Prolific playwright Jane Martin, who has written several plays about theatre, created this wonderful satire. Anton in Show Business is currently at [email protected] Theatre. The first question is just who is Jane Martin. She has never been seen. Could she be a pseudonym for the retired Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director Jon Jory, where her plays are premiered? Nobody seems to know. What we do know is that she has written a host of popular plays over a 25-year period.
Anton in Show Business premiered in 2000. Artistic Director Kate (Patricia Elmore Costa) has commissioned popular TV star Holly (DeAnna Driscoll) to play one of the sisters in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters. She hires Director Wikewitch (Kelly Lapczynski) to direct and cast the rest of the show. He casts a tired off-off Broadway actress, Casey (Robin Christ) and, under duress, a Texan newbie, Lisabette (Aimee Janelle Nelson) as the other leads. All the casting was done in New York City for the Texas production.
A monologue by T-Anne (Cashae Monya) opens the production. Monya dominates [email protected]’s small space. I’m sure she could easily be heard a block away. She definitely got the audience in the mood for an extremely entertaining production. Anton in Show Business satirizes the trials and tribulations of a small independent off-off-off Broadway, off Manhattan Island, off New York State, off the East Coast theatre. It could easily be the story of most of the theatres in San Diego.
Financing and angels are crucial to keeping a small theatre in business. A recognizable actress or actor is a must. The selection of a play to bring prestige and audience to a theatre can be a make or break decision. A theatre is, like most artistic ventures, an institution with a myriad of sensitive egoistic people. The artistic director reminds all that she is a graduate of Yale and Harvard. The popular TV star who will do anything to advance her career, the off-off Broadway actress looking for a break-thru role, and a young, somewhat ditzy Texas blond overwhelmed by just about everything.
And it only gets better. The Angel is a tobacco industry big wig with his own agenda. Julia Hoover, Jamie Lloyd, and Selena Wood along with Costa, Lapczynski, and Monya, all play multiple roles. Lloyd also has the responsibility for the costumes, which, along with excellent acting, easily establish each of the multiple characters.
Morgan Trant as Joby completes the cast, although never on stage, except for curtain call. She plays a disgruntled audience member complaining about everything, starting with comments about Lapczynski playing men’s roles, rather than hiring a man. Trant gave audiences a delightful voice.
Anton in Show Business, like The Royal Family and Noises Off, illustrates the problems, pains, joys, and general absurdities the make theatre so much fun and so bloody frustrating. Dale Morris’s direction of these ten lovely and talented actresses captures the essence of Martin’s satire. This is a theatregoer’s must-see, for while it is a comedy, it speaks many truths.
Cashae Monya, Aimee Janelle Nelson, Robin Christ, DeAnna Driscoll, Patricia Elmore Costa, Kelly Lapczynski, Morgan Trant, Julia Hoover, Jamie Lloyd, Selena Wood
Producer/Set Design Dale Morris, AD Faeren Adams, SM Cat McEvilly, Mural/Set Dressing Valentine Viannay, Light Design Mitchell Simkovski, Costume Design Jamie Lloyd, Window/Set Design Fran
Total Rating: Two and a half stars
Author: Jane Martin
Director: Dale Morris
Date Reviewed: January 17, 2008
Dates: Thursday thru Sunday, January 17 to March 2
Running Time 119 minutes with a 15-minute intermission
[email protected] Theatre
3704 6th Avenue
San Diego, CA
Box Office Phone: 619 688-9210