Theatre Satirizes Itself in “Anton in Show Business” at HSU - Humboldt State Now

Theatre Satirizes Itself in “Anton in Show Business” at HSU

Three actresses navigate a precarious production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters” in Texas, inside the maelstrom of 21st century American theatre. A satiric comedy that also echoes poignant themes of this classic Chekhov play, “Anton in Show Business” is on the Gist Hall Theatre stage for two weekends beginning Friday, December 4.

Katie Taylor as Holly, Samantha Kolby as Casey. Not pictured: Erin Henry as Lisabette.

Passionate but plain Casey (played by Samantha Kolby), innocent young Lisabette (Erin Henry) and Holly from Hollywood (Katie Taylor) must deal with the conflicting agendas of directors, producer, underwriter and each other. But since this is a play about a play, the actors also banter with a critic in the audience.

The all-female cast plays characters of both genders (because, one of the characters points out, the vast majority of roles on the American stage are played by men.) The HSU cast includes Michelle Purnell, Makenna Baker, Camille Borrowdale, Constance Hill, Stephanie Lemon and Sammi Stowe.

“We also have a ‘glam squad’ of five additional females who handle the wardrobe, scenic, makeup and all the changes that happen during the show, most of them in full view of the audience,” said director Rae Robison. “If you’ve ever been to a live show and wondered ‘how did they do that?’ you may have your questions answered as we show you some of our methods.”

“Anton in Show Business” premiered in 2000, directed by Jon Jory, longtime director of the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville and now a University of Washington professor. It is one of many celebrated plays produced under the name of Jane Martin, a playwright who has never been seen or identified. “Mr. Jory is widely thought to be Jane Martin,” writes New York Times critic Bruce Weber, “or at least the chairman of a Jane Martin committee.”

Calder Johnson is scenic designer, Lynnie Horrigan designed costumes, Jack Anderson designed lighting, and Cory Stewart designed sound. Derek Lane is production manager.

“Even with all these weighty topics, it’s still at heart a funny, funny show,” Robison said. “Audiences will definitely see something that they’ve never seen before in Humboldt, or maybe even anywhere else.”

“Anton in Show Business” is performed at Gist Hall Theatre on Friday and Saturday December 4 and 5, Thurs. through Sat. Dec. 10-12 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday, Dec. 13 matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 general/$8 students and seniors, with a limited number of free tickets for HSU students at each performance, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. More information: Produced by HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance.