Contemporary comedy at Clazel puts Players in a different light

Cast of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" rehearse at Stadium View, from left, Lane Hakel, Sara Lezdianowski, Kiefer Eller,and Deb Shaffer.



BG Independent News


Christopher Durang’s comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” has made a quick turnaround from the Broadway stage to the stage of the Clazel in downtown Bowling Green.

The Black Swamp Players will present the 2013 Tony winner for best play Nov. 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25. Tickets available at Grounds for Thought and online at  Seating will be at tables for eight.

Getting ready for the costume party Lane Hakel as Vanya, Kristin Forman as Nina, and Deb Shaffer as Sonia.

Getting ready for the costume party Lane Hakel as Vanya, Kristin Forman as Nina, and Deb Shaffer as Sonia.

The play’s quick trip from being a Sigourney Weaver star turn to featuring a cast of Players newcomers and regulars started when Deb Weiser read about the new comedy in the New Yorker.

It struck her as a fun show to stage, so she pitched it to the Players’ board. The play seemed a good fit as well for the Clazel. Some of the language is more appropriate for the night club setting than the Methodist church basement where the Players usually work.

Besides, the First United Methodist stage is occupied this month with the church’s own production of “Godspell!”

Last year when the Players faced the same dilemma, they took an evening of one acts on the road, staging them in three different spots around town, including the Clazel.

This year the show will stay put in the downtown venue. The ticket includes a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, dessert and coffee. And the Clazel’s bar will be open. Doors open at 7 p.m.

This week the cast was busy off-site rehearsing for opening night.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is in a way a modern sendup of a Chekov play. Multiple references are made his characters and his work. They serve as dramatic tchotchkes, cute but not necessary for appreciating the finely tuned comedy.

Joyce Coutinho as Cassandra prognosticates.

Joyce Coutinho as Cassandra prognosticates.

The play, directed by Weiser, finds two adopted siblings Vanya (Lane Hakel) and Sonia (Deb Shaffer) bemoaning their lives in the old family home where they’ve lived their entire adult lives.

Sonia remembers being brought to the home as an orphan. “Everyone pretended to love me. … I was so confused about that.”

They have a housekeeper Cassandra (Joyce Coutinho) who, true to her mythological namesake, is given to prophecy. She breaks into long, hilariously disjointed bits of augury that have an odd way of proving right. At one point she declares: “I see doom and destruction for all for you! Lunch in 20 minutes.”

The arrival of their sister Masha (Sara Lezdianowski), the star of a series of movies about a killer nymphomaniac, arrives with her young lover Spike (Kiefer Eller) in tow. Spike’s show biz claim to fame is that he was almost cast in “Entourage 2.”

Now with all the names in the title accounted for, the plot thickens driven along by Masha’s insatiable ego with a hearty side of insecurity.

That’s fed by the appearance of Nina (Kristin Forman), a small town girl star struck by Masha and infatuated with Spike.

Masha takes control of everything, including what everyone wears to the costume party. She’s going as Snow White and thinks everyone’s outfit should complement hers.

With the house in the balance and Vanya’s secret script, there’s plenty of plot and comic complication to keep the audience engaged.

Hakel, the Players president, said the play is a good fit for the venue. “It has a whole different vibe.”

For his part, the comedy offers him a different kind of role for a Players’ production. “These are acting muscles I’ve not gotten to exercise in Bowling Green.”

Weiser said the night club with food and drink offers an ambiance that will draw people in for a different kind of night out.