so. Using an unplaceable accent, she talks so fast and so loud that I missed a fair number of the funny lines that Durang has given her.

All in all, though, this is a fine production of a good play, and we few, we lucky few in New Mexico, can see it first, as it makes the rounds of the country's regional areas."


Anya Sebastian, braodwayworld.com: "Think Chekhov and the last thing that comes to mind is comedy. So to be inspired by Chekhov to come up with a play that's laugh-out-loud funny is, to say the least, quite an achievement. But VANYA, SONIA, MASHA AND SPIKE (yes, even the principal names are taken from notable Chekhov characters) is the work of Tony award-winning playwright Christopher Durang, who has made a name for himself by extracting humor from the darker side of life and reducing us to helpless laughter in the process.

In this case, the story itself is more of a series of variations on Chekhovian themes than a coherent plot. Understanding the Russian master's references is definitely helpful, but is by no means essential in order to have a good time with this highly enjoyable and original comedy.

Vanya, Sonia and Masha are three siblings, intentionally named after Chekhov characters by their academic, theater-loving parents. The parents are now gone, but Vanya and Sonia, who took care of them in their old age, never left the country home in Bucks County, in which they grew up. Now middle-aged and unattached, the two (played by FUSION Theatre Company regulars, Bruce Holmes and Jacqueline Reid) have little to look back on and nothing to look forward to.

The costs involved in maintaining the house - and its occupants - have long been taken care of by their sister, Masha (Joanne Camp) who did leave home and found fame and fortune as a movie star. Now a household name, with several marriages and divorces in her bio, she returns home to pay a visit, accompanied by her latest boy toy, Spike (vigorously played by LA- based actor, Ross Kelly.)

Masha's glamorous life-style and movie-star self-absorption are constant and painful reminders to her two stay-at-home siblings, of just how miserable and worthless their own lives have been. And when Masha casually announces that the house has become such a drain on her finances that she is thinking of selling it, they are suddenly faced with a future that looks even bleaker than their dreary pasts.

Added to this strange mix is a housekeeper (played by Elizabeth Huffman) whose life revolves around an unlikely combination of classical Greek drama and voodoo. Her name, of course, is Cassandra and when she isn't proclaiming dire predictions of things to come - all of which do, in fact, come to pass - she is sticking pins in voodoo dolls, with surprisingly effective results.
Masha's teflon personality starts to crack, revealing her inherent insecurity, with the appearance of a pretty, aspiring young actress (Andrea Agosto) who is visiting her aunt, a close neighbor. Masha's attempt to regain her dominant social position by taking everyone to a fancy dress party and telling them what costume to wear, falls spectacularly and comically flat.

VANYA, SONIA, MASHA AND SPIKE is a very well crafted and, at times, hilarious comedy by a highly accomplished playwright, whose unique style requires comic acting of the highest order, to achieve maximum effect. Straight actors are rarely gifted comedians and in the circumstances - especially given the limited amount of time available for preparation and rehearsal - the cast acquitted themselves well. The audience certainly had a good time and there's no doubt that you will too."


Elizabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: "Few Chekhov-inspired shows make you laugh out loud, and repeatedly at that. In fact there’s probably just one such rare bird on the planet: Christopher Durang’s riotous Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."


Rex Reed, Huffington Post: "I advise you to give up trying to figure out how everyone fits into assorted productions of Chekhov and just sit back and allow Christopher Durang's Harvard-honed wit and fine sense of camp to creep over you like a parlor game. It doesn't matter how much you know about Chekhov. Just suffice it to say that everyone is suicidal with angst and despair, especially Masha, with five failed marriages and nobody to love. Everyone has a monologue that is nothing short of hilarious."


Erik Haagensen, Backstage: "It has taken 30 producers to bring Christopher Durang’s six-character, one-set comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike to the Great White Way, and all I can say is God bless them, every one. A sold-out hit Off-Broadway for Lincoln Center Theater this past fall, it is easily the best new play of the Main Stem season to date and a top contender for the Tony Award. Both breathtakingly funny and quietly poignant, this Chekhov-inspired work—for which knowledge of the Russian master’s plays is not a requirement—is pure joy from start to finish."


Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Cast


Joanne Camp

Joanne Camp* (Masha) is thrilled to be returning to FUSION for her fifth production, (Other Desert Cities, August: Osage County, The Mandrake, & First Love). Her work on and off Broadway has been recognized with Drama Desk & Tony Award nominations, Clarence Derwent & Theatre World Awards.  A 25-year member of The Pearl Theatre Company (founded by her husband, Shep Sobel), Joanne performed in over 50 classical productions from Aeschylus to Hellman, garnering her an Obie Award for Continued Excellence and a Joseph A. Callaway Award for Classical Performance.  Film/TV credits include: Private Parts, Law & Order, Damages, The Luckiest Man in the World, and Canterbury’s Law.  Since her 2009 move to NM, Joanne has also been seen in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at Santa Fe University, as “Glenda” in The Lone Ranger, and in the independent feature film, Warrior Woman.   Joanne is a member of SAG-AFTRA.  She also teaches acting and theatre-related subjects privately, at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, at Central New Mexico Community College, and at Sol Academy. Joanne has been a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 1978.


Bruce Holmes

Bruce Holmes* (Vanya) most recently appeared with FUSION last season as “Felix Humble” in Humble Boy and “Ross/Dan” in Clybourne Park.  He also appeared in the world premieres of The Mayan Flute, You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole, and Tennessee Williams’ Once in a Lifetime.  Previous FUSION roles include: “Michael Novak” in God of Carnage, “Clown 2” in The 39 Steps, “Bill Fordham” in August: Osage County, “Brother Timothy” in The Mandrake, “William Detweiler” in How the Other Half Loves, “Ned” in Parlour Song, “Teddy” in The Homecoming, “Ben” in Death of a Salesman and “Christy” in The Lieutenant of Inishmore.  He also appeared in FUSION’s children’s tours of The Invention and The Lost Ending, as well as in Jen Silverman’s award-winning The Education of Macoloco (Samuel French OOB Festival, NYC).  Bruce has also directed and acted in several annual productions of FUSION’s The Seven: New Works Festivals.  In Seattle, he worked at A.C.T., Center Stage, AHA!, N.W. Shakespeare Ensemble, and The Empty Space Theatre.  Bruce has also performed with The Idaho Repertory Theatre and in Washington, D.C. he performed at Arena Stage and with the Washington Shakespeare Theatre.  In Virginia, Bruce appeared with The Metro Stage Theatre.  Recent film/tv credits include the USA series In Plain Sight, the feature film Fright Night and the lead in Ultimatum Pictures’ Voiceover.  He received his BFA from the University of New Mexico and his MFA from the professional Actor’s Training Program at the University of Washington.  Bruce has been a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 2005.


Elizabeth Huffman

Elizabeth Huffman* (Cassandra/Costume Design) is delighted to tread the boards again with FUSION, having acted previously here in Boston Marriage and in the one-woman show, 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo. Elizabeth recently performed in a new one-woman show The Absence of Wanting, written for her by Steven Wolfson, at the Coho Theatre in Portland OR, the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles and at the Theatertage Festival in Hanau, Germany. In 2012 she won Five Portland Drammy Awards including “Production of the Year” and “Best Direction” for Oedipus El Rey by Luis Alfaro at the Miracle Theatre. That year she also directed King John, earning a 6th Drammy Award for her lead actress at Northwest Classical Theatre, and she received critical acclaim for her direction of David Mamet’s comedy November for Jane, at Theatre Company. As a costumer she received this year’s 2013 Drammy Award for “Best Costumes” for The Seagull with NWCTC. Elizabeth has designed over 100 productions in regional theatres across the country. She will return to Portland to direct a revisionist interracial production of The Lion in Winter opening in December at Northwest Classical Theater, followed in late January by the world premiere of her play Bon Ton Roulet at the Shakespeare Café, for the Fertile Ground Festival with Post 5 Theatre.  Elizabeth has been a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 1980.


Ross Kelly

Ross Kelly* (Spike) is a Los Angeles-based actor, writer and director who returns to the FUSION boards after a two-year hiatus.  FUSION credits include: “Richard Hannay” in The 39 Steps, “Sheriff Deon Gilbeau” in August: Osage County, the one-man show Vincent (about Vincent Van Gogh), “Bob Phillips” in How the Other Half Loves, “Ligurio” in The Mandrake, “Dale” in Parlour Song, “Biff” in Death of a Salesman, “Nasty Interesting Man” in Eurydice, “Macoloco” in NYC’s Samuel French OOB Festival-winner The Education of Macoloco, “Padraic” in The Lieutenant of Inishmore and “Father Floyd” in Doubt.  Other notable roles include: Santaland Diaries and Hip-Hop Prophets, an official selection of the Washington, D.C. Hip-Hop Theatre Festival.  Film/TV: The Last Stand, The Amy Biehl Story, in which he appeared opposite Academy Award-winner Alan Arkin, Trade with Kevin Kline, The War Boys with Peter Gallagher and Love ‘N’ Dancing with Betty White.  He also has had guest appearances on the television shows Crash, In Plain Sight and a recurring role in the ABC Family show Wildfire.  Ross is a proud father and a graduate of UNM.  Ross has been a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 2007.


Jacqueline Reid

Jacqueline Reid* (Brooke) is a founding member of FUSION. At FUSION: Humble Boy, Clybourne Park, Other Desert Cities, Time Stands Still, Once in a Lifetime, God of Carnage, The 39 Steps, August: Osage County, Overruled, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, How the Other Half Loves, The Homecoming, Parlour Song, Suddenly Last Summer, Private Lives, Hedda Gabler, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Taming of the Shrew, Closer, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Regional: Romeo and Juliet, Agnes of God, Crimes of the Heart, Tribute. Film & Television: Heat Lightning (Best Actress: Bend, Oregon Film Festival), Doc West, Triggerman, In Plain Sight, Unsolved Mysteries, and True Confessions with Adam Arkin. Directing credits include the regional premiere of Doubt, Red, The Mandrake, Happy Days, Death of a Salesman, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Buried Child, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Lie of the Mind, The Unexpected Man, The Long Christmas Ride Home,and the world premieres of Mad Hattr and You Can’t Get a Decent Margarita at the North Pole. She is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts. Jacqueline has been a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association since 1983.


Andréa N. Agosto

Andréa N. Agosto (Nina) most recently acted in The Writer this past June, one of the selections of The Seven, FUSION’s annual short works festival.  She hails from Kansas City, MO where she performed in roles including: “Mary” (u.s.) in Harriet Jacobs, “Tanya” in Bare, “Sonia” (u.s.) in Broke-ology, “Minnie” in Flyin’ West, “Manyara” in Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, “Maggie Holmes” in Working and many more.  In New Mexico, she was also seen as “Skye” in The Red Carpet at the South Broadway Cultural Center.  Currently, she is a student at the University of New Mexico studying Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. 
* member Actors Equity Association the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States

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director, Gil Lazier