Curtain Call: November
The Jackson County Stage Company will perform celebrated playwright David Mamet's play November Friday, December 3 through Sunday, December 5, and Friday through Sunday, December 10 through December 12 at the Varsity Center for the Arts. Directed by Craig Hinde, November is a satirical comedy that pokes fun at politics.
"It's about [the] president of the United States who has had a bad first term, and not even his own party really wants to see him reelected, but he wants to be elected," Hinde told Nightlife. "Of course, it is all satire and all kind of over the top-- in the course of the play he manages to insult just about every group you can think of in terms of his attitudes. I guess he would be the poster child for being politically incorrect. He wants to be reelected and it just happens that... the Turkey Federation is coming to him, as they have in the past, asking him to pardon the turkey as a marketing gimmick for the federation. But this year they want him to pardon two turkeys in case one gets sick. So he has the idea that it ought to be worth a lot more to pardon two turkeys than just one."
While the president tries to shake down the Turkey Federation for a campaign contribution, he has a speechwriter with a conscience and some common sense.
As was the case with Mamet's Wag the Dog, the play makes fun of the current political climate.
"It is wacky and very, very funny, and it gets resolved in a really interesting way," Hinde said. "I don't often laugh out loud when I first read a play, but I did with this one."
Since the main characters of the play work in the Oval Office, one challenge of producing the play was to create a White House set.
"We need to really kind of recreate the Oval Office, and our set designer is doing a really great job with that, but the main feature of the Oval Office, besides the desk, are the two matching sofas that are perpendicular to the desk, and we don't have a big enough stage for sofas, so we are using loveseats," Hinde said. "[B]ut here we are with two loveseats right in the middle of the stage where normally you would want most of your action to play. I had quite the task trying to work around and on top of... the sofas, but I think it is working."
Part of what makes November such a funny play is the cast, Hinde said: "I've got a great cast. There's a scene in there and after three weeks of rehearsal, I am still laughing my head off."
Southern Illinois contains a surprising number of talented actors, some of whom have even performed in Broadway or off-Broadway productions, Hinde said.
"The President of the United States is played by Richard Zimmermann," Hinde said in a press release. "Richard has performed on stage at John A. Logan College, SIU, and now the Stage Company. He played the dentist, Orin, in [Logan's] production of The Little Shop of Horrors last spring, and this fall he was Bela Zangler in SIU's production of Crazy for You. Richard is a student in cinema at SIU, and will be presenting his new film in December."
"The Chief of Staff is played by Dennis Hill," Hinde added. "As a young man, many years ago, he danced on Broadway in Forty-second Street. Dennis went on to a rewarding career in medical research and has recently returned to his roots near Cobden, Illinois. He said he is thrilled being back in the Varsity Theater where he spent many Saturday afternoons as a kid watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies."
SIU's talented Vincent Rhomberg has the distinction of playing The Turkey Guy. "He has worked as a performer, producer, playwright, director, executive director, and strategic business planner for thirty years," Hinde said. "He has several off-Broadway credits in the 1980s, was executive director of the Public Theater of South Florida through the 1990s, and is currently coordinator of marketing for [the] McLeod Summer Playhouse and the SIU Department of Theatre."
In the role originally brought to the stage by Carbondale native Laurie Metcalf, the character of speechwriter Bernstein will be portrayed by Brenda Bender.
"Brenda is a longtime Stage Company member who has been seen many times on our stages; however, this is her first time on our Varsity stage," Hinde said. "Chief Dwight Grackle of the Micmac Nation is played by longtime Carbondale actor Nick Earll. Nick has been with the Stage Company almost from its beginning in 1982."
Friday and Saturday evening performances take place at 7:30 p.m. (except on Saturday December 4, when the play will start thirty minutes later to let traffic and parking for the Lights Fantastic Parade to clear out), while Sunday matinees take place at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, or $10 for students of any age with valid identification. For tickets and more information, call the box office at (618) 549-5466 Mondays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., or one hour before each performance. The Stage Company also accepts twenty-four-hour ticket reservations at (800) 838-3006 and online at <http://www.StageCompany.org>.
who: Jackson County Stage Company
what: November (live theater)
where: Varsity Center for the Arts
when: December 3, 4, and 5, and December 10, 11, and 12